Daily Archives: May 15, 2014

MAKE MUSIC PART OF YOUR LIFE SERIES: Chopin – Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni


ChopinVariations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart‘s Don Giovanni

Frédéric Chopin’s Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” for piano and orchestra, Op. 2, was written in 1827, when he was aged only 17. “Là ci darem la mano” is a duet sung by Don Giovanni and Zerlina, from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. It was one of the earliest manifestations of Chopin’s incipient genius. It inspired Robert Schumann‘s famous exclamation, Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!

The work was premiered on 11 August 1829 at the Vienna Kärntnertortheater, with Chopin as the soloist. It received very positive audience and critical acclaim.

The work is in B-flat major throughout, except for the Adagio of Variation 5, which is in the minor key.

- Introduction: Largo – Poco piu mosso 0:00
- Thema: Allegretto 5:20
- Variation 1: Brillante 6:53
- Variation 2: Veloce, ma accuratamente 7:52
- Variation 3: Sempre sostenuto 8:54
- Variation 4: Con bravura 10:20
- Variation 5: Alla Polacca 11:24

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GREAT COMPOSITIONS/PERFORMANCES: George Gershwin – An American in Paris ( This was performed in 1959 by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.)


George GershwinAn American in Paris ( This was performed in 1959 by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.)

An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin’s best-known compositions.
Gershwin composed the piece on commission from the New York Philharmonic. He also did the orchestration (he did not orchestrate his musicals). Gershwin scored An American in Paris for the standard instruments of the symphony orchestra plus celesta, saxophones, and automobile horns. Gershwin brought back some Parisian taxi horns for the New York premiere of the composition, which took place on December 13, 1928 in Carnegie Hall, with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Philharmonic.
Gershwin collaborated on the original program notes with the critic and composer Deems Taylor, noting that: “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.” When the tone poem moves into the blues, “our American friend … has succumbed to a spasm of homesickness.” But, “nostalgia is not a fatal disease.” The American visitor “once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life” and “the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant.”

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MAKE MUSIC PART OF YOUR LIFE SERIES: Felix Mendelssohn Symphony No 5 D major minor ‘Reformation’ S. Baudo OSI


Felix Mendelssohn Symphony No 5 D major minor ‘Reformation’ S. Baudo OSI

 
watercolour portrait against blank background of a young man with dark, curly hair, facing the spectator: dressed in fashionable clothes of the 1830s, dark jacket with velvet collar, black silk cravat, high collar, white waistcoat

Portrait of Mendelssohn by James Warren Childe, 1839

The Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor, Op. 107, known as the Reformation, was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1830 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. The Confession is a key document of Lutheranism and its Presentation to Emperor Charles V in June 1530 was a momentous event of the Protestant Reformation. This symphony was written for a full orchestra and was Mendelssohn’s second extended symphony. It was not published until 1868, 21 years after the composer’s death – hence its numbering as ‘5’. Although the symphony is not very frequently performed, it is better known today than it was during Mendelssohn’s lifetime.

Key

The key of the symphony is stated as D major on the title page of Mendelssohn’s autograph score. However, only the slow introduction is written in D Major, whereas the main theme and the cadence setting of the first movement are in D minor. The composer himself referred to the symphony on at least one occasion as in D minor.[5]

Instrumentation

The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, “serpente” (possibly a serpent[6]) and contrabassoon (fourth movement only, now usually played on the contrabassoon alone), 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani and strings.

Form

The symphony is in four movements:

  1. Andante — Allegro con fuoco
  2. Allegro vivace
  3. Andante
  4. Andante con moto — Allegro maestoso
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MAKE MUSIC PART OF YOUR LIFE SERIES: Antonín Dvořák – Czech Suite, Op. 39


Antonín DvořákCzech Suite, Op. 39

Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra, Theodore Kuchar

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MAKE MUSIC PART OF YOUR LIFE SERIES: Jules Massenet Meditation de Thais – Nigel Kennedy


Jules Massenet Meditation de Thais – Nigel Kennedy

Nigel Kennedy (vln)

National Philharmonic Orchestra

Richard Bonynge (cond)

Decca Records 1984

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Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 15th, 2014: St. Dymphna


Image of St. Dymphna

St. Dymphna

Dymphna was fourteen when her mother died. Damon is said to have been afflicted with a mental illness, brought on by his grief. He sent messengers throughout his town and other lands to find some … continue reading

 

More Saints of the Day

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TODAY’S HOLIDAY: Race of the Ceri


Race of the Ceri

The Race of the Ceri (Candles) held in Gubbio, Umbria, Italy, every May 15 is thought by some to have originated in pre-Christian times because its date coincides with the Ides of May in the pagan calendar, but the better-founded explanation is that it commemorates the city’s patron, St. Ubaldo Baldassini. The candles for which the event is named are heavy, tower-like structures reinforced with iron bands. These are taken in procession to the Piazza dei Consoli; then, upon a signal, the bearers run with the candles up to the top of Mount Ingino, where they are offered to St. Ubaldo. More… Discuss

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QUALITY: W. Somerset Maugham IMAGINING AND IMAGINATION


Imagination grows by exercise and contrary to common belief is more powerful in the mature than in the young.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Discuss

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: Pierre Curie (1859)


Pierre Curie (1859)

Pierre Curie was a chemist who studied crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity, and the emerging field of radioactivity, first observed by A. H. Becquerel in 1896. Pierre and his wife Marie worked to isolate polonium and radium. Working with a student, Pierre also discovered nuclear energy by identifying the continuous emission of heat from radium particles. In 1903, the Curies shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Becquerel. Three years later, Pierre died in what type of accident? More… Discuss

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Van Gogh’s Portrait of Doctor Gachet Sold for $82.5 Million (1990)


Van Gogh’s Portrait of Doctor Gachet Sold for $82.5 Million (1990)

In June 1890, shortly before his death, Vincent Van Gogh created two versions of a painting depicting his doctor, Paul Gachet. The paintings, called Portrait of Dr. Gachet, portray the doctor seated beside a foxglove plant, an extract of which is used to treat heart conditions. In 1990, 100 years after it was first painted, Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito purchased one version of the work for the record sum of $82.5 million. Why did he later say he would have the painting burned? More… Discuss

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NEWS: Turkey Mine Tragedy


Turkey Mine Tragedy

An explosion and fire in a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, on Tuesday claimed the lives of at least 245 miners and possibly more than a hundred more who remain unaccounted for. Though oxygen was pumped into the mine in an effort to keep those trapped alive during the rescue effort, many of the dead recovered thus far succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, and hope is rapidly fading for those still underground. Because the fire took place during shift change, the precise number of miners inside at the time of the incident has been uncertain but is estimated at 787. The mine’s operator reports that 450 have so far been rescued. This is one of the worst mining tragedies in the country’s history. More… Discuss

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