Posts tagged ‘music of the week’

February 18, 2014

music of the week – Francesco Rasi: Ahi, fuggitivo ben

by ada

I have mentioned Francesco Rasi before: he was that wild, adventurous, and quite impetuous singer, who took the script of Claudio Monteverdi‘s opera L’Orfeo with him to Salzburg, where he, with the help of Archbishop Markus Sittikus, produced and sung the leading role of the first opera performance in the German world ever and became thereby responsible for that exaggerated Teuton love of operas, which, some 250 years later, resulted in Wagner‘s Götterdämmerung. I try really hard not to blame him for it.

Rasi was also on quite bad terms with his stepmother, and after murdering her servant who was in charge for her estate, he tried to kill her too. He didn’t succeed though and had to flee. He was condemned to death by the court of Arezzo so he took refuge at first in Prague and then in Salzburg. Apart of his murderous nature, Rasi was a very talented, virtuoso and well-known singer of his time, who was a student of Giulio Caccini and whom “not only Italy but even all Europe venerated.” * ** He also played various instruments and composed a few volumes of music, mostly short songs in the early seventeenth century style of pure monody. One of these songs is Ahi, fuggitivo ben from his 1608 collection Vaghezze di Musica per una voce sola, where he, from a perspective of the abandoned lover, complains about the misery of being a fugitive. The moral of the story? Don’t try to murder your relatives (or anybody, actually) if you want to lead a relaxed life and plan to retire at your birthplace.

* letter from Don Gregorio Rasi to his nephew Giulio Francesco Rasi around 1650

** He was also deeply impressed by the weapons of the Hungarian artillery which he encountered during his 1601 travels. Am I the only one to find this small detail of his life quite charming? Oh, those times when music was still real as life! Why, why do I have to live in this boring age of global warming, genetically modified food and tumblr aesthetics?

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?

January 19, 2014

music of the week – Anton Diabelli: Grande Sonate Brillante Op. 102

by ada

Okay, so the times are tough and I’m pretty much stressed out, I guess this is the right moment for some Early Romantic salon music which I usually have no heart for, but let’s go the easy way today. A duo for guitar and fortepiano by Anton Diabelli, native of Mattsee, former student of Michael Haydn, virtuoso guitar player and famous music publisher. I guess I should mention Beethoven and his Diabelli variations here but I’m really not in the mood for all those heavy emotions Beethoven tries to push on his poor audience so let’s skip it and stick to Diabelli’s prettily empty tunes.

Living in Hungary really wears me out. I think I have culture dependent depression.

January 6, 2014

music of the week – Carl Heinrich Biber: Concerto a quattro per la chiesa

by ada

Altough I no longer live in Salzburg, I decided to carry on with the Salzburg Series, because I don’t like things unfinished. There are really not that many Baroque composers that have anything to do with Salzburg and have some surviving works, so it’s a real shame it took 18 months for me to cover only 8 of them. I’ll try to speed up and finish this project because I have already my next one in mind.

So for today I picked Carl Heinrich Biber, the sixth and most talented son of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern. There is not much to know about him except that he lived, worked and died in Salzburg and loved to compose for those excellent and virtuoso trombone players of the Salzburg court orchestra like Thomas Gschladt (although I know of no written evidence of them having been in contact, but hey, Salzburg is and were always the provinces a small town where everybody is the cousin of everybody, even in our most recent days, haha).

From all the four pieces of his work YouTube offers I chose Concerto a quattro per la chiesa for strings. It’s a disturbing piece of music which The Cat very much dislikes – I hope at least some of you appreciate Carl Heinrich’s courage of using dissonances so freely in a harmony worshiping era.

PS.: Okay, so it’s not allowed to embed this video, so go over there for it.

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.

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.

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.

March 16, 2013

music of the week – Republic: 67-es út

by ada

This post is dedicated to Bódi László, also known as Cipő, the leader of the Hungarian band Republic, who recently passed away. And while I’m definitely no fan of any popular Hungarian band, his music represents that chaotic, emotionally troubled era after the revolution I was growing up in. It was his music we sung in summer camps, sitting by the campfire and feeling sad and free and heroical at the same time, as teenagers usually do.

(And here is another song of his I posted a while ago.)

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.

July 23, 2012

music of the week – Budapescht

by ada

Since I’m a big fan of Karsten Troyke and I’m currently visiting my family in Budapest, let’s have some home tunes. Neither history nor theory are included, because I’m in no musicology mood today (I have some urgent Hungarian Food Eating to do, haha).

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 16, 2012

music of the week – Monteverdi: Sì dolce è ‘l tormento

by ada

This song is on the Top Ten Forever-list of mine, and I am able to force it even into my Salzburg Early Music Composers series, despite of the fact that all Monteverdi has to do with Salzburg is that his opera L’Orfeo was performed here several times between 1614 and 1619, thank to Francesco Rasi, a famous tenor singer of the time, who sung its leading role at the first performance in 1607 in Mantua, and who brought the scores with him, when he fled to Salzburg in 1612 (after trying to murder his stepmother, ahem, those were the days, my friend, those were the days).

June 6, 2012

music of the week – Johann Joseph Vilsmayr: Partita V. from Artificiosus Concentus pro Camera à Violino Solo Con Basso bellè imitate

by ada

I admit I don’t know more about Johann Joseph Vilsmayr than Google does and that’s not much; but I have a heart for no-name Baroque composers with only one or two surviving works (or, better, only some fragments); and his music is hilarious.

And, well, he is also from Salzburg.

May 18, 2012

music of the week – Republic: Kék és narancssárga

by ada

I almost never listen to any other music than Baroque, I guess it’s just something of an occupational disease with me, but my friend Ancsangyalka sent me this video as additional info to yesterday’s blue and orange post. It’s Kék és narancssárga (Blue and orange) from the Hungarian band Republic. So let’s get acquainted with the popular rock music style of the post-revolutionary Hungary of the 1990’s :o)

May 14, 2012

music of the week (month, haha) – Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber: Sonata representativa for violino solo

by ada

Well, it was quite a time since my last music post, but blogging becomes somewhat difficult in the lack of own internet connection.

I was really tempted to put some Mozart here but it would be only too obvious. Luckily the Salzburger Hof always served as a center of music, so there are plenty of composers to choose from. Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern was a very famous composer and violin virtuoso of his time, and got quite unjustly forgotten. Now he is only known in early music and musicology circles. If I mention Mozart, the average people go Oooohh!!!; if I mention Biber, the usual reaction is only some Heh? (if not something like Oh, Justin is sooo cuuute! which makes me want to kill everybody around me).

Again I was tempted to show one of the Mysterien– or Rosenkranz-Sonaten (Rosary Sonatas), as The Work of Biber, but he composed so many other music that are worth for listening, that it was really easy to resist this temptation. I chose the Sonata representativa (Representatio Avium) instead, which is a funny piece that mimics animal sounds. All the animals and their musical manifestations are taken from Athanasius Kircher’s famous music treatise, Musurgia universalis, published in 1650. If you are interested in such obscure musical ideas of the 17th century as how to play piano with cats’ tails or how to compose music with logarithms (well, Kircher could easily be considered as the first composer of computer music, haha), or just want to know why do parrots say hello in ancient Hebrew, I really recommend you to read this book. It’s written in Latin but, being the bestseller of the era, was (partly) translated to German as soon as in 1662. Kircher himself gained an enormous popularity through writing this compendium, he received emotionally loaded fan letters from enthusiastic nuns from all over the world. I don’t know if Biber ever met him but it’s clear that he read and appreciated his book.

April 21, 2012

music of the week – Jean-Baptiste Barrière: Trio Sonata for alto recorder, cello and basso continuo in D minor, Livre II No. 2

by ada

This piece is sort of extraordinary because of the use of the cello as an obbligato instrument. In Baroque chamber music written originally for recorder, violoncello or viola da gamba are mostly used for playing the continuo line, and rarely have an own obbligato part. There are of course some exceptions, like the Telemann double concerto for recorder and gamba (its autograph you can find on my gravatar profile) and the F-major  trio sonata from Essercizii musici, also from Telemann, but I personally don’t know any other examples (at least from the high Baroque period).

April 14, 2012

music of the week – Telemann: Modéré from Quatuor Parisien N°12

by ada

I definitely enjoyed posting and writing about music during the Holy Week (even if no one else liked to read it, haha), so I decided to do it on a regular basis. Maybe it helps me get back to my real life and become again the person I was before the depression.

The music of this week is the sixth movement of the sixth quartet of Georg Philipp Telemann‘s collection Nouveaux Quatuors en Six Suites, published in 1738 in Paris (well, that’s why it’s usually called Paris Quartet). Telemann was an amazing composer and a very interesting character, if you have the opportunity to read his three autobiographies, don’t miss it. He studied music in a completely autodidact way and mastered all the important instruments of the era. This made his compositional style quite extraordinary: he completely understood the requirements, advantages and boundaries of every instrument he wrote for, so his compositions are just perfectly set. And that’s something you can’t tell even of Bach himself.

This is one of my favourite videos of this piece ever. It has an air of spring and happiness I never get bored with.

%d bloggers like this: