Fritz Kreisler’s “Preghiera,” Performed by Andrés Cárdenes

Preghiera, written in the style of Martini, may not rank among early twentieth century violinist Fritz Kreisler’s most well-known compositions. But it is undoubtedly one of his most beautiful and soulful miniatures. Written in 1911, Kreisler falsely attributed this piece to the eighteenth century Italian composer Giovanni Battista Martini (1706-1784). In an elaborate hoax, he frequently performed “newly-discovered” works of old composers, miraculously found in dusty old libraries and monasteries. In 1935, on his 60th …

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Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto: The Greatest C Major Riff of All Time?

Musician, teacher, and producer Rick Beato shares some interesting insights into Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto in a recent video at his channel, Everything Music. He calls this passage from the first movement “the greatest riff of all time written with only the white keys.” It’s a stream of notes which seems as fluid and inevitable as any jazz keyboard riff- an unrelenting, anticipation-building, virtuosic romp, completely in white-key C major until one stray G-sharp sneaks in at the last …

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“The Swan of Tuonela”: Sibelius’ Voyage into Hades

Tuonela, the Kingdom of Death, the Hades of Finnish mythology, is surrounded by a broad river of black water and rapid current, on which the Swan of Tuonela glides in majestic fashion and sings. Jean Sibelius inscribed these words in the early editions of his searing 1895 tone poem, The Swan of Tuonela. Originally conceived as the prelude to an opera, this atmospheric music came to life, instead, as part of the Lemminkäinen Suite, inspired by the Finnish …

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Sibelius’ First Symphony: Romanticism and Structure

Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces. -Jean Sibelius There’s a divine logic at work in the seven symphonies of Jean Sibelius. You get the sense of a self-creating structure- something Sibelius himself described in his famous meeting with Gustav Mahler as “style …

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New Release: Anne Akiko Meyers’ “Fantasia”

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers’ newly-released album, Fantasia, opens with a beautiful, shimmering Scandinavian soundscape. Written in 2015, the Fantasia for violin and orchestra is one of the final works of Finnish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016). In his early days a composer of 12-tone music, Rautavaara is best known for the mystical neo-romanticism of later pieces such as Cantus Arcticus (“Concerto for Birds and Orchestra”) and Symphony No. 7, “Angel of Light. Meyers talks about her commission of the fifteen-minute-long elegy and her …

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The Louisville Orchestra: Five Historic Recordings

What ingredients are required to develop and sustain a flourishing professional orchestra? Vision, ambition, dedication to the community, and at least a modicum of “big league” thinking, to name a few. The early years of the Louisville Orchestra offer a case in point. Shortly after its founding in 1937, the ensemble’s first music director, Robert Whitney and Louisville mayor, Charles Farnsley, “conceived an adventurous plan to make the commissioning, performance, and recording of new works …

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