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

Monday, June 1, 2020

NICCOLO PAGANINI - A Short Biography

Български: Николо Паганини
 Paganini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Paganini's name is one that burns with lustre peculiarly of its own in the record of musical art in the nineteenth century. He represents the climax and the highest triumph of the virtuoso. Soon after the beginning of the nineteenth century came about what Dr Hanslick calls a "new birth of the wandering musician," in the travelling virtuoso. Thalberg, Liszt, Chopin, Henselt, Clara Schumann, Döhler, Dreyshock, the pianists, and the violinists Spohr, Paganini, Vieuxtemps, Ole Bull, Lipinski, de Beriot, the cellist Servais, and still others, all appeared within a very few years of each other, contesting for the palm. 

Of all these, the most potent in his spell upon the public, the most mystifying in the magic of his wonderful technical powers, was Niccolo Paganini. With only one other of his kind was the comparable - Franz Liszt. But unlike him, Paganini lacked a high and truly musical gift. His powers were chiefly comprised in his marvellous mastery of the violin, and in the effects, he obtained upon it, before him unheard of and unimagined. His composition has certain originality and charm and many of them still appeal to violinists of the virtuoso style, and through them to the public; they exploit, naturally, the brilliancy and novelty of the technical devices that he introduced and that have become famous.

Paganini was born at Genoa, Italy, February 18, 1784. His father was a petty shopkeeper, uneducated, but fond of music, and a performer on the mandolin.

The young Niccolo, like most who have made a great mark in music, early showed evidence of his genius, and his father took steps to develop it, forcing his talent, in fact, with the greatest roughness and severity. He studied at first under local teachers. He had made much progress by the time he was six years old, and when he was eight he wrote a sonata. His master made him play a new concerto in church every Sunday, and at the age of nine years, he made his first appearance at a concert. Then he was sent to Ghiretti and Alexander Rolla, of Parma. He even then began to experiment with a veritable frenzy. He made his first concert tour in the neighbouring Lombardy cities when he was thirteen years old, and laid there the foundation of a reputation that never ceased growing during his lifetime.

He speedily entered upon a checkered and adventurous career, in which his artistic successes were mingled with dissipations of all sorts, especially with a passion for gambling. For some years he experienced the strangest vicissitudes of mood, sometimes giving up the violin for the guitar for months at a time, sometimes devoting himself exclusively to amateur agriculture.

But he finally began his concert tours again, which he kept up in Italy with constantly increasing success, to the admiration and bewilderment of the public. In 1828 he left Italy for the first time and appeared in Vienna. The contemporary accounts exhaust the resources of language to describe the delirium of excitement and wonder into which his performances threw the whole city. During his long stay in the Austrian capital, he was honoured in every possible way, official and unofficial. His progress through the cities of Germany was similar in kind. He reached Paris in 1831, where his success was quite as great.

Only in England was he received somewhat coldly, and his business methods aroused opposition: but his pecuniary gains were enormous.

The winter of 1833 he spent in Paris; one fruit of his sojourn was the symphony with viola obbligato, "Harold in Italy", which Berlioz wrote for him at his suggestion. In 1834 he returned to Italy, where he had invested his great earnings in landed estates. The final chapter of his life was a miserable end to his brilliant career; it was unfolded in France between 1836 and 1840. He joined with a firm of speculators in the building of a clubhouse, called the Casino Paganini, in Paris, nominally for musical entertainments, really for gambling. The government refused it a license: the concerts failed to pay. He hurried to Paris to save the venture by performing at them himself, but he was too ill to play. The company collapsed; he was sued for 50,000 francs, which he had to pay under pain of arrest. As the sentence was about to be executed upon him, he died of laryngeal consumption, on May 27, 1840, being at that time in Nice, in search of health.



Much has been written about the characteristics of Paganini's playing, which must have been much more than the mere trickery of a virtuoso. He seems to have had a fine though not very large tone, and an expressive cantilena; his intonation was unfailing, his rapidity on the fingerboard lightning-like, his bowing of the highest dexterity. He had such a command of double stops, harmonics, and double harmonics, as none other ever possessed. He introduced or revived a number of novel effects that long puzzled violinists, notably by tuning his instrument in unusual ways.

His violent staccato, his frequent use of left-hand pizzicato passages, were peculiarities of his playing. One of his most noted feats was to play solos upon the G-string, which he tuned higher, and upon which, by the use of harmonics, he attained a compass if three octaves.

Paganini's influence upon the modern technique of his instrument and the development of its style was very great, comparable only with that of Liszt upon pianoforte playing. His compositions are not numerous. Paganini's sheet music includes twenty-four caprices for violin solo, twelve sonatas, two concertos, in E flat and B minor, a "Moto Perpetuo", several sets of variations and three quartets for violin, viola, guitar and violoncello.



Sunday, May 17, 2020

Was BEETHOVEN Actually Deaf?

Beethoven in 1818 by August Klöber
Beethoven in 1818 by August Klöber
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let's put aside everything that we've been told about Beethoven and consider this question. It's an ugly question that will probably provoke aggression, but it is nevertheless interesting.

What is the evidence that Beethoven was deaf? Scrounging through literature and websites shows many anecdotes, letters, and references to an autopsy report (of which the original has been lost). It looks pretty promising, however, we really can't definitively say whether or not it is authentic. This is where this post begins to sound like a conspiracy theory, but rest assured, I'm only trying to use an example to ask a larger philosophical question.

Beethoven's biggest legacy could be his development of the idea of how we think of artists. His music broke the classical boundaries and originated the idea of the brooding, highly individual artist (as opposed to the former artisan status of composers). At the time, his music was very avant-garde and widely criticized. That's not to say that his music was bad, it was arguably pretty amazing, however, it wasn't what people were used to, and in order for people to accept progress, they need to think that it's worth their time to do so. This is where it gets interesting. For argument's sake, let's say that Beethoven was a genius. The problem posed to him was: How do I get people to give this music a chance?

Imagine you are a 19th-century citizen. It is a Friday night and you're looking to go out and have a good time. You hear that there is a concert being given with some new Beethoven piece. You're slightly interested. Then you hear the rumor that Beethoven's gone deaf... What? At this point, you are fully interested. You feel compelled to go, even if it's just to laugh at the chaos of the music. That is exactly the type of person that Beethoven's music would snare. 

Their minds would be open and without expectation for normal classical-era music. What happens when you go to this concert and the music is actually really good? It is human nature to love stories of brave people overcoming tragedy, therefore people would want for his music to be good and would be more likely to pay attention and accept his eccentricities as a genius. Beethoven was notorious for stopping concerts if he felt he wasn't being given full attention. Did his deafness not afford him exactly the attention wanted?

