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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Evolution of the String Quartet (Part Two)

Here's a performance of Haydn's String Quartet No. 23 in F minor, Opus 20 ("The Sun Quartets), No.5, HOB III:35 that will water your eyes.  It's only the 1st movement (Allegro, I assume), performed by the Attaca Quartet at a live performance in New York in October, 2010.

In this article Ron Drummond writes:
Joseph Haydn didn't have to write string quartets. His duties as Kapellmeister to the princely Eszterhazy family kept him extremely busy. Twice-weekly concerts required a steady stream of symphonies from his pen. Rehearsing his musicians, managing the purchase, maintenance, and repair of the orchestra's instruments, supervising a small army of music copyists, and smoothing over quarrels between players or disputes with the managers of the royal household was more than enough to fill his days.


Yet Haydn still took the time to write string quartets, even though, in the course of over forty years with the Eszterhazys, he never once received a royal directive to do so.

It would appear that Haydn began writing quartets for the pleasure of it; even though his "royal directives" would have had him writing symphonies (which he did, and a lot of them).  It's not that Haydn didn't get pleasure from writing other things, but it appears as though the string quartet was something very special to him, and it shows in the exquisite simplicity of these works.  They are joyful pieces for the most part, and one can imagine the festive occasions for which they were first played.  

Plus, as Drummond writes:
Haydn sought to improve his art by the thorough exploration of musical forms and textures, and by bold experimentation. And what he came to discover was that the string quartet provided the most concentrated forum in which to do this.
Keep this in mind as you listen to some more of Haydn's quartets:

String Quartet No. 66 in G major, Opus 77 ("Lobkowitz Quartets), No. 1, HOB III:81 - I: Allegro .moderato - Composed - 1799 - Played here by the Jerusalem Quartet.

String Quartet No. 66 in G major, Opus 77 ("Lobkowitz Quartets), No. 1, HOB III:81 - II: Adagio.

String Quartet No. 66 in G major, Opus 77 ("Lobkowitz Quartets), No. 1, HOB III:81 - III: Menuetto.

String Quartet No. 66 in G major, Opus 77 ("Lobkowitz Quartets), No. 1, HOB III:81 - IV: Finale: Presto.

And for more information on the Haydn String Quartets, I give you the following links:

The String Quartets of Haydn

The String Quartets of Joseph Haydn

Haydn's Joke: Humour in his String Quartets, Opus 20 and 33

Joseph Haydn: String Quartets, Opus 76

Haydn: The Complete String Quartets (Recording)

And you can take this Quiz when you're done.  Just for fun.

The ABCs of a Little Star

For the kid's and the kid in us:

Here's Mozart's famous Piano Piece 12 Variations on "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman" K 265/300e - Composed - 1781 or 1782.

Ok, so you've heard it, it sounds familiar and the first part sounds pretty easy to play.  Right?  You want to learn it, or you have a kid that wants to learn it - or you are a kid that wants to learn it.  Well, check out the score here.  It's free.
Jane Taylor (1783-1824) wrote the poem "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" here.

More on Taylor and her poetry can be found here.

Now you know your ABCs of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Evolution of the String Quartet (Part One)

In Classical music, styles and genre tend to evolve for a purpose, not by chance, but often by necessity.  As such, the String Quartet genre arose rather late in the Classical era under the guidance of Joseph Haydn.  There were forms of this prior to Haydn, of course, with Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652).  His addition of a 2nd violin to what was then known as a Trio Sonata for strings was perhaps the start.  Later with Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725), we see examples of the further development of this genre with his Sonata à Quattro per due Violini, Violetta, e Violoncello senza Cembalo (Sonata for four instruments: two violins, viola, and cello without harpsichord).  So Allegri achieved something similar to Scarlatti by adding an instrument, while Scarlatti removed an instrument, or replaced it.  The "without harpsichord" would suggest that the sonatas of the time were commonly played with the harpsichord (and indeed they were), so removing the instrument would indicate an interesting transition similar to Allegri's and arriving at a similar genre but for different purposes.  

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

It wasn't until Haydn (1732-1809) in the Classical era, that this transition was set more firmly in the repertoire of popular music.  Starting very early in his compositional work with Opus 1, and over the course of nearly 42 years starting in 1762,  Haydn completed up to 68 quartets (although some remain spurious). The quartet listed as No. 68 is incomplete.  With Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) following suit with 29 quartets, and other composers soon to follow after his first few, Haydn started a particular evolutionary branch of classical music, which has developed and sustained to this day, and has become one of the most common and predominant ensembles in classical music.

