Showing posts with label Composer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Composer. Show all posts

Monday, February 12, 2018

JOHN PHILIP SOUSA - From Marching Band Composer To American Hero

English: was appointed as the 17th leader of t...
Sousa was appointed as the 17th leader of the Marine Corps Band on
1 October 1880, serving in this position until 30 July 1892.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sarasota is a city located on the central west coast of Florida. In 1962, the Sarasota Mobile Home Park Auditorium was built as a meeting place for mobile home park residents. The auditorium is now used mostly as a leased facility by the public for dances, band concerts, meetings and private parties. The room has a well maintained three thousand square foot wood floor suitable for dances and meetings, and there is a large well-lit stage for bands or performances.

The Sarasota Mobile Home Band is one of the best established marching bands in the area and frequently performs at the auditorium. In 1993, they earned national acclaim as they were presented with the Sudler Silver Scroll - an award which recognises and honours those community bands that have demonstrated particularly high standards of excellence in concert activities over a period of several years; and which have played a significant and leading role in the cultural and musical environment in their respective communities, by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

The John Philip Sousa Foundation is a non-profit making organization dedicated to the promotion of marching band music across the globe. The foundation administers a number of projects and awards supporting high-quality band performance, conducting, and composition.

The foundation takes its name from John Philip Sousa, a prominent composer of American band music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D. C. on November 6, 1854. At age 13, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Band as a "boy" (apprentice) musician, but he also continued his private music studies, where he learned violin, harmony, and composition. After being discharged from the marines, he performed as a violinist and conductor in various theatre orchestras in Washington and Philadelphia.

By 1880, his fame as a conductor, composer, and arranger had been established and he was appointed the leader of the U.S. Marine Band and held this position for 12 years, eventually molding the band into the finest military band in the world. He resigned from the Marine Corps in 1892 to form his own civilian band, who in a matter of months had assumed a position of equality with the finest symphony orchestras of the day.

The Sousa band traveled the world in 1910 and 1911, made four additional tours of Europe, and annual tours of America. Although Sousa is stereotyped as a march composer, he composed music of many forms, including fifteen operettas. He was an indefatigable worker, proclaiming "when you hear of Sousa retiring, you will hear of Sousa dead". This prediction came true when he died suddenly following a band rehearsal in Reading, Pennsylvania on March 6, 1932.

"The Stars And Stripes Forever" is widely regarded to be Sousa's magnum opus, and following an act of Congress, it became the national march of the United States.

There are many hotels in Sarasota available for anyone wishing to catch the Sudler Silver Scroll winning Sarasota Mobile Home Band in concert.

    By Andrew Regan
    Andrew Regan is an online, freelance author from Scotland. He is a keen rugby player and enjoys traveling.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Saturday, February 3, 2018

GIACOMO PUCCINI - Musical Unifier

Puccini standing, facing slightly left; wearin...
Puccini  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1958. His hometown was Lucca, Italy, a charming town in Tuscany surrounded by Roman walls. His family had a long lineage of musicians and he soon became an organist at a local church. He was inspired to write opera after seeing a production of Aida. He had to walk almost twenty miles to Pisa to see it. It is fitting that Aida was his inspiration. Written by the current reigning king of Italian opera, Giuseppe Verdi, it marked a turning point in that composer's musical language in which he started broadening his horizons eastwards- towards German specifically and Richard Wagner. Puccini would continue to both embrace Italian style but expose himself to the musical language of the Germans, French and new sounds that were coming out of the Orient.

It is also very fitting that his first successful opera, Manon Lescaut, was written in 1893. That happened to be the same year that Verdi wrote his last opera, Falstaff. Although Falstaff is unquestionably a masterpiece, listeners of the day must have found it to be somewhat old-fashioned after hearing Manon Lescaut. Puccini takes the story of the courtesan and creates voluptuous sonorities. He employs new instruments and chords not to mention a compelling sense of drama.

Manon Lescaut now behind him, he turned to a story by Murger about a bunch of bohemians. Written in 1896, La Boheme would become one of the most popular opera ever. It was revolutionary in its day for the naturalness in which the characters spoke. Instead of gods and goddesses, these characters dealt with banal issues such as paying the rent. In other words real life. This was a part of a movement in Italian literature called verissmo. (I pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana are other examples.) Boheme was lauded for its musical language and its gripping theater. The story is about a seamstress who meets a young poet and embarks on a love affair despite knowing that she is dying of consumption. Although many find the Broadway musical Rent to be a bastardization of this opera, it is an effect updating because T.B. was a very stigmatized disease in its day much like AIDS was in the 80s.

in 1900 Puccini wrote Tosca a bloody opera about corruption and abuse of power. The opera comes from a play by Victorien Sardou written specifically for the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt. The character of Tosca seems a good fit for any prima donna because, in part, it is about a prima donna. Puccini at this point was becoming interested in the new sounds that came were coming out of France at the time, notably orientalism. In an opera that takes place in Rome, he had almost no opportunity to use it in a credible way. The did manage to insert a whole tone scale, a sequence of notes that is now a cliche for Chinese music.

He had no trouble incorporating orientalism in his next opera, Madama Butterfly. Written in 1904 the premiere was one of those legendary disasters that can only happen in opera. The public didn't seem to want to give it a chance. It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Arturo Toscanini was both conducting the premiere and having an affair with the soprano. In act II when Butterfly brings out the illegitimate son she had by Pinkerton, the American soldier, a heckler screamed out "It's Toscanini's." Needless to say, there was no way to restore order after that. Puccini went on to revive it twice in the ensuing months and its final version has become a beloved favorite. Hearing the original version it is plain to see that it is flawed. It is a testament to Puccini's humility that he would take that disaster and try to examine how he may have failed as a composer and try to improve his work.

His last major premiere was Turandot. Taking place in mythical China this was the perfect opportunity for him to explore new sounds and create atmosphere. The story centers around an icy princess who has a penchant for decapitating her suitors. One eventually wins her over and they live happily ever after. Dramatically the work is flawed but in terms of glitzy theatrical spectacles, there is nothing better. It includes the great tenor opera "Nessun Dorma." Puccini never completely the opera. The task went to Franco Alfano. Toscanini was disappointed with it and revised his version giving us what we recognize today.

Puccini dies in 1924. A chronic chain smoker, it was throat cancer that did him in. It is ironic that someone so devoted to the human voice should die such a way. The passage of time has not diminished the immediacy and timelessness of his operas.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Great Composers: JOSEF HAYDN (1732 - 1809)

Josef HAYDN /1732-1809)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Composers Corner: A Brief Biography of FRANZ SCHUBERT

English: Oil painting of Franz Schubert, after...
Oil painting of Franz Schubert, after an 1825 watercolor
(Photo credit: 
Franz Schubert [1797-1828] lived a short but amazingly prolific life, leaving behind a legacy of seven symphonies (plus one that remained famously unfinished upon his death), some 30 chamber music pieces, and more than 600 songs. He was born in a suburb of Vienna to middle-class parents -- his father was a teacher and his mother had been a housekeeper prior to marriage -- and was one of five children to survive infancy (nine others died). 

As with many composers of his era, Schubert showed an early affinity for music and was taking formal lessons as early as age six. A year later his vocal promise attracted the notice of composer Antonio Salieri, who was the most prominent musical figure in all of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until supplanted by a young W.A. Mozart. Although Schubert trained as a teacher to follow in his father's footsteps, his remarkable facility to write vocal music set him on the path to living out his life as an impoverished composer rather than a more financially secure educator.

Schubert made friends with a cadre of young intellectuals who frequented Vienna's coffeehouses, the site in those days of deep thought but also revolutionary concepts. Among his steady companions were several poets, whose written material provided significant fodder for the vast numbers of lieder (art songs) he wrote. Johann Vogl, a prominent Viennese singer, took the younger Schubert under his wing and subsequently enjoyed the fruits of much of the composer's resulting songwriting. Vogl's influence is the primary reason that a number of Schubert's song cycles were written for the baritone voice.

