Friday, August 25, 2006

An Un-Funky Friday

I'm not a complete rube and actually enjoy peaceful and occasionally inspirational symphonic music. I like it because most works are performed by true musical artists, it is unfettered with vocals, and few opuses fit in the 3 minute radio format (most run 15 to 25 minutes). So this afternoon, I tuned my Sirius Satellite Radio to Channel 80 (Symphony Hall) and got a little work done!

I decided to add an extra note about the composer and/or score that I heard. What follows are the works that transpired during an un-Funky Friday in my home office:

1. Armas Jarnefelt - Berceuse

The Finnish-born composer enjoyed a career as a conductor and composer in Sweden, eventually taking Swedish citizenship. "Berceuse" is one of his better known works.

2. Anton Rubinstein - Don Quixote, Op. 87

The Russian pianist and composer founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1862). His compositions include chamber music, operas, and six symphonies; he was also a pianist and highly regarded as a rival to Franz Liszt and has been described by historians as one of the greatest virtuosos in history.

3. Robert Schumann - Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13

The Symphonic Etudes, opus 13 is a set of etudes for solo piano by Robert Schumann, begun in 1834 as a set of eighteen variations on a theme by the Baron von Fricken. In 1852, Schumann republished the set under the name Etudes en forme de variations, and made several revisions.

4. Carlos Chavez - Sonata for Four Horns

The composer was born near Mexico City, Mexico in 1899 and is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. During the 1950's and 1960's he received a number of commissions for new works, including three symphonies: Symphony No. 4 (commissioned by the Louisville Symphony Orchestra), Symphony No. 5 (Sergei Koussevitsky Foundation), and Symphony No. 6 (New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). He died in 1978.

5. Hector Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique. Op. 14

Many believe that the Symphonie fantastique is an autobiographical confession, a symphony to exorcise his then-unrequited love for the Irish Shakespearian actress Harriet Smithson, whom he would later marry.

6. Ernst Boehe - Odysseus' Voyages, Opus 6, No. 1

Taken from a review written by David Hurwitz for "Written in an idiom somewhere between Brahms and Strauss, Boehe for the most part sounds refreshingly free of the usual problems that beset conservative German, British, and American music from the turn of the last century: a fear of exploiting orchestral color to its fullest, a pedantic approach to form, and an emotionally inhibited expressive range."

7. Edward Elgar - Serenade for String Orchestra in E Minor, Op. 20

Elgar is a composer who is probably best known for the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901).

8. Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 9 in E Flat Major, Op. 70

The ninth symphony was intended to be a celebration to the Russian victory over the Nazi Germany in the World War II, which the composer once declared in 1943 that the symphony would be a large composition for orchestra, soloists and chorus which the context would be "about the greatness of the Russian people, about our Red Army liberating our native land from the enemy". The Symphony was first performed on 3 November 1945 by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.

9. Johannes Brahms - Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 120

Brahms wrote a number of major works for orchestra, including four symphonies, two piano concertos, a Violin Concerto, a Double Concerto for violin and cello, and a pair of orchestral overtures. Brahms idolized Beethoven: in his home, a marble bust of Beethoven looked down on the spot where he composed.

10. Franz Schubert - String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D.887

This is piece is used in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" to accompany the death and discovery of the body of the character Dolores, played by Anjelica Huston.

1 comment:

BronzeBuckaroo said...

Hi. I really enjoyed your post. One of my favorites is Bach.

If you haven't already, give these artists a try:
1.William Grant Still-Afro American classical composer
2.Joseph Boulogne,Chevalier de Saint Georges- Afro-French classical composer
These and many other composers of African descent rarely find their works played on many classical stations. I discovered while wandering the classics section at Amazon.