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 more interesting things (well, they are to me, I hope they are to you as well) I’ve been listening to lately.
GIOVANNI VIOTTI’s life rather paralleled that of Mozart, although Gio lived considerably longer.
He was a master of the violin and many of his compositions are for that instrument. He spent much of his life in England, eventually becoming a citizen, although not before being expelled because it was thought he favored the revolutionaries in France. This was a beat-up put around by his rivals and it took the king’s son to intervene on his behalf to get him back.
Gio was a good friend, and champion, of Haydn. Here is the first movement of the String Quartet Op 5 No 1 in E Flat.
FERDINAND RIES was a pupil of Beethoven.
Ries later became a good friend of his and was employed as his secretary. He started out as a cello player, but eventually wrote a bunch of stuff for piano.
There were also symphonies, operas, a lot of string quartets and numerous other works. One of those is his Grand Septet, Opus 25. The first movement. The piano is pretty dominant in this one.
FRANTIŠEK JIRÁNEK was born in Bohemia in what’s now the Czech Republic.
He got a job playing music for various counts, one of whom sent him to Venice to improve his trade. There he was instructed by Antonio Vivaldi (talk about getting the best). He eventually returned and later went to what’s now Germany where he lived for the rest of his life.
He lived long enough to change his style to the classical that had taken over from the Baroque. From his earlier period, here is the third movement of the Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major, Jk 17.
ANTON REICHA was another Czech composer and another friend of Beethoven.
He was also a teacher of some note and some of his pupils were Liszt, Berlioz and Franck. He’s not very well known as he didn’t want to have his compositions published. Of course, some of them have seen the light of day, including his Wind Quintet in G major, Op.88 No.3. This is the third movement.
CARLO ZUCCARI pretty much spanned the 18th century.
So, from Bach and Vivaldi at one end, through Mozart and Haydn and ending up with Beethoven. There’s no evidence that he met any of these.
In spite of his living through the entire Classical period, his music is pretty much set in the Baroque. This is evident in the third movement of his Violin Sonata No.1 in D major.
JOHN FIELD was an Irish composer who went to Europe to further his career.
Chopin heard a couple of his compositions, particularly his nocturnes, and was blown away. “I could do that”, he said to himself (or something like that), and musical history was changed forever.
Brahms, Schumann and Liszt also took note of what he was doing. One of the things he was doing is his Nocturne No.3 in A Flat Major, H.26.
ÉLISABETH JACQUET was born in Paris with a lot more names than that, as was the style at the time.
All the members of her family were musicians and/or instrument makers, so she pretty much had to go into the family biz. It was recognized very early that she was a child prodigy and she performed for all the bigwigs, including the biggest wig of them all Louis XIV (the sun king, and all that).
Alas, later when she became famous, most of her family died of various diseases, including her husband, son, mother, father and brother. She continued to write and perform music, mostly for keyboard instruments, but also others as well. That is well demonstrated in her Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major, the second and third movements.
JOHANN PISENDEL would have had a hard time at school if he’d attended one in Australia or America.
Fortunately for him he was from Nuremburg and he spanned the period from the late Baroque into the early Classical. That’s reflected in his music which is difficult to categorise, a good thing from my point of view.
Make up your own mind about his Concerto in D for solo violin, two horns, two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo, the third movement. My ears suggest it’s closer to Baroque than Classical.
CLARA DENT is an oboe player who has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras.
She was born in Berlin and learned her craft in Salzburg. Besides the usual repertoire for her instrument Clara arranges already famous works; she’s particularly fond of operas in this regard.
Here she grabs something of Giuseppe Verdi, Les Vêpres Siciliennes (the Sicilian Vespers), in particular “Mercè dilette amiche.”