Archive for April, 2006

Beethoven, 2 “Middle Period” Piano Sonatas

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Op. 28, Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Pastorale, 1801
Op. 31, No. 3, Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, 1802

The essential canon of great literature for piano is often said to comprise two parts: Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is the Old Testament, Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas, the New. Each set, taken as a whole, represents the zenith of technical mastery in a specific form as well as a miraculously rich and diverse encyclopedia of styles, moods and topics within the parameters of that form. No two are alike. While both works have long been the “bread and butter” of serious music students, they defy even the best of amateurs with their extraordinary demands, quite often, even in the places where their musical substance is devastatingly simple and pure. (more…)

Smetana, String Quartet No. 1, “From My Life”

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Bedrich Smetana, 1824-1884

String Quartet No. 1 in e minor, “From My Life”, 1876

Bedrich Smetana now enjoys the honor of being known as “the Father of Czech (Classical) Music”. Technically from Bohemia, he lived during a time of restless rebellion against the ruling Austro-Hungarian Empire followed by the gradual establishment of a nationalist identity championing the language, music and folk culture of the Czech people. Smetana was the first great composer to associate with this national heritage, particularly through his own musical expression of Bohemian pride and personality richly represented by his operatic masterpiece, The Bartered Bride (Prodaná nevěsta), and a suite of symphonic poems titled My Country (Má vlast) (more…)