Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Papa's Piano

Franz Joseph Haydn, the great Austrian Classical Era composer, is known as Papa Haydn because he is considered the father of the classical symphony.  Haydn composed 104 classical symphonies.  A characteristic of a Haydn symphony is its bright, happy, playful nature. In fact, so many times did Haydn put in his symphony a surprising moment [for example a surprising forzando in the middle of a soft passage] that the audience looked forward to them in anticipation.  In fact, that anticipation at one of the premiers of a Haydn symphony, conducted by the maestro himself, led to his Miracle Symphony [which legend says literally saved lives].  Audiences of the time loved their Papa Haydn because of the good feeling when listening to a Haydn symphony. 

Franz Joseph Haydn [1732 - 1809]

It wasn't just symphonies that Haydn wrote.  Papa Haydn wrote many great works for the piano.  The best of those concerti [and the most popular] is his D Major Concerto.  This concerto brings back memories for me as the first time I heard it was in a piano concerto competition when my daughter was just beginning her classical piano lessons with a great Russian American teacher, Mrs Kurinets.  One of her students was performing this concerto-it happened to be one of the girls of the famous 5 Browns [2 boys and 3 girls], and if memory serves me correct she was only twelve when performing the first movement of the Haydn D Major concerto. She performed it flawlessly and she won first place in her division.  I still remember how my daughter's piano lessons came after the youngest of the Brown girls' lesson. 

This D Major concerto is just like a typical Haydn symphony with its light, playful nature. I really love this piano concerto. The first movement, Vivace, has a very happy, bright quality.  The second movement, Poco Adagio, which begins at the 8:45 mark, is a pleasant slow movement that switches to the A Major key. The second movement is unusual as it also contains a cadenza [15:05-16:51].  The third movement, Rondo all'Ungarese-Allegro assai, returns to the home key of D Major and this is a very fun "Haydn" playful movement.  It begins at the 17:43 mark.

Yes, while Papa Haydn is known for his many symphonies, I think you will enjoy this Papa's piano.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy "the Papa's" piano concerto in D Major.

F. J.Haydn: Piano Concerto in D Major:

As a Tales bonus, here is Haydn's beautiful Emperor's hymn from his String Quartet in C-Major; and Haydn's Piano Trio in G Major with it's lively "Gypsy" rondo movement 3 beginning at the 11:49 mark of the last video.

F.J. Haydn: String Quartet in C Major, Movement 2, Emperor:

F.J Haydn: Piano Trio in G Major, "Gypsy":

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

No Dark Room Needed to Develop This Picture

Oldie but goodie Tales' post from a year ago of a picture where your brain develops the negative with no dark room needed.

no dark room needed on this blog
Your brain develops the negative - Instructions: 
1.  Stare at the red dot on the girls nose for 30 seconds.
2.  Turn your eyes to a plain surface (your ceiling or blank wall)
3.  Blink repeatedly and quickly.

Is that amazing or what? 

Monday, February 24, 2020

D'Albert's Exquisite Cello Concerto

As many of you know, I am no professional in classical music and I am certainly no expert in classical music.  I am just a fan of classical music and I have become so late in my life.  In fact, I knew nothing of the composers or the compositions of classical music when I first saw the movie Amadeus in 1985 [I was 37 years old at the time].  But after I saw that movie, I knew it had changed my life forever and that I had to learn all about classical music and listen to all the classical music that I could get my hands on from that day forward.  Then I doubled down on my knowledge when my daughter began piano lessons at the age of 6 and for every week, until she was 14 years old, I was told by her great Russian-American piano teacher that I had to take notes every lesson.  I also went to her theory and classical music history classes to take notes when she was young.  So, I know a little [and trust me very little] about classical music, but there is so much more I am learning about it every day.

That is why I recently came across a composer I have never heard of.  I was looking up the Houston Symphony Orchestra concerts upcoming that my wife and I will be attending and I noticed on the concert we are going to on March 30, 2019, the feature piece will be the legendary "Carmina Burana", with its haunting thumping beat, by Carl Orff.  The opening piece of that concert program will be a cello concerto by a composer who I have never heard of, Eugen D'Albert. The Houston Symphony Orchestra's virtuoso and beloved principal cellist, Briton Averil Smith, will be the soloist in D'Albert's concerto.

Eugen D'Albert [1864 - 1932]
From Wikipedia:  "... was a Scottish-born German pianist and composer.
Educated in Britain, d'Albert showed early musical talent and, at the age of seventeen, he won a scholarship to study in Austria. Feeling a kinship with German culture and music, he soon emigrated to Germany, where he studied with Franz Liszt and began a career as a concert pianist. D'Albert repudiated his early training and upbringing in Scotland and considered himself German".

When I went to You Tube to listen to the concerto, I thought to myself, oh, my, is that so beautiful and sublime and exquisite.  How have I never heard of this composer before.  That is bad on my part.

The concerto is scored in C Major with 3 movements: 1. Allegro Moderato, 2. Andante con moto, and 3. Allegro Vivace.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy D'Albert's exquisite cello concerto. 

Eugen D'Albert: Cello Concerto in C Major


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Happy #335 Birthday, George Frederick Handel

Tomorrow, Sunday Feb. 23, 2020 marks the 335th birthday of the great Baroque composer, George Frederick Handel.

George Frederick Handel  [Feb 23, 1685-April 14, 1759]

The great German born [who became a British citizen] Baroque composer, George Frederick Handel, was born 335 years ago on Feb. 23, 1685. Of course, the quintessential Baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach is recognized as the greatest Baroque composer, and maybe the greatest composer of all.  Handel along with Vivaldi might be the next most recognized Baroque composers.

This from the Handel Biography web site"Baroque composer George Handel was born February 23, 1685, in Halle, Germany. In 1704 Handel made his debut as an opera composer with Almira."
"In 1726 Handel decided to make London his home permanently, and became a British citizen."

"He produced several operas with the Royal Academy of Music before forming the New Royal Academy of Music in 1727. When Italian operas fell out of fashion, he started composing oratorios, including Messiah. George Handel died April 14, 1759, in London, England."

"In addition to his oratorios, Handel’s concerti grossi, anthems and orchestral pieces also garnered him fame and success. Among the most noted were Water Music (1717), Coronation Anthems (1727), Trio Sonatas op. 2 (1722–1733), Trio Sonatas op. 5 (1739), Concerto Grosso op. 6 (1739) and Music for Royal Fireworks, completed a decade before his death."

Handel's most famous piece is undoubtedly his oratorio, "The Messiah, a popular piece that is played usually during the Easter and Christmas holidays in concert halls everywhere.  You don't have to be a Christian to recognize the greatness of this stirring music.  When the Hallelujah Chorus comes on, the audience in the concert halls rise in unison.  

 G.F. Handel: The oratorio "Messiah", "Hallelujah Chorus":

G.F. Handel:  Suite #2 in D-Major, "Water Music", movement "Alla Hornpipe":

G.F. Handel: Concerto Grosso in G Major, No. 1, Allegro:

G.F. Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks, Overture:

G. F. Handel:Suite in D-minor, Movement 4, Sarabande:

Happy Birthday #335, George Frederick Handel!