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 is some more music, seemingly at random, for your delectation.
LOUISE FARRENC was born Louise Dumont into a family of sculptors.
She decided to eschew the hammer and chisel for the piano and became very good at it indeed. She also took up composing and married Aristide Farrenc who played the flute.
After a bit, he grew tired of traveling around and settled down as a music publisher. Louise flourished as a composer, initially just for piano, but later chamber music which turned out to be what she was best at. One of those pieces is the Piano Quintet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 30, the fourth movement.
JIŘÍ LINEK was a Czech composer whose output was mostly religious music. Apparently Jiří didn’t ever sit still long enough to have his picture taken.
He especially liked the harpsichord and quite a few of his other works were for the instrument. Jiří was really prolific, more than 300 compositions to his name and he like to incorporate Czech folk tunes into his music, in the mean time he was really aware of the current developments in music. That’s demonstrated in his Symphony Pastoralis in C major, the first movement.
I was lying in bed the other morning listening to the radio and I heard this next piece of music and thought it was delightful. I also wondered if I had it. It turns out that I did.
The composer is Antonín Vranický who is probably better known as ANTON WRANITZKY.
He was yet another Czech composer (thus the first name) who spent a lot of time in Vienna (the second of his names) where he was taught by Mozart and Haydn (talk about learning from the best). Possibly because of this he later became a well respected music teacher.
He also wrote music – his symphonies and violin concertos are especially well thought of. Decide for yourself about one of the latter, the third movement of his Violin Concerto in C Major. Op. 11.
JEAN SIBELIUS is the best known Finnish composer.
He is, in my opinion, the second best Finnish composer – I’d give the title to Bernhard Crusell. Of course, you may disagree, and I hope you do as that’s what this column is all about.
Anyway, Jean is a staple on concert platforms, especially his symphonies and tone poems such as Finlandia and the Karelia Suite. However, I rather like his short pieces for piano, especially the ones released as Impromptus, Op. 5. This is the sixth of those.
Here is something rather unusual, at least it is from my point of view. It may even be from yours. I’ve discovered amongst my music collection something called a Choral Concerto, and the person who devised such a thing was named DMITRY BORTNIANSKY.
Dim (or Dm I suppose) was from the Ukraine, and is best known for his liturgical works and, as mentioned earlier, choral concertos (a whole bunch of these).
These latter compositions feature singing rather than instruments in the traditional concerto form. To demonstrate this (and I don’t hear much in the way of actual instruments backing the singers in this one) here is the first movement of his Choral Concerto No. 27.
CARL DITTERS VON DITTERSDORF, or Old Ditters to us who know him well, was a friend of both Mozart and Haydn.
Indeed, the three of them used to play string quartets together bringing in Johann Vanhal as the fourth member. In that arrangement Mozart played the viola, but today I have a viola sonata by Ditters – he was very versatile. It’s the fourth movement of the Viola Sonata in E-flat major.
I really like string quartets; I’ll have one of those in most columns of this sort. The one today is by FRANZ RICHTER.
Franz is another who straddled the divide between Baroque and Classical music, and unlike most who did that, he mostly came down on the Classical side. He was extremely prolific, with more than 80 symphonies under his belt. There were also 39 masses and other religious compositions, several concertos, sonatas and the like, and six string quartets.
Here is the third movement of String Quartet in B flat major, Op.5 No.2.
It’s seldom that you get the double bass as a featured instrument but this is one of those times. There are a couple of composers who like to feature the bass and JOHANNES SPERGER is one I hadn’t encountered before.
It’s not surprising to learn that Jo was a bass player himself, but he didn’t restrict himself to that instrument. He was quite prolific and wrote 44 symphonies, lots of concertos, sonatas, choral works and all sorts of other things. However, it’s the bass that we’re interested in today; this is the third movement of his Double Bass Concerto in D major.
Somewhat later than everyone else today is AUGUST RITTER.
He was a contemporary of Mendelssohn and was apparently an excellent organist. Most of his compositions were for that instrument, but I have instead the first movement of his Sinfonia Concertante in B. To my ears it sounds as if was written much earlier, around the time that Mozart was doing the same thing.