In this multi-part post we will explore the development of the string quartet beginning with Haydn.  There's no better way to do this than to listen.  I will try to find examples of the written music that we can all take a look at, but the purpose of this blog is primarily to expose the reader to classical music in all of its forms, so written examples will be minimal and only if they add to an understanding of the elements of a particular genre.  We're not here to teach nor to learn theory or composition.  That can be achieved elsewhere.  Besides, I'm a little rusty on the theory and composition part.

We're fortunate that YouTube has quite a selection of String Quartets, including a number of Haydn's.  We will start with 3 of Haydn's quartets from early to late.  The first quartet is in 5 movements, so it's not strictly in the form of a typical quartet, which would have 3 or 4 movements.  However, there are many exceptions to this commonly accepted format throughout the history of the quartet.  Many have labeled this a Divertimento for that reason. However, if it is in fact a Divertimento, it is one for a string quartet.  So we have an issue here of classification.  The string quartet, as other common pieces in Classical music, is defined according to it's instrumental breakdown.  If one were to remain technical, some string quartets are Sonatas for strings, some are Serenades for strings, and so on.  In order to simplify the genre, string quartet has remained sufficient with the understanding that it varies in number of movements and other such structures.  Beethoven's Grosse Fugue for String quartet has only one movement, yet it's usually included among his quartets.

The common instrumental breakdown for a string quartet is: 2 Violins, Viola and Cello.  If there is any diversion from this breakdown, it will often be noted in the title of the piece, and will not be strictly considered a string quartet.

Here we have Haydn's very first quartet:

String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1, HOB III.1 "La Chasse" - I: Allegro - 1762-1764.

String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1, HOB III.1 "La Chasse" - II: Minuet?

String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1, HOB III.1 "La Chasse" - III: Adagio

String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1, HOB III.1 "La Chasse" - IV: Minuet

String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1, HOB III.1 "La Chasse" - V: Finale: Allegro?

If anyone knows the correct and more refined tempo markings for these, please inform me.  I took an educated guess.

If it ain't Baroque... (Part Two)

Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
Tempers flair sometimes.  Especially when a composer is a matter of national pride, or in this case, continental pride.  Here's how it went with the Adagio piece from the earlier thread here.  When I linked to the YouTube video, I made a comment there regarding Remo Giazotto (1910-1998) being the actual composer of the piece (even though the person who posted the video had already made that clear in the original post).  I received a rather angry and colorful comment from another viewer from France, suggesting that since I'm American (I'm not) I'm ignorant,  that Albinoni is an "ITALIAN GENIOUS who wrote this piece," and that it should go down in the "EUROPEAN MUSICAL HERITAGE"  I actually agree with that, since Giazotto was Italian, and was a great composer in his own right.  I returned a polite comment explaining how I had researched this from several sources online, and that he/she could do the same (as YouTube does not allow external links in comments).  I also suggested that since Albinoni didn't compose the piece it should be obvious from listening to his works.

I can completely understand this person's displeasure in my statement (not certain if it's a man or woman, but that doesn't matter, really).  I can imagine how tempers might flair if a person online from France suggested that a guy from Venice Italy was the true writer of The Times They Are A-Changin' (wrongly attributed to Bob Dylan).  Even though I'm not American, I like Bob Dylan's music, and I would be pretty miffed, but I probably wouldn't have employed the language this person did to express my displeasure.

I further believe that if I were of the nature this man/woman accused me - an ignorant American, who can't give credit where credit is due, I would not have dedicated an entire blog to composers of music, which for the most part originates from the European continent, with some exceptions as we get closer to the 20th Century and beyond.

The angry viewer also suggested that I change my original post, so obviously he was also a lurker in this blog - maybe the first.  Well why would I do that, when what I've written is most likely (with overwhelming evidence and little or none to the contrary) true?

Anyway,  here we are.  I intend to post a whole lot of Albinoni's works to make this clear.  Or perhaps it won't be clear, and Giazotto knew Albinoni so well as to be able to copy his style to such an extent as to not make it obvious.  I think there is probably some truth to this, since the piece was attributed to Albinoni until Giazotto finally came clean as to its origin, and even after that, the perception of Albinoni's authorship continued right into the last couple of decades (which I'll demonstrate below).  And after all, he was able to make the wrong impression stick for quite some time, apparently; enough to make the general public quite familiar with his piece, as lovely as it is; and to wrongfully acquaint it with Albinoni.