In addition to lieder, Schubert tried his hand at composing operas. However, the public's fascination with the Italianate style as embodied by Rossini -- in direct contrast to Schubert's methodology, which was decidedly Germanic in tone and characterization -- offered the composer no success whatsoever. Of the eight operas Schubert wrote, only his three-act heroic opera Fierrabras is performed with any sort of frequency today. Interestingly, it did not receive its official premiere until 1897, nearly 70 years after the composer's death. A 1988 production staged in Vienna -- conducted by Claudio Abbado -- is reportedly the first time the opera was performed in its entirety, surpassing the more commonly produced 1897 version noted for its multiple deleted scenes. However, the piece exhibits the same flaws common to his other seven operatic efforts -- a weak libretto whose only saving grace is the music. Schubert composed half a dozen other works for the stage, although they are more accurately defined as singspiels in the Mozartean tradition.

Schubert died after several years of deteriorating health. The officially cited diagnosis was typhoid fever, but today historians agree his demise was due instead to mercury poisoning, which was a common "cure" in those days to combat the effects of syphilis. He apparently contracted the disease in 1822, although its remission for several years allowed him to continue composing. During that period he wrote some of his best-known and most compelling music, including the Winterreise song cycle and the "Great" C major Symphony.

Throughout the early 1830s, Ferdinand Schubert, Franz's elder brother by three years (and a composer as well), worked diligently to have his younger sibling's works published, but it took the budding influence of Robert Schumann -- a noted music critic who only later became known for his compositions -- to bring Schubert's collection of works to a broader audience. A complete edition of Schubert's compositions was published in the 1884-to-1897 time frame. Because so few pieces were published during Schubert's lifetime, most are missing the "opus" numbers generally associated with classical music and oftentimes used to determine the order in which works were composed.

The first video clip that accompanies this article features baritone Dietrich Fischer-Diskau (with pianist Murray Perahia) singing "Dream of Spring" from Schubert's song cycle, "Die Winterreise." The second clip is the closing movement ("Agnus Dei") from Schubert's Mass in G, from a 2009 performance by CityCleveland & Quire Cleveland, a northern Ohio music ensemble.

    Paul Siegel has been writing about opera and classical music for more than 20 years. In addition to being a regular contributor to various Internet sites, he also writes concert reviews and feature stories on these topics for a monthly music magazine published in his hometown of Denver, Colorado. These articles are found at

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

RODGERS and HAMMERSTEIN II, the Greatest Musicals Partnership of all Time

Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerst...
Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Helen Tamiris (back), watching hopefuls who are being auditioned on stage of the St. James Theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the weekend, I drifted to my nearest local EZY video shop. While waiting to be served, I drifted to the comedy, musicals, and the crime sections. It was the musicals that greatly attracted my interest. I've always loved musicals, something amiss nowadays, replaced by films with much violence, sexual overtones, political, science fiction and other action-packed Hollywood offerings. Slowly, my thoughts lingered to refreshing movies with music - The Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific, Camelot, My Fair Lady, and Mary Poppins among others. Yes, I particularly mean movie musicals!

Soon enough my memories wafted to the greatest musical collaboration of all time, that of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the most successful legendary songwriting team in musical theatre history. Rodgers wrote the music, and Hammerstein wrote the lyrics. Most of the stage musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein were made into movies, also with phenomenal success, in particular, The Sound of Music.  

At 16, Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) initially wrote a number of successful songs with Lorenz Hart, a partnership that lasted for over twenty years. Hart died in 1943. The same year Rodgers and Hammerstein (1895-1960) teamed up and started their first musical collaboration with Oklahoma! based on a play called 'Green Grow the Lilacs' by Lynn Riggs. Oklahoma! is very different from most musicals written up to that time where they were mainly songs and comedy, with little plot. Usually, the songs had little to do with the story. Oklahoma! has a plot. The songs either help move the plot along or help the audience understand the characters. The story is partly fun and has a serious side too. This is because Rodgers's background was mostly in the old-style, "fun" musicals, while Hammerstein's background was in opera and operetta--more "serious" types of music. When Rodgers worked with Hart, he wrote the music first, and then Hart wrote the lyrics. But in this new team, Hammerstein wrote the lyrics first and Rodgers created the music to fit.

Audiences loved Oklahoma!. It played on Broadway for 2,248 performances, breaking all Broadway box office records for shows until that time. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1944, which changed the face of stage musicals - an emotional story told through music, dance and lyrics as never before. After Oklahoma! Rodgers and Hammerstein went on to create Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music. The impact on these shows for Broadway and amateur stage, both in terms of popular appeal and their influence on other writers, was overwhelming.

