Haydn’s Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major: Dynamic and Miraculous

According to legend, during the premiere of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 96, a chandelier fell from the ceiling at London’s Hanover Square Rooms. Moments earlier, enthusiastic audience members rushed the stage to catch a better glimpse of Haydn, who conducted from the pianoforte. As a result, everyone escaped serious harm. Shouts of gratitude rang out. “Miracle! Miracle!” Symphony No. 96 earned the nickname, The Miracle.  In fact, this harrowing event occurred four …

Read more

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 …

Read more

Fauré’s Berceuse, Op. 16: Christian Ferras

A berceuse is a “cradle song,” set in a gently rocking 6/8 meter. Gabriel Fauré composed the beautiful and fleeting Berceuse, Op. 16 for violin and piano about 1879. This remastered performance by the French violinist Christian Ferras and pianist Ernest Lush was released in 1951. Born in 1933, Christian Ferras was one of the greatest exponents of the elegant, sonically colorful Franco-Belgian school of violin playing. Illness led to his early and tragic death in …

Read more

Vivaldi’s Oboe Concerto in A Minor, RV 461: Alfredo Bernardini and Bremer Barockorchester

In addition to being a prolific composer, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was a virtuoso violinist, teacher, opera impresario, and musical innovator. Based primarily in Venice, Vivaldi was renowned throughout Europe. His music influenced J.S. Bach. In his final years, Vivaldi moved to Vienna with the intention of gaining employment at the court of Emperor Charles VI. Soon after, the Emperor died. Vivaldi was left without a source of income; he died in poverty. …

Read more

Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto: Brilliance, Structure and Symmetry

Regarding his first two piano concertos, Béla Bartók wrote, I consider my First Piano Concerto a good composition, although its structure is a bit – indeed one might say very — difficult for both audience and orchestra. That is why a few years later…I composed the Piano Concerto No. 2 with fewer difficulties for the orchestra and more pleasing in its thematic material…Most of the themes in the piece are more popular and …

Read more

Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin”: Paavo Järvi and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra

Maurice Ravel completed the solo piano suite, Le Tombeau de Couperin, in 1917 amid the devastation of the First World War. The 17th century word, tombeau, refers to “a piece written as a memorial.” Ravel dedicated each of the suite’s movements to the memory of a friend who was lost in the war. Yet, there is nothing somber or elegiac about this music. The bleak, mechanized dehumanization of the twentieth century battlefield is left …

Read more

Brahms’ Four Klavierstücke, Op. 119: Progressive Meditations

Johannes Brahms wrote the Four Pieces for Piano (Klavierstücke), Op. 119 during the summer of 1893 in the Upper Austrian spa town of Bad Ischl. The brief character pieces are among the final, autumnal works of a composer who had announced his official retirement three years earlier. They inhabit an introspective world, at times filled with wistful nostalgia. The Klavierstücke, Op. 119 are preceded by three similar cycles (Op. 116, 117, and …

Read more

Send this to a friend