YouTube Video, Classical Music, and Paganini

YouTube Video, Classical Music, and Paganini

“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream” ~Amos 5:24

Dinner Topics for Friday

 YouTube Video: Itzhak Perlman plays Paganini Classic Violin

Niccolò (or Nicolò) Paganini (27 October 1782 – 27 May 1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His Caprice No. 24 in A minor, Op. 1, is among the best known of his compositions, and has served as an inspiration for many prominent composers.

Early career

170px-Nicolo_Paganini_by_Richard_James_LaneThe French invaded northern Italy in March 1796, and Genoa was not spared. The Paganinis sought refuge in their country property in Romairone, near Bolzaneto. By 1800, Paganini and his father traveled to Livorno, where Paganini played in concerts and his father resumed his maritime work. In 1801, the 18-year-old Paganini was appointed first violin of the Republic of Lucca, but a substantial portion of his income came from freelancing. His fame as a violinist was matched only by his reputation as a gambler and womanizer.

In 1805, Lucca was annexed by Napoleonic France, and the region was ceded to Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi. Paganini became a violinist for the Baciocchi court, while giving private lessons to her husband, Felice. In 1807, Baciocchi became the Grand Duchess of Tuscany and her court was transferred to Florence. Paganini was part of the entourage, but, towards the end of 1809, he left Baciocchi to resume his freelance career.

Travelling virtuoso

For the next few years, Paganini returned to touring in the areas surrounding Parma and Genoa. Though he was very popular with the local audience, he was still not very well known in the rest of Europe. His first break came from an 1813 concert at La Scala in Milan. The concert was a great success. As a result, Paganini began to attract the attention of other prominent, albeit more conservative, musicians across Europe. His early encounters with Charles Philippe Lafont and Louis Spohr created intense rivalry. His concert activities, however, were still limited to Italy for the next few years.

His fame spread across Europe with a concert tour that started in Vienna in August 1828, stopping in every major European city in Germany, Poland, and Bohemia until February 1831 in Strasbourg. This was followed by tours in Paris and Britain. His technical ability and his willingness to display it received much critical acclaim. In addition to his own compositions, theme and variations being the most popular, Paganini also performed modified versions of works (primarily concertos) written by his early contemporaries, such as Rodolphe Kreutzer and Giovanni Battista Viotti.

YouTube Music: Classic Robert Schumann

Dinner Topics for Friday

key The secret to having it all is knowing that you already do.

Robert Schumann Symphony No 1 B flat major “Spring” (Frühlingssinfonie)

This is one of my favorite symphonies. It’s fun to watch how the various instruments are orchestrated in this video. ~C.D.

From Wikipedia

Robert_Schumann_1839Robert Schumann[1] (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law to return to music, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann’s published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as Kinderszenen, Album für die Jugend, Blumenstück, Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, against her father’s wishes, Schumann married the pianist Clara Wieck, daughter of his former teacher, the day before she legally came of age at 21. Had they waited one day, they would have no longer needed her father’s consent, absence of which had led to a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father’s fortune.

1830–34

During Eastertide 1830 he heard the Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer Niccolò Paganini play in Frankfurt. In July he wrote to his mother, “My whole life has been a struggle between Poetry and Prose, or call it Music and Law.” By Christmas he was back in Leipzig, at age 20 taking piano lessons from his old master Friederich Wieck, who assured him that he would be a successful concert pianist after a few years’ study with him.

During his studies with Wieck, Schumann permanently injured his right hand. One suggested cause of this injury is that he damaged his finger by the use of a mechanical device designed to strengthen the weakest fingers, a device which held back one finger while he exercised the others. Another suggestion is that the injury was a side-effect of syphilis medication. A more dramatic suggestion is that in an attempt to increase the independence of his fourth finger, he may have undergone a surgical procedure to separate the tendons of the fourth finger from those of the third. The cause of the injury is not known, but Schumann abandoned ideas of a concert career and devoted himself instead to composition. To this end he began a study of music theory under Heinrich Dorn, a German composer six years his senior and, at that time, conductor of the Leipzig Opera. About this time Schumann considered composing an opera on the subject of Hamlet.