Carousel, the duo's next big hit in 1945, had an even more dramatic plot than Oklahoma!. Instead of the usual overture before the show begins, the show opens with the whole cast performing a ballet as the orchestra plays.
South Pacific, written in 1949, and based on 'Tales from the South Pacific' by novelist James A. Michener, is set during World War II. It has the most serious plot of any Rodgers and Hammerstein show because it confronts both war and racism. South Pacific also won the Pulitzer Prize.

The King and I is about conflicts between cultures. It is based on a true story about Anna Leonowens, a British governess who went to Siam (now Thailand) to teach the king's children. Anna finds life in Siam very different from what she is accustomed to, but she and the king come to like each other despite their differences.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's final collaboration was The Sound of Music, in 1959. It is also based on a true story, about a young novice nun who becomes the governess for seven children of a widower, Captain Von Trapp. This musical also has a serious side--it is set in the days of Nazi Germany, and the Von Trapp family's freedom is at stake. The beautiful song "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music was the last song Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together. Hammerstein died of cancer on August 23, 1960. After Hammerstein's death, Rodgers wrote other shows with other lyricists, including Stephen Sondheim, but none reached the heights of his work with Hammerstein.

For always, I will relish the most beautiful and poignant legacy of their partnership. How can I forget such immortal, refreshing, and most wonderful hit songs on stage and film history as these:

Oklahoma! - "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Many a New Day," "I Can't Say No," and the final rousing chorus of "Oklahoma!" itself.
Carousel - "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "If I loved You."
South Pacific - "There is Nothin' Like a Dame," "This Nearly Was Mine," "Younger Than Springtime" and "Some Enchanted Evening."
The King and I - "Getting to Know You," "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Something Wonderful" and "Hello, Young Lovers."
The Sound of Music - "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "The Lonely Goatherd", as well as the title song.

Who knows, we might yet have another Rodgers and Hammerstein in the making, an anodyne to all these turbulence and disarray in our world today. As I write this, nearby, my sound system is playing Carousel, softly beckoning me to join in. That I never cease listening to their music and at times singing their songs is a privilege. I'm at it now, " ... how I loved you... if I loved you."

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Personality of BEETHOVEN

English: Picture representing Ludwig van Beeth...
Ludwig van Beethoven in 1823 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For the world today, the two most famous classical composers are surely Mozart and Beethoven. In this article, we're going to take a close look at the personality of one of those composers - Beethoven. His life story, trials, and tribulations make for very interesting reading and backed by the soundtrack of his music shows him to be a true and rare genius.

It is widely known that Beethoven had a strong personality and by the first-hand accounts of many of his peers, was rather difficult to get along with or indeed understand. No doubt the great man's deafness and his obsession with hiding the fact contributed to his seemingly strange and obstinate behavior.

Through his music, it is clear for all the world to see that he was a man of high and noble thoughts and ideals although his personal treatment of many of his peers especially critics and moralists was scathing, to say the least. Noted for being a stubborn man his time spent living at the house of Prince Lichnowski's house enabled a select group of people to know him more intimately than most had before.

He would frequently go against protocol and arrive late for dinner, not caring for time or the etiquette of punctuality. Many accounts also take note of his clothes and how he often would appear unkempt and unshaven. For Beethoven, being born a noble was of no real value whatsoever and should entitle you to little automatic respect, those were things a person had to earn through their conduct in life.

The fact that his hearing had started to disappear while still young and with a bright future as a performing pianist ahead of him cannot be underestimated. In his efforts to hide his infirmity it no doubt gave rise to peoples opinion of him as being strange, awkward and a recluse. This fact above all else is responsible for so much of Beethoven's behavior in his later years especially from 1801 onwards when he finally accepted that his condition was incurable.

    Payo Perry is a well recognized online author.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

COLE PORTER - Composer Extraordinaire

Most people know Cole Porter for 1948's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Kiss Me Kate." Based on William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," this was neither Cole Porter's first or last work.