English: Photograph of bust statue of Ludwig v...
The bust statue of Ludwig van Beethoven by Hugo Hagen
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
One of the reasons that Beethoven's deafness could be viewed as an attention grabber is the way that he revealed his affliction to everyone. Whether or not his deafness was real, it is obvious that he was portraying himself as romantically as possible, trying to evoke feelings of sympathy or admiration for his courage in accepting every challenge life had to offer. I would say a wonderful example of this is the report of him having guests over to his house in 1814, whereupon he proceeded to play piano extremely loudly (that he may also hear), whilst remarking "Isn't it beautiful?". 

This apparently had a wonderful effect on the guests who felt deep sympathy for him and his courage. Nice one. Another piece of evidence for his self-romanticization is in his letters in which he says things such as: "Live alone in your art! Restricted though you be by your defective sense, this is still the only existence for you" or my personal favorite "Perfect the ear trumpets as far as possible, and then travel; this you owe to yourself, to mankind and to the Almighty! Only thus can you develop all that is still locked within you;-- and a little court,--a little chapel,--writing the music and having it performed to the glory of the Almighty, the Eternal, the Infinite---". 

Oh, what a tragic character he is. What makes it so much more charismatic is that it's a true story! The references to religion are particularly interesting. It gives him so much more power to say that he is driven by divine forces.

It would seem as though he was trying to employ a gimmick or create a character for himself. Where would he have gotten an idea like this? Why was the timing for this "deafness" historically logical? The answer to both of these questions could be Mozart. The concept of Mozart is a perfect father to Beethoven's deafness.

Mozart was also, to a lesser extent, a romantic character. His music is backed by a story. The story of a child genius, born only to compose and enchant. He was writing symphonies by the time he was 8. Wow! It didn't matter that the music was bad, people didn't care about the music, they cared about the story. His father was also a musician, so who knows how much of these early works were actually Wolfgang. I'm not trying to say that all of Mozart was a sham and that he's a worthless composer, just that he was founded on a gimmick. His later music is actually quite good. 

Nevertheless, the gimmick was quite successful and everyone wanted to see the freak of nature that was Mozart. The idea of the child genius caught on and many people tried to replicate it exactly. Beethoven, a huge fan of Mozart, could have seen this gimmick and wanted to have his own. Thus the age of gimmicks (that is still alive today) was born.



The gimmick is such a powerful tool in art. Beethoven's legacy has proven this to us. Ask anyone today about Beethoven, and you will just as likely hear a reference to his deafness as to an admiration for any particular piece. In fact, I would argue that the average person would know Beethoven only by his deafness. To demonstrate the power of the gimmick, imagine showing a person the second movement from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

It's a beautiful piece to be sure. Imagine their expression when you tell them that it was written by a deaf composer and that it saved him from suicide. Just then, the piece transforms from a beautiful piece to a compelling testament to the triumph of human perseverance. Although it's only a partially true statement, the effect that it has on the listener is enormous. My question here is: If backstory can create such a powerful effect, why would a genius such as Beethoven not seek to employ is strategical?



Sunday, May 3, 2020

HANDEL: A Musical Life of Devotion

George Frideric Handel, by Balthasar Denner (d...
George Frideric Handel, by Balthasar Denner
 (Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
A great gift to music entered into the world on 23 February 1685 in Halle, Germany. A life of great musical interest; one filled with an unbelievable talent that would become a beacon to many throughout the European continent and span centuries past its lifetime. It is a life that would become centered around a great mystery of how the musical talent would blossom into a recognized and celebrated gift; a life that would alter the musical landscape and the spiritual worship realm in a short 24 days, and a life that would become so influential that it would dictate musical compositions for many years afterward.

A musical life that in the beginning would find itself struggling to exist; a life that will be forever known in George Frideric Handel. It is through Handel that we credit many great musical accomplishments; accomplishments in the mixture of homophonic and polyphonic textures, through the creation of his own unique works through the process of combining German, Italian, French, and English musical traditions into his highly successful English Oratorios. And most importantly through the lasting effects of Handel's single greatest gift to the world, and the world of music: The Messiah. But how does the work of this single musician leave such a strong impression on the music that we have today? What could possibly make the music of Handel something that would be hailed as electric, memorable, unique, and even cutting edge? And most importantly how could one person alter the musical idiom through a single twenty-four-day creation of a setting of Christ's life? Through these questions, I will explore Handel's impact on music in a way that shed's light on the significance of Handel as a musician, a teacher, and inventor and as a religious preserver. It is with Handel that we credit a great deal of musical advancement.

Adversity in Handel's life was something that he encountered early on in life. At an early age, Handel found himself faced with a father that did not support a career in music, in fact, his father was a person that greatly hated music; noting that it was a pastime that served the sole purpose of casting a light on the weakness of character found within a person. It was his father that wished he would strive to obtain a career as a lawyer, a position that would come with a great deal of security in position and financial stability. This was something that Handel himself would have to come to terms with, because he himself was born with "signs of a fierce ambition, born of an awareness of his superiority as a musician, and with a determination to maintain his independence." This determination to advance his musical skill became a task that took a great deal of hard work and convincing; though it was Handel's mother that provided access to a clavichord hidden in the family's attic. The hours spent hiding from his father in the attic, covering the strings of the clavichord with cloth to dampen the sound, allowed young George the time to practice his musical development and eventually the knowledge of how to play both the clavichord and the organ. This early study is most likely what saved the musical career for Handel because it was during the time stuck in the attic that a young Duke passing by heard young George playing in the attic and was so moved by what he heard, that he stopped to listen. After hearing young George play the organ, the Duke pleaded with George's father to allow him to travel to Berlin and begin to take music lessons. The young Handel began taking lessons at the age of eight, and was easily able to conquer learning the violin, composition and theory techniques, harpsichord, and reinforce the organ playing skills. By the age of 11, there seemed little that any music teacher could teach George; it was at this point that George's father began angrily and again expressed his desire for George to cease playing in the music, and to return home and do as he wished. Handel at the request of his father did, in fact, return home, only to arrive at his father's deathbed. This was a dark period of struggle for the young Handel, compelled to honor his father's wishes, George decided that it was best to keep to his studies in law; though during this same time he continued to also sharpen the musical skills that he knew he possessed. It was during this time that Handel began to write cantatas for the various churches that he was serving in as an organist. It was the service in music that called out to Handel, and by the time he reached the age of eighteen, Handel had realized that it was, in fact, his destiny to become a great musician noting that he was destined to improve his musical abilities and his knowledge of music.