This post is the beginning of just such an inquiry.  I will also try to come across some of Giazotto's own works for a comparison, since I find this subject rather fascinating.  I welcome our elusive visitor to join us on our journey, since he/she is already an Albinoni fan, and seems to like Giazotto even given the incorrect attribution to Albinoni.  Therefore, he/she might just gain an appreciation for yet another Italian composer.

First, let's recap what we suspect and/or know from the sources online, as cited in the previous thread (there are others).  Giazotto was a musicologist, who studied Albinoni's works.  He claimed that he came across a fragment, which contained 5 measures of a bass line from an Albinoni sonata.  He claimed that he obtained this fragment from the Saxon State Library in Dresden, which was destroyed during World War II.  He claimed that he had transcribed the piece from the fragment, and his transcription was written in 1958 (not 1949 as I earlier erroneously wrote from information I found that was incorrect).  Later, he admitted that he had written the entire piece based on the 5 measures, and that it did not at all represent anything that Albinoni had written, except inspiration from Albinoni's actual works.  Also, Giazotto had the piece copyrighted, which would mean that if distributed as Albinoni's with name recognition, he would be able to collect royalties, which apparently he did.  I think this is actually rather ingenious if you think about it.

A little Background on my first encounter with this piece:  It was back in 1983 when I first saw the film Gallipoli  with some friends at a college showing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  I remember quite well, because it wasn't in a regular theater setting, but in an auditorium, and my friend brought along a male acquaintance, who very appropriately shed some tears as we were walking out of the auditorium at the end of the film.  I've watched the film several times since then.  I pretty much paid attention to this piece when I first heard it at that showing.  How could one not?  The film is a stunning work in itself, and the scene which features the adagio comes just before these young Australian men are to get their feet wet for the first time on the battle fields and in the trenches of World War 1.

So having really been impressed with this piece from the start, I eventually sought it out on CD.  I finally found it in a collection of Albinoni adagios (there we go with the continuation of the misattribution) on CD, which is available here.  And here is an issue that is really interesting;  I noticed that among all those adagios by Albinoni, this particular one seemed somewhat out of place.  I didn't think much of it, even though it was the only piece on the CD that didn't have an Opus number, and at that time I assumed the reason was because it was either an early piece (unlikely, given that it sounded quite mature compared with some of the other pieces), or that it was a piece published or distributed posthumously.  I left it at that, and didn't put much more thought into the piece until I came across information that it was not in fact written by Albinoni, and this displeased me because in fact, I had gotten used to it being among my Albinoni tracks.  Where was I to place it then?  You know I am quite obsessive when it comes to my classical music collection, so these things do matter.


Here's Albinoni's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 1 in B-flat major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, no. 1 - Composed - 1707.

In all of these concerti, pay attention to the adagio (slow and moving) sections.  We'll see if we can compare a typical Albinoni adagio with that of Giazotto's.

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 3 in D major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 3.

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 4 in G major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 4.

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 5 in A minor for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 5

Here's 12 Concerti a cinque No. 6 in C major for Strings and Continuo, Opus 5, No. 6.

To be continued....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something Baroque, Something Romantic (Part Two)

Some Chamber selections:


 Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) Sonata for Violin La Folia - Unknown composition date.

 Jean-Joseph Mouret  (1682-1738) Suite de Symphonies - 1st movement - Fanfare-Rondo  - Composed - 1737 - 2 points for the first person who can identify this piece with  a particular television program.


 Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) String Quintet in E major, Opus 11, No. 5 - Minuet - Unknown composition date.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K 421/417b -  1st movement - Allegro - Composed - 1783


 Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)  Polonaise Brilliante for Cello and Piano in C major, Opus 3 - Composed - 1830 (The recording linked above is with Mstislav Rostropovich and Martha Argerich, which is quite good.  However, the recording available here  with Yo Yo Ma on Cello and Emmanuel Ax on Piano is simply magnificent.  I recommend it.)  This is one of my favorite Romantic era pieces.

 César Franck (1822-1890)  Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano, M 8 - 4th movement - Allegretto poco mosso - Composed - 1886

20th Century:

Jean Sibelius  (1865-1957)  Romance for Violin and Piano, Opus 78, No. 2 - Unknown date of composition.

 Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)  String Quartet No. 3 in F major, Opus 73 - 3rd movement - Allegro non troppo.  Composed - 1946.

Continued here.

A World of Men?...or not (Part Two)

Celebrating Clara Schumann. (1819-1896)

OK, I'm depending on YouTube again (as usual), but it's a good source if you want to find something we can all listen to (provided it works on everyone's computers).  Plus sometimes you get to watch the performers in action.

Here's her Concerto in A minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 7 - 1st movement - Allegro maestoso

2nd movement - Romance: Andante non troppo con grazia.

3rd movement - Finale: Allegro non troppo - Allegro molto.

A piano solo piece  Romance for Piano in A major.

3 Romances for Violin and Piano, Opus 22.

What's a WoO?

WoO stands for without opus.  It refers to works of a particular composer that were for one reason or another, left out of his/her composition catalogue.  It is most famously applied to many of Beethoven's works, such as his Concerto No. "0" in D-flat major for Piano and Orchestra, WoO 4, composed in 1784.  The numbering of "0" is made sense by the fact that Beethoven composed this concerto before he composed his piano concerto numbered "1."

Why would a work be left out of a composer's catalogue of works?  Well, there are any number of factors, but most importantly, a composer's works are often compiled into a cataloque after the composer's death, and the work in particular may not have been discovered or known to exist until after his/her death.  Rather than using WoO, a cataloguer may simply refer to a piece as Opus Posth. (or Posthumous).

If it ain't Baroque... (Part One)

Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
I can't help it.  Baroque is a fun play on words, so bear with me....don't fix it!

Here's Tomaso Albinoni's (1671-1751) famous Adagio in G minor for Violin, Organ and strings.  It was featured in the 1981 Peter Weir film Gallipoli, starring among others, a young Mel Gibson.

Here's the version with Organ.  The above version is with Strings and Continuo.

...or is it by Albinoni?  Here's an example of a composer (musicologist) creating works in style's outside his era.  This was long attributed to Albinoni, but was actually composed in the 20th Century by Remo Giazotto, who studied the works of Albinoni.

So actually, it ain't Baroque.

Which brings up another issue.  If it was written by musicologist Giazotto sometime in 1949 or 1958, then it is not public domain until the year 2068, which would be 70 years after his death, in 1998.

See here.

Also, it's use in Gallipoli is inappropriate (although quite moving), since in the movie the piece is played on record (Victrola) by an Australian general in his tent prior to the Australians reaching shore at Gallipoli (In Turkey) during World War 1.  The scene shifts from his tent to boats full of young men approaching the shores of Gallipoli at night, as the music continues - giving the music a haunting resonance as the hell of warfare is seen in lights and heard in canon fire on the distant shore.  But the piece was written long after the war was over, so it is impossible that the general would have had a recording.  Too bad, because it worked so well.

Continued here.

A True Renaissance Man

Here's a beautiful a capella choral piece by Johannes Ockeghem (Born sometime between 1410-1425 and died: 1495) - Missa Prolationum - Kyrie (It's the first part of a mass).  The sheet music is provided in the video, and it's fun to follow along.  There's a message at the end from two...well, not so true renaissance men.  Make sure you stay awake for that, and then you can go to bed if you like (not like you'll have a choice).

That's Just Medieval!

Here's a Motet by Philippe de Vitry.

de Vitry info.


Want to listen to classical music for free?  Try Pandora (Yes, it's an endorsement, but it's free).

Für Elise

Beethoven's famous Für Elise Bagatelle in A minor for solo Piano, WoO 59 is thought to be a piece not to be performed in a serious concert due to it's overfamiliarity.  That is unless you can play it like this. (there's an advertisement first).

You go, Valentina!  How's that for a ringtone?

If You Build It....

Hopefully they will come.

If you're here and you noticed there's no comments, or only a few comments, that's because we're just getting started.

I've tried to make my posts interesting and fun.  Hopefully you find them so as well.

My desire is to create a central source of information and discussion on classical music.  It's a passion of mine among others.  Hopefully this blog will spark an interest for classical music with others, or it will gain the interest of still others who already have a passion for classical music and wish to share their expertise.

So if you're a novice, I hope you gain some insight and have fun.

If you're an expert, I hope you contribute some new information and insight and also have fun.

