The Classical Music Portal
Classical music generally refers to the art music of the Western world, considered to be distinct from Western folk music or popular music traditions. It is sometimes distinguished as Western classical music, as the term "classical music" also applies to non-Western art music. Classical music is often characterized by formality and complexity in its musical form and harmonic organization, particularly with the use of polyphony. Since at least the ninth century it has been primarily a written tradition, spawning a sophisticated notational system, as well as accompanying literature in analytical, critical, historiographical, musicological and philosophical practices. A foundational component of Western culture, classical music is frequently seen from the perspective of individual or groups of composers, whose compositions, personalities and beliefs have fundamentally shaped its history. (Full article...)
Selected articles -
- The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the horn in professional music circles) is a brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. The double horn in F/B♭ (technically a variety of German horn) is the horn most often used by players in professional orchestras and bands, although the descant and triple horn have become increasingly popular. A musician who plays a horn is known as a horn player or hornist.
Pitch is controlled through the combination of the following factors: speed of air through the instrument (controlled by the player's lungs and thoracic diaphragm); diameter and tension of lip aperture (by the player's lip muscles—the embouchure) in the mouthpiece; plus, in a modern horn, the operation of valves by the left hand, which route the air into extra sections of tubing. Most horns have lever-operated rotary valves, but some, especially older horns, use piston valves (similar to a trumpet's) and the Vienna horn uses double-piston valves, or pumpenvalves. The backward-facing orientation of the bell relates to the perceived desirability to create a subdued sound in concert situations, in contrast to the more piercing quality of the trumpet. A horn without valves is known as a natural horn, changing pitch along the natural harmonics of the instrument (similar to a bugle). Pitch may also be controlled by the position of the hand in the bell, in effect reducing the bell's diameter. The pitch of any note can easily be raised or lowered by adjusting the hand position in the bell. The key of a natural horn can be changed by adding different crooks of different lengths. (Full article...)
Historically informed performance (also referred to as period performance, authentic performance, or HIP) is an approach to the performance of classical music, which aims to be faithful to the approach, manner and style of the musical era in which a work was originally conceived.
It is based on two key aspects: the application of the stylistic and technical aspects of performance, known as performance practice; and the use of period instruments which may be reproductions of historical instruments that were in use at the time of the original composition, and which usually have different timbre and temperament from their modern equivalents. A further area of study, that of changing listener expectations, is increasingly under investigation. (Full article...)
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 2 February 1594) was an Italian composer of late Renaissance music. The central representative of the Roman School, with Orlande de Lassus and Tomás Luis de Victoria, Palestrina is considered the leading composer of late 16th-century Europe.
Primarily known for his masses and motets, which number over 105 and 250 respectively, Palestrina had a long-lasting influence on the development of church and secular music in Europe, especially on the development of counterpoint. According to Grove Music Online, Palestrina's "success in reconciling the functional and aesthetic aims of Catholic church music in the post-Tridentine period earned him an enduring reputation as the ideal Catholic composer, as well as giving his style (or, more precisely, later generations’ selective view of it) an iconic stature as a model of perfect achievement." (Full article...)
"The Blue Danube" is the common English title of "An der schönen blauen Donau", Op. 314 (German for "By the Beautiful Blue Danube"), a waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, composed in 1866. Originally performed on 15 February 1867 at a concert of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein (Vienna Men's Choral Association), it has been one of the most consistently popular pieces of music in the classical repertoire. Its initial performance was considered only a mild success, however, and Strauss is reputed to have said, "The devil take the waltz, my only regret is for the coda—I wish that had been a success!"
After the original music was written, the words were added by the Choral Association's poet, Joseph Weyl. Strauss later added more music, and Weyl needed to change some of the words. Strauss adapted it into a purely orchestral version for the 1867 Paris World's Fair, and it became a great success in this form. The instrumental version is by far the most commonly performed today. An alternate text was written by Franz von Gernerth, "Donau so blau" (Danube so blue). "The Blue Danube" premiered in the United States in its instrumental version on 1 July 1867 in New York, and in the UK in its choral version on 21 September 1867 in London at the promenade concerts at Covent Garden. (Full article...)
- The saxophone (often referred to colloquially as the sax) is a type of single-reed woodwind instrument with a conical body, usually made of brass. As with all single-reed instruments, sound is produced when a reed on a mouthpiece vibrates to produce a sound wave inside the instrument's body. The pitch is controlled by opening and closing holes in the body to change the effective length of the tube. The holes are closed by leather pads attached to keys operated by the player. Saxophones are made in various sizes and are almost always treated as transposing instruments. Saxophone players are called saxophonists.
The saxophone is used in a wide range of musical styles including classical music (such as concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, and occasionally orchestras), military bands, marching bands, jazz (such as big bands and jazz combos), and contemporary music. The saxophone is also used as a solo and melody instrument or as a member of a horn section in some styles of rock and roll and popular music. (Full article...)
Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the Brandenburg Concertos; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites; keyboard works such as the Goldberg Variations and The Well-Tempered Clavier; organ works such as the Schubler Chorales and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor; and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.
The Bach family already counted several composers when Johann Sebastian was born as the last child of a city musician, Johann Ambrosia, in Eisenach. After being orphaned at the age of 10, he lived for five years with his eldest brother Johann Christoph, after which he continued his musical education in Lüneburg. From 1703 he was back in Thuringia, working as a musician for Protestant churches in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen and, for longer stretches of time, at courts in Weimar, where he expanded his organ repertory, and Köthen, where he was mostly engaged with chamber music. From 1723, he was employed as Thomaskantor (cantor at St Thomas's) in Leipzig. There he composed music for the principal Lutheran churches of the city, and for its university's student ensemble Collegium Musicum. From 1726, he published some of his keyboard and organ music. In Leipzig, as had happened during some of his earlier positions, he had difficult relations with his employer, a situation that was little remedied when he was granted the title of court composer by his sovereign, Augustus III of Poland, in 1736. In the last decades of his life, he reworked and extended many of his earlier compositions. He died of complications after eye surgery in 1750 at the age of 65. (Full article...)
Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn (I will not let you go, unless you bless me), BWV 157, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig in 1726/27 to a libretto by Picander. The first known performance was on 6 February 1727 during a memorial service for Johann Christoph von Ponickau in Pomßen near Leipzig. The work was later assigned to the feast of the Purification celebrated on 2 February.
Picander included a quotation from Genesis 32:26–32 in the first movement, and the last stanza of Christian Keymann's "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht" in the closing chorale. The contemplation begins with the Old Testament quotation being applied to Jesus, and leads to the last aria expressing an eager wish for death to arrive soon. The closing chorale picks up the first line. (Full article...)
Boléro is a 1928 work for large orchestra by French composer Maurice Ravel. At least one observer has called it Ravel's most famous composition. It was also one of his last completed works before illness forced him into retirement. (Full article...)
The piano is a keyboard instrument that produces sound when pressed on the keys. Most modern pianos have a row of 88 black and white keys: 52 white keys for the notes of the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A and B) and 36 shorter black keys raised above the white keys and set further back, for sharps and flats. This means that the piano can play 88 different pitches (or "notes"), spanning a range of a bit over seven octaves. The black keys are for the "accidentals" (F♯/G♭, G♯/A♭, A♯/B♭, C♯/D♭, and D♯/E♭), which are needed to play in all twelve keys.
There are two main types of piano: the grand piano and the upright piano. The grand piano offers better sound and more precise key control, making it the preferred choice when space and budget allow. The grand piano is also considered a necessity in venues hosting skilled pianists. However, the upright piano, despite being worse in terms of tone and key action, is more commonly used due to its smaller size and lower cost. (Full article...)
Otello (Italian pronunciation: [oˈtɛllo]) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 5 February 1887.
