Sunday, January 24, 2021

Blowin' In The ... Concert Hall

One of my favorite genres from classical music is the concerto.  I love all types of concertos, including cello, clarinet, flute, oboe, etc.  My two favorite instruments I like to see as solos performing in a concerto with the Houston Symphony Orchestra are the piano and violin.  

Today I'd like to focus on the trumpet and the horn concertos.  I think the majority of horn and trumpet concertos were composed in the Baroque and early classical music period.  They are similar in form with three movements, usually fast, slow, fast, and most of the movements are in sonata or rondo form. Also, it seems like most trumpet and horn concertos have a fun, playful character
French Horn


I have four great horn and trumpet pieces [3 concertos and one sonata] that are all from the Classical Era, that all have the characteristics I named above:  W. A. Mozart's Horn Concerto #4, Franz Joseph Haydn's trumpet concerto, Johann Nepomuk Hummel's trumpet concerto, and Beethoven's Horn Sonata in F Major.  The concertos above are all in E Flat Major.

Mozart's horn concerto #4 has three movements:  1. Allegro Moderato  2. Romance - Andante and 3. Rondo - Allegro Vivace.   I really love the playful exciting third movement.  

Papa Haydn's trumpet concerto in E-Flat Major may be the most recognized and played trumpet concerto's of all.  I, along with most classical music fans, love this concerto.  Haydn's concerto has three movements:  1. Allegro  2. Andante and 3. Allegro - Rondo. 

Hummel's trumpet concerto is a lively fun concerto.  While I love the Haydn concerto, the Hummel is my favorite trumpet concerto of all.  It also has the typical three movements:  1. Allegro con spirito  2. Andante and then with the just the slightest of pauses comes the fun movement #3. Rondo - Allegro. 

Beethoven's Horn Sonata is a beautiful and melodic sonata scored in F Major with 3 movements: 1. Allegro Moderato  2. Poco Adagio and 3. Rondo - Allegro Moderato.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy these four great pieces that many times will be "blowin' in the concert halls".

W.A. Mozart: Horn Concerto #4 in E-Flat Major:

F.J. Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major [Alison Balsom, trumpet]:

J.N. Hummel: Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major [Manuel Blanco, Trumpet]:

L.V. Beethoven Horn Sonata in F Major:

Friday, January 22, 2021

Beethoven Makes This Second His First

This post [with  new videos] was first published in May of 2014.

Ludwig Van Beethoven [1770-1827] 
The great late Classical/early Romantic era composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven, composed 5 great piano concerti.  I think there is a consensus that his 5th piano concerto "The Emperor", is his best, and one of the greatest piano concertos ever written.  While it is hard to choose because they are all so good and I love them all, I think I would pick his piano concerto #1 as my second favorite of his five concerti.

Note-Update: Classical music lovers all have their favorites. For example, in the comment section, my friend Jim Denton, cellist for the Houston Symphony Orchestra, said his favorite concerto from Beethoven is the fourth: "For me and many of my colleagues, nothing comes close to Beethoven's fourth piano concerto for spirituality. That concerto touches me in a place that words simply can't. It's in a whole different class then the emperor." 

If one listens to Beethoven's first piano concerto, and then his second piano concerto, you might think it is odd that it seems like his first concerto seems a little more substantive and developed than the second.  Don't get me wrong, the second is a great playful, happy concerto with some great melodies.  It is a good piano concerto, but you might think that this would have been his first piano concerto he composed and the more substantive work labeled number one as his second.

That is actually the case.  Beethoven's second concerto was actually the first one he composed.  The concerto named #1 was actually composed after his piano concerto #2.  The reason it is called his first concerto is because in classical music, it is not the time that the piece was composed that determines the number, but when it is published.  Since the second one he composed was published first, it is called his first piano concerto.

Beethoven's piano concerto #1 is in the bright key of C Major with three movements: 1. Allegro con brio,  2. Largo,  and 3. Rondo: Allegro Scherzando

In the opening movement there is a long tutti introduction of almost 3 minutes before the soloist enters.

While there is a long tutti to open the concerto, the 
Beethoven cadenza that is usually played for the first movement is even longer and it is one of the longest cadenzas you will ever hear - almost 5 minutes from 12:40-17:25.  The cadenza used in the third movement is a much shorter one that begins about 36:55. 

