Monday, September 16, 2019

Hieroglyphics - Back To The Future

With the "Tales" and "Mrs. Tales" [i.e.,, me and my wife] on vacation this week [starting Monday Sept. 16, 2019]--Enjoy a best of the Tales:

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Slatkin-Bronfman Highlight The Opening of HSO's 2019/20 Classical Season

The world renowned Houston Symphony Orchestra begins its 2019/20 Classical Season this Saturday night, September 14, 2019.  The fetching Mrs. Sheralyn B. and I will be blessed to be in Jones Hall to hear our Grammy Award winning HSO start off the season with a blockbuster program.

What a treat this will be as legendary conductor, Maestro Leonard Slatkin will lead our orchestra in a program featuring Glinka [Kamarinskaya], Borodin [Nocturne], Tchaikovsky [Capriccio Italien], and a Rachmaninoff masterpiece, his Piano Concerto #3.  And besides being honored by the great Leonard Slatkin, virtuoso American/Israeli [born in Russia], Yefim Bronfman will be the pianist-soloist performing the Rach 3.

Leonard Slatkin [American Composer/Conductor Born Sept. 1, 1944 in Los Angeles]

From the Houston Symphony Orchestra website about opening night: "There is not a better pianist in the world. [Yefim Bronfman] is not a pianist merely for now but for all time.”—The New Criterion
Yefim Bronfman
Monumental doesn’t even begin to describe it. Prepare for an extraordinary concert experience when living legend Yefim Bronfman takes on the staggering virtuosity of “Rach 3,” a piece so demanding it’s often described as the Mt. Everest of concertos. Renowned conductor Leonard Slatkin leads the Symphony in colorful crowd-pleasers, including Tchaikovsky’s sparkling souvenir of Italy."

Rachmaninoff's ultra virtuosic Piano concerto #3 is scored in D minor, with 3 movements: 1. Allegro ma non tanto; 2. Adagio; and 3. Alla breve.

As usual, whenever the fetching Mrs. B and I go to a Houston Symphony Orchestra concert in Jones Hall, I like to share some of the pieces we will be hearing on Saturday night.  So, please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy some Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

Alexander Borodin: String Quartet in D Major, Movement 3, Nocturne:

 P.I. Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien:

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto in D minor:

A grand welcome to Houston Maestro Leonard Slatkin and Yefim Bronfman!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Brahms Honors 'Papa' With His Variations

Hat Tip: Idea for today's selection comes from my tribble friend Joel, @Joelmt in a tweet to another good tribble friend Carolyn @strongthought.   Thanks Joel and Carolyn for being loyal readers of my classical music weekends on the Tales.  Both Joel and Carolyn, great aficionados of classical music, are from Portland, Oregon.

Johannes Brahms 1833-1897
Johannes Brahms, the great German Romantic composer is one of my favorite composers, especially his orchestrations with its dynamic powerful sounds of beautiful melodies.  His four symphonies are some of the greatest in the symphonic repertoire. Outside of his symphonies, Brahms "Variations on a Theme by Haydn" is one of my favorite pieces by him, and one of my favorite pieces in all of classical music. It is a beautiful piece of music.  Brahms scored it first for two pianos and then for orchestra.  Because I love both versions, both you will get.  You will see this piece does lend itself well to the piano, although I still prefer the orchestral version.  You may choose different.

Franz Joseph Haydn  1732-1809
The classical era German composer,  Franz Joseph Haydn, is also one of my favorite composers. Haydn along with J.S. Bach, may be the top two most influential and important composers for the development of classical music and beyond [even today].  He is the father of the classical symphony and he was ultra prolific with his composition of 104 symphonies.  Because of this, Haydn was known at the time [and still is] as "Papa" Haydn.  The theme of Haydn that Brahms uses in his "variations" is called the "Chorale St. Anthony".

Because of this, Brahms work is sometimes called the St. Anthony Variations.  Brahms scores the variations in B Flat Major.  It is a simple but beautiful melody.  It is a mesmerizing theme, that once you hear it you may be humming it to yourself long after you hear the piece.

Brahms borrows Haydn's theme and creates 8 variations.  So, there are 10 movements: the original Haydn theme, then the 8 variations, then the finale [where the original theme of Haydn comes back]. That is standard in almost all pieces with the theme and variations form.  You will have an original theme, followed by variations of that theme, coming back to the original theme at the end.

You might wonder if it is wrong for Brahms to take material from Haydn, and to compose a piece of music with his name on it.

Well, this is different than someone extracting material from a book of a different author to use in his own work.  That would be plagiarism.   In classical music, to use another composer's material is not only not wrong, it is the highest form of flattery.  Brahms is not stealing Haydn's work for his own self glory.  He is borrowing a theme from one of Haydn's compositions, to honor the great composer Joseph 'Papa' Haydn.  There is no theft going on here; just love.  

I think you will agree with me the opening of the orchestral version is one of the most pleasant openings you will ever hear.

As I always say, please turn up the volume and enjoy both versions of the wonderful St. Anthony Variations, by Johannes Brahms.

Johannes Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn, orchestral version:

Johannes Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn for two pianos:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The 9-11 "Living Memorial" in Jerusalem


I wonder how many of you know about this Memorial dedicated in the Jerusalem Forest in Israel, which was done in solidarity with America [and in honor of the victims and their families] after the horrific 9-11 [2001] terrorist attacks on America.  

9-11 "Living Memorial" in the Jerusalem Forest, in Jerusalem, Israel
This tribute, from America's good friend Israel, echos the commitment from Jews around the world [that came out of the Holocaust] that this should "never again" be allowed to happen.

Thank you, "US Embassy Tel Aviv" You Tube site for this moving video.  In their caption they state: "U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and Defense and Air Attache Colonel Richard Burgess took part in the dedication ceremony for a JNF-sponsored September 11 monument and Living Memorial at the entrance to Jerusalem (in the surrounding forest) on Thursday, November 12, 2009"

9-11 "Living Memorial" in the Jerusalem Forest in Israel:

God Bless America!     God Bless Israel!