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ℓaura ℓawrie
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Something new from the folks at Niantic! #AncSoc  

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My classical music post for today is Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the English composer Frederick Delius (29 January 1862–10 June 1934).

http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Delius+On+Hearing+The+First+Cuckoo+In+Spring/2FokDh?src=5

Delius first became interested in composition when he was sent to manage an orange plantation in Florida; he was influenced by African American melodies that he heard there. He then went to Germany to study composition formally, and finally ended up in Paris, where he lived for most of the rest of his life.

Delius's orchestration is chromatically harmonic (there's a great musical expression for you!); basically, what this means is that he moves in and out of recognizable keys, keeping the melodic structure, but he does not keep to any one key within a composition. He has not been as popular as he should be; like many English composers of his time, he has been largely forgotten. But there is the Delius Society, formed to promote his music, and they give a prize every year to a young musician.

On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is a tone poem that Delius composed in 1912, as a companion piece to Summer Night on the River. Both of these works are meant to have been written at the urging of Percy Grainger. Eric Fenby, Delius’s assistant, wrote in his memoir, Delius As I Knew Him:

"I played on until tea-time, and, when Mrs. Delius suggested that instead of reading aloud to him Delius might care to hear a gramophone record, I thrilled with expectancy, for it is always a fascinating thing to observe the effect of a man’s music on himself. He chose Sir Thomas Beecham’s beautiful record of his On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, and, sitting there opposite him in the quiet of that great room, with no fidgeting neighbours or disturbing faces to distract, one touched the very heart of Music in those exquisite opening bars. Never had the sound of strings nor [Léon] Goossens’ oboe-playing seemed so magical! A curious other-worldliness possessed him. With his head thrown back, and swaying slightly to the rhythm, he seemed to be seeing with those now wide-open yet unseeing eyes, and his spirit ebbed and flowed with the rise and fall of his music. . . . The pause at the turning of the disc did not disturb his rapture, and this going-out of himself through the noble love of music continued until after the lovely sounds of that final and singularly beautiful cadence had died away."

My classical music post for today is Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.
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My classical music post for today is part of the second movement of Frederik Magle's Symphonic LEGO Fantasia.
At 1:58 p.m. on 28 January 1958, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen filed a patent for one of the greatest inventions ever, LEGO.

http://www.magle.dk/audio/Fantasy-excerpt.mp3

In 1995, the Danish composer Frederik Magle (born 1977) was commissioned by the LEGO Group to write a work for orchestra. The result, Symphonic LEGO Fantasia for piano and orchestra, was first performed in 1997 (with Magle at the piano) by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This is not an easy piece to track down; all I can find is excerpts and mentions. I'd love to hear the whole work!

My classical music post for today is part of the second movement of Frederik Magle's Symphonic LEGO Fantasia.
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My classical music post for today is Dello Joio's Variations and Capriccio for violin and piano.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the American composer Norman Dello Joio (24 January 1913–24 July 2008).

http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Variations+And+Capriccio+I+Theme+And+Variations/2R45PL?src=5

Dello Joio is considered to be one of the most important American composers of the 20th century. He wrote in a variety of genres, but his choral music is perhaps best known. He also was Dean of Boston University's School For the Arts when I was there, so I knew him!

Dello Joio won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Meditations on Ecclesiastes He liked mixing Gregorian chant with jazz in some pieces, and somehow he made it work. He really enjoyed writing variations.

My classical music post for today is his Variations and Capriccio for violin and piano, written in 1949.
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My classical music post for today is "Les tringles des sistres tintaient" from Carmen.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest artists of all time, the French early modern painter Édouard Manet (23 January 1832–30 April 1883).

http://grooveshark.com/s/Les+Tringles+Des+Sistres+Tintaient/gJSdz?src=5

Manet's early works were extremely controversial; he is seen as the bridge between the Romantic and Impressionist eras. He often used Renaissance works as source material, but he brought a whole new language to art. He was great friends with many artists and musicians of his time. One of his friends was the composer and cellist Jacques Offenbach, whom Manet depicted in one of his early paintings, Music in the Tuileries (other friends seen in this painting include Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Manet's brother Eugène).

