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ELDER MUSIC: Even More Hooked on Classics

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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This is really classical music, nothing to do with the dreadful series of records that came out many years ago with that name. The name of the original column was suggested by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist. Over time when I hear something I like, I save it. When I have enough for a column, it magically appears (if only). Let the magic begin.

RALPH VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS was offered a knighthood several times during his life and he refused each time. I applaud him and that alone is enough to get him into one of my columns. However, this is a music column so that will do for my commentary.

Ralph Vaughan-Williams

Ralph wrote some beautiful music - The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis immediately come to mind. I'm not using either of those. Instead, here is something out of left field.

The tuba isn't used very often as a featured instrument. Before I found this I wouldn't have been able to name one instance. However, thanks to Ralph, we have a Tuba Concerto in F Minor, the second movement.

♫ Vaughan-Williams - Tuba Concerto (2)


Given his ubiquity these days, it might seem surprising that from soon after his death until the twentieth century, ANTONIO VIVALDI was completely unknown.

Vivaldi

Even now new works of his are being discovered in attics and toolsheds (okay, perhaps not those places, but they are being found). One composition that was known and performed in his lifetime is "Juditha Triumphans", an oratorio celebrating the victory of Venice against the Turks, and the recapture of the island of Corfu.

From that we have Juditha’s aria Transit aetas, performed by JOHANNETTE ZOMER.

Johannette Zomer

There's some mandolin work going on as well.

♫ Vivaldi - ‘Juditha Triumphans’ RV 644 Juditha’s arias ~ ‘Transit aetas’ for soprano mandolin & strings


I've never been a big fan of FRANZ LISZT, he's a bit too much of a show-off for my taste. Obviously, many others think differently as he's very popular, but that's alright.

Liszt

He was the rock star of his day and could show any of the modern musicians a thing or two in that regard. As you all no doubt know, his main instrument was the piano for which he wrote many compositions.

One of his compositions I like a bit is La Campanella in G Sharp Minor, although even this one has a bit too much extreme right hand work for my taste. This is from a series of six études for the piano based on compositions by Paganini. The pianist is Lang Lang.

♫ Liszt - La campanella in G Sharp Minor


GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN was the most prolific composer in history – he wrote more compositions than anyone, thousands, and they were all at least good, and many magnificent.

Telemann

In spite of all that, he only wrote one viola concerto. Indeed, he is the first to have written one of those. His good friend Johann Sebastian Bach obviously listened closely to this as he wrote some violin concertos that sound almost identical, well, to the fourth movement anyway.

That's what we are going to listen to, the fourth movement of Georg's Concerto for Viola, Strings and Continuo TWV 51-G9 in G.

♫ Telemann - Concerto for viola strings and continuo TWV 51-G9 in G (4)


CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS showed early promise, not just as a musician, but in all academic studies - Greek and Latin, literature, mathematics, astronomy and so on. He retained an interest in all these throughout his life.

Saint-Saëns

His musical instruction was at the Paris Conservatoire where he found fellow (later) composers César Franck, Georges Bizet and Adolphe Adam. Camille later taught as well, and one of his pupils, Gabriel Fauré, became a life-long friend.

Camille's best known works are his Organ Symphony and the musical suite Carnival of the Animals. Those don't float my boat.

What does, though, is the Romance for Horn & Piano, Op.67, here performed by two of the finest musicians from the last 50 years - BARRY TUCKWELL on French horn and VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY playing piano.

Barry Tuckwell & Vladimir Ashkenazy

♫ Saint-Saëns - Romance for Horn & Piano Op.67


JOHANN FRIEDRICH FASCH was born in a small town just outside Weimar in 1688.

Friedrich Fasch

Later he travelled throughout what is now Germany and held a number of musical positions in various towns and cities. He was once offered the job of Kapellmeister and court composer in Prague but he turned it down. That went to the second-best applicant, J.S. Bach.

He wrote many cantatas, symphonies, concertos and chamber music but none of his music was published in his lifetime. It's all been discovered since. Not all; it's thought that quite a lot has been lost.

Something that hasn't is the Concerto for Bassoon, Two Oboes, Strings and Basso Continuo in C minor, FWV L c2. This is the first movement.

♫ Fasch - Concerto for bassoon, 2 oboes strings and basso continuo in C minor (1)


It's not surprising that today's musical offering from BEETHOVEN features the piano. After all, he was the greatest composer for that instrument who ever strode the planet.