Eventually I will open the blog for other contributors who have a particular expertise or passion.

I'm pretty much a novice as well, although I do have some insight particularly in the Classical era.  I guess you could say I'm an aspiring amateur musicologist (therefore I "aam").  I also compose classical music.  I'm self-taught, but I need much improvement.  I do it for the pleasure, expressive passion and education.

OK, so it's not Christmas, but....

Here's a "Random Act of Culture" for you.

Hallelujah indeed!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Magic Flute Revisited

Mozart's Singspiel Opera The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte), K 620 - Composed - 1791 is one of the more popular works in its genre.  It has been updated and revised by several composers, and has even been filmed.  The opening overture and other parts have been featured in films, including Miloš Forman's Amadeus.

Here's one of the more interesting performances of the Opera's overture in a new setting from British film Director Kenneth Branagh.  This is a version in English set in a fictional World War I era and country.  The choreography and cinematography are spectacular in the opening.  I found the remainder of the film a little tedious, perhaps because it's difficult to adapt an opera to film.  I think I'd rather watch it on stage, but I did appreciate this wonderful opening.

More info here.

The music was conducted by James Conlon (I can't find information on the Orchestra - possibly the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, for which he is the current conductor).

The film is not available on DVD in the US, unfortunately.

You can purchase it here (there are limited copies available).

A World of Men?...or not (Part One)

Is it true that music composition is exclusively a world of men?  What women in history have contributed to music composition significantly?

See here.

Continued here.

Concerning Dates and other info

In many of my posts I will include composition dates for particular works.  These dates will be based on the best information I can find.  Quite often a composer will spend several years on one particular composition, or the specific date of completion is not know, but other dates concerning the piece are known.  As such, I will cite the date when the composition was either 1) completed, 2) first performed or  3) published, in that order and depending on what information or additional information is available.

Quite often it is unknown when a piece was composed.  In this case I will indicate so, or I will indicate the composer's birth date and date of death if known.  The purpose of providing a date is to give the reader some idea as to when a composition was written for purposes of comparison with music from various eras.  However, I welcome any new information on dating or other aspects of a particular composition or composer; provided that a reader can cite reliable documentation.  In such cases I will try to update posts, which feature that information.

While I often refer to Wikipedia and other online encyclopedias, these should not be cited as authoritative, since their articles can be edited by people who have limited credentials - although I may initially refer to their dates and information if I can't find other sources.  I recommend following their external links for more reliable sources, or referring to other published sources either online or in printed form.

On Genre

It gets complicated because composers are a creative bunch, and don't always follow a set format, but I and others usually recognize some particular genre in music:


These are the basics, but they can be broken down.


Chamber music refers to small instrumental ensembles or a single instrument.

The following are common instrumental breakdowns for chamber ensembles:

Solo (one instrument - obviously not an ensemble).
Duo of various instruments.
Trio (3 instruments)
String Quartet or quartets featuring other instruments.
Quintet,  Septet, Octet - ensembles of either strings, winds,  or a combination of the two and some with piano.
Chamber Orchestra.

Chamber pieces can be further broken down into these and other genre:

Sonatas of one or more instruments - We'll discuss the sonata form in a later thread.
Variations on a theme
Nocturnes (Notturni)
Rondos (Rondeau)
Scherzos (Scherzi)
Divertimentos (Divertimenti)

Orchestral (Symphonic):

Orchestral or Symphonic music involves larger ensembles of either full Symphony Orchestras or String Orchestras.  The typical genre are as follows:

Overtures - Often the opening movement of an opera or other stage work, or written as a single piece.
Concertos (pl. Concerti is also correct) - One or more solo instruments with full orchestra or strings.
Divertimentos (pl. Divertimenti is also correct)
Incidental music for Ballet or other Stage works.
Individual orchestral movements either in or not in sonata form.
There can also be orchestral Rondos, Scherzos (Scherzi), Waltzes, Nocturnes (Notturni), Variations, etc.


Many classical composers have written individual songs or song cycles.

Most often they are performed by a vocal soloist (either Soprano, Alto, Contralto, Tenor, Barritone or Bass) accompanied by a piano.  However, they can also be accompanied by other instruments or an orchestra.  They can also include more than one vocalist,  as in a duet, trio, quartet or larger vocal ensemble.


Opera gets even more complicated, but the basic types of opera are:

Opera Buffa

The difference is that in Buffa, all the vocal parts are sung, while Singspiel includes spoken parts - similar to the modern musical.  In Buffa, the recitative replaces the spoken part.  Recitatives are often sung somewhat improvised with an accompaniment of chords on a harpsichord or other instrument, or with no accompaniment.

Operas are stage works depicting dramatic, and sometimes comical events - usually fictional, and are based on either an epic poem, story,  or a written work called a libretto.  A libretto is similar to a script or screenplay, so it's written specifically for the opera.  Librettos are often written by an author other than the opera composer.

Arias are the main vocal solo pieces of an opera.  Quite often arias are written to be performed as separate pieces from operas, and are usually called Concert Arias.


The basic sacred piece is the Choral Mass.

Masses can be performed a capella (without accompaniment) or with organ, piano or orchestral accompaniment.

The mass is often broken down into 6 separate sections in the following order:

Agnus Dei

However, many masses diverge from this format.  Masses can also feature arias sung by a vocal soloist.

Any other piece of vocal music, which covers sacred themes could also be considered sacred music.

A few examples are:

Sacred Oratorios
Sacred Vespers
Individual sacred songs

There are also instrumental sacred pieces, such as Mozart's Church Sonatas.

A RIP off the old Rachmaninoff

Sergei Vaselievich Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Classical composers borrowed off each other, and in the future I will post some examples of these.  But why shouldn't modern composers and song writers be any different?  How about modern song writers who "rip" off of classical compositions?

Here's an example:

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Movement 2


Eric Carmen - All By Myself

And of course, even more modern artists "rip" off the old ones in covers:

Celine Dion - All By Myself

Let's hope they credited the original.  But is it Rachmaninoff?  Probably.  As they say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

Or.....maybe not:

See here. (not an endorsement)

May Rachmaninoff RIP, knowing his legacy continues.

Beethoven's Liszt, or Liszt's Beethoven?

Franz Liszt
Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 was written for symphony orchestra.  That shouldn't surprise anyone.


Liszt's Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 was written for solo piano.  That should surprise everyone except those who know Liszt.


Liszt actually composed transcriptions for all 9 of Beethoven's Symphonies - Published in 1865.

More info.

Help! The Handel is Baroque....or...

George Friedrich Handel (1685-1759)
...maybe not.  Mozart actually updated Handel's Messiah Oratorio without all the Baroque period common ingredients, such as harpsichords during the recitatives.

Here's a sample.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Something Baroque, Something Romantic (Part One)

Here's some Orchestral selections from YouTube for style comparisons:


Handel - Water Music Suite One, Part One - Composed - 1717

JS Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 - Composed - 1721


Mozart - Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K 550 (1st movement) - Composed - 1788

Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C major, Opus 67 (1st movement) - Composed - 1808


Glinka - Russlan and Ludmilla Overture - Composed - 1842

Dvorak - Symphony from the New World (1st movement) - Composed - 1893

20th Century:

Holst - The Planets - Composed - 1916

Bartok - Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1st movement) - Composed - 1936

Are you an expert yet?  Can you tell some differences?  Of course these are just examples.  There are a large variety of styles from each era.  If you're new to Classical music, you should obtain a good grasp of these differences as we continue in the discussion.

What is a Musical Era?

Musicologists identify eras of classical music according to compositional and performance style.  The predominant opinion as to these eras are as follows:

The Medieval era - 476-1400
The Renaissance era - 1400-1600
The Baroque era - 1600-1760
The Classical era - 1730-1820
The Romantic era - 1815-1910
The 20th Century era - 1900-2000
and The 21st Century era as anything from 2000 to the present.

There are certain composers who represent the compositional style of these eras most predominantly.  These are as follows"

Medieval - Phillipe de Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut, Solage, Leonel Power and John Dunstaple.

Renaissance - Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin de Prez, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, William Byrd and Giovanni Gabrieli.

Baroque - Claudio Monteverdi, Jan Pieterzoon Sweelinck,  Frescobaldi, Heinrich Schutz, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Dieterich Buxtehude, Archangelo Corelli, Henry Purcell, Alessandro Scarlatti, Francois Couperin, Tomaso Albinoni, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, George Frideric Handel and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi.

Classical - Christoph Willibald Gluck, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Luigi Boccherini, Joseph Haydn, Richard Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Antonio Salieri, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Franz Schubert.

