December 2011

Top 10 Classical Music: Wedding March from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

A very popular piece that also included in the Top 10 Classical Music list is the “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn. It is part of the larger classical piece “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”. Mendelssohn wrote this piece to accompany Shakespeare’s play with this name. It was composed in 1842. As a piece of music, it is regularly played by an organ to accompany the bride as she walks up the wedding aisle or as the couple leave the church. 

Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a play about the upcoming marriage of the Hippolyta, the Amazon queen and the Duke Theseus of Athens. It is mythical, magical and set within the forest. There are other minor characters within the play that are affected by the fairies. 

Henry Cowell's "The Banshee"

Eerie and effective or just noise?

Some wouldn't call American composer Henry Cowell's "The Banshee" music. Some would call it ambient noise, while others would just call it fooling around on piano strings. Whatever you call it, Cowell's interpretation of a banshee's wail, orchestrated by plucking or strumming the strings inside a piano while also playing some of its keys, certainly opened the door to piano experimentation and new methods of interacting with the instrument.

Dies Irae

From "The Requiem" by Mozart

"Dies Irae" is from the classical piece called "Requiem". The title actually translates into "Day of Wrath". It is one of the top five pieces of classical music that most people can recognize. It is actually a Latin piece that was written by Thomas of Celano in 1200's and included in the requiem piece of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It is a poem that discusses the Christian judgment and tribulation. "The Day of Wrath" describes what will happen when the trumpet sound is made and God gathers the saved and unsaved. Dies Irae states the saved are taken to heaven and the unsaved are thrown into hell.

Top 10 Classical Music: Toccato and Fugue in D Minor

Another musical piece on the top 10 list of classical songs is “Toccato and Fugue”. It was written in D minor and was originally attributed to Jonathan Sebastien Bach. However, music scholars have debated if this piece of music was actually written by Bach. This piece of music might also have been written by Jonathan Pachelbell who wrote “Fantasia”.

Bizet's "Carmen"

Exploring the spectrum of the virgin-whore.

Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen, is one of the most widely-performed and famous operas of all time. Tragically, when the opera opened in Paris in 1875, it was majorly panned by the critics, and the opera house had to give away tickets for the show’s performance. Soon after, Bizet died of a heart attack at the age of 36, never knowing that his show would be performed worldwide, more than 150 years after his death.

Carmen is influential because of its portrayal of women in opera, and women in general.

Piano Lesson Tips for Children

Keep your child's piano lessons as smooth as possible...

My daughter was taking horseback riding lessons throughout the fall, and when they ceased for the winter months we decided to let her take a class she’s been dying to take for two years—piano. I wanted to wait until she was six because I know it’s a lot of work, and I wanted to be sure she really wanted to do it, too. We found a wonderful teacher who is a fellow homeschooler and operates out of her own beautiful home, and so far my daughter is really enjoying her lessons.

Top 10 Classical Music: Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5 in C Minor"

A well-known name in classical music is Ludwig can Beethoven. It is no surprise that his 5th Symphony is one of the top 10 pieces of classical music. “Symphony No. 5 in C minor” is thought to have taken him over 10 years between thought and composition, before it was first played in 1808. When it was first played in December, the public had only a lukewarm response towards it. However, rave reviews where given about this symphony after it was played a year later.

Top 10 Classical Music: Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons"

"The Four Season did not achieve popularity until many years after it was played."

Another piece of classical music on the top 10 list is Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. It is a music score that is easily recognized when played. The work consists of four concertos that highlight and descrivbe the annual seasons through music.

“The Four Seasons” is usually played during weddings. A recording of the this song was written by Antonio Vivaldi in 1723. It is also said to hightlight the human feelings associated with each season. The song is considered a form of Baroque music. Baroque music jkhdkfhkjh . The four concertos located in this piece were written to accompany four sonnets on the topic of the seasons.

Beethoven's Biggest Fans: Berlioz and Hoffmann

"Composer Hector Berlioz was also a major Beethoven fan. "

Beethoven’s contemporary, writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, had mixed feelings about the composer. In a quote, Hoffmann says, “while the excellent Beethoven can scarcely be denied a very fertile and lively imagination, he does not know how to bridle it! Thus, they say, he no longer bothers to at all to select or shape his ideas, but, following the so called daemonic method, he dashes everything off exactly as his ardent active imagination dictates to him.” Hoffman responds to other critics’ opinion of Beethoven’s music in this quote. He says that critics call Beethoven a genius, but that Beethoven is not selective enough to make connected music that can reach his listeners with a specific message.