Leaving his birth city of Halle lead him on a series of travels that would shape the musical aspect of the outlook that Handel would eventually have on music. The various travels and cities that Handel was to visit would begin to influence every aspect of music that Handel would come to know and appreciate, and it was his first destination in Hamburg that would lead Handel on the path of musical greatness. It was during his time in Hamburg that Handel was really introduced to opera, and it took no time before Handel was given a position in the orchestra on the second violin. The time at the Opera house playing the violin was a period that would bring the birth of what people would come to see as a man that was described as a "large and very portly man", one that was full of a short temper and one that had a general appearance about him that was "somewhat heavy and sour." The personality of Handel would be something that many really would see as a double-edged sword, in one aspect he was an intelligent man that had a good sense of humor, one that shows a remarkable sense of integrity, reliability, and absolute honesty in all aspects of his life; but at the same time, Handel was a person that possessed a short fuse, and hot temper. He was a man that was short-tempered and vocal about his opinions of life in general, and especially music. This personality would be a defining part of Handel's musical career, as it was shortly after he started working in Hamburg at the Opera house, that George was given the opportunity to display his tremendous talent at the harpsichord; though it was also this talent that caused young George (now approximately age 22) to vocally disagree with composer Johann Mattheson on a composition Mattheson had written. It was this short fuse of Handel's that nearly ended his career, and life; though this spunk Handel exhibited also gave him the opportunity to catch the eye of a young prince, Prince Ferdinando de' Medici, which would become impressed with the music Handel was performing. This leads to Handel being asked to leave his home, now Hamburg, and make the journey to Italy where he would again be placed in a situation of being surrounded by new composers and styles of music.

Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel Deutsch: Ge...
Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The move to Italy was an exciting time for Handel, as Handel was at a point of where his primary motivation for traveling to new areas was that of gaining experience, and in the case of the opportunity to visit Italy, the objective was to learn as much as he could from the composers of Italy, and their wonderful operas. It was in Italy that Handel made significant strides in his musical career and overall development. For when Handel made it to Italy he was exposed to the world's greatest forms of music consisting of compositions of the likes of Opera, Cantatas, oratorios, chamber cantatas, concertos, and sonatas. This was a period that Handel began the task of refining his knowledge and really defining the compositional talents he had been using to this point.

Handel was afforded the luxury of being able to set no limit on the boundaries of which his music would take because of the generous gift of being surrounded by people that we're able to support Handel and his daily needs. As a member of Prince Francesco Ruspoli court, Handel was given the freedom to explore compositional aspects and dig into the music that so highly intrigued him, though it wasn't until 1710 that Handel's musical world would come to full realization, and would establish Handel as one of the greatest musicians of all times. The year 1710 came with Handel's move back to Germany where he would fall into the role once held by Steffani in Hanover as Kapellmeister to the Elector, George Louis, who eventually become King George I of England. Once in Hanover Handel was quickly convinced to travel to England with Prince George to scout out the music scene in the country as Prince George's mother Sophia was married to the English Elector, meaning that Prince George would eventually assume the throne of England (which happened in 1714). During the early visits to London, the young Handel became highly intrigued in London's newest opera house, the Queen's Theater, and it was here that Handel decided that he would produce an opera that was Italian in nature and composed specifically for London. The opera Rinaldo was thus first produced in 1711, and consisted of slightly over a dozen performances, all of which were considered a huge success; thus paving the way for Handel's move to England, and what was to become the foundation for the overall success of Handel.

The move to England was a positive move for Handel overall, leading to his ultimate desire to become a British citizen. Once he was finally settled into his life in England, Handel was offered and accepted the role of music director for the Royal Academy of Music when it opened in 1720. The academy was the center for operatic studies for many years after opening; credited greatly to the presence of Handel himself and his ability to attract the best singers to perform the works he had written himself. Though as with any worthy project dealing with the biggest and brightest stars, the academy began to see a decline in stature and operation; attributed to the high demands the singers were placed on the academy both performance-wise and financially. This was only fueled by internal conflicts among performers, patrons, and rival composers. This was a time when Handel's short fuse and hot temper did not help, as Handel himself was part of many of the quarrels that took place, though he was clever enough to lighten the situation and make the tensions eventually come to an end through humor and quick wit. This did not help the academy in the long run as it eventually was forced to close its doors, but at the same time, it only freed Handel to focus on his career, and eventually give him the time to prepare for the needed shift in musical direction as the opera itself had reached a point to where it was no longer a viable musical performance option in England.

The shift from opera was one that Handel himself was easily able to undertake, for the ambition and determination to succeed in the music realm allowed Handel to develop an internal motivator that he looked to for resolve to win fame and fortune and to "make money; honestly, if you can, but make money." This was something that would serve Handel himself well because it is Handel's personality and desire to serve the music and the people that gave him the title of "musician of the people." This afforded Handel the ability to see a great deal of success with his music and career while in England going through the period of shifting from the Operatic style to that of composing English Oratorios. This also only aided Handel in popularity because many people saw Handel's music as "property of the people, familiar, understood, and loved" and this was related to many English subjects as to the "work of not another great master the wide world over."

The overall history of Handel is able to show that the experience and cultural exposure of his various travels, gave Handel himself a wide range and palette to work from. It is through the exposure to these cultures and musical styles, compositions, composers, patron, and musician employers that Handel was given the tools needed to succeed in the music world, but the experiences themselves did not create a unique character that was what was admired in Handel. It was the personal traits that Handel possessed that afforded him the opportunity to be loved by many and respected by all. The personality of Handel was a unique blend of every imaginable aspect one could possibly think of, he had a drive; a determination to succeed, the ability to make people laugh, a sense of quick-wittedness, a familiarity aspect, devotion to religion, honesty, integrity, and incredible love of music. But most importantly Handel never let anything stand in his way of doing what he loved: serving the people, the music, and his religion. An example comes in the form of the inability of anything to stand in the way of Handel's success. In 1737 Handel suffered a stroke that for the most part threatened to end everything. The stroke had left Handel's right arm paralyzed and thus prevented him from being able to perform and also had an effect on his mind. It was during this time that Handel fought to remain active and did through the writing of Italian operas though the public no longer favored them. Handel pushed through all obstacles that he encountered including eventual blindness that took a toll on his compositions and eventually left Handel performing his music for organs from memory. It was ironic that Handel had a determination to succeed because it was this determination that left him a person that was totally withdrawal from life and society, though loved by all. He did spend most of his time and life locked away from society and the daily life in order to focus on his music and thus never married nor had any children. He was a man that truly devoted his life to the people, his music, and changing the world of music.

The Influence Handel had on music was immense, the style and techniques that he was able to incorporate into the daily musical vocabulary was a blending of the major European styles that Handel had experienced in his travels from Halle to Hanover, to Hamburg, Italy, and England. Simply put, Handel took the best of all the styles and created one Handelian style that would become a standard for the musical world, allowing him to "mature as a composer in England, the country than most hospitable to foreign composers." Handel had a solid foundation from the early Lutheran church music that he was around growing up, this attention to the harmonic structure and counterpoint of the music he was able to adapt a rich lush style in the compositions that he wrote from the sacred cantatas through the opera, and eventually into the English Oratorios. One defining feature of the style that Handel possessed is that he was ever aware of the changing trends of the time, though his style of writing stayed pretty much the same and didn't need much altering for he has such a gift for writing melodies that one would never realize that many times a harmony was not present under the melodic line. The melodies were bold and self-sustaining and thus needed no support from a harmonic progression to carry it through. A strong feature of Handel's compositional style was the process of "borrowing" materials. It is clear and evident that Handel borrowed musical ideas from others during his life as a way to create a new melting pot of musical ideas. But Handel also employed the technique of borrowing musical material, or re-use of musical material, from his own work; however, he did like to use material from other composers better. He did this in a way that varied, one method was simply to take entire pieces, or movements, from one work and reuse them in another, or to borrow material from a composer and then rework it to create essentially new compositions, as seen in the Choruses from Messiah and Belshazzar's feast; using the Italian duet "for unto us a child is born." The use of the borrowing technique is one that is unique to Handel because it was in the 1930's that it seems as if the practice ceases, though this could be because Handel found the need to shift composition styles, and thus opened himself to a wide range of materials to now pull from, thus making the reference of music harder to pinpoint. But the fact remains that the "borrowing does not affect his status as a composer" because Handel himself never based his career on any single piece of work that utilized music that was credited to the creation of another person. Thus it is not known if any single composer influenced Handel himself, however, it was obvious that Handel left an obvious influence on a composer that appeared during his time and certainly after his death in 1759.

But it was in the 1930s that Handel really would begin to impact and alter the trajectory of music and musical composition through the creation of the new genre of the English Oratorio. The English Oratorio was much like the Italian form of the genre as it set dialogue in lyrical and recitative verses but then was combined with foreign elements from the French drama, Greek tragedy, German passion, and most importantly the English masque. These characteristics combined together was enough to solidify the fact that Handel was to be the greatest musical figure of all time, and one of the most respected people in all of London and England. One of the most important contributions the Oratorio made was to the vocal setting, and through the addition of the chorus. What made this such a huge success for Handel and for the popularity of his music was the sheer fact that Handel was able to create unique effects with the orchestration of the vocal score to create a simple form that alternated in the written passages of verses from an open fugal style to that of a solid harmonic sound. This added with the orchestra, who normally was scored in a way to support the vocal parts created a work that was not only easy to sing but also made it accessible to the general public, making it established that "Handel is the musician of the people." This form of music was never meant to be suited for the church, the Oratorios were meant for concert hall performance settings and thus even though the Messiah, one of Handel's most well-known piece was written as an Oratorio, it was actually seen more as a "sacred entertainment" piece.



But Handel's contribution did not stop at the creation of the new style of music in the English Oratorio, but he actually found a great deal of success in writing instrumental works. The instrumental aspect of Handel's musical output was one that garnished him with a great deal of extra income and was a major factor in keeping the name of Handel fresh in everyone's mind and in their daily musical dealings. Though true to the nature of Handel, he was dedicated to being as successful as he could in all writing aspects that he undertook. Thus the two of his works in the instrumental category best know were written for the King and were meant to be for the public pleasure during the various outdoor performances and social gatherings. The first, Water Music was written in 1717 and was comprised of three suites for winds and strings that were meant to be played from a boat on the River Thames for the king's pleasure while he was entertaining socially those that he wished to stay in good graces with. The later of the works written in 1749 is the Music for the Royal Fireworks, a staggering piece written for an enormous wind section with strings later added in, meant to be played in an outdoor London park during a firework celebration. The work was written for many military instruments and was a work that excluded the use of stringed instruments, something that Handel initially had objections with. These two works directly play into the desire of Handel to continue to push the boundaries of what music was, and what it could do for the people, and how it could be enjoyed for all, in all aspects of life.

The most profound work that Handel ever wrote, one that would become the model work in the sacred realm of composition; one that would receive a great deal of homage by composers from all areas of Europe and for many decades, is the now infamous, Messiah. The Messiah is a remarkable piece simply from the process in which Handel took to write it. In a short twenty-four day span, the work would come to existence from a mere thought. A large part of the ability for Handel to become so musically genius was the way in which he typically broke, or even stretched out traditional styles of composing music in order to make a dramatic impact on the work he was involved with. He was able to do this through the way in which he personally lived his life and through the enriched skills he had developed throughout his extensive travels. He had acquired the ability to take raw talent and to polish it up into something of pure beauty and wonder. Since Handel himself typically chose various religious themes for many of his compositions, more and more of the British citizens began to approve using his music as a method of worshiping their god. It was fitting that Handel made his home in England because it is the English that "have always been a Bible-reading... god-fearing nation, with strong religious instincts and a reverence for sacred things". Messiah is Handel's most well-known work, and it is the best example of a work that can be used as a creative worship piece. The work is divided into three segments: The coming of the Messiah, The suffering and death of Christ, and the Resurrection. This work was composed and contained various features that gave way to a wide range of emotions: joy, sadness, fear, excitement, love, compassion, dramatic, and hopefully; but no matter what the need or feeling that way to be expressed Handel found a way to do it, and the Messiah was the catalyst to showcase those talents.

The Messiah composed in 1742 is seen by many as the best-written oratorio that has ever been written. The extensive piece contains some fifty sections of music and performance that takes nearly three hours to fully perform and celebrate. The most impressive aspect of the piece is the fact that it was composed in a mere twenty-four days; accomplished by Handel locking himself in his home refusing to be interrupted by anyone. During this time it was reported that Handel barely ate anything and slept very little. This was yet another nod to the dedication that Handel was known to have, and also played into the aspect that Handel had simply become part of his work, and thus always made sure that his full attention and thought were put into the music as it was composed. It might have been odd for Handel to write such a religiously profound piece considering that he himself was not a very religious person until the later part of his life; though there are accounts that lay claim to a "divine source" as the inspirational and motivational factor for the composition of the work. So profound was the work that Handel himself self-stated that "I did see Heaven before me, and the great God himself" when he had finished the widely recognized Hallelujah chorus. The work has had a lasting effect on not only the composer's reputation as one of the greatest advancers of the musical composition spectrum but also on the works of composers who have been inspired by the works of Handel; Mozart being someone that had become extremely influenced by Handel and in particular the Messiah. But there also have been effects of this wonderful composition on the tradition of the work, and the performance aspect of how it moves people to feel something nearly spiritual every time it is heard. It is reported that during the first performance of this composition in London, that the current King of England, King George II, felt so moved and religiously compelled to stand during the singing of the Hallelujah chorus that others fell in step with the king (as was the protocol of subjects to their king) and stood as well. This is a tradition that continues to this very day during the performances of Handel's Messiah.