The composer was reluctant to write anything new after the success of Aida in 1871, and he retreated into retirement. It took his Milan publisher Giulio Ricordi the next ten years, first to encourage the revision of Verdi's 1857 Simon Boccanegra by introducing Boito as librettist and then to begin the arduous process of persuading and cajoling Verdi to see Boito's completed libretto for Otello in July/August 1881. However, the process of writing the first drafts of the libretto and the years of their revision, with Verdi all along not promising anything, dragged on. It wasn't until 1884, five years after the first drafts of the libretto, that composition began, with most of the work finishing in late 1885. When it finally premiered in Milan on 5 February 1887, it proved to be a resounding success, and further stagings of Otello soon followed at leading theatres throughout Europe and America. (Full article...)
The composer Sergei Rachmaninoff produced a number of solo piano pieces that were either lost, unpublished, or not assigned an opus number. While often disregarded in the concert repertoire, they are nevertheless part of his oeuvre. Sixteen of these pieces are extant; all others are lost. Ten of these pieces were composed before he completed his Piano Concerto No. 1, his first opus, and the rest interspersed throughout his later life. In these casual works, he draws upon the influence of other composers, including Frédéric Chopin and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The more substantial works, the Three Nocturnes and Four Pieces, are sets of well-thought out pieces that are his first attempts at cohesive structure among multiple pieces. Oriental Sketch and Prelude in D minor, two pieces he composed very late in his life, are short works that exemplify his style as a mature composer. Whether completed as a child or adult, these pieces cover a wide spectrum of forms while maintaining his characteristic Russian style. (Full article...)
The Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major by Gustav Mahler is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire. As it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces it is frequently called the "Symphony of a Thousand", although the work is normally presented with far fewer than a thousand performers and the composer did not sanction that name – actually, he disapproved of it. The work was composed in a single inspired burst at his Maiernigg villa in southern Austria in the summer of 1906. The last of Mahler's works that was premiered in his lifetime, the symphony was a critical and popular success when he conducted the Munich Philharmonic in its first performance, in Munich, on 12 September 1910.
The fusion of song and symphony had been a characteristic of Mahler's early works. In his "middle" compositional period after 1901, a change of style led him to produce three purely instrumental symphonies. The Eighth, marking the end of the middle period, returns to a combination of orchestra and voice in a symphonic context. The structure of the work is unconventional: instead of the normal framework of several movements, the piece is in two parts ("1." and "2. Teil"). Part I is based on the Latin text of Veni creator spiritus ("Come, Creator Spirit"), a ninth-century Christian hymn for Pentecost, and Part II is a setting of the words from the closing scene of Goethe's Faust. The two parts are unified by a common idea, that of redemption through the power of love, a unity conveyed through shared musical themes. (Full article...)
General images -
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a representative composer of the Classical period, seated at a keyboard. (from Classical period (music))A young
Bernhard Crusell, a Swedish-Finnish composer and clarinetist, in 1826 (from Classical period (music))
Double-manual harpsichord by Vital Julian Frey, after Jean-Claude Goujon (1749) (from Baroque music)
Evaristo Baschenis of Baroque instruments, including a cittern, viola da gamba, violin, and two lutes. (from Baroque music)Painting by
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich, is an example of Romantic painting. (from Romantic music)
string quartets from the Classical era are the core of the chamber music literature. From left to right: violin 1, violin 2, cello, viola (from Classical period (music))A modern string quartet. In the 2000s,
Wilhelm August Rieder, after his own 1825 watercolor portrait (from Classical period (music))1875 oil painting of Franz Schubert by
Teatro Argentina, as depicted by Panini (1747) (from Baroque music)A large instrumental ensemble's performance in the lavish
Jean-Baptiste Lully by Paul Mignard (from Baroque music)
alta cappella. From left to right: bass dulcian, alto shawm, treble cornett, soprano shawm, alto shawm, tenor sackbut. (from Renaissance music)Musicians from 'Procession in honour of Our Lady of Sablon in Brussels.' Early 17th-century Flemish
James Warren Childe, 1839 (from Classical period (music))Portrait of Mendelssohn by
