Posts tagged ‘classical music’

August 26, 2018

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer – “Vertigo” from “Premiere livre de pièces pour clavecin”

by ada

Just a quick reminder that I’m still living (unfortunately not the time of my life, but what is life anyway) – and with the second-hand spinet I bought a few months ago to restore, also came the immediate urge to ask myself useless questions like 1) why didn’t I bought an original 18th-century two-manual French harpsichord instead* and 2) what did I do to my life and why.

The newest source of my unhappiness is this really cool harpsichord piece which I’m unable to play on my spinet because it does not have all the keys needed!** composed by Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer, another great Italian-born French composer (do you still remember the First? The Greatest? The one and only Giovanni Battista Lolli?), who was held in high regard by Louis XV and was also good friends with Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, the sexiest composer ever.

Who cares that Charles Burney found his music boring? I definitely don’t.

* guess why. Just guess. Will you buy one for me if I set up a Donate button? As a thank-you I am willing to continue this blog with the present speed of one post every three months. Me thinks it’s a good deal.

** I didn’t open the spinet in two months because I don’t have the time (what did I do to my life and why?), but what I can already tell for sure is that the times when I still could tell the difference between the temperaments Werckmeister II and III are, alas, over***

*** but now I totally can tell you the difference between the second-degree atrioventricular block types Mobitz I and II!

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January 1, 2018

music for the first day of 2018 – Aria “Laß uns, o höchster Gott” from the cantata “Jesu, nun sei gepreiset” BWV 41 by Johann Sebastian Bach

by ada

Let’s start 2018 with an aria first performed exactly 293 years ago – on a Monday, just like today – and wish for the same Johann Sebastian Bach once did: that in a year from today we’ll still have all the reasons to be thankful to God.

December 22, 2017

and Art shall awaken and Love shall sing

by ada

That first tone.

And the lute player at 7:40.

That’s what music is about.

September 1, 2017

I am free of love, and I listen to music lightly

by ada

Because after Jan Dismas Zelenka, Marco Beasley, Philippe Jaroussky and Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville I now finally have a new imaginary boyfriend.

Everybody, meet Vincenzo Capezzuto.

He can sing. And he can dance.

He definitely can dance.

* I’m really late to the party, I know. But I’ve been absent from the early music scene for quite a while now.

November 7, 2016

make songs for death as you would sing to love

by ada

Kocsis Zoltán, 1952.05.30 – 2016.11.06

October 12, 2015

Valtice – Johannes Matthias Sperger: Sinfonia F-Dur (Ankunfts-Sinfonie)

by ada

Another post in the Travel Series, because I’m totally taking this seriously! This time it’s about Johannes Matthias Sperger, an Austrian composer and double bass player, born in Valtice (which at the time, as part of the Habsburg empire, was called Feldsberg), just about four months before Johann Sebastian Bach died.*

Although according to contemporary sources a virtuoso double bass player, Sperger wasn’t a particularly interesting person, neither did he have a very unusual life (for 18th century standards, that is), so unfortunately there isn’t much to tell about him. He was born (obviously), learnt to play the double bass from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger***, worked for the Hungarian nobility (specifically for Batthyány József and Erdődy Lajos), entered Freemasonry, lost his job, toured Europe and finally ended up at the Ludwigslust court of Friedrich Franz I. He died in some Salmonella infection at the age of 62, and nobody remembers him anymore but the double bass players because nobody has ever composed for the double bass but Sperger and Dittersdorf so they have to appreciate every tiny piece of music they’ve got, poor guys.

Here is a photo of Valtice, in case you’ve already forgotten how it looks. It’s very likely not the same view as Sperger got to enjoy it about 250 years ago, but it’s still rather nice.

Valtice Chateau 117

I decided to post the only work of Sperger that has any historical relevance: the Sinfonia F-Dur, also called Ankunfts-Sinfonie, composed in 1796 for the king Friedrich Wilhelm II von Preußen, a decent violoncello player himself. It is a reference to Joseph Haydn’s Sinfonie Nr 45, the famous Abschieds-Sinfonie, written in 1772 for the prince Esterházy Miklós József.

* and he died just a week before Joseph Wölfl did**

** finding a correlation between intimate biographical details of insignificant composers totally helps you navigate in the jungle of music history, haha

*** a post on him is coming too****, because remember? It was only a few months ago that I went to his birthplace

**** I’m bursting with unnecessary information on the lives and times of minor composers, all deceased at least two hundred years ago, so hold on! Only a few decades until I retire and will have All The Time to write All The Blog Posts!

September 18, 2015

Mödling – Ludwig van Beethoven: Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier, Nr. 29 Op. 106

by ada

When the idea of the Travel Series first occurred to me, it seemed totally feasible. Like, go to places and then write about their relevance in classical music. Well, as it turns out, I do the first part (“go to places”) really well, but have some serious problems regarding the second. I visited Mödling exactly five months ago, managed to post my photos of it only one month later, and then life happened and everything became more important than Ludwig van Beethoven, whose music I don’t really fancy anyway.

But now! I still have 35 minutes left of my lunch break and I’m determined to use it the right way and show the world the places where Beethoven spent 5 summers of his life composing great music like the Diabelli-Variations (I’ve never got over the third variation, because it is so boring I am no pianist), the Mödlinger Tänze (which later turned out to not be from Beethoven at all), the Missa Solemnis (vocal works written after 1790 make me nervous) and the somewhat weird Piano Sonata Nr 29, one of the two sonatas he wrote specifically for the fortepiano.

Beethoven spent the summers of 1818-1819-1820 in this house, called Hafnerhaus, owned at the time by the potter Jakob Tuschek:

Untitled 6

And this is where he wrote the biggest part of his Missa Solemnis in the summer of 1820:

Untitled 136

And here is Beethoven himself, looking wild and dark, as usual:

Untitled 18

And now, after this totally uninformative introduction, let’s listen to the 4. movement (Introduction and Fuga) of the great sonata for fortepiano, Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier, Nr. 29 Op. 106, written during the troublesome* summer of 1818 on the first floor of the Hafnerhaus and dedicated to his student, the archbishop Rudolph of Austria.

* as it seems, neither housekeepers nor maids could put up with the temper tantrums of the great Beethoven for more than 4 weeks at a time, so he spent most of his time sitting in his room and being hungry while waiting for the maid who has already run away the evening before**

** doing something to help themselves is obviously not an option for geniuses. They have to either be served or keep starving. Going out to buy food is for lowly commons***

*** can you tell I don’t really like Beethoven?

May 21, 2015

ich bin Ewig dein aufrichtig dich liebender bruder

by ada

Untitled 118

Untitled 43

April 5, 2015

music for Easter Sunday – François Couperin: Motet pour le jour de Pâques

by ada

François Couperin (le Grand! – indeed he was great), court musician, composer and harpsichord teacher of the Sun King, Louis XIV, composed this Easter motet around 1700. It was most likely performed by his cousin, Marguerite-Louise Couperin, a soprano singer of the Chapelle Royale. Happy Easter!

December 31, 2014

music for the last day of 2014 – Johann Sebastian Bach: Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, BWV 28

by ada

All I can say about 2014 is exactly what Erdmann Neumeister, the librettist of this cantata has already put into words in an oh-so-appropriate manner: thank God it’s over.

December 26, 2014

music for the 2. Day of Christmas – Dietrich Buxtehude: Das neugeborne Kindelein, BuxWV 13

by ada

I originally intended to post this cantata for Christmas Day, but, alas, my scheduling skills aren’t the ones I can be proud of. You would think there’s no way to confuse 25 with 26, but you’re wrong. I’m really talented if it comes to creating chaos. Anyway. This is one of my favourite Christmas music ever (let’s forget the fact that this piece was written for New Year’s Eve, shall we?) and I am not willing to leave it out of this series just because I still can’t do proper maths after going to school for 25 years. Ha, ha.

Dietrich (orig. Diderik Hansen) Buxtehude, although of Danish origin, is one of the greatest names in the history of the Early(ish) German Baroque music. During his lifetime he was well acknowledged and of a considerable reputation, and served as a role model for many younger composers like Händel, Mattheson and even Johann Sebastian Bach who, at the age of twenty, walked more than 300 kms from Arnstadt to Lübeck to study with him. He (Bach) rejected Buxtehude’s offer to marry his oldest daughter, Anna Margareta, though. He wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea of marrying into the Buxtehude family, but his choice of wife would have been Dorothea Catrin, the youngest of Buxtehude’s six daughters. Unfortunately, Buxtehude was a man who liked things organised neatly everything to go the way of proper 17th century social customs, like successors marry the daughters of their predecessors and oldest daughters marry first. Poor Anna Margareta who, being somewhat over-proportioned and, at thirty, well over the desirable age, has a few years earlier already been rejected by both Johann Matheson and Georg Friedrich Händel. She obviously wasn’t that sweet little thing twenty-year-old composers dream of when applying for new jobs that come with a wife. Don’t worry, she did not end up as a spinster though: in 1707, at the age of 38, she wedded Johann Christian Schieferdecker, a composer of no real importance but a man of enough courage to take the risk of marrying a woman wanted by nobody. Brave guy.

And now let’s hope this post will go up on the 2. Day of Christmas instead of on Good Friday 2015.

December 25, 2014

music for Christmas Eve – Cristofaro Caresana: La Veglia

by ada

La Veglia, Cantata a 6 voci con violini “Per la Nascita di Nostro Signore” – a proper 17th century Christmas cantata by Cristofaro Caresana, an Englishman in New York a Venetian in Spanish Naples and proud composer of the earliest complete tarantella melody in the history of music. Happy Nativity!

December 21, 2014

music for the 4. Sunday of Advent – Samuel Capricornus: Adeste omnes fideles

by ada

I had grandiose plans for today’s music post – too bad I’ve had neither time nor energy to fulfill them. So, to make the best out of this situation, let’s listen to the motet Adeste omnes fideles composed by Samuel Capricornus; moved a lot, wrote cool music, died young. My kind of guy.

December 14, 2014

music for the 3. Sunday of Advent – Johann Stadlmayr: Resonet in laudibus

by ada

Something short and sweet for Gaudete, the 3rd Sunday of Advent: the Christmas motet Resonet in laudibus, from the collection Moduli symphoniaci, in augustissima Christi nati celebritate et caeteris deinceps natalibus, et Purificatae Virginis, feriis, quinis, senis, septenis et pluribus vocibus concinendi of Johann Stadlmayr, published in 1629 in Innsbruck.

And, although Stadlmayr has only spent four years of his life in Salzburg (1603-1607), I’m determined to squeeze him also into the Salzburg Series, because I’m tricky as hell.

I can’t share a lot of interesting details about his life but the fact that he worked as a kind of butcher for six years, because he was unable to make a living out of music. Familiar situation, isn’t it? I love you, Johann Stadlmayr, you are my soulmate and bff forever.

February 1, 2014

music of the week – Anton Cajetan Adlgasser: Sinfonia in E flat Major CatAd 15:10

by ada

Anton Cajetan Adlgasser, organist of the Salzburg Cathedral between 1750-1777 and composer of countless Schuldramas for the University of Salzburg, that are all forgotten by now, is remembered mostly for being the father of Maria Victoria Adlgasser, Nannerl Mozart‘s bff, and for writing the third, now missing part of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s first oratorio, Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots (the second part was composed by Michael Haydn) (fyi, Mozart was only eleven years old at the time when he finished it. What does your eleven years old child do with their life?) (Okay, I’m obviously kidding now. Mozart couldn’t write a sentence in proper German at the age of thirty. He clearly had his weak points too).

Adlgasser became a victim of Archbishop Sigismund von Schrattenbach‘s generous policy of providing his staff with free wine, and suffered a deadly stroke  at the age of 48 while playing the organ. Being a musician is a dangerous profession. Remember Lully who died of blood poisoning after penetrating his own foot with his baton while conducting a march?

