Corelli’s Christmas Concerto

Here is a great period performance of Arcangelo Corelli’s Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 by Accademia deli Astrusi. This piece was first performed on Christmas, 1690 and bears the inscription”Made for the night of Christmas.” The concerto is made up of six short movements which alternate in tempo between fast and slow. The final movement is a serene Pastorale which suggests the nativity scene.  The drama of a concerto grosso (big concerto) lies …

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Change Ringing in England

Yesterday’s post featured a sample of church bells from across continental Europe. In many cases, these bells have been ringing out for centuries and are part of the ambiance of the city. In England’s “green and pleasant land” of orderly fields, hedge rows and quaint cathedral towns it isn’t surprising that a structured, rule-oriented style of bell ringing developed. Change ringing, a series of mathematical patterns of tuned bells, was developed in …

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Europe's Age-Old Bells

The Christmas season presents an excellent opportunity to sample the awe-inspiring sounds of church bells throughout Europe. This age-old tradition dates back as far as 400 AD. Each cathedral and city seems to have its own unique bell sound. Learn about the history of bell ringing here and for further listening, go to this episode of Karl Haas’s Adventures in Good Music. [typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Cologne[/typography] Let’s start with eight of the eleven mighty bells …

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Nutcracker Season

Nutcracker season is in full swing here in Richmond. My orchestra, the Richmond Symphony, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker thirteen times through December 23. Richmond Ballet’s long-term dedication to live music in the orchestra pit is commendable and elevates their already excellent productions. There is no replacement for the power and emotional punch of live music. Canned music has a “deadening” effect, while live music unleashes a creative energy which propels all other aspects of …

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Music of the Hunt

(above: “Vanity Sounds the Horn and Ignorance Unleashes the Hounds Overconfidence, Rashness, and Desire” (from The Hunt of the Frail Stag), Dutch tapestry, 1500–1525) The sound of horns and trumpets evokes ancient and sometimes subconscious associations. Horns were used during the hunt to call hounds because their sound was similar to the human voice but could carry for great distances. Trumpets served as a way to communicate on the battlefield during military campaigns. …

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Pop Meets Classical

Recently, I ran across an interesting post by Kathryn Judd, a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s marketing team, called Rachmaninoff Goes Pop. It showcases famous Rachmaninoff melodies which were turned into pop songs.This got me thinking about how many other melodies from classical music have found their way into pop music. [typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Stranger in Paradise[/typography] The first music to come to mind was the Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor by …

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Vibrating Strings

Have you ever wondered what a vibrating violin string looks like in slow motion? Here is an interesting demonstration from the Discovery Channel. Notice that the E and G strings are vibrating sympathetically with the bowed A and D strings. As string players, our goal is always to draw the most resonant sound from the instrument. It’s possible for the bow to slip and slide on the surface, never fully catching the …

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