As you can see Handel had an enduring legacy on music and the compositional aspects of music. The dedication that Handel should to his life of music and the preservation of a lasting legacy has allowed Handel to really never leave us. His effects have been felt to this very day through the standing of the audience during the Messiah, to the compositional nods that composers give to Handel in their works. Handel is someone that proved to many that as long as there exists the desire to achieve, the object of their desire can be reached. Handel's life there seemed to be filled with adversity from the beginning. From his father not wanting Handel to participate in a career filled with music, to his struggles with changing musical styles, the sometimes-awkward positions that Handel found himself in as it relates to arguments; Handel persevered through it all. It was not until the end of his life that Handel showed signs of a frail individual not able to continue on. Blindness was a severe blow to Handel's career being that the production of, and revision of large-scale works was something that could no longer be done. Handel continued to do what he had done all of his life and find new ways to stay relevant and current with the musical needs and did so through the use of trusted friends that did most of the dictation work for Handel, however eventual total blindness left Handel in such poor health that even that had to come to an end. It was finally on April 14, 1759, that Handel left his body form and thus was not the death of Handel, but was the birth of an enduring legacy of Handel on the musical styling of what was to come.



Monday, July 8, 2019

GEORGE GERSHWIN - Prolific Songwriter and Musical Maestro

English: George Gershwin (1898 – 1937), an Ame...
George Gershwin (1898 – 1937), an American composer 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


George Gershwin was born on the 26th of September, 1986 in Brooklyn, New York. His roots were a mix of Ukrainian and Jewish roots, from Russia. The key to his interest was a violin recital by his childhood pal Max Rozen. He liked what he had heard. His parents bought a piano for his brother and future lyricist, Ira Gershwin. He took it from there and took to it more than his brother Ira.

Gershwin came from a family that had music in their blood. In addition to his brother getting into music, his sister too, started taking it up early in life but gave it up in favor of family life. Gershwin was tutored by a number of tutors who didn't make much of an impact on him and his music until he met his last piano teacher - Charles Hambitzer. Hambitzer taught him the proper way of playing the piano.

Paving his knowledge of European music history, introduced him to the music of the past and encouraged him to attend a concert when he could. When he eventually did this, he was quick at reproducing the same music note of note after returning home after the concert. He also studied with Rubin Goldmark and Henry Cowell.

When 15, George quit school and started working at Jerome H. Remick and Company as a "song-plugger" where he took a salary of $15 a week. His first commercial success was tasted with Rialto Ripples in 1917 but he really hit it big time in 1919 with his composition Swanee, which shot him to fame all over the United States.

In 1916, he worked with Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls doing the recording and arranging piano rolls. There is no official count of the rolls that he came up with, but it is said that he has hundreds of piano rolls to his credit. He credited his work here with a number of aliases - some which were Fred Murtha and Bert Wynn. He made rolls for reproducing pianos made by Duo-Art and Welte Mignon. He had a small little stint getting into vaudevilles playing pieces by Nora Bayes and Louise Dresser most often at the vaudeville shows that he performed at.

In 1924, he and brother Ira worked on their first musical together - a comedy - Lady be Good. The songs from Lady Be Good - Fascinating Rhythm and the title track Lady Be Good - were soon to be standards. Then on, a string of musical followed with most of them being very successful. Some of them are Girl Crazy, Strike Up the Band, Funny Face, Show Girl and Oh, Kay!. From among these, Girl Crazy became the first ever musical to win a Pulitzer Prize apart from spurning the hits I Got Rhythm and Of Thee I Sing.

The same year he made music for a musical, he also composed his first classical piece - Rhapsody In Blue. The piece was, orchestrated by Ferde Grofe, played by Paul Whiteman's band. He tried a hand at learning something from greats like Nadia Boulanger and Maurice Ravel, but Ravel rejected the proposition to teach him saying that bring his technique mainstream would ruin his jazz specialty.
His stay there inspired the piece An American In Paris. The piece didn't do well at the press and with critics when he played for the first time on the 13th of April in Carnegie Hall. But it, like some of his other early hits, became many jazz band's standard repertoires.

After getting fed up with the music scene in Paris, he decided to return home to the United States. His best was yet to come. Two years before his death in 1937, he composed his most appreciated work yet. Porgy and Bess premiered on Broadway in 1935.
In 1937, Gershwin began complaining of being able to smell burnt rubber and of headaches. He was diagnosed with a condition of a brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme. Despite the condition, he continued to work. He played with the San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra in the same year.

This was his last performance before he collapsed and died and dies while working on the score of The Goldwyn Follies.

Two months after his death, the score of They Can't Take That Away From Me, from the film Shall We Dance won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.



Friday, December 28, 2018

Best Loved OPERAS - PUCCINI's La Boheme


Composer Giacomo Puccini in a studio photograph.
Composer Giacomo Puccini 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Puccini's opera La Boheme is one of the most popular and loved pieces. It will sell out at opera houses around the world many times over. It seems opera lovers simply can't get enough of this work. Why is it?

Perhaps the story of love at first sight and the simply stunning music are two things that make it so popular. The story is one that many people can relate to. It is about real human emotions and situations rather than fairies and emotionally out of touch characters.

Most aspiring professional opera singers have one of the many arias from La Boheme on their wish list. Most characters have one or two outstanding songs which is also why you will often hear arias as well as duets from La Boheme sung at opera galas of popular opera.

What is the story then? La Boheme is an opera in four acts based on a story of bohemian life set in the Latin Quarters in Paris in the 1840s. The world premiere was in Turin in 1896 and was conducted by a young Arturo Toscanini. Toscanini would later become one of the most well-known and highly regarded conductors of opera of all time. It was an instant hit and immediately became part of the standard opera repertoire.

English: Poster for the 1896 production for Pu...
Poster for Puccini's La bohème
Artist: Adolfo Hohenstein (1854-1928)
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
The beginning of the opera sees four men in an attic space. There is Marcello (a baritone) who paints, the writer Rodolfo (a tenor), Colline (a bass) who is a philosopher, and the musician Shaunard (a baritone). They have very little or no money and in order to keep warm, they burn one of Rodolfo's failed manuscripts. The three men go out to Café Momus around the corner and Rodolfo will join them later after having finished the article he is writing. There is a knock on the door and Mimi (a soprano), a seamstress who also lives in the building, enters. She asks Rodolfo if he has any matches as her candle has blown out. This is the start of their great love story and it is where we hear two of the most famous arias ever written. First, there is Rodolfo's aria Che gelida manina (What a cold little hand) followed by Mimi's Si, mi chiamano Mimi (Yes, they call me Mimi) where they tell each other of their backgrounds and interests. This leads into one of the most well-known duets in the entire operatic repertoire, namely O soave fanciulla (Oh gentle maiden). The melodies are beautiful and the music is thick and bursting with emotion. There is something so simple and human about the love between Rodolfo and Mimi.

Act two starts with the four men and Mimi at Café Momus in the Latin Quarters. Soon, there is quite some commotion and a very elegant and sexy woman enters the scene. This is Musetta (another soprano), the former girlfriend of Marcello. She is now with an old rich man, Alcindoro (a bass) and it is quite clear she is fed up with him. When she sees Marcello she starts singing another aria which is one of the most popular ones ever written called Quando m'en vo (When I walk along) to make him jealous. In this very risque aria, she talks about how walking down the street everyone admires her and thinks she is amazing. Act two ends with a great ensemble in which Rodolfo and Mimi, and the now reunited couple of Marcello and Musetta, are singing together.

At the start of act three, Mimi is seen wandering the streets looking for Marcello whilst coughing severely. Rodolfo has left her and she is bereft. Later on, Mimi overhears Rodolfo telling Marcello that he left Mimi because he is afraid she is dying and he can't cope with it as he has no money to pay for doctors or medicine for her. He hopes she will find a rich man who can give her what he can't. Mimi's coughing reveals her presence and the two unite again for the time being. Here Mimi sings her second aria Donde lieta usci (From here she happily left), and soon after this Musetta arrives and is seen arguing passionately with Marcello. There is a very funny quartet where the two couples and singing together; the one couple reconciled and full of love, and the other one fighting and calling each other quite hateful words.





The final act sees the action back in the attic room from the start of the opera where Rodolfo and Marcello both mourn the loss of their respective lovers leaving them. Soon Musetta arrives with Mimi whom she found wandering around in the streets severely ill. Musetta and Marcello leave to sell Musetta's earrings in order to be able to afford medicine for Mimi. Here in the finale of this fantastic masterpiece of an opera, Rodolfo and Mimi recall their first meeting and their happiness together. Mimi dies in Rodolfo's arms and the opera ends with Rodolfo's crying out Mimi's name in anguish as he weeps uncontrollably. It is one of the most dramatic and heart-wrenching endings of all time. You can feel the despair and loss of Rodolfo and the sadness of all the friends who have arrived back in the attic room just as Mimi dies.

    By Margaret Cooke - Article Source: EzineArticles


Monday, December 17, 2018

DAVID FOSTER - Award-winning Musician And Composer

English: David Foster speaking at a ceremony f...
David Foster speaking at a ceremony for Andrea Bocelli to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Born November 1st, 1949, David Foster is an award-winning producer, composer and musical arranger, and has won 14 Grammy awards – and been nominated for 42 – over the course of his career. As a member of the musical group Skylark during the 70s, Foster gained the opportunity to work closely with many high-level celebrities and musicians, including John Lennon, Josh Groban, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Andrea Bocelli, Madonna, Gordon Lightfoot, and many, many more!

Foster was also asked to compose the score for the film St. Elmo’s Fire and gained several additional hit singles off the movie’s soundtrack release. Through his own record label, Foster produced debut albums for several well-known musical artists who have since moved onward to very lucrative musical careers, such as Josh Groban, The Corrs, and Michael Buble. His label is known as 143 Records.

Foster was married in 1991 to Linda Thompson, and although they are no longer together, Foster and Thompson worked together on several pieces such as the song “I Have Nothing” from the soundtrack to The Bodyguard in 1992. This song was nominated for both a Grammy and an Academy Award, and in 1996, Foster’s composition “The Power of the Dream” with Kenneth Edmonds became the official theme song for that summer’s Olympics.

As an attempt to get into television, Foster and his two step-sons began a reality TV show called The Princes of Malibu, where Foster played himself, trying to convince his sons to shape up and make their own way in the world. The show failed and was cancelled soon after its debut. More recently, Foster was featured as a guest on the television reality show American Idol, as a mentor to competitors. He was also a judge on the show Nashville Star, as well as Celebrity Duets, a show created and produced for Fox-TV.




Thursday, October 18, 2018

Great Moments In OPERA, Works of MOZART: “Cinque, Dieci, Venti, Trenta” The Opening Of Mozart’s Opera “Figaro”

English: An original poster for Wolfgang Amade...

An original poster for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera, The Marriage of Figaro
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The opera “Figaro” starts off with an aria which is explosive in its opening notes. It builds up to an enthusiastic first piece which is called “Cinque, Dieci, Venti, Trenta” (five, ten, twenty, thirty); these being the numbers which Figaro is using to measure a space in the room he hopes will be the one he and his wife to be; Susana will be sleeping in.

It is as Figaro is measuring a space for his wedding bed that his fiancée, Susana enters the room asking him to look at a hat which she has made for herself by saying “guarda un po mi caro Figaro, guarda un, guardo adesso il mio capello”, (take a look at my hat). The music at this point builds up as one can sense the almost ecstatic joy which Figaro and Susana feel knowing that they soon will be man and wife. It being as if they are in a climatic spiral, where things could not get any better than they already are; as they are on the threshold of the most wonderful thing the world has to offer.

Figaro, for his part, on the one hand, is glad that Susana has made herself such a lovely hat and that they will be getting married but on the other hand, is slightly annoyed that she will not let him concentrate on measuring the space in which he has planned to place what will be their wedding bed. Figaro, however, is won over by Susana’s near ecstasy, as he starts singing with her that her hat is indeed beautiful and all would appear to be made just for them in the sheer delight which surrounds them. It is in my opinion that this particular area captures almost to perfection the joy which most couples experience before they are about to get married as well as the general mood which encircles them before such an event.



From my point of view, I also find this opening piece to be the one which sets the tempo of the opera, not only musically but of the story and its eventual happy ending which goes through several moments of humor before Figaro and Susana; can be declared man and wife. Apart from liking this aria another reason why I have chosen to write about it is because the opera “Figaro” will be performed this year in Warsaw’s “Teatr Wielki” for the first time and it is with tremendous hope that I might be escorted by my Joannuszka Slisznuszka that I try to point out the magnificence of this particular piece. It is one of many classics in the opera “Figaro” which in fact is one of Mozart’s most successful operas along with “Don Giovanni” and “The Magic Flute”.

    My name is Gianni Truvianni, I am an author who writes with the simple aim of sharing his ideas, thoughts and so much more of what I am with those who are interested in perhaps reading something new. I also am the author of the book entitled “New York’s Opera Society”.

    Article Directory: Article Dashboard


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Success and Grief: What Giuseppe VERDI's Life Reveals

Giacomo Brogi (1822-1881), Portrait of Giusepp...
Giacomo Brogi (1822-1881), Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Giuseppe Verdi, the great Italian composer, was born in 1813 in a small village near Parma, Italy. When he was 12, he was appointed an organist in the village church. In 1832, when he was 19, a wealthy merchant friend of Verdi's father's was aware of his great talent and offered him a music scholarship in Milan. Accompanied by his father and his teacher, Verdi arrived in Milan in May 1832. A great disappointment, however, awaited him there: he applied to the Milan Conservatory, but after hearing him playing the piano, the school rejected his application.

