Monday, October 15, 2018

Welcome To H-Town, Finally, Mr. Fall

Repeat from last year, 2017, when Fall "temperatures" finally arrived in H-Town.

During the summer I have been walking in this "cool" mall to do my morning walk out of the sun's draining heat. That has continued past the summer as it seems like the hot temperatures would never go away in Houston.  That is until today, when it seems like out of the blue, there was an actual chill in the air as I walked outside.  I looked at my weather app on my I-phone to see the temperature at 60°.  Wow!  So, back outside today to these beautiful lakes area to do my morning walk.  Hallelujah!

What a great feeling doing my walk around these lakes "in the fall"
Finally, Fall has officially come to H-Town!  Thank you, God!

Update: Oct. 15, 2018:  Temperature in Houston today- 57.  Baby it's cold outside.  :-)   

In honor of this, Tales would like to play Vivaldi's great "Autumn Violin Concerto" from this Baroque composer's "Four Seasons".

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Bravo Concerto!

For those of you who have never had the privilege to go to a classical concert with your local symphony orchestra [or one closest to your residence], I would recommend going when one of the pieces on the program is a concerto.  A concerto is a piece with the symphony orchestra and a soloist who stands or sits in the front, closest to the audience.  So, a piano concerto would have a pianist in front of the orchestra.  A violin concerto would have a solo violinist standing in front of the orchestra.  There are also double and triple concertos which would involve more than one soloist, and they would be in the front of the orchestra facing each other.  For example, in Beethoven's great triple concerto there is a violinist, cellist and pianist as the three solo players in front of the orchestra.

Beethoven's Triple Concerto for violin, cello and piano
A concerto, literally means contest or competition. There will be no winners or losers in this contest but you will at times have the orchestra taking the lead, and at other times the soloist will take charge.  Most of the time, though, the soloist and orchestra work together to make some exciting music.  It is wonderful to hear the play between the orchestra and soloist.  It is also fun to watch the conductor, while conducting for the entire orchestra, making eye contact with the soloist to make sure they are on the same page.

The concertos are somewhat like symphonies, with the addition of a soloist with the orchestra.  But while a classical symphony usually has 4 movements, a classical concerto will almost always have 3 movements [usually in the form of fast, slow, fast].  Also, in a concerto something that you will have that you will not have in a symphony is the cadenza.  A cadenza is when the entire orchestra will put their instruments in non-playing position, and the soloist performs by himself a virtuoso passage that is meant to show off the soloist great virtuosity.

One more thing you will notice about the concerto is that for the most part [but not always] the soloist will play the piece by memory, without the music.  That is in a solo concerto.  For double and triple concertos, I think because of tradition, most of the time the solo players will have the written music before them. 

Without further ado, here are examples [one movement] of the concerto for different instruments:  Rachmaninoff's thrilling, dramatic and extremely virtuosic piano concerto #3; Dvorak's epic cello concerto; Tchaikovsky's great and exciting violin concerto; and Hummel's electric trumpet concerto.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy these great concerti.

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #3 in D-minor, Movement 1, Allegro ma non tanto:

Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Trumpet Concerto in E-Major, Movement 3, Allegro:

Antonin Dvorak:  Cello Concerto in B-minor, movement 3, Allegro Moderato-Andante-Allegro Vivo:

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin concerto in D-Major, Movement 1, Allegro Moderato:

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D-Major, Movement 3, Allegro Vivacissimo:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hieroglyphics - Back To The Future

Hmm, I think the Egyptians knew something back in the good 'old' BC Days.  :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Brahms Honored The Masters With His Variations

Here is a repeat Tales post first published in 2013.

To take material or an original idea from another author and claim it as your own is considered to be unethical and maybe plagiarism.  But in classical music, to take a theme or an idea of music from another composer and then to quote [use] that theme and develop it in your work is considered as honoring the original composer.  

Johannes Brahms [1833 - 1897]
The great German Romantic composer Johannes Brahms honored many of his fellow composers by using their themes and employing them in his many theme and variations pieces.  Brahms composed variations on themes by Handel, Haydn, Paganini, and his mentor and friend Robert Schumann.  Johannes Brahms was a brilliant composer in his own right and did not need to take musical ideas from other composers because of a lack of his own original music ideas.  He did so because of his love and respect of these composers and he showed that adoration by developing their original themes with his variations to make many pieces of great beauty.

In the theme and variations mode, the piece will always start with the original theme, then have numerous variations of that theme and usually return to the original theme in the final variation.

My favorite Brahms variations is his "Variations on a Theme by Haydn".  The theme of Haydn is the St. Anthony Chorale.  St. Anthony Chorale was a hymn tune [by unknown traditional composers] that Haydn used in his Divertimento #1 in Bb Major.  It was the second movement of that divertimento-andante.   So, you see while Brahms borrowed it from Haydn, Haydn also borrowed this hymn for his use.  Brahms variations has 10 movements, starting with the Chorale St. Anthony theme in andante and the finale [with the original theme repeated at the very end] andante.

Please turn up the volume to listen first to the St. Anthony Chorale theme Haydn used in his divertimento and then Brahms variations on that theme by Haydn.  You will hear how the original theme used by Haydn is so beautiful and how Brahms takes that beautiful theme to develop it into an even greater beautiful piece of his own.

Franz Joseph Haydn:  Divertimento in Bb Major, Movement 2, Chorale St. Anthony, Andante:

Johannes Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn: