Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy Birthday Sergei Prokofiev

Thanks to composer Ed Jeter - @eddissimo on twitter, who informed me that today was the birthday of the great early 20th century Russian [Soviet at the time] composer, pianist and conductor, Sergei Prokofiev.  Prokofiev was born April 23, 1891 in Sontsivka, Ukraine and died March 5, 1953 in Moscow.

Prokofiev, one of the great composers of the 20th century, was also a very good chess player.  He was a prolific composer of many genres, symphonies, piano concertos, ballets, and movie scores. One of his famous pieces written to introduce children to the instruments of a symphony orchestra was the famous, "Peter and the Wolf".  While much of his music may not have had the beautiful melodies of the early Romantic composers, and indeed contained purposeful dissonant sound, his music was always great, interesting, and at times, mesmerizing.

Prokofiev shares a birthday with the great English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare.  And as Prokofiev was a great admirer of "the Bard", he composed the ballet "Romeo and Juliet", based on Shakespeare's play. 

Let us honor the birthday of Sergei Prokofiev with some examples of his wonderful music.  Please turn up the volume and enjoy!

S. Prokofiev:  Piano Concerto #1 in D Flat Major:

S. Prokofiev: Suite No. 2 from Romeo and Juliet, "Montagues and Capulets"

S. Prokofiev: Symphony #1 in D Major, Classical, Movement 4, Molto vivace:

S. Prokofiev: "Peter and the Wolf":

Happy 127th Birthday Sergei Prokofiev!

Two Beautiful Pics of Former Living Presidents

Out of the beautiful and moving service in Houston for the wonderful former First Lady and First Mom, Barbara Bush, came a couple of moving and I think beautiful pictures containing former living presidents.

Please, I mean nothing political in showing these pictures, and I hope you don't try and put anything political in viewing them.  The first pic makes me smile with warmth of a father and son.  The second is just a beautiful picture in my opinion.  No caption is necessary.

May Barbara Bush rest in peace with her beloved Robin, together in the hands of God in heaven.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Great Melodies In Classical Music [Part 1]

I am always reluctant in doing a musical post like this in picking the top pieces in any category as I know I will always forget so many obvious pieces, and I will rightfully hear from my loyal readers, why didn't you choose this piece or that piece.  :-)  

Classical music has plentiful beautiful melodies
In these next two weeks I will dive into danger by trying to pick the top 20 pieces with beautiful melodies [or top 20 melodies].  This will be in contrast with the greatest pieces of classical music, as many of those you will not see on this list-this only has to do with melodies.  For example if I were to do a post on the greatest classical pieces, I would have Beethoven's 9th symphony as #1.  It does not show up on this list as do not many of the other great classical music works. This is only about beautiful melodies.  So, my goal is not for you to say, "that is a great piece", but rather, "that has a beautiful melody in it."  

Also, I have limited my list to just instrumental works [symphonies, concertos, sonatas, chamber music] because there are so many great beautiful melodic arias from the operatic genre that it would squeeze out some instrumental only pieces. That is why you will not see a beautiful melodic aria like "O' mio babino caro" in my selections.

It took me a while to do this, as I make a list, I keep making changes and also keep changing the order.  But I must finally come up with a final top 20, and here they are.

This week I will give choices 11-20 [in reverse order] and next week on the Tales classical music weekend I will give choices 1-10. The list will include melodies from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic Eras of classical music. 

Without further ado, the Tales picks of top beautiful melodies are included in the following pieces [11-20]:  

#20  W.A. Mozart: Piano Concerto #23 in A Major, Movement 2, Adagio:

#19  Johann Strauss II: The Blue Danube Waltz:

#18  Johannes Brahms: Variations on a theme by Haydn, "Theme, Chorale St. Antoni", Andante:

#17  Felix Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture [Fingal's Cave]:

#16  George Bizet: Carmen Suite #2, Danse Boheme:

#15  J.S. Bach:  Air on the G-String:

#14  Robert Schumann:  Scenes From Childhood, "Traumerei": note; this was Vladimir Horowitz concert's return home to Russia, in Moscow in 1986

#13  Antonin Dvorak: Serenade for Strings in E Major, Movement 1, Moderato:

#12  Beethoven: "Moonlight" Sonata in C# minor, Movement 1, Adagio sostenuto:

#11  Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, Movement 2, Adagio:

I hope you enjoyed the beautiful melodies in these Saturday will be the Tales top 10!

Friday, April 20, 2018

On Guard Until The End

One of the duties of the Secret Service, authorized by law, is to protect "Former Presidents and their spouses for their lifetimes."

The Secret Service detail who protected former First Lady and First Mom, Barbara Bush, many for decades, admired and loved her.  How do I know that? Here is a picture of the St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston where Mrs. Bush will lie in repose for public viewing on Friday April 20. The Secret Service detail refuse to leave Mrs. Bush's side until she is buried on Saturday April 21, 2018.

I don't know about you, but that picture brought tears to my eyes, as did this wonderful touching cartoon of Barbara Bush in heaven being reunited with her daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.  Barbara Bush will be buried right next to her beloved Robin.

Thanks for PBS News hour for this You Tube video of president George W. Bush speaking of his Mom in the final days of her life:

May God Bless Barbara Bush and the entire family!

Rest in Peace Barbara Bush!