December 25, 2013

music for Christmas Eve – Jakub Jan Ryba: Česká mše vánoční – Hej, mistře!

by ada

The first movement of the traditional (and very famous) Czech pastoral mass of Jakub Šimon Jan Ryba. With cute animations; because we are talking Baby Jesus here. In a proper Central European manner.

August 9, 2013

music of the week – Passacaglia from Georg Muffats collection Apparatus Musico-Organisticus

by ada

Georg Muffat was a fellow musician of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber at the Salzburg court of the Archbishops Max Gandolph Graf von Kuenburg and Johann Ernst Thun, between 1678-1690. He was lucky enough to study both the French and the Italian way of making music (oh those honest and uncomplicated times of the 17th century with only two main trends to compare and to believe in) and to meet the two leading and trend-creating personalities of the era: Jean-Baptiste Lully (yay to the French) and Arcangelo Corelli (hurrah for the Italian). In the preface of his collections Florilegium primum and Florilegium secundum, he gives very detailed instructions* on how to play “in the French manner”, like how to hold the bow, how to place the fingers, etc. He also claimed (himself) to be the very first musician to introduce the French style to the German-speaking part of Europe, which I’m not sure is a historically true statement, but he believed so. Whatever, he did a tremendous job in creating the very beginnings of the so-called “mixed style” which later evolved to the fully completed style of German Baroque.

* that’s what makes me so mad at all those ignorant musicians who claim that we can play Baroque music as we please, because we have no information about the performance practice of the pre-recording times. Because we do have. A lot. More than enough for a lifetime to study. Every time I hear modern pianists and symphonic orchestras play Baroque, I cringe from pain. It should not be that way. Musicians should be educated about music before letting them play that music. I’m a firm believer of thorough education.

July 25, 2013

music of the week – Johann Ernst Eberlin: Toccata and Fuga in D minor

by ada

Todays music is Toccata and Fuga in D minor, composed by Johann Ernst Eberlin, organist of the Salzburg Dom between 1726-1763. It could easily be mistaken for a particularly uninspired counterpoint study of Johann Sebastian Bach, because Eberlin was sort of old-fashioned, which is something I rather like in music (I will never forgive Richard Wagner what he did to tonality). I find this piece a bit boring though, as well as Eberlin, but in a way he is totally right: you can’t go wrong with good old quintfallsequenz; it never fails to do its job of touching the hearts.

July 20, 2013

Salzburg – Michael Haydn Museum

by ada

Michael Haydn

eyeglasses of Michael Haydn

Michael Haydn Museum Salzburg

Scores in Michael Haydn Museum

Entrance of the Michael Haydn Museum Salzburg

June 25, 2013

music of the week – Joseph Wölfl: Adagio from Sonata in C minor Op. 25, Sonate précédée d’une introduction & fugue

by ada

Today’s composer is another short-lived wunderkind of Salzburg with the usual tendency to gambling, the piano virtuoso Joseph Wölfl, who spent his childhood in the same house where Michael Haydn was living at the time, became a pupil of both his and Leopold Mozart, befriended the son of the latter, Wolfgang Amadeus, whom he accompanied on his travels to Prague, and at the age of 25 he tried to fight the then 28 years old Beethoven in a piano duel  (unsuccessfully, though). During his short life of 39 years he performed and taught in addition to Vienna also in Warsaw, Paris and London.

His work, which consists mostly of sonatas, concertos and chamber music for the fortepiano, is typical for the early Romantic period, an era of instrumental virtuosi and geniuses, of chamber concerts and duels held in the living-rooms of rich bourgeois families, and of compositions usually including the words “grande” or “brillante” in their titles. This was also the era when the roots of musical canonisation (whose consequences I with real passion hate, but that’s a  theme for another post I most likely will never write) started to being formed; and this very process of creating the phenomenon we now call “classical music”*, has passed Joseph Wölfl gently by.

* it’s not the Classical period I mean here but the music that average people consider as “classical music”, also everything that is written by people owning musical education and is performed on orchestral instruments. So, the opposite of “popular music” which is written and performed by mostly non-musicians, haha.