Beethoven

However, it isn't one of his famous sonatas or concertos. It's a piano trio, so there's a clarinet and cello along for the ride. It was written early on when he was still living in Bonn, where he was born, before he moved to Vienna to become the most famous composer in history.

Here is the third movement of the Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 11.

♫ Beethoven - Piano Trio in B-flat major Op. 11 (3)


CÉSAR FRANCK, or to give him his full first name, César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck, was born in what's now Belgium but was then part of the Netherlands. However, he spent most of his life zipping around France.

Cesar Franck

Besides being a composer, he was considered to be a master of the organ and piano. As well, he had a reputation as a great improviser on both instruments. A century later he could have played jazz. He eventually settled down and became a professor at the Paris Conservatoire.

His compositions were the usual symphonies, chamber music and piano pieces. Besides those, he wrote the communion anthem Panis Angelicus. We have the sublime CECILIA BARTOLI singing that with harp, cello and organ playing along.

Cecilia Bartoli

♫ Franck - Panis angelicus


These days, GIOACHINO ROSSINI is best known, maybe only known, for his operas. Perhaps even just for the overtures to those - think "The Thieving Magpie", "The Barber of Seville", "William Tell" (the A.M. insisted I mention the Lone Ranger at this point, but I'm above that sort of thing).

Rossini

However, he wrote other works, some of which I'm amazed are not more well known or popular. One (or some, he wrote six of these) is what he called a string sonata. This is really a string quartet under a different name, with a double bass substituting for the viola.

He wrote all six of these when he was just 12 years old and before he had started formally studying music. What were you doing when you were 12?

The photo above was taken when he was a little older than that. The third movement of String Sonata No.3 in C Major.

♫ Rossini - String Sonata No.3 (3)


Comments

Thank you Peter and Norma - your breadth of musical interest & knowledge is, well, let's not hold our punches, breath taking. Great eclectic collection tonight (we're in UK: prepping dinner & supping vino). Especially enjoyed Rossini & the fabulous Cecilia Bartoli.
Salut! Mary & Derek

Thank you so much for all this music. Much appreciated here.

Lovely compilation today. Thank you.

I love this installment. I love this column! Thanks, Peter and Ronni.

What a thrill. I can hear classical music again and the bass doesn't just sound like a rumble. Thank you Peter for my Sunday listening pleasure.

I forgot to mention that Panis Angelicus brought back a long forgotten memory. When I was in Choir in High School (way back in the dark ages) our Choir Director was a devout Catholic and had us sing many religious pieces like Panis Angelicus. I loved it then and still do. Whether you are religious or not it is beautiful music.

I have to second Darlene's comments. I had a similar experience, except that I was in a convent school. Panis Angelicus has been and likely always will be something that speaks to my heart. Thank you for making my day.

Thanks Peter and Norma for good music this morning.

Thank you for this!

It was songs like "Shrimp boats a coming" and "16 tons," popular when I was a young one,that helped drive me to classical music early.

Well, that and a couple of mentors who were passionate about the classics.

I intend to spend a lot of time on your Sunday post and will enjoy the reminders and good listening.

An intriguing collection of classical musicians and their music. The associated stories add an interesting perspective. I recall when I was young my mother taking me to our local Midwestern Philharmonic Orchestra's Sunday afternoon concerts. These were often especially geared toward young people. I especially recall one in which they introduced the different instruments. I was in dance class then, also taking piano lessons. In a very few years circumstances resulted in all my music classes ending, but the groundwork had been laid for my lifelong love of music.

I'm back with a P.S. on your Sunday column.
Wouldn't it be fun if Dennis Brain (French Horn), Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet) and Jean-Pierre Rampal (Flute) were all suddenly on the same time-line and could gift us with a magical composition.

Wow! RALPH VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS - never heard of him! Now I have! The music clip you gave reminds me of western movie soundtracks...of course!

The Van Cliburn competition is held every year in Cowtown - Bass Hall is right across the street from my work office.

Liszt is all too often the winning pianist's choice to play.

I'm with Cowtown Pattie-the Ralph Vaughan-Williams was a new experience for me.
And Pattie-you are so lucky to be able to hear the Van Cliburn competition..When I was young, it was hearing Van Cliburn in Los Angeles at a required "Have to Go" for a music appreciation class I was taking. It was about 1959 I think..
Turned me on to classical music which has enriched my life ever since!
Besides, he was so dramatic to watch!

I really appreciate the lengths you and the assistant musicologist go to in order to give us something different every week..and I've come to count on having a quite time listening to your selections...I never rush it or play it in the background while Im dong something else..I hook up my mini speakers and just sit and listen!

Elle in Oregon

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