A very accomplished musician, Cole Porter was born to a wealthy pharmacist and his wife on June 9, 1891, in Peru, Indiana. Cole was the only surviving child of three. His siblings died in infancy. His mother doted on him, and she began his musical training at the early age of six with the violin. He began piano at eight, and with the help of his mother wrote his first song, "Song of the Birds," by age ten.

Cole Porter - Photo: Wikipedia
Even though his talent as a musician was evident at an early age, it was his father's wish for Cole to become a lawyer. Cole went on Yale and Harvard. Cole was never to become a lawyer, however, and at a dean's suggestion, he switched his major to arts and sciences.

Cole wrote his first hit song in 1916, entitled "Esmeralda." This was quickly followed with a taste of failure, however, when his first Broadway production, "See America First," based on a book by Larrason Riggs, ran for only two weeks before closing as a complete flop.

Cole then moved to Paris, France, where he lived on an allowance provided by his mother and grandmother. It was there he met and married Linda Lee Thomas, a wealthy Kentucky born divorcee. The marriage was rumored to be a business arrangement, as he was known throughout his career to have had many male lovers. Many of his hit songs were supposedly written for several of these men.
Although still writing songs, Porter sat out most of the 1920's. Reportedly, he helped with war efforts throughout Europe. He has even joined the French Foreign Legion, and his uniform can still be seen on display today.

Cole Porter reintroduced himself onto Broadway in 1928 with his musical, "Paris." The score included the hit song, "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love."

Continuing to work on Broadway, Porter introduced Ethel Merman in 1935 with "Jubilee," after which he included her in five more of his productions because he loved her brassy voice and wrote songs to showcase this trait. Cole then wrote several musical productions which included Fred Astaire's last stage show, "Gay Divorce," in 1932. Over these years he also worked with Bob Hope and Jimmy Durante.

In 1937, tragedy struck. Cole Porter's legs were crushed during a riding accident. While awaiting rescue, Porter wrote the song "At Long Last Love." Cole was hospitalized for two years and restricted to a wheelchair for five. Over the remainder of his life, this talented musician endured over thirty surgeries to his legs.
During the next twenty years, Cole Porter was nominated for four Oscars. In 1961, he finally won a Grammy for best soundtrack album from a motion picture for 1960's "Can-Can."

"Can-Can" was Cole Porter's last major production. He lived out the rest of his 73 years in relative seclusion, refusing even to attend events held in his honor. Cole Porter followed his wife in death. She died in 1954 from emphysema. He died on October 15, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. He was returned to Peru to be buried at Mount Hope Cemetery between his wife and his father. His mother preceded him in death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1952. Upon his death, Cole Porter left his 350-acre estate, known as Buxton Hill, to William's College.

Remembered for his sophisticated, sometimes ribald lyrics, clever rhymes and complex forms, Porter was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. His estate continues to bring in revenue in excess of three million dollars per year, which is dispersed among several family members.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Life of Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) by Barbara Krafft (1764–1825), 1819
Photo  by Royal Opera House Covent Garden 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in January 1756. His father was a minor composer and musician to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg. Mozart had an astonishing talent for music and at the age of five composed some of his own pieces. His father, Leopold, give up his own career to foster his son's prodigious talent.

In his formative years, the family traveled extensively in Europe where Leopold showed off the talent of his children -- his daughter Nanneri and his son, the child prodigy Wolfgang.

From 1773 to 1777, Wolfgang was employed as a court musician to the Archbishop of Salzburg during which time he refined his skills. But he was frustrated because of the low salary paid to him.
In 1781, he started working for the Archbishop of Vienna. He was somewhat badly treated which left him disgruntled and seeking other avenues. In August 1782, he married Constanza Weber with whom he had six children. In Vienna, he composed some of his finest works including 15 piano concertos before 1786. In 1786, he commenced work on the first of his three comic operas. Mozart and his family lived in Vienna for the rest of his life.

From 1788 onwards his fortunes declined. He went through dire financial circumstances, a matter of grave concern. He fell ill whilst in Prague, suffering from pain, swelling, and vomiting which eventually confined him to bed. At the time he was working on his Requiem. Finishing it had become an obsession. He died in December 1971, his affliction still undiagnosed and was buried in a common grave in the presence of only four mourners.

