Rienzi in Dresden

Last year, conductor Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden gave this electrifying performance of Wagner’s Rienzi Overture. Take a moment and listen:   I love the way this overture grows out of a single trumpet call. The music slowly awakens, searching for a direction forward. Then, suddenly it opens up into one of Wagner’s most noble and majestic melodies (1:19). Premiering in Dresden in 1842, Rienzi was Wagner’s first big hit as an opera composer. Seeds of …

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Musical Beginnings

Think about the way your favorite piece begins. From the ferocious opening four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which form the DNA for the entire symphony that follows, to the quiet, mysterious tremolos of Bruckner’s symphonies, to the attention grabbing (and audience quieting) opening fanfares of Rossini’s opera overtures, the way a piece starts tells us a lot about what will follow. As you jump, grudgingly tip toe or stride boldly into 2014, listen …

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Wagner’s Musical Kaleidoscope

Javelin…Michael Torke (b. 1961) Find on iTunes Find on Amazon In my last post we explored a fun, eight minute piece called Javelin by contemporary American composer, Michael Torke.  I asked you to pay attention to the rich orchestral colors in the music. Now go back and listen a few more times to pick up some new details.  Do you hear bright, shimmering colors?  Do you feel swept along by the music’s motion?  Maybe …

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