In September 1879, Manet moved to Bellevue, a suburb of Paris, to undergo treatments for a leg ailment. It was there that he met the opera singer Emilie Ambre, who had just accepted the title role in George Bizet's opéra comique Carmen. Manet decided to paint Ambre's portrait as Carmen at the moment that she is singing the "Bohemian Song" "Les tringles des sistres tintaient." This is at the beginning of Act 2; gypsy girls are dancing in a tavern for the patrons, and all of a sudden Carmen starts singing. This was a big change in opera. Before this, the second act usually was preceded by a gentle, tradition ballet entr'acte. Instead, in this opera, audiences were presented with a sensuous dance and a sensuous aria. For this as well as for other reasons, Carmen was seen as a scandalous opera. Bizet was subjected to the same types of criticism as Manet: charges of realism, naturalism, and immorality were flung at both men in their lifetimes.

My classical music post for today is "Les tringles des sistres tintaient" from Carmen.
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My classical music post for today is the first movement of Berlioz's Harold en Italie.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the British Romantic poet Lord Byron (22 January 1788–19 April 1824).

http://grooveshark.com/s/Harold+In+Italy+Mvt+1/4UFCdN?src=5

Byron is considered to be one of the greatest British poets who ever lived. In his lifetime, he was known as much for his personal beauty and for his excesses -- debts, love affairs, and the like -- as for his poems including She Walks in Beauty, When We Two Parted, So, we'll go no more a roving, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and Don Juan. Lady Caroline Lamb described him as "mad, bad and dangerous to know." The Greeks consider him to be a national hero because he fought with them in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. In 1824, while planning an attack on a Turkish fortress, Byron developed a violent fever (probably as a result of poor medical treatment for a cold) and died suddenly.

The Byronic hero, a person with an idealized but flawed character, is a major figure in many of his works, and it is probable that this hero is autobiographical in many respects. Many of Byron's works have been the inspiration for music and literary works.

One of my favourite of these is Hector Berlioz's Harold en Italie, a symphony in four movements for viola and orchestra composed in 1834. This work is based on Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. The great violinist and violist Niccolò Paganini asked Berlioz to write a work for solo viola. When Harold en Italie was completed, Paganini was disappointed, as the viola did not play continuously. I think it makes for a much better work with the orchestra and viola almost in conversation throughout.

My classical music post for today is the first movement, "Harold aux montagnes," in which Harold, represented by the viola, encounters various scenes in the mountains.
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My classical music post for today is "La Ra La..." from Salieri's comic opera La grotta di Trofonio (Trofonio's Cave).
Today is the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, Paul Scofield (21 January 1922–19 March 2008).

http://grooveshark.com/s/La+Ra+La/2jomNa?src=5

Scofield was best known for his award-winning role as Sir Thomas More on both stage and screen. He brought so much to every role he took on, whether on the stage or in a film. I particularly enjoyed his Mark Van Doren in Quiz Show.

I was particularly lucky to see him as Antonio Salieri in the original London production of Amadeus (so vastly superior to the film version that I can't even bear to compare the two). The playwright Peter Shaffer based his Amadeus on a play by Alexander Pushkin, Mozart and Salieri. (Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov wrote an opera based on Pushkin's play.) Although historically there may have been rivalry between Mozart and Salieri, there is plenty of evidence that they actually respected each other. They even composed a cantata for voice and piano together, Per la ricuperata salute di Ophelia. Unfortunately, the music for that is lost.

Salieri (1750–1825) was a Viennese composer who spent most of his professional life in Austria. He was the Austrian imperial Kapellmeister from 1788 to 1824. His music fell out of favor in the early 19th century, but interest in his works was revived by Shaffer's play. There is even a Salieri Opera Festival in Italy every year, dedicated to performing his music.

My classical music post for today is "La Ra La..." from Salieri's comic opera La grotta di Trofonio (Trofonio's Cave). This opera was a great success in Salieri's day.

(By the way, I'd like to wish Placido Domingo [born 1941] a very happy birthday today. If only I could have found a recording of him singing some Salieri!)
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My classical music post for today is Stanley's Trumpet Voluntary for trumpet and strings.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the English composer and organist John Stanley (17 January 1712–19 May 1786).

http://grooveshark.com/s/Trumpet+Voluntary+John+Stanley/3oYegQ?src=5

When Stanley was two years old, he had an accident that left him almost completely blind. He had an amazing memory: if he had to accompany a new oratorio he would ask his sister-in-law to play it through just once and he would then be able to play it without any trouble at all.