Mozart was one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Richard WAGNER - Titan of Opera

Richard Wagner - Photo Wikipedia (CC)
Because of the lack of discrimination in ascertaining how the composers used t motives, we can understand Massenet's et Cie. ambivalence about Wagner's influence. The Wagner system was not only about motives but also in how they were employed and what kinds of things they were meant to symbolize, that was all part of the "system." Other composers broke with that system by using motives entirely differently, Verdi, for example, used them extremely sparingly and kept them intact, to him they were used as recontextualized reminiscence.

Massenet followed that path as well, his theme usage in Manon and Werther are sparse. They highlight just a few issues and moments within the work. Though their job was to see these discrete techniques and artistic conceptions, critics at the time became partisans and polemicists and Wagner's breakthroughs led to a decade of deep creative frustration and ambivalence.

A look at Manon and Carmen shows how "Mademoiselle Wagner" was as much an inheritor of Bizet and of traditional opera as he was an acolyte of Wagner. Though published at a time when operas had firmly become "Music Drama" Manon is comfortably within the same family as its famous predecessor.

Some of the scenes in both operas are startlingly parallel. They open with huge tableaux showing us all these slices of life scenes, the changing of the guard and the cigarette girls in Carmen and the Inn at Amiens were the townspeople chatter and gossip waiting for Guillot and De Bretigny to arrive. The music here is boisterous festive and self-referential. Both composers here are concerned with evincing extended local colors and flavors, hardly a Wagnerian concern.

In the first act, we already see Bizet employing the limited use of motive that in 1874 already got tarred as Wagnerism. The use of Carmen's fate theme, which is one of the devices that allows Bizet to connect his opera between the individual "numbers" is much in the same vein that Massenet uses his themes. It's true that in Bizet these themes are not employed as subtly as in Manon but a decade separates these works and innovation and aesthetic temperament grow and change.

Both these operas concern themselves with a heroine too morally ambivalent to serve as a Wagnerian philosophical prop. The story of their journeys from the desire to defiance to death is firmly in the traditional school of operatic stories and despite hysterical criticism that the orchestras in each of these operas dominated the singers (!) these works show no great leap from that last international opera composed for Paris, Verdi's Don Carlos in 1867.

That Wagner's influence is tremendous is obvious. I have not even gone through the changes he made in the theater such as the hidden pit and the completely unlit performance hall. It is hard to believe that before him orchestra pits were public affairs and those operatic spectacles were viewed with the house lights on. This does not mention his advocacy for chromatic horns, the invention of the Wagner horns, and the standardization of the orchestra as we know it nor his role in the primacy of the conductor. His idiom is still the idiom of popular classical music to this day, in television, films and video games, the scores are composed with Wagner in mind. To have to deal with that influence, particularly at its first great plateau must have been an enormous preoccupation. The terror that Brahms and Schubert had of Beethoven even pales in comparison. For classical music, particularly opera, this age was the birth of the anxiety of influence, and the French composers of that time must have realized that they would not live long enough to see themselves understood or appreciated for their personal contributions.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

VIVALDI - Son of Venice

Antonio Vivaldi by Fran├žois Morellon la Cave; 1725
Antonio Vivaldi by Fran├žois Morellon la Cave; 1725
 (Photo credit: 
Venice, Italy, is a popular and fascinating travel destination visited by thousands every year. In addition to the canals and other famous attractions, a visit to Venice can be a great experience for classical music lovers, especially fans of Antonio Vivaldi.

Antonio Vivaldi was trained as a priest, but learned violin at an early age from his father and is best known today for his innovative, flamboyant compositions. His most famous work, the Four Seasons, is one of the earliest tone poems, or a musical piece that captures specific moods and elements of a scene being depicted. His work heavily influences Bach, though many of his works disappeared into obscurity after his death. The Four Seasons, in fact, remained unknown through Vivaldi's lifetime. He also composed several operas, which were popular at the time and much in demand from royal sponsors.

Born in Venice in 1678, Vivaldi spent many years in the city as the master of violin at the Ospedale della Pieta, an orphanage. Today, a small Vivaldi-centric museum exists at this site, featuring items relevant both to Vivaldi and to the orphanage itself. Some items displayed in the museum include instruments that were played by the orphanage's inhabitants during Vivaldi's time. These instruments might even have been played by Vivaldi himself. The church where his formal baptism took place, the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, also still stands in Venice, an additional must-see destination for Vivaldi fans.

