Think back to how families used to celebrate the Holidays. For some of us, it was sitting in front of the TV watching a Charlie Brown special, and going back another twenty years, Dad would play disc-jockey, keeping the records spinning on the Hi-Fi. Back another generation, families grouped around the piano with someone, who hopefully spent some time practicing, played Christmas carols for the mini-multitude to sing along.
Franz Schubert, incredibly talented and poor as a church mouse, wanted the chance to make a decent living from his music, and finally, near the end of his life, he got publishers interested. The down side was that his works were to be dictated by what would sell, and Schubert found his outlets wanted simple music that would sell rather than the big Sonata's that he was interested in.
Franz Schubert had great friends, and he needed them. His father wanted him to teach school, but Franz was built to compose music, and what started as a family hobby turned into an all consuming passion. Giving up his teaching job, Schubert turned to his friends, and with their help he was allowed, slowly and painfully, to become the artist he knew himself to be.
In the 3 sonatas of Opus 10, Ludwig van Beethoven was making a statement about his pianistic abilities, and one thing he knew that would certainly attract attention was contrast. The composer asks for double fortes, throws in unexpected rests, and invents the heroic funeral movement that he would exploit in future symphonies. This is all in the third sonata in D Major.
Arrogant, willful and brusque, not paying attention to how he dressed or even to combing his hair, Ludwig van Beethoven wasn't a man cut out for high society. Luckily in Vienna, the upper crust loved and understood music, and with that introduction, Beethoven was exactly in the right place.
"It's harder than it looks. You practice it, and it seems pretty straight forward. But when you add the orchestra, with the scoring and rhythms, it is not as easy as it seems, in fact it is really hard!" said Martina Filjak discussing Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Manuel de Falla.
Martina has played the piece for ten years now, and recently visited the gardens that inspired the work in Sierra de Cordoba.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 11:36 am
Few classical musicians these days are serious improvisers — aside from organists and early-music practitioners. But pianist Gabriela Montero is absolutely fearless when it comes to creating a new piece, right out of the air, right on the spot. At her concerts she takes requests from audience members. They can suggest a song for her to improvise on, or simply a topic of interest.
James Dick has a good relationship with the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin and conductor Mischa Rachlevsky; in fact they have performed together previously in Texas, as well as in Moscow.
"They're the finest players in Russia, either in the conservatory or playing professionally," says soloist James Dick. "It is a pleasure to work with them. I can also guarantee you haven't heard Beethoven like this before, a new orchestration that has written the wind parts out for the strings and piano. It is breathtaking!"
On Sunday, October 14, the San Antonio International Piano Competition gets underway at Trinity University's Ruth Taylor Recital Hall. The eleven young men and women hail from Malaysia to Italy, and China to the United States. They will play music by Beethoven, baroque and a new piece written by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec.
"Of course I have to make it difficult." Moravec says, adding that it is not just about virtuosity. "I wanted the work to be beautiful, and hopefully helpful for the competitors, that they can use it later in their career on recitals."
When my wife got home, I showed her the new book "Remembering Glenn Gould" by Colin Eatock, and she remarked “Didn't you have every book about him already”? She had a point there. I thought I had every book and the fact that a new title would be published thirty years after his death and it would be anticipated is a bit different.