Josef Danhauser's 1840 painting of Franz Liszt at the piano surrounded by (from left to right) Alexandre Dumas, Hector Berlioz, George Sand, Niccolò Paganini, Gioachino Rossini and Marie d'Agoult, with a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven on the piano (from Romantic music)
Don Giovanni. The orchestra starts with a dissonant diminished seventh chord (G# dim7 with a B in the bass) moving to a dominant seventh chord (A7 with a C# in the bass) before resolving to the tonic chord (D minor) at the singer's entrance. (from Classical period (music))The opening bars of the Commendatore's aria in Mozart's opera
Thomas Hardy, 1792 (from Classical period (music))Haydn portrait by
Johann Sebastian Bach, 1748 (from Baroque music)
Joseph Duplessis, dated 1775 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) (from Classical period (music))Gluck, detail of a portrait by
Claudio Monteverdi in 1640 (from Baroque music)
Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820 (from Classical period (music))Portrait of Beethoven by
|“||Music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all.||”|
|— Igor Stravinsky|
Johann Baptist Strauss II (German: [ˈjoːhan bapˈtɪst ˈʃtʁaʊs]; 25 October 1825 – 3 June 1899), also known as Johann Strauss Jr., the Younger or the Son (German: Johann Strauß Sohn), was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas as well as a violinist. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as "The Waltz King", and was largely responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century. Some of Johann Strauss's most famous works include "The Blue Danube", "Kaiser-Walzer" (Emperor Waltz), "Tales from the Vienna Woods", "Frühlingsstimmen", and the "Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka". Among his operettas, Die Fledermaus and Der Zigeunerbaron are the best known.
Strauss was the son of Johann Strauss I and his first wife Maria Anna Streim. Two younger brothers, Josef and Eduard Strauss, also became composers of light music, although they were never as well known as their brother. (Full article...)
Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen (UK: /ˈmɛsiæ̃/, US: /mɛˈsjæ̃, meɪˈsjæ̃, mɛˈsjɒ̃/; French: [ɔlivje øʒɛn pʁɔspɛʁ ʃaʁl mɛsjɑ̃]; 10 December 1908 – 27 April 1992) was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist who was one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex; harmonically and melodically he employs a system he called modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from the systems of material generated by his early compositions and improvisations. He wrote music for chamber ensembles and orchestra, vocal music, as well as for solo organ and piano, and also experimented with the use of novel electronic instruments developed in Europe during his lifetime.
Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11 and studied with Paul Dukas, Maurice Emmanuel, Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupré, among others. He was appointed organist at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris, in 1931, a post held for 61 years until his death. He taught at the Schola Cantorum de Paris during the 1930s. After the fall of France in 1940, Messiaen was interned for nine months in the German prisoner of war camp Stalag VIII-A, where he composed his Quatuor pour la fin du temps ("Quartet for the end of time") for the four instruments available in the prison—piano, violin, cello and clarinet. The piece was first performed by Messiaen and fellow prisoners for an audience of inmates and prison guards. He was appointed professor of harmony soon after his release in 1941 and professor of composition in 1966 at the Paris Conservatoire, positions that he held until his retirement in 1978. His many distinguished pupils included Iannis Xenakis, George Benjamin, Alexander Goehr, Pierre Boulez, Tristan Murail, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Kurtág, and Yvonne Loriod, who became his second wife. (Full article...)
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (baptized 15 May 1567 – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, choirmaster and string player. A composer of both secular and sacred music, and a pioneer in the development of opera, he is considered a crucial transitional figure between the Renaissance and Baroque periods of music history.
Born in Cremona, where he undertook his first musical studies and compositions, Monteverdi developed his career first at the court of Mantua (c. 1590–1613) and then until his death in the Republic of Venice where he was maestro di cappella at the basilica of San Marco. His surviving letters give insight into the life of a professional musician in Italy of the period, including problems of income, patronage and politics. (Full article...)
Gioachino Antonio Rossini (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas, although he also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity.
Born in Pesaro to parents who were both musicians (his father a trumpeter, his mother a singer), Rossini began to compose by the age of 12 and was educated at music school in Bologna. His first opera was performed in Venice in 1810 when he was 18 years old. In 1815 he was engaged to write operas and manage theatres in Naples. In the period 1810–1823 he wrote 34 operas for the Italian stage that were performed in Venice, Milan, Ferrara, Naples and elsewhere; this productivity necessitated an almost formulaic approach for some components (such as overtures) and a certain amount of self-borrowing. During this period he produced his most popular works, including the comic operas L'italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia (known in English as The Barber of Seville) and La Cenerentola, which brought to a peak the opera buffa tradition he inherited from masters such as Domenico Cimarosa and Giovanni Paisiello. He also composed opera seria works such as Tancredi, Otello and Semiramide. All of these attracted admiration for their innovation in melody, harmonic and instrumental colour, and dramatic form. In 1824 he was contracted by the Opéra in Paris, for which he produced an opera to celebrate the coronation of Charles X, Il viaggio a Reims (later cannibalised for his first opera in French, Le comte Ory), revisions of two of his Italian operas, Le siège de Corinthe and Moïse, and in 1829 his last opera, Guillaume Tell. (Full article...)
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847), born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music, organ music and chamber music. His best-known works include the overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream (which includes his "Wedding March"), the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio St. Paul, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, the mature Violin Concerto and the String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also his. Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.
Mendelssohn's grandfather was the renowned Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, but Felix was initially raised without religion. He was baptised at the age of seven, becoming a Reformed Christian. He was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his talent. His sister Fanny Mendelssohn received a similar musical education and was a talented composer and pianist in her own right; some of her early songs were published under her brother's name and her Easter Sonata was for a time mistakenly attributed to him after being lost and rediscovered in the 1970s. (Full article...)
Gustav Mahler (German: [ˈɡʊstaf ˈmaːlɐ]; 7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th-century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect, which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century.
Born in Bohemia (then part of the Austrian Empire) to Ashkenazi Jewish parents of humble origins, the German-speaking Mahler displayed his musical gifts at an early age. After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper). During his ten years in Vienna, Mahler—who had converted to Catholicism to secure the post—experienced regular opposition and hostility from the anti-Semitic press. Nevertheless, his innovative productions and insistence on the highest performance standards ensured his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Late in his life he was briefly director of New York's Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. (Full article...)
Nobuo Uematsu (植松 伸夫, Uematsu Nobuo, born March 21, 1959) is a Japanese composer and keyboardist best known for his contributions to the Final Fantasy video game series by Square Enix. A self-taught musician, he began playing the piano at the age of twelve, with English singer-songwriter Elton John as one of his biggest influences.
Uematsu joined Square in 1986, where he first met Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The two later worked together on many games at the company, most notably in the Final Fantasy series. After nearly two decades with Square, Uematsu left in 2004 to create his own production company and music label, Dog Ear Records. He has since composed music as a freelancer for other games, including ones developed by Square Enix and Sakaguchi's development studio, Mistwalker. (Full article...)
John Thomas Douglass (1847–1886) was an American composer, virtuoso violinist, conductor and teacher. He is best known for composing Virginia's Ball (1868), which is generally regarded as the first opera written by a Black American composer. The work is now lost, and his only extant composition is The Pilgrim: Grand Overture (1878) for piano. His biography from James Monroe Trotter's Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878)—in which The Pilgrim survives—reports that he wrote many now lost pieces for piano, orchestra and particularly guitar, which he was known to play.
A highly regarded violinist, Douglass's violin playing received high praise during his lifetime. In addition to his solo career, he traveled with various groups throughout the 1870s, including the Hyers Sisters. He settled in New York by the 1880s and conducted both a music studio and string ensemble. Later in life he led a teaching studio, and among his students was David Mannes who became the concertmaster of the New York Symphony Orchestra. Nearly 30 years after Douglass's death at age 38–39, Mannes founded the Colored Music Settlement School in the memory of his teacher. (Full article...)