June 25, 2013

Salzburg – Mozart-Wohnhaus (Tanzmeisterhaus)

by ada

Mozart Wohnhaus Entrance

Mozart1

Mozart Portraits

Ausstellung

Mozart2

Julius Meinl

March 28, 2013

music for Maundy Thursday – Francesco Antonio Rosetti: Jesus in Gethsemane

by ada

Today’s music is the oratorio Jesus in Gethsemane by Francesco Antonio Rosetti, also called Franz Anton Rösler, a Classical era composer of Bohemian origin who was found worth of mentioning beside names as Mozart and Haydn by Charles Burney, the famous English travelling music historian of the late 18th century. Rosetti’s life bears a slight resemblance with that of Mozart: they both were successful (yes, Mozart was successful during his lifetime, everything else you hear is nothing but urban legend), didn’t have the less feeling for money and died young.

I intended to post his other oratorio, Der sterbende Jesus, which was a big hit in Rosetti’s days, but, well, it seems that YouTube is not the place where one goes for historical performance practice research. I should better look for videos with titles like “Adorable 6 Year Old playing Jingle Bells on the recorder while belly dancing in a living room in Oklahoma city” if I need some sense of achievement.

P.S.: You can listen to last year’s Maundy Thursday post, Agonia di Cristo (Le Ultime Sette Parole) from Niccolò Jommelli, here.

P.S.2.: Just a reminder: whether Jommelli’s nor Rosetti’s music fits my own category of high Baroque. Maundy Thursday makes me crave Classical harmonies.

March 24, 2013

music for Palm Sunday – Johann Sebastian Bach: Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (Cantata BWV 182)

by ada

During the Holy Week I will do a music post every day just like I did last year; let’s call it tradition. I will stay strictly Baroque, because that’s where I feel comfortable even if I didn’t touch my instruments since the outbreak of my depression, and that means already one and a half years without playing. I sometimes wonder if I ever will get back to my real life of libraries and awesome music. It seems so far away now.

For Palm Sunday let’s have the king of everything Baroque, Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote this Cantata almost exactly 300 years ago and it is still more beautiful than most of the music others managed to create during those past 300 years.

February 19, 2013

music of the week – Berchtesgadner Musik from Edmund Angerer

by ada

I should seriously consider renaming this series from “music of the week” to “music once in a while”, haha. Well, that’s life, I guess. But since I’m planning to leave in a few months and still have a lot to say about early music in Salzburg, I need to hurry up with it a little.

This time I chose a very well-known piece – a bit too well-known, I would say. I’m sure you all already have heard about the Toy Symphony written by Joseph Haydn? Or at least, the Toy Symphony written by Leopold Mozart? Well, forget everything you’ve heard about it. Because Toy Symphony, as a phenomenon, simply just doesn’t exist. This music is called Cassatio ex G or Berchtolds-Gaden Musick (in modern German Berchtesgadner Musik), and was composed by the Benedictine monk Edmund (originally Johann Nepomuk) Angerer. He, during his lifetime, was a renowned organ player and the composer of numerous pieces of both religious and secular music, of which, unfortunately only a few survived the fire that ruined the monastery of Fiecht in the year 1868.

Angerer fell quickly into oblivion after his death but his music became enormously popular already during the 18th century. It got its “nickname”, Kindersinfonie (Toy Symphony) due to the (in the province Berchtesgaden commonly produced and used) toy instruments it was composed for.

I prefer this video to other (better) ones because I like the way the performing musicians are enjoying themselves (if only in a very Eastern European way) (well, at least I feel at home while listening to it, haha), even if the guy with the recorder headpiece has clearly never been told that it is in fact possible to keep a recorder in tune. Even if you have only the headpiece of it to work with.

October 4, 2012

music of the week – Dies irae from Missa pro Defuncto Archiepiscopo Sigismondo, MH 155 of Michael Haydn

by ada

After a big, big break caused by computer troubles and serious time deficit due to my horrible work schedule, I’m back with my Salzburg Early Music Composers Series. This time it’s all about Michael Haydn, the younger brother of Joseph Haydn, who, according to his contemporaries, was an even more talented boy soprano than Joseph and who loved Salzburg enough to turn down Prince Esterházy’s offer about a job as vice-Kapellmeister at the Eisenstadt court.

