This 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.
The one I have today will be guaranteed to get you up waltzing around your kitchen, bedroom or wherever you happen to be listening. I have selected the Waltz from the start of the second act of his opera “Eugene Onegin”. Set those tootsies free.
GEORGE HANDEL was born the same year as J.S. Bach, as well as geographically quite close to each other too. However, there's no evidence at all that the two giants of Baroque music ever met.
J.S. was somewhat of a homebody and George liked to get about a bit, first around what is now Germany and then to what is now Italy. He was much taken by the Italian style of music and started writing music in this manner.
He returned to Hanover where he encountered another George: the Elector of Hanover. Both Georges went to England where they stayed for the rest of their lives. Our George became one of the greatest composers of all time and the other one had a minor role as George the First.
One of our George's compositions is the secular cantata “Apollo and Daphne”, HWV 122. From that we have Felicissima quest'alma, sung by JULIA LEZHNEVA.
CHARLES AVISON was an English composer who spanned the Baroque and Classical periods.
He was born in Newcastle to poor parents. Not much is known of his childhood, but he landed in London and studied with Francesco Geminiani, whom he greatly admired. He was mainly an organist but wrote for many different instruments.
He later returned to Newcastle where he stayed for the rest of his life. Charlie did okay for himself as he died a very rich man and he left the loot to his three surviving kids. Here is the fourth movement of his “Concerto No.6 in D major.”
FELIX MENDELSSOHN visited Britain many times.
Quite a few of his compositions were inspired by his visits or he actually wrote some of them there. He seemed to like Scotland and several of his works reference the country. Probably the most famous of which is the Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56, also known as the Scottish Symphony.
On his last visit before he died, he conducted that symphony and among the gathered throng were Victoria and Albert (the people, not the museum). Here is the second movement.
CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI is one of the major figures in music – he's up there with Beethoven in the changes and developments he made.
He is the first person that we know of who wrote operas; certainly his operas are the earliest that are still performed today. He took a little bitty thing called the madrigal and fleshed it out to become wonderful, exciting pieces of music. It's one of those that we're having today.
From his fifth book of madrigals this is Quel sguardo sdegnosetto. See if you can pronounce that early in the morning. The wonderful DANIELLE DE NIESE sings it.
IGNAZ PLEYEL was the 24th child of an impoverished school teacher. No wonder he was impoverished, especially as Iggy was nowhere near the last – there were 38 kids in all. The mind boggles.
Fortunately, Iggy was good at music and he caught the ear of some rich noble man who paid for his music education. He was taught by Johann Vanhal, a friend of both Mozart and Haydn, and Iggy went on to a career in music, that alas, is largely forgotten these days.
He was also a music publisher and piano designer and maker. He ended up quite rich. In his day he was considered a rival to both Mozart and Haydn, and his music is in a similar style to both of those. See what you think of the first movement of his String Quartet in D Major, Ben. 337.
I have mentioned the birthplace of BERNHARD CRUSELL before, but it's such a wonderful name I'm going to do it again. He was from Uusikaupunki in Finland. Indeed, that town has a Crusell Week each year.
Bernie's family moved to Sweden when he was a lad and both countries like to claim him as their own. He was apparently a really fine clarinet player and wrote many compositions for the instrument. Although not devoted entirely to the instrument, it certainly features prominently in the first movement of the Divertimento in C major, Op.9.
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK was a Czech composer who also travelled extensively, most notably to Britain and the United States about which he wrote several of his best known and loved compositions.
I'm not using any of those today. What I have is the second movement of one of his Four Romantic Pieces for violin and piano, B. 150 (Op. 75).
GIUSEPPE JACCHINI was an Italian cello player and composer in what's now Italy in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
His skill on the cello and his many works for the instrument put it on the map – he was one of the earliest composers to feature it. He also wrote many works for the trumpet and we're going out with a bang with one of those. Here is the first movement of his Sonata D Minor.