The Museo della Musica, or Museum of Music, also features information and displays about the life and works of Vivaldi. This small museum is also housed in a church, and entry is free of charge. The museum features a collection of baroque period instruments and a display that discusses how violins are made. The church itself provides a beautiful display of neoclassical architecture, as well.

With careful planning, it is even possible to attend concerts to hear Vivaldi's works performed live in the city of his birth. Be sure to ask for information at the Venice hotels of choice to find current available performances or concerts. Since these performances vary from season to season, a schedule specific to the time of year will be important.

Staying at hotels in Venice can help contribute to a detailed, informative and enjoyable exploration of the city as well as Vivaldi's history and early years. Many Venice hotels are located within easy reach of these Vivaldi landmarks. Staff at hotels in Venice will likely be able to help provide guidance on where the best Vivaldi-themed locations in Venice can be found.

    By Roo Sadegi

    Roo Sadegi is a travel writer based in London's East End, although he spends much of his time traveling around Europe's travel hotspots.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Sunday, September 24, 2017


George Frederic Handel (1685 - 1759)

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Felix Mendelssohn - Bartholdy
(3.2.1809 - 4.11.1847)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Thanksgiving Piano Music - Simple Gifts Enjoyed by American Composer, AARON COPLAND

The beautiful melody, Simple Gifts, is from a book of songs published in the 1840s by the Shakers, a religious group who settled in areas from New England to Kentucky. The melody for Simple Gifts was used in American composer, Aaron Copland's ballet, Appalachian Spring. It's theme of simplicity, freedom, and humility are appropriate for a ballet, but for celebrating the spirit of our National Thanksgiving Holiday.

English: Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity is gained, To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed, To turn, turn will be our delight, 'Till by turning, turning we come round right.

This year at your family's Thanksgiving table take a moment to count the simplest of your blessings and feel the peace. We can spend so much time focused on the future and forget to celebrate each day and to make the most of every moment with our loved ones. Achievements are important, but without the people, we love the most to share them with, they mean little to us. Relaxing piano music is a lovely way to bring a little extra peace into your home during the busy holiday season. Make your first purchase a piano CD of this musical part of our Thanksgiving heritage - Simple Gifts. Who knows, it might turn out to be one of your family's favorite traditions at Thanksgiving.

To learn the best way to share the gift of music with children visit for my Piano Bears Musical Stories for Children The exciting Piano Bears Musical Stories for children ages 5 to 11 feature the loveable characters, Mrs. Treble Beary and her new piano student, Albeart Littlebud. Children love following along with Albeart to Mrs. Treble Beary's piano studio in Musical Acres Forest. Here they learn what piano lessons are all about in a fun way that kids readily understand and appreciate! Piano students laugh and giggle while reading "Little Bear's Musical Garden" and "Little Bear's Piano Goals."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Life & Music of GEORGE GERSHWIN

Even though George Gershwin's life was sadly cut short by a brain tumor when he was only 38 years old, his music still lives on in the hearts and minds of the world today. Some of his most famous works included "Rhapsody in Blue" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." His storied career includes many other notable highlights and achievements over the course of his brief life.

George Gershwin
Photo  by cliff1066™ 
George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants on September 26, 1898. He was named Jacob Gershowitz at birth. The family name was later Americanized by George to facilitate his show business career. Many of his other family members followed suit and changed their names accordingly. Gershwin had three siblings in his family.

George Gershwin revealed his talent for music at an early age. At the tender age of 10, Gershwin attended his friend Max Rosen's violin recital. He was absolutely fascinated by the passion behind the performance. He loved the sound of the instrument and the skilled nuance with which Rosen performed.

The Gershwin parents had bought a piano for George's older brother, Ira. George came home from the violin recital and was determined to learn to play an instrument, so he began tinkering around with Ira's piano at home. He learned the instrument quickly, so his parents were happy to help him find a suitable professional for a piano teacher.

