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:

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Mighty Accordion

When you start playing a certain instrument, it doesn’t open up to you entirely right away. It’s just like a good wine – the bouquet of taste unfolds gradually, surprising you with every flower it brings. Just like wine, music instruments are also to be properly savored with time.

I remember the old times, when what started with an indifferent playing of the “Shave and a Haircut” with years grew into a deepest passion for piano. As for the accordion, as a kid I used to perceive as the “old grandpas’ music instrument” and didn’t have much appreciation for it until not so long ago. But surprising how one’s attitude can change all of a sudden. In German accordion derives from the word ‘akkord’ which literally means “harmony”. And look how harmonious it does seem in fact!

Accordionist by MichaƂ Koralewski
I was surprised to find out that the US love has so much love for accordion. If it’s pretty clear with Russia’s historic love for it coming from the USSR times, with the US it’s a bit different. Today, there are even a few American cities that declared accordion as their ‘official music instrument’ (Ilinois, Detroit, Skokie).

The special charm of accordion to me is partly in its resemblance with the organ. Have you ever noticed how similar they sound? It’s amazing. Just like the organ, accordion mightily shakes the air and can easily teleport you into a huge concert hall if set your imagination free. Here’s a wonderful ‘street performance’ of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on two accordions to make clear what I mean exactly. Isn’t it beautiful..

Friday, July 31, 2015

Classical Music Portrait of Winter

This might be just the weird feature of my character but I tend to look for the opposites. To be more clear, here’s a perfect example – seasons of the year. It’s hot summer now and I sincerely do love these sunny days. And talking about the extremes, I would always prefer heat to freezing.

the four seasons
But, but. The warmer it is, the more I think about winter! It’s a certain kind of nostalgia that’s following me. As a music enthusiast, I sometimes see things in music terms too. Thus my winter nostalgia is best of all conveyed through the classical music related to this cold time of the year. I’ve run through a few compilations of classical music ‘winter’ works and realized that it’s just what I need to feed my longing for the season – if it’s not temperature-wise, let it be music-wise – even better!

It’s amazing how certain composers managed to created that exceptionally vivid image of Lady Winter through a limited set of sounds. To me, the brightest works in this sense would be those by Russian composers – Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Snow Maiden” or Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Daydreams”, for example. Maybe that’s because of the fact they did know what real Russian winter could be like?

What’s your musical vision of the season?