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Má Vlast

Today I would like to share with you Má Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (1824–1864). My daughter Hannah and I were listening to this piece a few days ago in the car when she said, “Dad, this sounds just like the national anthem of Israel.” We looked it up, and Hannah was absolutely right. The intertwined… Keep Reading

Tosca – Te Deum

Today I want to share with you an aria from the opera Tosca, composed by Giacomo Puccini. The aria I am sharing, “Te Deum,” is not the most popular one, but it is one of my favorites. In addition to the music of the orchestra and the remarkable baritone voice of the character Scarpia, Puccini… Keep Reading

Mozart – Symphony No. 40

Today I want to share with you Symphony No. 40 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Symphony 40 was composed in the summer of 1788. Stunningly, Mozart composed three symphonies, 39, 40, and 41, in the space of just a few weeks. (Most accomplished composers “only” managed to write nine or fewer symphonies: Mahler 9, Beethoven 9,… Keep Reading

Lenny

We went to the Austin Symphony to hear Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade. 2018 is the 100-year celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birthday, and so before the orchestra performed Beethoven’s 5th we were shown a short excerpt from Bernstein’s TV lecture on this symphony (watch here). Leonard Bernstein will go down in history as a… Keep Reading

Rentaro Taki – Kojo No Tsuki

Today I am going to share with you a very short piece, “Kojo No Tsuki” (“Moon Over Ruined Castle”) by Japanese composer Rentaro Taki, who lived a tragically short life. Taki graduated music school in Tokyo in 1901, moved to the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany to continue his music studies. He contracted tuberculosis, moved back to Japan, and… Keep Reading

Bach – Cello Suite No. 1

If the word Bach instantly puts you to sleep; if you relate Baroque music to the word boring, I can relate to your sentiment, as I used to feel the same way. But Bach’s Piano Concerto in D minor was the piece that really changed my perception of this musical genius. However, I promise you that after you… Keep Reading

Mozart’s Piano Concerto Number 21

“You have to listen to Mozart’s Piano Concerto Number 21, part 2.” Those were my father’s words. He just heard it on the radio and could not wait to tell me about it. This was over twenty-five years ago, but I still remember this moment as though it were today. I could hear the excitement in his voice and… Keep Reading

Sibelius Symphony No. 5 (part 3)

I’ve been forcing myself to listen to 20th-century classical music composers. My parents mostly listened to music of the Classical era (1750-1820 – Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven) and of the Romantic era (1820-1910 – think Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Rachmaninoff (late romantic). “Classical music” is an umbrella term that encompasses half a dozen “eras,” the Classical era among them. Composers of… Keep Reading

Dvorak Piano Concerto

Today I want to share with you Piano Concerto in G minor by Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), a Czech composer.  This is the only piano concerto Dvorak composed.  According to Dvorak, in this concerto he was unable to create a battle between the piano and the orchestra.  There is very little drama here; the piano is… Keep Reading

Pearl Fishers

Today I want to share with you aria from Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.  Bizet was a French composer, most famous for his opera Carmen.  Every artist should really focus on pleasing himself with his work; the public is too fickle.  Carmen is indisputably one of the most popular operas of the 20th Century; however, it was a failure during Bizet’s… Keep Reading

Shostakovich Fantasia

Last time I talked about Shostakovich I said, “His music tells stories. We just don’t know what those stories are. Each of his symphonies could have been turned into a Fantasia type of movie.”  Well, my lovely wife and I were listening to the first movement of Piano Concerto Number 2, and she said “Isn’t… Keep Reading

Guess-This-Classical Music Game

My family is an avid user of Spotify – every family member with the exception of 3-year-old Mia has an account.  Every time we get in my car, Mia says, “Dad, can you play ‘Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round’?” so my Spotify-suggested playlist also features some odd music for three-year-olds.  Personally, I… Keep Reading

Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. If I had to use one phrase to describe this wonderful masterpiece, I’d say it is a “concert of contrast.” Everything in this concerto has an opposite. If part of it sounds soft and lyrical, just wait and you’ll be treated to a forceful, military march-like section. If it’s quiet, don’t… Keep Reading

Concert Fantasia

Today I wanted to share with you an incredible but forgotten gem: Concert Fantasia by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky composed it in 1884, and it was very popular for about twenty years, then virtually disappeared from the public repertoire for a hundred years, until the late 20th Century. The reason for its disappearance escapes me – I’ll… Keep Reading

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