The search for a piano teacher for young George Gershwin took nearly two years. He finally settled on Charles Hambitzer, who influenced Gershwin's musical life immensely. He taught Gershwin formal techniques and formal European music. Gershwin would attend classical music performances with Hambitzer, and he was often able to reproduce the melodies on the piano when he would return home. Hambitzer acted as Gershwin's mentor until the time of his death in 1918.

At 15, Gershwin dropped out of school to become a song plugger for Jerome H. Remick and Company, a firm from New York City's famed Tin Pan Alley. The position earned him $15 a week, but more importantly, it positioned him well in the music industry.

By 1916, Gershwin published his first song, entitled, "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em, When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want Em." He was 17 years old.

He followed up his release in 1916 with a 1917 release of "Rialto Ripples," which was a commercial success. In 1918, he released "Swanee." In 1924, Gershwin began his foray into musicals, a pursuit that would make him forever famous. He penned "Lady Be Good" and "Fascinating Rhythm" that year.

Follow-up musicals in subsequent years included "Oh Kay," "Funny Face," "Strike Up the Band," "Show Girl," "Girl Crazy," "I Got Rhythm," "Porgy and Bess" and "Of Thee I Sing." The latter of the group won the esteemed Pulitzer Prize.

Gershwin's success on Broadway eventually led to calls from Hollywood movie studios. He moved out to California to do some film work. While out in Hollywood, he began complaining of headaches in early 1937. Sadly, during his work on a film entitled "The Goldwyn Follies," George Gershwin collapsed due to a malignant brain tumor. He later died following a surgery to remove the tumor on July 11, 1937.

Although his life was tragically cut short, George Gershwin's legacy will always live on through his music. From timeless hits to musicals, his melodies still resonate in popular culture. His influence will be felt for decades to come.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


English: Johann van Beethoven
Johann van Beethoven (Father of Ludwig)
(Photo credit: 
Beethoven was among the most famous classical and romantic music composers. He was born in December 1770, in a place known as Bonn, the capital of Electorate of Cologne and a part of Roman Empire. Ludwig was born in a family deeply involved in classical music. His first music teacher was his father Johan Van Beethoven.

By the age of 14, he started to work as an assistant organist in a court. While he was working for Christian Gottlob Neefe who was a member of Order of the Illuminati, Beethoven got influenced by the ideas of Freemasonry. A secret society criticized for working for devils and worshipping occults.

In 1787 Ludwig's mother got sick and then died, following which his father went deep into alcoholism. Having no one to care for his younger siblings he had to stay in Bonn for next five years. In 1792, Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna where he learned playing music from Joseph Haydn and Leopold Mozart.

In Vienna, Beethoven had to strive hard to conceive notable reputation in the musical industry. For the premiere of his first symphony, he hired the Burgtheater and presented his Septet, the First Symphony and Piano Concertos, along with some works of Haydn and Mozart. Soon after these achievements, Beethoven started to gain fame and eminence.

In 1799, when Beethoven was teaching music lessons to Hungarian Countess's daughters, he started an affair with the youngest daughter, Josephine. But as soon as the Countess Anna Brunswick discerned this, she married her daughter Josephine with Josef Deym. The love between them didn't diminish and was accentuated again after the sudden death of Deym.

English: Picture representing Ludwig van Beeth...
Picture representing Ludwig van Beethoven in 1823
 (Photo credit: 
Beethoven's hearing ability started to deteriorate by the age of 26, it is said that he suffered from a severe form of tinnitus, typhus or some sort of auto immune disorder. He was used to writing letters to his friends and doctors, in which he wrote about the pain and agony he was facing but nothing would help. His ability to hear gradually decreased until 1814 when he completely became deaf.

Although Beethoven had lost his hearing ability, he didn't quit playing music. One of the famous incidents is when he blatantly started to cry before the audience due to his inability to hear the applause after his ninth symphony. He continued to have public concerts until the 24th of May 1824 when the concert was attended by few and nothing went well.

Josephine had already married another commoner and Beethoven was left alone. After a long sickness and bed rest of two months, he died in March 1827. The autopsy revealed that he died of liver damage and auditory dilation due to excessive intake of alcohol. His name as one of the best classical music composers will never be forgotten in the world of classical music.