Thursday, November 12, 2015

The World For Christmas

My favorite time of the year is about to settle in completely and entirely on most of the planet and that gives me some special holiday chills! Christmas is of so much sincere joy and inspiration to me that I look forward to live it through again and again. The ambiance that reigns in December is like nowhen else – even the coldest spots of the world get filled with special warmth, family love and unity of the souls.

Like with most important things in life I perceive Christmas musically as I can’t imagine it without music. The magic Christmas carols and songs that accompany this holiday are so deeply planted in my heart. Despite the list of old Christmas songs that have been around for years, ages, I keep looking for new Christmas melodies that appear every year. I love to observe how modern composers see this holiday and therefore look for new music portraits of Christmas.

This year one of my curious finds is represented by a contemporary choral piece by Anders Edenroth – “The World For Christmas”. Below is the video of The Real Group performing it. The amazing thing about the composition is not just the great music in general but the message of the song. We are all used to listening to Christmas songs that are an ode to joy, holiday and the happiness of the moment. But in this case the compositions aims for something of a bigger scale, much bigger. This song is an expression of a huge concern for our planet and the ecological problems it has to face. A call for global action and change. And it does make me want to act. Below is the beautiful video of the song made the guys. Just watch it and get inspired.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Devil's Trill Sonata

I fall in love with some music works only for their background story. And if the piece sounds gorgeous too – even better!

One of the music compositions that drew my attention in this sense was the sonata composed by Giuseppe Tartini – “Il trillo del diavolo”, which is translated from Italian as “Devil’s Trill”. We know that many composers (as well as mathematicians, scientists etc.) sometimes saw some useful clue or even their work-of-a-lifetime while sleeping. That’s what (almost) happened to Giuseppe. One night Devil himself showed up in his dream (he came for his soul, composer said) and started playing violin. The melody was so beautiful and breathtaking that Tartini was fully encaptured by it. The morning he woke up the first thing to do was grab some paper and try to save what’s was still playing in his head.

As a result we now have a beautiful music composition for violin and piano now. Tartini humbly mentioned that what he made is only a vague reminder of the powerful music he heard in his dream. But in memory of that night, he decided to call his music work a “Devil's Trill Sonata”.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Steven Tyler’s Duo With a Street Musician

I do love it when a music star is not some far-away idol for his fans but rather a ‘close friend’ who gives you the feeling of confidence and reliability. Some big pop and rock stars today are trying to keep a safe distance from their fans, and it’s quite clear – you never know what people can turn out to be there in the crowd. But how great it may feel you music lovers can approach their favorite artists and feel close to them not just in music but in real life too. Even better if you are trying to follow the steps of your music idol playing his/her songs yourself.

I was so delighted to watch this piece of video where Steven Tyler proved to be so open-minded and easy-going with a fan of his. The Aerosmith vocalist was having a walk around the downtown of Moscow and suddenly that guy is there, playing the Aerosmith hit of all time – I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. Instead of regarding it as trivial street art attempt to reproduce the hit and just passing by, he chooses to join the young man and make a spontaneous duo with him. You can judge by the guy’s face expression that it was a mixture of shock, embarrassment and joy all in once. For an accidental music duo it was quite a good job!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Marianne Mozart's Music Talent

The Mozart family had many generations of gifted people, and besides the star kid Wolfgang it could also boast of other music talents.
Mozart family portrait
Maria Anna Mozart (also known as Marianne) was the older sister of the famous composer. Looks like the music talent was somewhere deep in the genes of the family, so Marianne showed evident signs of music talent just like her younger brother – she played harpsichord really well and was a gifted fortepianist too.

But why don’t we play some masterpiece sonatas or concertos by Marianne Mozart’ worldwide today? Or do we? The thing is that back at the time it was not considered ‘appropriate’ for the women to take up activities like that seriously. Yes, as a kid she was welcome to play music instruments and Leopold the father even took her to tours together with brother, but at that period it was for fun mostly. As soon as Maria Anna grew up to 18 years old, her music career was fully over. The society rules and expectations demanded the girl should get married and take up the role of her own family fireplace care-taker. Hardly could Marianne swim against the stream of prevalent standards.

According to some theories, Marianne did compose quite a few works, and what’s she could stand behind some of her brother’s masterpieces. Which ones? We’ll probably never know for sure. What we do know is that Marianne and Wolfgang had really warmth relations, and the latter dedicated the Prelude and Fugue in C Major to his beloved older sister.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Beethoven’s 5 on Three Harmonicas

The almighty four opening notes of this music work are not likely to be mistaken for anything else. The grand, the powerful, the triumphal Beethoven’s Fifth is the iconic classical symphony of all time.

Taking into account the scrupulous and experimental nature of the composer, it took him 4 (!) years to polish and refine the piece to perfection (1804-1808). And the result was absolutely worth all the sweat and efforts – today this symphony is a magic walkway into the world of classical music even to those who have never been the fans of classics as such.

We know that the Vienna premier of the symphony was far from confident success; rather, by the time the public heard the piece (at the very end of the concert), it did not seem quite interesting to them. Thanks to E. T. A. Hoffman’s rave review of the music work which came up later, the audience eventually paid the due attention to it.

Soon the beauty of the harmonies, the carefully interconnected music elements and the gorgeous rhythm were recognized as composer’s masterwork. From the dramatic first movement, on to the lyrical andante, further to the dark scherzo and finally in the grand finale – throughout the entire piece the listener’s attention is fully captured by Beethoven’s music genius. According to one of the versions, Beethoven himself compared the beginning of the Fifth to the “Fate knocking on your door”. We don’t know whether it’s true or not, but this phrase still makes a perfect description of the famous opening. Ta-da-da-daa.. and you got shivers all over!

The symphony had its fair leap forward right to the legacy of classical music. And it’s no wonder that there have been hundreds of recordings of the piece and that numerous artists around the world wished to try their hand in this outstanding music masterpiece, playing the Fifth on all possible music instruments. Here’s another lovely version of the composition played on three harmonicas: