“Resonet in Laudibus”: Music of Lassus, Praetorius, and the Moosburg Gradual

Resonet in laudibus (“Let the voice of praise resound”) is a Christmas carol which dates back to the 14th century. Popular throughout Medieval and Renaissance Europe, the melody found its way into the choral motets of composers such as Orlande de Lassus and Jacobus Gallus. In 1550, Georg Wicel called it “one of the chief Christmas songs of joy.” Let’s explore the evolution of this exuberant melody through two Renaissance motets. In both …

Read more“Resonet in Laudibus”: Music of Lassus, Praetorius, and the Moosburg Gradual

Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors”: The First Television Opera

On Christmas Eve, 1951, opera moved into the television era. On this evening, the premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors was broadcast live from NBC’s studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. The NBC Opera Theatre performance was seen by an estimated five million viewers across the country. Set in one act, it was the first opera to be composed specifically for television. Menotti was inspired by The Adoration of the Magi, a …

Read moreMenotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors”: The First Television Opera

Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis: A Cosmic Expanse of Space and Sonority

The late works of Beethoven are filled with mystery and revelation. They leave behind historical style and convention and assume a timelessness which speaks to posterity. This is the strange, spiritual landscape of the Ninth Symphony, the late string quartets, and the Missa solemnis, Op. 123. While the Ninth Symphony takes an outward journey, culminating with the Ode to Joy’s declaration of universal brotherhood, the Missa solemnis (“solemn mass”), completed around the same …

Read moreBeethoven’s Missa Solemnis: A Cosmic Expanse of Space and Sonority

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, “Appassionata”: A Turbulent Drama

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor is filled with volatile mood shifts, turbulent drama, and revolutionary fire. It was completed around 1805, during what is now known as the composer’s “heroic” middle period. Beethoven did not provide the familiar and apt nickname, Appassionata. It was added in 1838 when the German publisher, Cranz, created a piano duet version. The pianist Carl Czerny, a student of Beethoven, called this Sonata “the most perfect …

Read moreBeethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, “Appassionata”: A Turbulent Drama

Beethoven’s Third Symphony, “Eroica”: Music of Revolution

The music of Beethoven, perhaps more than any other composer, embodies the spirit of revolution. It is music filled with ferocious struggle and ultimate transcendence. Heralding the dawn of Romanticism, it signifies the ripping apart of an old order and the emergence of something new. Genteel, aristocratic elegance is replaced by edginess, disruption, and pathos. We hear the music of the court transitioning to the music of the public concert hall. An …

Read moreBeethoven’s Third Symphony, “Eroica”: Music of Revolution

John Dowland’s “Weep You No More, Sad Fountains,” Anne Sofie von Otter

A quiet melancholy shrouds many of the songs of the English Renaissance composer, lutenist, and singer John Dowland (1563-1626). Denied employment in the court of Elizabeth I, perhaps because of his Catholicism, Dowland worked in France and later at the court of Christian IV of Denmark. Returning to England in 1606, Dowland secured a position in the court of James I. Weepe you no more, sad fountaines was published in Dowland’s 1603 Third Book …

Read moreJohn Dowland’s “Weep You No More, Sad Fountains,” Anne Sofie von Otter

Sibelius’ Fourth Symphony: Probing Psychological Depths

Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 4 in A minor enters a dark, austere, and occasionally terrifying sonic landscape. At first listen, it is undoubtedly the strangest and most unsettling of Sibelius’ seven symphonies. Its four movements probe frigid, mysterious depths. Yet, upon entering this forbidding territory, we are rewarded with glimpses of rugged beauty and awe-inspiring power. Sibelius called the Fourth “a psychological symphony.” It is the stuff of Expressionism, murky dreams, and …

Read moreSibelius’ Fourth Symphony: Probing Psychological Depths

Send this to a friend