Establishing Order out of Chaos: Music of Rebel, Rameau, and Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn’s 1798 oratorio, The Creation, begins with a shocking musical depiction of chaos which, at times, seems to anticipate the chromaticism of Wagner. This famously progressive harmony sets the stage for a masterful dramatization of the creation of the world, as outlined in the Book of Genesis. As shocking as Haydn’s Representation of Chaos was at the apex of the genteel Classical period, it was not without precedent. Fifty years earlier, the …

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New Release: Víkingur Ólafsson’s “Debussy-Rameau”

Jean-Philippe Rameau and Claude Debussy meet as virtual contemporaries on Debussy-Rameau, a new album by the Icelandic pianist, Víkingur Ólafsson. Surprising common threads emerge as we listen to the music of Rameau (1683-1764), one of the most important French baroque composers and theorists, alongside the rule-shattering impressionism of Debussy (1862-1918). Ólafsson believed the juxtaposition would “create a dialogue that might show Rameau in a futuristic light, and find Debussy’s deep roots in the …

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Music and Humor

Leonard Bernstein masterfully explored the subject of humor in music in one of his Young People’s Concerts. The episode takes listeners on a musical tour from Haydn and Rameau to Brahms, Mahler, Prokofiev and Shostakovich and offers insight into why we find certain music funny. To this day, no one has done more for music education than Bernstein. Watching these programs, which originally aired on CBS in the late 1950s, you can sense Bernstein’s passion and …

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