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.
Here are some classical compositions selected seemingly at random, but more that they caught my fancy when I was writing this column (well, actually, collected along the way in anticipation of the column).
Scholars have unearthed many gems from the Baroque era in recent times and JAN ZELENKA is one such.
He was a contemporary of J.S. Bach, and old J.S. held him in high esteem and invited him to stay at his home and play music together. Jan's style is very daring with inventive harmony and complex counterpoint. He really was a towering figure of his time, only recently being restored to his pedestal.
This is the second movement of the Trio Sonata for oboe, violin, bassoon & continuo No. 3 in B flat major, ZWV 181/3. This will get your toes a'tapping.
In complete contrast to Jan's tune, here is a lullaby by AMY BEACH.
Amy was probably the first successful female composer, born in 1865. She was also a highly acclaimed concert pianist and wrote works for the instrument as well as symphonies, choral works and chamber music.
Her husband, 24 years her senior, disapproved of all this music nonsense and restricted her somewhat. She blossomed as a composer and performer after he died. Her lullaby is called Berceuse, Op. 40, No 2, and it's scored for piano and cello.
If you mention LUDWIG BEETHOVEN in connection with an instrument, most people would say piano.
That's not surprising as he wrote the best piano music in history. However, in his first paying gig playing music, he played both violin and viola. Contemporary reports tell us that he remained a superb violinist all his life.
It's that instrument that we ostensibly feature today: the first movement of his Violin Sonata No 3 in E flat major Op. 12.
Getting back to my initial statement, to my ears, this sounds like a piano sonata or some other piano piece with a bit of violin thrown in for good measure. That's not to denigrate it – the piano part is superb.
FREDERICK THE GREAT, or Frederick II of Prussia was a military leader of some renown, but he was also considered quite an enlightened ruler for his time (middle eighteenth century).
He had a real passion for music and collected the best composers and performers of the time to play with him. It seems that he was a skilled flute player and he also wrote music that was really quite good. Of course, who was going to tell him that it wasn't?
On the basis of his compositions, which are elegant, sophisticated and demonstrate considerable imagination, we have to assume he played as well as he wrote. Here is the first movement of his Flute Concerto in C major.
Whenever anyone mentions ERIK SATIE, the thing that first springs to mind is Gymnopedies, and the next is probably Gnossiennes.
There's more to Erik but like the previously mentioned works, it's pretty much all to do with the piano. What we have today is called Je Te Veux, which has also been turned into a vocal piece as well, but here's the original played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and it'll have you waltzing around the kitchen.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH wrote round about 220 cantatas.
These are some of the finest music in history and I like to listen to one every week or two, maybe more if I'm in the mood. The one for this week is called J'ai mis Mon Coeur et Mon Esprit, BWV 92, the first movement.
JUAN CRISÓSTOMO ARRIAGA was a child prodigy. Well, he had to be as, unfortunately for us, and even more unfortunately for him, he died at age 19 (probably from tuberculosis).
He was often called the Spanish Mozart. In his short life he managed to write an opera, a symphony, several string quartets, a number of works for the church, a nonet and quite a few other things. Here we have the first movement of his String Quartet No 2 A Major.
Speaking of WOLFGANG MOZART, here is another violin sonata, with some similarities to Beethoven's.
It's the last one he wrote and the one respect in which it resembles Ludwig's is that the piano is dominant and the violin plays a lesser role. Indeed, Wolfie suggested that it be called a sonata for piano with violin. Anyway, its official title is Violin Sonata No. 36, F Major K. 547. This is the first movement.
CARL MARIA VON WEBER apparently was a brilliant pianist and his compositions for the instrument had a profound effect of Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn.
His compositions for wind instruments, particularly the clarinet and French horn, were equally influential. He is loved by bassoon players as he wrote for that instrument too, something few others have done.
However, it's the clarinet we're interested in today, and in particular the third movement of his Clarinet Concerto No 1 in F minor, J 114 Op 73.