In this video the soloist virtuoso pianist Krystian Zimerman also leads the Wiener Philharmoniker in this great Beethoven piano concerto.  The pensive largo movement begins at the 17:52 mark and the upbeat playful final movement rondo begins at the 30:30 mark.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy this great Beethoven Piano Concerto [one of my favorite of all piano concerti] that he composed second but it is labeled as his #1 piano concerto.

L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #1 in C Major:

As an added bonus here is the piano concerto composed first but published second, his sunny, delightful concerto #2, scored in B Flat Major with 3 movements: 1. Allegro con brio, 2. Adagio, and 3. Rondo: Molto Allegro.  The soloist in this video is "a young" Vladimir Ashkenazy.

L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #2 in B Flat Major:

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tribute To A Special Child

As today, Jan. 21, is Jermaine's birthday  [he would be 44 years old today] here is a repeat post I did almost 7 years ago.

I want to thank everyone for all your well wishes and prayers for me and Sheralyn.  This is the eulogy/tribute I read for my wife's son Jermaine on 6-1-2013  who passed on May 25, 2013.
Tribute to a Special Child- June 1, 2013  

When a child is born it is a blessing to a parent.  That was true for Sheralyn with the birth of Jermaine in January of 1976.  In this case, not only was Sheralyn blessed, but so was Jermaine. He was blessed to have such a wonderful mother.

Jermaine was a special needs child. A special needs child needs a special Mom.  I can say unequivocally that Sheralyn is a special Mom. She has been special not just to Jermaine but to our daughter Ebony as well. I have never really expressed my appreciation to Sheralyn for everything she has done to be that special Mom.  Thank you, Sheralyn.  I love you.

Yes, Jermaine was a special needs child and he was very special to Sheralyn. She loved him with all of her heart and soul.  Jermaine in turn, though he might not be able to express himself in words, returned the love to Sheralyn. While it took a lot of extra care for her to take care of Jermaine, it didn't interfere with all of the love that she received from him. This was her baby, and he will always be her baby.  Nothing can take that away from her.

While, with all children, Jermaine could sometimes be unruly at home, he would never be unruly when he was out with Sheralyn and me. Whether Sheralyn and I would take Jermaine with us to a movie or a concert or any function, Jermaine would act like a perfect gentleman.  I remember when we used to go out to dinner with a young Jermaine and a very young Ebony, people would actually come to our table and compliment us that they had never seen such well behaved children before.  Trust me, that was all a result of Sheralyn's parenting, not mine.  Although, when someone complimented us, I would always be the first one to say, "thank you".  I believe in my heart, that Jermaine acted so well behaved in public because he loved Sheralyn so much that he would do nothing to embarrass her.

When Sheralyn and I dropped off Jermaine for his first day of school at Herod Elementary, I remember Jermaine had his head down walking slowly and waving his arm up and down from his side in an “aw shucks, do I have to go to school?” manner.  All of the teachers at Herod and at the special needs program that Jermaine would go to when he was older truly loved Jermaine.  Everyone who met Jermaine loved him.

Jermaine, at times, could be funny too.  I remember one of Sheralyn’s best friends, Maria, a wonderful Hispanic lady would sometimes baby sit for Jermaine at her home with her own children.  One time when we went to pick up Jermaine after an evening out, Maria came out laughing with Jermaine.  Maria said Jermaine made her laugh because she asked him if he wanted to play some game and Jermaine told her, “no way Jose.”  I don’t know where he came up with that one.

Yes, while Jermaine could only put together a few words at a time, many times he would bring us to laughter. Even more times, he would bring a smile to our face.

As you can tell, Sheralyn and Jermaine had a special relationship.  I want to thank Sheralyn for making me her husband and letting me be a part of that relationship to love Jermaine.  

While it has broken Sheralyn’s heart for her baby to have been taken at such an early age, I am praying that Sheralyn’s unwavering faith will ease her pain knowing that Jermaine is now resting with God. 

Her love for Jermaine will never end and he will always have a special place in her heart. 

May Jermaine rest in peace and may God Bless these two very special people, Jermaine and Sheralyn.

Sheralyn [A special Mom]
R.I.P. Jermaine [Jan 21, 1976 - May 25, 2013]

Sheralyn picked out this song "Agnus Dei" by Michael W. Smith to be played as the service ended: