ClassicalRap is a forum for discussion and information on classical music genres from the Baroque through the 20th Century eras in particular. Information will be provided on the various genres of classical music in these eras, and discussions will involve the lives of composers, their works, and standard and new recording releases. This is not a blog about Rap music.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My new Piano Sonata

I haven't posted much in the last couple of months due to dealing with personal issues, and being hard at work with my compositions.

The results are satisfactory to me.  Hopefully it is so with my readers as well.

Here is my first piano sonata in 4 movements:

Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Opus 14, No. 1 (The finale to Opus 14, No. 2 - another sonata is in the works and will be posted here shortly as well)

I: Grave - Allegro

II: Adagio

III: Menuetto - Trio

IV: Finale: Presto - Andante - Presto

Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor, Opus 14, No. 2

II: Andante espressivo

IV: Prestissimo - Andante - Prestissimo

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Made Some Videos.

They're not great, and they took some time, but I'm learning; what can I say.

Here's my two videos featuring some free clips I stole from the internet (hey, they were free).  The first is an original Piano Prelude I composed recently, and my already posted piano concerto movement with better sound and some nice pics.  I hope you enjoy.  I will  be making new posts regarding Beethoven soon.

That's me sitting in an alpine meadow at Yosemite in the second video.  It was taken a few years back.

OK, I made another one just today to display a little prelude I wrote.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

MuseScore (C) ClassicalRap Composition Competition Update

As noted here, tomorrow, Monday August 15th marks the beginning of the judgment process for those members of the MuseScore group entitled ClassicalRap Composition Competition.  Thus, there is still approximately 24 hours for onlookers to join the group and submit an original piano composition of not more than 5 minutes in duration.

I recommend to all those who still plan to join and submit an original work that they first read the group page for ClassicaRap Composition Competition Group found on the MuseScore website, in order to familiarize themselves with the selection process.

I wish you all good luck in this first competition.

Castaway on an iSland with only an iPod....

...what would be on your iPod?  Well, hopefully you have some food and shelter on the island, otherwise your iPod is not going to be much use to you.

Here's my list (so far):

Vivaldi - Four Seasons.
Handel - The Messiah, Water Music, Royal Fireworks Music, anything else that will fit.
Mozart - The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Piano Concertos (all of them), last 7 or 8 symphonies, Laudate Dominum from Solemn Vespers, K 339, Requiem Mass, Coronation Mass.
Beethoven - All the piano concertos, all the piano sonatas, all the symphonies, all the string quartets, The two masses, the violin concerto, the triple concerto, all the overtures and marches and anything else that will fit.
Schubert - all the symphonies and a few of his piano sonatas and anything else that will fit.
Mendelssohn - Anything that will fit.
Bruch - Anything that will fit.
Dvorak - New World Symphony and anything else that will fit.
Chopin - Polonaise Brilliante for Cello and Piano in C major, Opus 3, all the preludes and the two piano concertos.
Brahms - All the symphonies and anything else that will fit.

Well, as you can see, I will need a lot of KBs on my iPod, 'cause that list ain't complete.

I would also of course have works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Schumann, JS Bach, Telemann, Haydn, etc.

Readings in Classical Music

This advertisement for a new book on the value of classical music states:

Praised in The Economist as “heartfelt and finely reasoned…wise, perceptive and inspiring,” Who Needs Classical Music? offers a fresh and balanced defense of the value of classical music in contemporary culture. Challenging the many cultural critics who contend that the division between “high” and “low” art is an artificial one, that Beethoven’s Ninth and “Blue Suede Shoes” are equally valuable, Julian Johnson counters that music is more than just “a matter of taste.” Music can provide entertainment or simply serve as background noise. Classical music, he suggests, is shaped by its claim to function as art. It is distinguished by a self-conscious attention to its own materials and their formal patterning. Far from being irrelevant today, Johnson argues, classical music continues to offer rich and engaging insights into our experience of modern life. The paperback edition includes a new preface from the author, bringing his argument up to date. Who Needs Classical Music? will stimulate readers to reflect on their own investment (or lack of it) in music and art of all kinds.

I'm putting it on my list.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Beethoven Piano Concertos (Part Two)

Beethoven's Concerto No. 2 in B flat major for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 19 was composed between 1787 and 1789, but the final form was not published until 1795.  Beethoven was the performer at it's premier in Vienna on March 29, 1795 at the Burgtheater.

In this performance, Gabrielus Alekna plays with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jouzas Domarkas at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society in Vilnius sometime in March, 2010.  Alekna was a prizewinner at the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna in 2005.  The video above is the first movement: Allegro con brio.  The following two videos contain movement II: Adagio and movement III: Rondo: Molto allegro respectively.  Mr. Alekna posted these videos on YouTube himself apparently.  I would have to say that he got it right in not dividing the movements into sections with the unavoidable interruption you get.  This makes for a nice listen of the entire performance.  I hope you enjoy.

Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria
For more information on this concerto go here and here.

For a complete score for free go here.

When Crickets Compose Music? (A little off topic)

I found this interesting.  It's the sound of crickets slowed down to the point where the life of the average cricket mirrors the lifespan of the average human.  Oh, the harmonies are exquisite!

Listening to this I was reminded of the lyrics of a certain Bob Dylan song.  As some of you may recall, I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan, in addition to loving classical music.  The song is from 1964, and it was not released on any Dylan album until 1985's  Biograph album, which is 3 CD retrospective on Dylan's work until that time.  The song is called Lay Down Your Weary Tune and the lyrics are as follows:

Lay down your weary tune, lay down.
Lay down the song you strum
And rest yourself 'neath the strength of strings
No voice can hope to hum.

Struck by the sounds before the sun
I knew the night had gone
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn

Lay down your weary tune, lay down
Lay down the song you strum 
And rest yourself 'neath the strength of strings
No voice can hope to hum

The ocean wild like an organ played
The seaweed's wove its strands
The crashin' waves like cymbals clashed
Against the rocks and sands

Lay down your weary tune, lay down
Lay down the song you strum
And rest yourself 'neath the strength of strings
No voice can hope to hum

I stood unwound beneath the skies
And clouds unbound by laws
The cryin' rain like a trumpet sang
And asked for no applause

Lay down your weary tune, lay down
Lay down the song you strum
And rest yourself 'neath the strength of strings
No voice can hope to hum

The last of leaves fell from the trees
And clung to a new love's breast
The branches bare like a banjo played
To the winds that listened the best

I gazed down in the river's mirror
And watched its winding strum
The water smooth ran like a hymn
And like a harp did hum

Lay down your weary tune, lay down
Lay down the song you strum
And rest yourself 'neath the strength of strings
No voice can hope to hum

Copyright (c) 1964, 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.;

These lyrics are from the Official Bob Dylan website.

Here's Dylan performing the song.  This is not the track from Biograph, which was an outtake from Dylan's 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin'.  I believe it's from the Witmark Demos.  Addendum:  This is not from Witmark, but probably the live performance in 1963 at Carnegie Chapter Hall in New York.

It's interesting that Dylan would be keen on the sounds of nature as if they are like a symphony.  There's a certain intuition there when one considers the case of the crickets in the video.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Beethoven Piano Concertos (Part One)

Portrait of Beethoven as a young man by Carl Traugott Reidel (1769-1832)
In order to do justice to a dedication to Beethoven for August, I couldn't exclude his wonderful piano concertos of which there are 7; 5 in number (1-5), one numbered "O" and without an opus number (WoO), and one that is a transcription of his Violin Concerto.  In this series I will cover the 5 concertos numbered 1-5, then a post on the violin concerto and it's piano transcription, and will finish off on the concerto Numbered "O" and without opus number.  I was fortunate to find a complete performance of Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 in C major for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 15 performed by one of my favorite piano concerto performers, a very young looking Murray Perahia with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the late Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997).  Murray is known for playing complete concertos with additional material in the form of exquisite solo cadenzas either composed by the original composer or by Perahia himself.  I'm not certain of the cadenza input on the following performances.

My first true interest in classical music was sparked by a recording given to me of Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto; so his concertos have always held a special place in my classical music heart of hearts.

Beethoven composed this concerto between 1796 and 1797, and first performed it with himself on piano at a concert in Prague, in 1798.

I: Allegro con brio (Part One)
I: Allegro con brio (Part Two)
II: Largo (Part One)
II: Largo (Part Two)
III: Rondo: Allegro scherzando

For more information on this concerto go here and here.

For a free score go here.

The Evolution of the String Quartet (Part Five)

More Alban Berg

View of Vienna, 1758 by Bernardo Bellotto, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I'm very happy that the Alban Berg Quartet is featured in yet another YouTube performance; this time, one of my favorite Beethoven quartets, String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, Opus 18, No. 6.  The opening movement has a very familiar melodic theme, which for me is both exciting and rather catchy for a string quartet.  The final movement "La Malinconia" begins with an unconventional adagio and moves into a "quasi allegro."   His "Moonlight Sonata" is perhaps one of the best examples of this sort of approach, beginning with an "Adagio" movement instead of the traditional "Allegro."  This is another example of his departure from convention.

For information on the Alban Berg Quartet go here and here.

This quartet was composed in 1800.  For more information go here and here.

For a free score, go here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Interesting Beethoven Links

OK, I'll make it official, August is Beethoven Month at ClassicalRap.  Here are a few links I found in web surfing on interesting aspects of Beethoven's music:

The Beethoven Aesthetic - a linked talk at a composers' conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Brahms inherited Beethoven's artistic spirit?

Beethoven's varied descendants.

Church of Beethoven?  I'm serious!  And so apparently are they.

Copying Beethoven; a 2006 drama film starring Ed Harris as the composer.