March 2012

National music

Example A: the Kazakh national anthem blooper.

Last week, we all heard about the national anthem snafu that happened at a shooting tournament in Kuwait. If you missed the news, the organizers of the tournament mistakenly played the fake Kazakhstani national anthem created by Sacha Baron Cohen for his Kazakhstani character, Borat. The organizers said they choose the fake anthem mistakenly when searching for the real one online. The Kazakhstani team seemed to take the incident in stride—they even held their hands over their hearts as the fake anthem played—but demanded an apology and a new awards ceremony afterwards.

Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice"

Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck (1714-1787) was a Bohemian opera composer who was born in what is now Bavaria. He is known for the fusion of Italian, French and Austrian music, as well as his early compositions for the Hapsburg court. For his time, he was something of a revolutionary, advocating a reform of opera in Austria, as well as making significant advancements in opera composition in Paris. He left Paris after the failure of his opera Echo et Narcisse, living once again in Vienna until his death.

A Look At Mozart's Lacrimosa, Part One

The Requiem in D Minor is perhaps one of Mozart's most powerful and poignant pieces still standing today. The requiem, intended for the memorial mass of the wife of Count Franz Walsegg-Stupach, was written while Mozart himself was dying. It's been debated over the years, decades, probably even centuries, how Mozart's death came to pass; some say it was murder by poison, various other sources cite pneumonia, and yet other sources say that he died of a venerial disease. The official belief is that he died of the miliary fever which he was already afflicted with when he began to compose the Requiem. Whatever the case may be, the last Requiem written before his death stands by itself as an emotionally powerful piece. 

Bela Bartok, one of the fathers of ethnomusicology

The music of the people.

Béla Bartók was an Austro-Hungarian composer who was born in a small town in what is now Romania in 1881. Throughout his lifetime, the composer lived in many different places, but most notably recorded the folk music of native peoples. As he elevated some of their music for listening in classical music venues and the like, he also became one of the fathers of ethnomusicology, or the study of music indigenous to various groups throughout the world.

Claude Debussy and his opera

A quest for beauty.

Claude Debussy’s music is some of the most beautiful and enduring ever created. The French composer, who lived from 1862 to 1918, composed music that everyone seems to know and many young piano students use to show off, including “Clair de Lune” and “Beau Soir”. His music is so enduring because Debussy’s sense of the beautiful was so universal and acute, translating across countries, cultures and centuries.

Chopin's Birthday

March 1st is widely believed to be the birthday of one of the greatest but often looked composers known as Chopin. There are many who also accept that his birthday was on February 22nd, however March 1st tends to be the most common belief. Chopin was a unique composer for the fact that many of his works showcased a different element that had not been articulated so well within classical music before; the articulation of thoughts and emotions. Although classical music can almost always provoke emotion out of the listener, Chopin's pieces were especially well-written because they reflect the sadness, happiness, anger, and passion of a man that we still do not know much about.