Frigid Purcell and Lully: Two Chilly Scenes from Baroque Opera

Henry Purcell’s 1691 semi-opera, King Arthur, contains a shivering musical depiction of winter chill. The aria, What Power Art Thou comes from the fantastical “Frost Scene” in Act 3 in which Cupid awakens the “Cold Genius” (the Spirit of Winter) who, frozen stiff, would prefer to just go back to bed: What power art thou, who from below Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow From beds of everlasting snow See’st thou not ( how stiff …

Read moreFrigid Purcell and Lully: Two Chilly Scenes from Baroque Opera

Who Wrote “Lully’s” Gavotte?

Towards the end of Volume 2 of the Suzuki Violin Repertoire, there’s a charming little gavotte attributed to the French baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687). It’s based on a 1904 arrangement by the German violinist Willy Burmester, which you can hear in this old recording played by Carl von Garaguly. It’s likely that Shinichi Suzuki heard this arrangement in his twenties when he was studying in Berlin with another German violinist Karl Klinger. Cellist Mischa Maisky included Burmester’s …

Read moreWho Wrote “Lully’s” Gavotte?

Mozart in Paris: Symphony No. 31

  In 1778, at the age of 22, Mozart traveled to Paris with his ill mother in hopes of landing a job at the court of Versailles. Years earlier, as a child harpsichord prodigy, he had created a sensation in the French capital. Now, the mature Mozart’s music went over the heads of most French nobility. It seemed too complicated. There were just “too many notes.” As one review observed, The composer obtained …

Read moreMozart in Paris: Symphony No. 31

La Folia’s Endless Possibilities

Good composers borrow. Great ones steal. -Igor Stravinsky La Folia, the ancient theme/chord progression which originated in Portuguese dance music as early as 1577, was borrowed (and stolen) by composers throughout the Baroque era. Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Handel, and Jean-Baptiste Lully were among the composers who took advantage of the theme’s endlessly rich musical possibilities. Later composers also paid homage to La Folia. It surfaces briefly at this moment in the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Franz Liszt included it …

Read moreLa Folia’s Endless Possibilities

Send this to a friend