This Requiem is the perfect funeral music, so that its function was recognised even by my musically totally untalented mother.* Michael Haydn wrote it for the death of his employer, Archbishop Sigismund von Schrattenbach, but it has also a more personal note: his only child, Aloisia Josefa died at the same year, short before her first birthday. Wether Haydn, nor his wife, Magdalena Lipp, a famous soprano of the time, have recovered again from the sorrow. Actually, poor Magdalena went quite mad, wearing strange robes and beating herself in public as self-punishment, and Haydn started drinking.

It’s a well-known fact that this Requiem was a source of inspiration for Mozart when writing his own, famous one. He, at the age of fifteen, played the third violin at the funeral of Schrattenbach. The Mozart family was on good terms with Haydn and both Leopold and Wolfgang respected his talent and works, despite of the fact that, in his letters to his son, Leopold (“Daddy”) Mozart heavily criticised Haydn’s love of good wines.

I chose the video from pure patriotism. We could argue about nationality and could remember all the numerous injustice the Habsburg dynasty did to us, Hungarians in the past, but nothing will annul the almost 500 years in which we shared history. Even if the present life and politics of Austria is completely different than that of Hungary, their past remains also our past forever and their culture became ours (well, actually was forced on us, if we want to be precise). That’s why my patriotic soul was hurt so deeply when I came to know that, from the whole European nobility, only the Habsburg people weren’t invited to the Royal Wedding a year ago. Such a shame. Well, William and Kate, you can be famous,  rich and pretty but you have no manners. That’s quite clear.

* I know that criticising your parents isn’t that polite, but well, truth is truth, and it was not my mother I inherited my musical talent from. I guess it has something to do with the mathematician genes of my father. Or it’s just simply the blood of my Ukrainian great-grandfather, who was reported to sing (and, ehm, also to drink) on every day of his life.

September 9, 2012

365/245

by ada

Watching Puccini’s La bohème in Kapitelplatz, with Netrebko as Mimi. Romantic opera is not really my thing, but I have to be fair. She definitely can sing. 

I guess you are already used to the crappy quality of my night picťures. Such a luck that the purpose of this project is not making good photos, haha. 

July 22, 2012

Salzburger! Festspiele! 2012!

by ada

July 1, 2012

music of the week (well, more of an undefined period of time) – Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer: Concerto Armonico No. 1 in G major

by ada

I’m enjoying the benefits of the free wi-fi the Dutch National Railway Company provides us with and using my last hours in The Netherlands to post some musical actuality. Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer was a Dutch diplomat and composer of the first half of the 18th century, who lived in The Hague. His family name originates from the city of Wassenaar, that is now part of The Hague (actually, that’s the district The Really Rich People live). Since in his society circles composing music was sort of uncool*, he didn’t want to publish his works under his own name but anonymously, so his main work, the Concerti Armonici was attributed first to Carlo Ricciotti, a violin player of the The Hague Court Orchestra and later to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Wassenaer remained “the mystery composer” until 1980 when a letter was found at his birthplace (well, actually birthcastle) that reveals his identity as the composer of named concerti.

* you would think that those times are already passed and being a composer is really cool nowadays, but I have to warn you that there still are society circles obeying the same rules. Just look at my father, for example. He, being a mathematician himself, holds the strong opinion that musicians are “no worthy people”. That’s why I studied nursing first before I went bohemian, haha.

June 6, 2012

365/158

by ada

A page of a book I bought recently. It contains a collection of photos of the Wiener Philharmoniker. I’m not a fan of modern symphonic orchestras; actually, if you want to kill me, just put me in a room where a modern orchestra is playing anything Baroque and don’t let me out when I start screaming; but the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is History Pure, even for me.

May 27, 2012

365/148

by ada

My camera luckily recovered from yesterday’s bad mood, so this is the wall of the Steintheater in the Hellbrunn woods. On the 31st August 1617 Claudio Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo was performed here. It was the first opera production on German-speaking terrain ever.

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