Romantic - Carl Maria von Weber, Gaetano Donizetti, Niccolo Paganini, Giaocchino Rossini, Carl Loewe, Hector Berlioz, Johann Strauss I, Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi, Jacques Offenbach, Clara Schumann, Bedrich Smetana, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss II, Johannes Brahms, Camille Saint-Seans, Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, Antonin Dvorak, Edvard Grieg, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Edward Elgar, Giocomo Puccini, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Alexander Scriabin and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

20th Century - Claude Debussy, Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives, Maurice Ravel, Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Edgard Verace, Alban Berg, Sergei Prokofiev, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paul Hindemith, Carl Orff, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Kurt Weill, Dmitri Shostakovich, Elliott Carter, Olivier Messiaen, Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Witold Lutoslawski, Leonard Bernstein, Iannis Xenakis, Gyorgy Ligeto, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Krysztof Pendericki, Avo Part and Philip Glass,

There are of course transitions from one era into the next.  For example, Beethoven and Schubert transitioned into the Romantic era, and Rachmaninoff transitioned into the 20th Century era.  What is important is the musical styles, which predominated these eras.  There's not one particular music style which predominated, but a person who is familiar with classical music should generally be able to listen to a piece and place it correctly into the era it belongs.  There are of course exceptions.  Some composers follow the styles of particular eras other than their own, for example, so their musical style may fit into one era, while their life is in another.  Tchaikovsky was known to utilize themes from the classical era into his compositions.  Mozart did the same with the Baroque era; so it's not always possible to listen to one piece without knowing its composer, and place it within a particular era.  One should be able to listen to a Baroque piece, however, and be able to state the particular elements and styles, which make it Baroque as opposed to Romantic.

Beethoven...Best Symphony Recordings?

I have two sets of the Beethoven Symphonies on CD.  When I first began collecting CDs of classical music I went for the cheap.  At the time Madacy (A Canadian discount music company) with a particular release label Excelsior Classical Gold (packaged like the picture at left) had a selection of Classical CDs that were available exclusively in a particular music store in Southern California that is now defunct.  They sold for around $6.00-$7.00 a CD.  Among these were the Beethoven symphonies on 6 CDs played by the Tbilisi Symphony.  They were actually pretty good recordings.  Madacy tended to feature Eastern European symphonies and performers.

Out of a desire for exposure to other performers, I purchased the Symphonies as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, which I prefer to the Madacy recordings.

London SO

However, if you have any of the Madacy recordings on CD from that particular store - (I can't remember the name of the store) I should inform you to hold on to them; they're collectors' items, and can be sold from $25.00 and up.

Anybody have suggestions for other recordings of the Beethoven symphonies?

ADDENDUM: Here's an excerpt of a live performance of the 3rd movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F major, Opus 68 "Pastoral" performed by the London Symphony Orchestra - Conductor: Bernard Haitinck.

Who Really Was Mozart? (Part One)

If we begin our blog discussion with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and then branch out to his influences and his legacy, we will discover that his music is somewhat pivotal.  In his short life he managed to assimilate styles and genres from the past into a newfound direction towards the future.

While Mozart's music is firmly set in the German language and culture of Salzburg and Vienna in the classical era of the late 18th Century, his musical direction was a portal to the Romantic era.  Beethoven and Schubert (as internationally influential composers) were perhaps the true beginning of this era, but without Mozart's influence, Beethoven might have remained in the Classical era, might not have influenced Schubert, Mendelssohn and Chopin to the extent that he did, and what we now understand as "Romantic" music might be much different, or not romantic.  That's my view.  There are others, of course, but most view Mozart as pivotal.

We could discuss the uninteresting subject of the influence of Mozart on brain activity here

Why Mozart?  Why couldn't Dittersdorf have equal influence on the brain?  Debussy has influence on my brain activity; some of it pleasant, some of it not....

Or we could take a trip back to reality and discuss his true influence.  We must begin there.  Just who influenced Mozart?  We could state the obvious: the Bachs, Handel, the Haydns, or we could look into Mozart's own compositions, his acquaintances, his travels, and discover something quite interesting.  An initial observation is that Mozart was an extensive traveler in Europe during his youth.  His father Leopold (also a composer) desired not only to expose his young protege to the cultural centers of Europe; but by a not so secretive pride, he understood that his son was unique, and the world should know about it.

So who truly was this man?  Ideas?  Articles?  Interests?

To be continued.....

Thanks for joining in the discussion.