1840–49

Robert Schumann music room

Robert Schumann music room

In the years 1832–1839, Schumann had written almost exclusively for the piano, but in 1840 alone he wrote 168 songs. Indeed 1840 (referred to as the Liederjahr or year of song) is highly significant in Schumann’s musical legacy despite his earlier deriding of works for piano and voice as inferior.

Prior to the legal case and subsequent marriage, the lovers exchanged love letters and rendezvoused in secret. Robert would often wait in a cafe for hours in a nearby city just to see Clara for a few minutes after one of her concerts. The strain of this long courtship (they finally married in 1840), and of its consummation, led to this great outpouring of Lieder (vocal songs with piano accompaniment). This is evident in “Widmung”, for example, where he uses the melody from Schubert’s “Ave Maria” in the postlude—in homage to Clara. Schumann’s biographers have attributed the sweetness, the doubt and the despair of these songs to the varying emotions aroused by his love for Clara and the uncertainties of their future together.

Robert and Clara had eight children, Emil (who died in infancy in 1847); Marie (1841–1929); Elise (1843–1928); Julie (1845–1872); Ludwig (1848–1899); Ferdinand (1849–1891); Eugenie (1851–1938); and Felix (1854–1879).

More about Robert Schumann  at Wikipedia

 

YouTube Music: Classic Brahms

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAbility may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

Hungarian Dance number 5

Brahms Waltz

Johannes Brahms

From Wikipedia

BrahmsBrahms, Johannes 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.

Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms’s popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs“.

Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.[1]

Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honour the “purity” of these venerable “German” structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms’s works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.

More about Brahms

 

Literature: English Classic and William Shakespeare

Dinner Topics

William Shakespeare

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare (/ˈʃkspɪər/;[1] 26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616)[nb 1] was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.[2] He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.[3][nb 2] His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays,[nb 3] 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.[4]

Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.[5]

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613.[6][nb 4] His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare’s. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as “not of an age, but for all time.”[7]

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare’s genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called “bardolatry“.[8] In the 20th century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

More about Shakespeare

 

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:11

Note below what Rachmaninoff lost when he fled the Russian revolution—all of his worldly possessions, including any music he may have written. See how God blessed him and us with his incredible talent and memory. Our blessing—Russia’s loss. ~C. A. Davidson

Hear  Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no. 3— one of my favorites!

Rachmaninoff,_CaliforniaSergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff[1] 1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian[2] composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.[3] Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.[4] The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.

In Moscow, he met the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who became an important mentor and commissioned the teenage Rachmaninoff to arrange a piano transcription of the suite from his ballet The Sleeping Beauty. This commission was first offered to Siloti, who declined, but instead suggested Rachmaninoff would be more than capable. This alternative was accepted; Siloti supervised the arrangement.[8] Rachmaninoff confided in Zverev his desire to compose more, requesting a private room where he could compose in silence. Zverev saw him only as a pianist and severed his links with the boy, refusing even to speak to him for three years. Rachmaninoff moved out and continued to compose.

The sudden death of Tchaikovsky in 1893 made a strong impression on Rachmaninoff; he immediately began writing a second Trio élégiaque to his memory, clearly revealing the depth and sincerity of his grief in the music’s overwhelming aura of gloom.

In 1900, Rachmaninoff began a course of autosuggestive therapy with psychologist Nikolai Dahl, himself an amateur musician. Rachmaninoff quickly recovered confidence and overcame his writer’s block. A result of these sessions was the composition of Piano Concerto No. 2 (Op. 18, 1900-01), dedicated to Dr. Dahl. The piece was very well received at its premiere, at which Rachmaninoff was soloist.

Rachmaninoff made his first tour of the United States as a pianist in 1909, an event for which he composed the Piano Concerto No. 3 (Op. 30, 1909) as a calling card. This successful tour made him a popular figure in America.

Rachmaninoff’s spirits were further bolstered when, after years of engagement, he was finally allowed to marry his cousin Natalia.

