Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Influential People: Nadia Boulanger

Ms. Boulanger with Igor Stravinsky
I have a fascination with charts, like the "six degrees of separation" type charts that resemble family trees or mind mapping graphs. 
I even laid a few out years ago, to see, interestingly, who is connected with whom in what way on what projects, and it's interesting to see how people's lives and projects and work intertwine and work together and butterfly effect and little decisions cause big waves, blah blah. 
Think of people in history whose family trees would have influenced entire empires or continents. Genghis Khan potentially fathered thousands of children (with a number of his morganatic wives, those benign considered legitimate children), and other historical figures likes King Solomon (and others) who had hundreds of wives would have had massive, earth-shatteringly large type family trees. 
Take that idea, and apply it to pedagogy (not the fathering of children as much as nurturing students' creativity and talents), and you will have some idea of what Nadia Boulanger did for the world. Her sphere of influence is staggering, and many of the pieces or people or performances that you appreciate or enjoy from the 20th century could very likely be influences from her or her students. 
Born Juliette Nadia Boulanger, she came from a musical family, her father and mother

Monday, August 18, 2014

On this day: week of August 18, 2014

Week of August 18, 2014

August 18
1750 – Antonio Salieri, Italian composer and conductor (d. 1825)
1893 – Ernest MacMillan, Canadian conductor and composer (d. 1973)
1910 – Herman Berlinski, Polish-American pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 2001)
1916 – Moura Lympany, English pianist (d. 2005)
1613 – Giovanni Artusi, Italian composer and theorist (b. 1540)
2004 – Elmer Bernstein, American composer and conductor (b. 1922) Not related to the other Bernstein

August 19
1570 – Salamone Rossi, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1630)
1881 – George Enescu, Romanian violinist, pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1955)
1914 – Fumio Hayasaka, Japanese composer (d. 1955)
1900 – Jean-Baptiste Accolay, Belgian violinist, composer, and conductor (b. 1833)
1963 – Kathleen Parlow, Canadian violinist (b. 1890)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Schubert: Der Wanderer, D. 489

sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Gerald Moore, piano

Music You Can Understand: Part 3

This is an actual ‘song,’ in the actual sense of having lyrics, although we could more properly call it by its German name, a Lied (rhymes with ‘need’), plural Lieder (rhymes with feeder). 
I was preparing for what will now be next week’s post, and it is based on this song, so I thought it only logical to get familiar with this one first. 
It nearly made me weep. The video above has the German text with English translation, but below is the German text. 

Ich komme vom Gebirge her,
Es dampft das Tal, es braust das Meer,
Ich wandle still, bin wenig froh,
Und immer fragt der Seufzer, wo?

Die Sonne dünkt mich hier so kalt,
Die Blüte welk, das Leben alt,
Und was sie reden, leerer Schall,
Ich bin ein Fremdling überall.

Wo bist du, mein geliebtes Land,
Gesucht, geahnt, und nie gekannt?
Das Land, das Land so hoffnungsgrün,
Das Land, wo meine Rosen blühn;

Wo meine Freunde wandelnd gehn,
Wo meine Toten auferstehn,
Das Land, das meine Sprache spricht,
"O Land, wo bist du? . . .”

Ich wandle still, bin wenig froh,
Und immer fragt der Seufzer, wo?
Im Geisterhauch tönt's mir zurück,
"Dort, wo du nicht bist, dort ist das Glück."

If you’ve never been abroad, or away from home or a long time (and perhaps you haven’t),

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What is music?

That sounds like such a vague, stupid question to ask, but I love Krystian Zimerman's (whose name I always manage to spell wrong) description of how music is more than just sound. Watch, listen and enjoy. 
Aside from Zimerman's incredible talent, and his incredible musicality, he has a really nice voice (not to mention the beautiful Schubert impromptu in the background). I have featured his performance of a Chopin ballade here, and he is truly a musician and artist of the highest order, and therefore, as you will see, incredibly in touch with his craft. 
He makes a wonderful point about the ‘spirituality’ of music [my word, not his], the interpretation not only by the performer, but the attitude behind it and the interpretation of the actual instrument being played. 
He also addresses the plethora of other factors involved in a performance. He uses an anecdote about practicing Lutosławksi’s piano concerto that he wrote for Zimerman as an example, with the ‘wahs’ in the piece. Just listen to him tell it.
But when you take into consideration that Beethoven and Mozart and Brahms and Chopin

Monday, August 11, 2014

On this day: Week of August 11, 2014

Week of August 11, 2014

August 11
1942 – Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi. This ones a stretch, but Wi-Fi is really important, and Antheil was a genius and a composer. 
1748 – Joseph Schuster, German composer (d. 1812)
1919 – Ginette Neveu, French violinist (d. 1949)
1927 – Raymond Leppard, English harpsichord player and conductor
1966 – Juan María Solare, Argentine pianist and composer
1868 – Halfdan Kjerulf, Norwegian composer (b. 1815)
1974 – Vicente Emilio Sojo, Venezuelan conductor and composer (Orfeón Lamas) (b. 1887)
1996 – Rafael Kubelík, Czech conductor and composer (b. 1914)

August 12
1644 – Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Bohemian-Austrian violinist and composer (d. 1704)