F. Andrieu (fl. late 14th century; possibly François or Franciscus Andrieu) was a French composer in the ars nova style of late medieval music. Nothing is known for certain about him except that he wrote Armes, amours/O flour des flours (Weapons, loves/O flower of flowers), a double ballade déploration, for the death of Guillaume de Machaut in 1377. The work has been widely praised and analyzed; it is notable for being one of two extant medieval double ballades for four voices, the only known contemporary musical setting of Eustache Deschamps and the earliest representative of the longstanding medieval and Renaissance lamentation tradition between composers. He may be the same person as Magister Franciscus, although the scholarly consensus on this identification is unclear. With P. des Molins, Jehan Vaillant and Grimace, Andrieu was one of the "post-Machaut" generation whose pieces retain enough ars nova qualities to be differentiated from composers of ars subtilior. (Full article...)
Sahakdukht (Armenian: Սահակադուխտ, lit. 'daughter of Sahak'; fl. early 8th century) was an Armenian hymnographer, poet and pedagogue who lived during the early 8th century. She is the first known woman of Armenian literature and music. Along with her slightly later contemporary Khosrovidukht, she is among the earliest woman composers in history. Sahakdukht and her brother Stepanos Siunetsi, who became a noted composer and music theorist, were educated in Dvin. She then spent her life as an ascetic, living in a cave (a grotto) of the Garni valley where she wrote and taught music. Though she is said to have written much Christian music, particularly for the Virgin Mary, only a single šarakan survives, the acrostic "Srbuhi Mariam" ("Saint Mary"). The work shows considerable stylistic connections to contemporaneous Byzantine theotokions and kanons. Though her piece did not join the general šarakan liturgy, Sahakdukht's oeuvre as a whole is thought to have exerted considerable influence on subsequent šarakans; they introduced certain phrases into popular use and according to ethnomusicologist Şahan Arzruni they "helped to shape the development of the genre during subsequent centuries". (Full article...)
Merrill Bradshaw (June 18, 1929 – July 12, 2000) was an American composer and professor at Brigham Young University (BYU), where he was composer-in-residence from 1967 to 1994.
Bradshaw grew up in Lyman, Wyoming; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Portland, Oregon. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He studied music theory at BYU with John R. Halliday and others, after which he continued his studies in composition at the University of Illinois. He became a faculty member at BYU in 1957. He was chairman of composition and theory from 1973 to 1983, and the executive director of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition from 1983 to 1999. From 1973 to 1978 he chaired an LDS Church committee to revise the hymnbook, although the committee was suspended before they published their intended hymnal. A different committee authored the 1985 hymnal. (Full article...)
In mid- to late-19th-century Russia, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a group of composers known as The Five had differing opinions as to whether Russian classical music should be composed following Western or native practices. Tchaikovsky wanted to write professional compositions of such quality that they would stand up to Western scrutiny and thus transcend national barriers, yet remain distinctively Russian in melody, rhythm and other compositional characteristics. The Five, made up of composers Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, sought to produce a specifically Russian kind of art music, rather than one that imitated older European music or relied on European-style conservatory training. While Tchaikovsky himself used folk songs in some of his works, for the most part he tried to follow Western practices of composition, especially in terms of tonality and tonal progression. Also, unlike Tchaikovsky, none of The Five were academically trained in composition; in fact, their leader, Balakirev, considered academicism a threat to musical imagination. Along with critic Vladimir Stasov, who supported The Five, Balakirev attacked relentlessly both the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from which Tchaikovsky had graduated, and its founder Anton Rubinstein, orally and in print.
As Tchaikovsky had become Rubinstein's best-known student, he was initially considered by association as a natural target for attack, especially as fodder for Cui's printed critical reviews. This attitude changed slightly when Rubinstein left the Saint Petersburg musical scene in 1867. In 1869 Tchaikovsky entered into a working relationship with Balakirev; the result was Tchaikovsky's first recognized masterpiece, the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet, a work which The Five wholeheartedly embraced. When Tchaikovsky wrote a positive review of Rimsky-Korsakov's Fantasy on Serbian Themes he was welcomed into the circle, despite concerns about the academic nature of his musical background. The finale of his Second Symphony, nicknamed the Little Russian, was also received enthusiastically by the group on its first performance in 1872. (Full article...)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (German: [kaʁlˈhaɪnts ˈʃtɔkhaʊzn̩] (listen); 22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance (aleatory techniques) into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.
He was educated at the Hochschule für Musik Köln and the University of Cologne, later studying with Olivier Messiaen in Paris and with Werner Meyer-Eppler at the University of Bonn. One of the leading figures of the Darmstadt School, his compositions and theories were and remain widely influential, not only on composers of art music, but also on jazz and popular music. His works, composed over a period of nearly sixty years, eschew traditional forms. In addition to electronic music—both with and without live performers—they range from miniatures for musical boxes through works for solo instruments, songs, chamber music, choral and orchestral music, to a cycle of seven full-length operas. His theoretical and other writings comprise ten large volumes. He received numerous prizes and distinctions for his compositions, recordings, and for the scores produced by his publishing company. (Full article...)
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (born Leon Dudley Sorabji; 14 August 1892 – 15 October 1988) was an English composer, music critic, pianist and writer whose music, written over a period of seventy years, ranges from sets of miniatures to works lasting several hours. One of the most prolific 20th-century composers, he is best known for his piano pieces, notably nocturnes such as Gulistān and Villa Tasca, and large-scale, technically intricate compositions, which include seven symphonies for piano solo, four toccatas, Sequentia cyclica and 100 Transcendental Studies. He felt alienated from English society by reason of his homosexuality and mixed ancestry, and had a lifelong tendency to seclusion.
Sorabji was educated privately. His mother was English and his father a Parsi businessman and industrialist from India, who set up a trust fund that freed his family from the need to work. Although Sorabji was a reluctant performer and not a virtuoso, he played some of his music publicly between 1920 and 1936. In the late 1930s, his attitude shifted and he imposed restrictions on performance of his works, which he lifted in 1976. His compositions received little exposure in those years and he remained in public view mainly through his writings, which include the books Around Music and Mi contra fa: The Immoralisings of a Machiavellian Musician. During this time, he also left London and eventually settled in the village of Corfe Castle, Dorset. Information on Sorabji's life, especially his later years, is scarce, with most of it coming from the letters he exchanged with his friends. (Full article...)
Albert William Ketèlbey (/kəˈtɛlbi/; born Ketelbey; 9 August 1875 – 26 November 1959) was an English composer, conductor and pianist, best known for his short pieces of light orchestral music. He was born in Birmingham and moved to London in 1889 to study at Trinity College of Music. After a brilliant studentship he did not pursue the classical career predicted for him, becoming musical director of the Vaudeville Theatre before gaining fame as a composer of light music and as a conductor of his own works.
For many years Ketèlbey worked for a series of music publishers, including Chappell & Co and the Columbia Graphophone Company, making arrangements for smaller orchestras, a period in which he learned to write fluent and popular music. He also found great success writing music for silent films until the advent of talking films in the late 1920s. (Full article...)
Did you know (auto-generated) -
- ... that the conductor Im Won-sik is considered the "father of Korea's classical music world"?
- ... that the Stadthalle Hannover, the largest classical music concert hall in Germany by capacity, was modelled after the Pantheon in Rome and completed by 1914?
- ... that, according to its owner, KLEF in Anchorage, Alaska, was one of just three remaining commercially operated classical-music radio stations in the United States, as of 2013?
- ... that the manager of WVSS at the University of Wisconsin–Stout spent about $6,000 of his own money to buy more than 500 classical music CDs to program the station?
- ... that the gravestone of Semahat Özdenses, a singer and composer of Ottoman classical music, was erected seven years after her death?
- ... that the founders of the Turkish Republic despised Turkish classical music and tried to censor it?
- Photo: Guillaume PiolleThe anatomy of a Périnet piston valve, this one taken from a B♭ trumpet. When depressed, the valve diverts the air stream through additional tubing, thus lengthening the instrument and lowering the harmonic series on which the instrument is vibrating (i.e., it lowers the pitch). Trumpets generally use three valves, with some variations, such as a piccolo trumpet, having four. When used singly or in combination, the valves make the instrument fully chromatic, or capable of playing all twelve pitches of classical music. Trumpets may also use rotary valves instead.
- Photo: W. J. Mayer; Restoration: Lise BroerA bust of the German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), made from his death mask. He was a crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most acclaimed and influential composers of all time. Born in Bonn, of the Electorate of Cologne and a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in present-day Germany, he moved to Vienna in his early twenties and settled there, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. His hearing began to deteriorate in the late 1790s, yet he continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf.
- Photograph credit: Eugène Pirou; restored by Adam CuerdenJules Massenet (12 May 1842 – 13 August 1912) was a French composer of the Romantic era, best known for his operas. Between 1867 and his death, he wrote more than forty stage works in a wide variety of styles, from opéra comique to grand depictions of classical myths, romantic comedies and lyric dramas, as well as oratorios, cantatas and ballets. Massenet had a good sense of the theatre and of what would succeed with the Parisian public. Despite some miscalculations, he produced a series of successes that made him the leading opera composer in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the time of his death, he was regarded as old-fashioned; his works, however, began to be favourably reassessed during the mid-20th century, and many have since been staged and recorded. This photograph of Massenet was taken by French photographer Eugène Pirou in 1875.
- Photograph: David IliffThe Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall, seating a maximum of 5,272, on the northern edge of South Kensington, London. Constructed beginning in 1867, the hall was inaugurated on 29 March 1871. Since 1941 it has held The Proms, an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events.
- The Teatro alla Scala (or La Scala, as it is known), in Milan, Italy, is one of the world's most famous opera houses. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778, under the name Nuovo Regio Ducal Teatro alla Scala with Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.
- Ballet is a formalized form of dance with its origins in the French court, further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form.
- Photograph credit: William P. Gottlieb; restored by Adam CuerdenBilly Strayhorn (November 29, 1915 – May 31, 1967) was an American jazz composer, pianist, lyricist, and arranger, best remembered for his long-time collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington that lasted nearly three decades. Though classical music was Strayhorn's first love, his ambition to become a classical composer went unrealized because of the harsh reality of a black man trying to make his way in the world of classical music, which at that time was almost completely white. He was introduced to the music of pianists like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson at age 19, and the artistic influence of these musicians guided him into the realm of jazz, where he remained for the rest of his life. This photograph of Strayhorn was taken by William P. Gottlieb in the 1940s.
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in the London district of Covent Garden. The large building, often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
- Sheet music for the Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53, a solo piano piece written by Frédéric Chopin in 1842. This work is one of Chopin's most admired compositions and has long been a favorite of the classical piano repertoire. The piece, which is very difficult, requires exceptional pianistic skills and great virtuosity to be interpreted. A typical performance of the polonaise lasts seven minutes.
- Stradivarius is one of the violins, violas, cellos and other string instruments built by members of the Italian Stradivari family, particularly Antonio Stradivari.
- Photograph: Augustus Binu; edit: Chris WoodrichKuchipudi is a Classical Indian dance from Andhra Pradesh, India. According to legend, an orphan named Siddhendra Yogi established the Kuchipudi dance-drama tradition in the seventh century. The performance usually begins with stage rites, after which each character comes onto the stage and introduces herself with a small composition of both song and dance. The drama then begins, and the dance is typically accompanied by Carnatic music.
- Painting: Thomas GainsboroughJohann Christian Bach (5 September 1735 – 1 January 1782) was a composer of the Classical era, the eighteenth child of Johann Sebastian Bach, and the youngest of his eleven sons. Bach was taught by his father and then, after the latter's death, by his half-brother C. P. E. Bach. Bach moved to Italy in 1754, and then to London in 1762, where he became known as the "London Bach". Bach's compositions include eleven operas, as well as chamber music, orchestral music and compositions for keyboard music. In 1764 Bach met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was eight at the time, and spent five months teaching him composition. He had considerable influence on Mozart, and was later described by scholars as his "only, true teacher".
This portrait of Bach was painted in 1776 by Thomas Gainsborough, as part of a collection started by Bach's former teacher Padre Martini. It now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
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