The same year, he experienced another blow: his beloved sister Josephine died. And in 1837, another misfortune found him. From his marriage to Margherita Barezzi in 1836, he had a daughter, Virginia, whom he adored. But Virginia died when she was only a few months old. In a dispirited condition, Verdi isolated himself in his home, in Milan, and faced tremendous difficulties: he was jobless, had no money, and often could only eat once a day in miserable inns. As if all that were not enough, in 1839 his second child -a young son- also died. Verdi's life became unbearable. In 1840, he received the most tragic blow of all: his beloved wife, Margherita Barezzi, died. Grief-stricken, Verdi fled Milan for his village Busseto, so that he could find solace.

But impresario Merelli visited him there and asked him whether he would like to compose the music for a work titled Nabuchodonosor. Verdi of course, refused. He had lost his desire to compose music. Merelli insisted, however, putting the libretto for that work in Verdi's pocket. With half heart, he tried later to start composing. But the notes weren't appearing -or if they were, they were full of sorrow, like the composer's soul.

However, he finished it in 1841. Rehearsals on the opera Nabuchodonosor -or Nabucco as it turned to be named in the meantime- started early in 1842. But immediately it became clear that Verdi had composed a masterpiece. Nabucco was performed for the first time in La Scala in Milan on March 9, 1842. What followed was an unprecedented triumph. The enraptured audience responded with a standing ovation, demanding -with a frenzy of applause- repeated encores of the moving chorus song "Va, pensiero, sull' ali dorate," which still causes shivers of emotion.

Verdi -now 29- had suddenly become famous. People were singing the chorus song from Nabucco in the streets, while hats and neckties with Verdi's name inscribed on them were sold everywhere. Milan's wealthiest families opened their homes to him. The same year (1842), the composer became acquainted with a famous soprano, Josephina Strepponi, and developed a lasting relationship with her that persisted until her death in 1897.

During the next nine years, between 1843 and 1851, Verdi composed thirteen operas, which were performed in all the big cities of Italy -Milan, Rome, Venice, Naples, Trieste- as well as in London, and all had enormous success. The first of those operas was I Lombardi, which was performed at La Scala in Milan on February 11, 1843. The day of its premiere, enthusiastic crowds mobbed the theater, and the success of that opera was similar to Nabucco.

Opera Ernani followed in 1844, based on Victor Hugo's work of the same name. It premiered in Venice on March 9, 1844, to great acclaim. Exuberant Venetians lifted Verdi to their shoulders and carried him triumphantly around Saint Mark's square. With the money he earned from Ernani, Verdi was able to buy a small farm near his village. Opera Jeanne d' Arc (Giovanna d' Arco) followed in 1845, with equally great success. Verdi had now so much money that he acquired a mansion in his village Busseto.

Other accomplishments included the operas Attila in 1846, and I Masnadieri (The Bandits) in 1847. The Bandits' premiere was held in London with a particular fanfare: Queen Victoria and almost all the members of Parliament were present. The opera was a big hit, and Verdi made staggering amounts of money. He bought a large farm with woods and vineyards near Busseto, and an apartment in Paris, where he retreated from time to time to relax with his companion, Josephina Strepponi.

The tension between Italy and Austria was mounting in this period, and to stir up patriotic sentiments, Verdi composed the opera La Battaglia di Legnano (The Battle of Legnano). That opera was first performed in Rome in 1849. Tickets for the premiere were sold out. It was another smash hit. Ecstatic, the audience demanded as an encore the repetition of the entire fourth act. Verdi had become a national hero. At the end of the same year, a Verdi opera was performed in Naples, too: Luisa Miller, based on Schiller's tragedy of the same name.

During the next eight years (1851-1859), Verdi composed his extraordinary masterpieces, the operas Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Simon Boccanegra, Un Ballo in Maschera, and others -and he arrived at the culmination of his glory. He finished the first of those masterpieces, Rigoletto, early in 1851, and its premiere was staged in Venice on March 11 of the same year. All night, Venice's canals resounded with the voices of gondoliers' singing "Feather in the Wind," a song well known even now. After 21 performances in Venice, Rigoletto began to be performed all over the world.

In 1851, Verdi also began to compose his next masterpiece, the opera Il Trovatore, which he completed the following year. The premiere was held in Rome in January 1853, again to great acclaim. Two months later, his third masterpiece - the opera La Traviata- premiered in Venice. It was again an instant hit and was even performed in America.



In 1855, Verdi finished the opera Les Vêpres Siciliennes. Its premiere was held in L' Opera de Paris; in 1856 it was performed in La Scala in Milan with tremendous success. Its ardent patriotism stirred the souls of Italians. In 1857, the opera Simon Boccanegra was performed in Venice, and the same year, Verdi composed the opera Un Ballo in Maschera. The latter opera was performed in Rome in February 1859 with great success -the ticket prices were seven times normal.

Verdi had arrived at the pinnacle of his career; at the age of 46, he was considered Europe's greatest composer. To make his success complete, he married early 1859 the woman with whom he had lived for the last 17 years, Josephina Strepponi.

In the next years, Verdi composed a lot of other operas. In 1862, he finished his work La Forza del Destino (The Power of Destiny), which the Russian Theater of Petrograd had commissioned. In March 1867, the opera Don Carlos was performed for the first time in Paris. At the end of 1871, his opera Aida was performed in Cairo. The performance lasted more than eight hours -from 7:00 p.m. to 3.00 a.m.

In 1874, he expressed his feelings in his next work, the mournful Messa da Requiem, performed in May 1874 in the church of St. Mark in Milan. Next year, sorrowful da Requiem realized enormous success. After having conquered all of Italy, it did the same in the rest of Europe, while in London an unbelievable chorus of 1,200 voices would participate in the performance, a fact that moved the critics to write rave reviews.

Verdi -now aged 62-began to enjoy the delights of life. He became acquainted with a young intellectual, Arrigo Boito, who shared the pleasures of culture with him, exposing him to the new intellectual currents and fashions. In 1876, Verdi conducted his opera Aida in Paris, and soon the opera was performed triumphantly all over Europe. In 1881 he rewrote his opera Simon Boccanegra, which was performed that same year in its new form with great success.

From 1879, he had started setting the music for Shakespeare's Otello, which he finally finished in 1886. The premiere took place at La Scala in 1887. Celebrities from all over Europe arrived for the performance, and tickets prices reached unprecedented heights. At the end of the performance, the audience's cries of joy could be heard blocks away. When Verdi came out of the theater overcome with emotion, the people unhitched the horses of his carriage and drew it themselves to his hotel. Between 1888 and 1892, Verdi composed another masterpiece, the opera Falstaff, again based on Shakespeare. Falstaff was performed in La Scala in 1894.

In 1897, Verdi's beloved companion, his wife Josephina Strepponi, died. From then on, his health crumbled, and the year 1900 found him confined to a wheelchair. In 1901, the great composer -one of the greatest in the world- departed from this life, at the age of 88.

