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.
Continuing with the series of music that has caught my ear.
It seems that JOHANN AMON could play any instrument that he wrapped his hands, mouth, fingers or anything else around.
He was also a particularly fine writer of pretty much every genre of music you can imagine. Why he’s not better known is a mystery. As an example of what he could do here is the first movement of his Quintet for flute, horn, violin, viola, cello and bass I expect he could play all of those.
Quintet is the title of the piece, but I counted six instruments. (Throws up his hands). Anyway, it’s Quintet No. 2 in E minor, Op. 118.
EDVARD GRIEG is best known for his marvelous piano concerto and the music he wrote for Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt. He later pulled apart that music and created several suites that have become hugely popular.
On his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Ed wrote a piece of music as a present for his wife called Wedding Day at Troldhaugen (where they were married). How good is that?
The song, O Waly Waly dates from the sixteen hundreds. Many have tinkered with it over time including Benjamin Britten who wrote a couple of arrangements for it. Others have orchestrated it as well.
It was a standard for folk artists in the sixties and they generally called it The Water is Wide. In a classical setting here is YVONNE KENNY, the Australian soprano, usually associated with the music of Mozart and Handel.
MARKUS GRAUEL probably wrote the next piece of music but that “probably” is good enough for me. He doesn’t seemed to have stood still long enough to have his photo taken, so we don’t know what he looks like.
He was born sometime in the early eighteenth century, no one seems to know exactly when, the somewhere is what’s now Germany. There are only six known compositions of his – a few are thought to be lost (maybe more than a few).
This might be one of his though (probably), the Concerto A Major for violin & viola. Here is the first movement.
MICHÈL YOST was a French clarinet player from the middle of the eighteenth century and by all accounts a brilliant one. He’s another for whom no picture seems to be available.
Mike also wrote music, pretty much for that instrument (although there are some for others as well). That’s pretty much the sum total of what we know of him. One of his works is the Clarinet Quartet No. 1. This is the first movement.
Here is something by that prolific composer ANONYMUS. That is not a misspelling (well, it is but it's the name on the CD), and in this case it refers to anonymous Habsburg violin music. That’s as much information that I have, apart from the name of the composition: Sonata No 4 in D major.
MICHAEL BALFE was an Irish composer who started his music career as a violinist and an opera singer (simultaneously, it seems).
He also wrote operas (29 of them), some of which were very successful at the time (mid-nineteenth century), not just in Britain, but France, Germany, America, Australia even.
From his opera “Satanella (or the power of love)” we have Thanks, Thanks, My Friends. The characters singing are Count Rupert (a landowner) and Stella (a princess) plus various others warbling along in the background.
FRANZ FREYSTÄDTLER was an Austrian composer and piano teacher. We’re really having a bad day for visual representations – that’s the problem with selecting rather obscure composers.
He was taught composition, piano and the organ by Mozart and Michael Haydn’s father-in-law. Talk about learning from the best.
At one stage he was thrown in the clink for apparently stealing a piano from the Austrian army (just think about that for a moment). Mozart intervened and things were smoothed over.
His compositions are pretty much all for piano in some form or other, including the interestingly named Concerto Facile in D major. This is the second movement. To my ears that’s a forte piano being played, rather than the modern instrument.
JEAN-BAPTISTE JANSON was pretty much contemporaneous with Mozart.
J-B though, as you might be able to guess, was French. Although he was principally a cello player he became a teacher of the bass at the Paris
Conservatoire. He managed to survive the reign of terror, but didn’t live too long into the nineteenth century. Here we have him with his preferred instrument with the first movement of his Cello Concerto in D major.
We can fade out now, just as this piece of music does. The composer is GIACOMO PUCCINI.
The music is from one of his most famous and best loved operas, “La Bohème”. It’s the duet at the end of act one when the lovers (as they are by now) wander off to meet their friends at the café. It’s called