Stanley is best known for his trumpet voluntaries. These are pieces written for the organ, using the trumpet stop, hence the name. Many trumpet voluntaries by Stanley and other Baroque composers have been arranged for trumpet and string orchestra.

My classical music post for today is Stanley's Trumpet Voluntary for trumpet and strings.
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My classical music post for today is Liszt's B Minor Sonata.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the Kazakhstani climber Anatolij Nikolaevich Bukreev (16 January 1958–25 December 1997).

http://grooveshark.com/s/Piano+Sonata+In+B+Minor+S+…/2yjS22…

Bukreev made 18 successful ascents on peaks above 8000 meters. He died in an avalanche on Annapurna. He was the lead climbing guide for Scott Fischer's ill-fated Mountain Madness Everest expedition in May 1996. He saved three of Fischer's clients, and this was said about Bukreev not long after: "One of the most amazing rescues in mountaineering history performed single-handedly a few hours after climbing Everest without oxygen by a man some describe as the Leonidas of Himalayan climbing."

Franz Liszt's B Minor Sonata is widely considered to be the Mount Everest of the Romantic piano repertoire. This work is acknowledged to be the crowning achievement of Liszt’s solo piano output. Many in the classical music work would consider this work to be the summit of the entire Romantic era of piano composition.

Ted Libbey says, " . . . the work is a single-movement sonata lasting half an hour, with an exposition in three broad key areas: a development, a recapitulation and a coda. But it can also be perceived as a four-movement symphonic structure, with the standard features of an opening allegro, an andante, a scherzo (in the form of a fugue) and a finale. To make both of these schemes work, Liszt relies on the technique of thematic transformation upon which so much of his music is based, developing the work's entire thematic material from a constellation of cells presented in the opening measures. In the foreground at any given time, there is great diversity of texture and character—enough for a true multi-movement work—but in the background, there is tremendous unity."

Liszt once said, "My sole ambition as a composer is to hurl my javelin into the infinite space of the future." The B Minor Sonata is a perfect example of this.

My classical music post for today is Liszt's B Minor Sonata.
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My classical music post for today is the first movement of Stephen Albert's Symphony RiverRun, "Rain Music."
"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

http://grooveshark.com/s/Symphony+No+1+Riverrun/4s2PbS?src=5

Today is the anniversary of the death of the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (2 February 1882–13 January 1941). The lines above are from Finnegans Wake, his comic work considered to be one of the most difficult works of fiction ever published in the English language. Joyce employed stream of consciousness, literary allusions, free dream association, and many other techniques in Finnegans Wake. I have read it, but I am led to believe that I am in a minority. Just don't ask me to explain it to you.

The American composer Stephen Albert (1941–1992) composed his first symphony, Symphony RiverRun, in 1983. The composer said about this work:

"The Symphony RiverRun is one of two works begun at roughly the same time [early 1983]. The other work, TreeStone, is a song cycle based on selected passages from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, the text of which forms a wildly distorted version of the Tristan and Isolde story, and is scored for soprano, tenor, and twelve instrumentalists. Both works were completed together, and they share the same musical materials. (I actually worked on the two compositions in constant alternation, though the materials common to both were put into TreeStone first.) They differ in the number and ordering of their movements, as well as their formal architecture and instrumentation. . . . The symphony and its four movements carry descriptive titles, not because the work is specifically programmatic, but in order to suggest its broad kinship to the song cycle (in which Ireland's Liffey River plays such a dominant role), and also to acknowledge the importance that Joyce's atmosphere in the TreeStone text had on my frame of mind. I did not do my composing to a specific programmatic outline; the titles of the symphony's four movements were affixed only after each of the respective movements was completed. The title I gave to the work as a whole, RiverRun, is in fact the very first word of the first sentence of Finnegans Wake."

According to the liner notes (by Richard Freed) for one recording of this work, "The opening movement, 'Rain Music,' conveys the origins of a river. After the sharply accented chords of the movement's introduction, the music becomes quieter, suggesting an atmosphere of expectancy. The momentum of the movement gathers speed and power, finally ending with a return to the movement's opening chords, now climactically pitted against a repetition by the brass, bells, piano and harps of melodic fragments heard earlier in the movement."

This symphony is a marvelous piece; had Albert not died tragically in a car crash at the age of 51, he would have continued to compose interesting and exciting music, I am sure.

My classical music post for today is the first movement of Albert's Symphony RiverRun, "Rain Music."
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