Conclusion

Verdi's life reveals that sometimes grief can lead to enormous success. As you can recall, when Verdi was 24, in 1837, his beloved daughter Virginia died, and two years later, his second child also died. Next year, in 1840, his beloved wife Margherita Barezzi died, too. Grief-stricken, he fled Milan for his village. But impresario Merelli visited him there and asked him to compose the music for the opera Nabucco. Verdi refused, but later he started composing, though he was full of sorrow. The outcome was a masterpiece. When Nabucco was performed, it was an unprecedented success. Grief had led to triumph. From now on, Verdi became one of the greatest composers in the world.

On the subject of this article I have written a whole book titled The Seasons of Our Lives, in which I explain how our life's seasons alternate from good to bad -and vice versa- based on the way the good and bad seasons have alternated in the lives of lots of famous men and women, whose the biographies I cite in the book (Verdi's included).

The moment you have finished reading this book, you will be able to know whether the years just ahead are good or bad for you, and how long this season will last. You will be able thus to act accordingly: if there is a storm on the horizon, you will take shelter in time. If sunny days loom ahead, you will take advantage before the opportunity passes. The book is published by Heart Space Publications, an Australian publisher, and you can find it at Amazon under the words: The Seasons of Our Lives Kouloukis paperback, or at my website: http://www.gpkouloukis.com.

    By George Kouloukis
    George Kouloukis is a Greek attorney-at-law, a barrister. As a member of the Athens Bar Association, he has offered legal services to Ionian Bank of Greece, the Greek Electric Railways Company, and other corporations.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Friday, August 31, 2018

COMPOSE MUSIC the Easy Way!

English: Diagram of a musical chord progressio...

There are basically two ways to compose music. One way is by starting from the bottom or the harmonic approach.

A composer/arranger takes a few chords, a phrase to hang them on and arranges the harmony in some kind of pattern. An example of this is the "loop" you often hear in contemporary music. A loop is simply a harmonic background over which a melody (or not) is played.

The second way to compose music is by starting with the melody. Composers may or may not have some idea of the finished idea (I prefer not to) but the melodic idea is fitted into some kind of phrase. The most common phrase used is the 8-bar phrase.

I find that starting with the melody to be the easier approach. Why? Because melody is easier to move forward then harmony. Sure, you can block out a few chords and arrange them to create a loop, but this becomes static over time. Melody is much easier to go forward with.

By using the principles of repetition and contrast, we can create a simple ABA form in no time at all. Then we can go back and harmonize each section.

I used to favor the harmonic approach at first. It was very easy to simply jot down chord changes on an 8-bar phrase, create some kind of arrangement, and improvise a melody on top. There is nothing wrong with this approach at all. But I soon found myself learning towards the melody first. Not because I think it's better, but simply because it's the method I like right now.

Either way, it's a good idea to compose music using one approach or the other. If you try to harmonize a melody while you're creating it, it will slow you down and may stop the creative flow.

    Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons. He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 14 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Visit www.quiescencemusic.com now and get a FREE piano lesson!

    Article Directory: EzineArticles


Monday, July 9, 2018

Great Moments In OPERA, Works Of MOZART: "La Ci Darem La Mano"

La Ci Darem La Mano

„Max Slevogt Don Giovannis Begegnung mit dem steinernen Gast“ von Max Slevogt - Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin.
Quelle: Wikipedia

Don Giovanni’s aria of seduction “La Ci Darem La Mano” from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni”.

About the aria “La Ci Darem La Mano” is taken from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” which is based on Seville’s famous seducer “Don Juan”.

It being “Don Juan” or “Don Giovanni” who makes it his life’s goal to seduce as many ladies as possible regardless of any factor other than that they be of the opposite gender. It is in the first act of this two-act opera that Don Giovanni spots a lovely peasant girl by the name of Zerlina, whom his taste dictates he must introduce to the acts of sexuality.

This in spite of the fact, or perhaps motivated further by it that she is engaged to be married to a man by the name of Masetto. Don Giovanni, however, being one who is not deterred by such factors approaches the group in which Zerlina finds herself in at the time and offers the hospitality of his home so Masetto and her friends might take refreshment in his generosity; naturally while Don Giovanni himself keeps Zerlina in the private delight of his charm.


Masetto, however, is cautious of Don Giovanni and mentions that Zerlina cannot remain at a distance from his society; only to be told by Leporello that she is in the hands of a gentleman who will take over his role of protector of her in the most gallant of ways. This precisely what Masetto feared leads him to protest further yet only to be told by Don Giovanni that if she does not leave without further reply; his actions he will repent. It is then that Masetto accepts Zerlina’s decision to remain in the exclusive company of Don Giovanni and declares he has understood how his love for Zerlina will be his ruin.


 Once alone Don Giovanni declares that though Masetto is a man of gallantry, he is not appropriate for Zerlina, for she deserves more than the mere life of a peasant; as he himself wishes to take her to wife. This being that which captures Zerlina by surprise as she in confusion repeats his offer to which Don Giovanni confirms what her ears have taken in by offering his castle and all that is to be found in it in the ways of joy. Zerlina for her part is still wondering as to the sincerity of his offer as Don Giovanni begins his aria of seduction with the words “La Ci Darem La Mano”.

This meaning “let me take your hand” as he continues by adding that she will say yes. Zerlina still not sure converts this aria into a duet with thoughts expressed as “I want to but I do not want to, my heart shakes a little, I know I will be happy but I feel sorry for Masetto”. Don Giovanni, however, being of the ways of gentle persuasion continues his seduction by telling her he will change her lot in life. Zerlina at this point influenced not only by Don Giovanni’s words as well as caress becomes unsure as she claims again she wants to but does not want to, only to have Don Giovanni repeat he will change her lot as he urges her tenderly to go with him. Zerlina at this point no longer feels capable of refusing as she claims “non sono pui forte” (I am no longer strong) and joins Don Giovanni in a common cry of “andiam andiam a veri, a ristorar di veri, un inocente amor” (let’s go and consummate this innocent love).

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Don Giovanni has been successful at his attempt of seduction and sure that theirs will end in the ecstasy of passion takes Zerlina into his arms and kisses. Zerlina being more than willing to allow him to go on to her body as he will; for she will do likewise on to him. It, however, is as all was ready for Don Giovanni’s and Zerlina’s carnality that Dona Elvira (one of the many in Don Giovanni’s love life) appears and warns Zerlina not to give in to her seducer. This being advice which unfortunately for Don Giovanni, Zerlina heeds to as she and Dona Elvira take their leave of Don Giovanni and his ways.

 I, however for what concerns me would love to seduce the worship of my opera life, Angela Gheorghiu in the same fashion and though I can not sing; I most assuredly can create fantasy of delight that she might wish for ours to end in sexuality yet I, however, would not like for ours to be interrupted; as was the case with Don Giovanni and Zerlina.