Russian Revolution

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, his livelihood and essentially his world. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s opera The Golden Cockerel. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo) for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919-20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian servants, and observing Russian customs.[22]

As a pianist, Rachmaninoff ranked among the finest pianists of his time, along with Leopold Godowsky, Ignaz Friedman, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann, and perhaps one of the greatest pianists in the history of classical music. He was famed for possessing a flawless, clean and inhuman virtuoso piano technique. His playing was marked by precision, rhythmic drive, an exceptionally accurate staccato and the ability to maintain complete clarity when playing works with complex textures. Rachmaninoff applied these qualities to excellent effect in music by Chopin, especially the B flat minor Piano Sonata. Rachmaninoff’s repertoire, excepting his own works, consisted mainly of standard 19th Century virtuoso works plus music by Bach, Beethoven, Borodin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.[42]

Rhythmically, Rachmaninoff was one of the best Romantic performers. He never lost the basic metric pulse, yet he constantly varied it. Harold C. Schonberg suggests the young Vladimir Horowitz might have gotten this kind of rhythmic snap from Rachmaninoff. In addition, Rachmaninoff’s playing had extreme musical elegance, with attention paid to the shape of the melodic line. His playing possessed a masculine, aristocratic kind of poetry. While never becoming sentimental, he managed to wring dry the emotional essence of the music. He did so through subtly nuanced phrasing within his strong, clear, unmannered projection of melodic lines.[43]

He had extremely large hands. From those barely moving fingers came an unforced, bronzelike sonority and an accuracy bordering on infallibility. Correct notes seemed to be built into his constitution. . .

Memory

Rachmaninoff also possessed an uncanny memory-one that would help put him in good stead when he had to learn the standard piano repertoire as a 45-year-old exile. He could hear a piece of music, even a symphony, then play it back the next day, the next year, or a decade after that. Siloti would give him a long and demanding piece to learn, such as Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. Two days later Rachmaninoff would play it “with complete artistic finish.” Alexander Goldenweiser said, “Whatever composition was ever mentioned-piano, orchestral, operatic, or other-by a Classical or contemporary composer, if Rachmaninoff had at any time heard it, and most of all if he liked it, he played it as though it were a work he had studied thoroughly.”[52]

Complete article

YouTube Music: Classic Haydn

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAbility may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

YouTube Music: “The Heavens Are Telling”; Haydn Creation Oratorio

YouTube Music: Haydn Symphony No. 94, 2nd Movement: Surprise!

From Wikipedia

haydnFranz Joseph Haydn 31 March[1] 1732 – 31 May 1809), known as Joseph Haydn,[2] was an Austrian[3] composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period. He is often called the “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.[4][5]

A lifelong resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, “forced to become original”.[6] At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Early life

Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, Austria, a village near the border with Hungary. His father was Mathias Haydn, a wheelwright who also served as “Marktrichter”, an office akin to village mayor. Haydn’s mother Maria, née Koller, had previously worked as a cook in the palace of Count Harrach, the presiding aristocrat of Rohrau. Neither parent could read music;[7] however, Mathias was an enthusiastic folk musician, who during the journeyman period of his career had taught himself to play the harp. According to Haydn’s later reminiscences, his childhood family was extremely musical, and frequently sang together and with their neighbours.[8]

Haydn’s parents had noticed that their son was musically gifted and knew that in Rohrau he would have no chance to obtain any serious musical training. It was for this reason that they accepted a proposal from their relative Johann Matthias Frankh, the schoolmaster and choirmaster in Hainburg, that Haydn be apprenticed to Frankh in his home to train as a musician. Haydn therefore went off with Frankh to Hainburg 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away and never again lived with his parents. He was about six years old.

Life in the Frankh household was not easy for Haydn, who later remembered being frequently hungry[9] as well as constantly humiliated by the filthy state of his clothing.[10] However, he did begin his musical training there, and soon was able to play both harpsichord and violin. The people of Hainburg heard him sing treble parts in the church choir.

There is reason to think that Haydn’s singing impressed those who heard him, because in 1739[11] he was brought to the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, who happened to be visiting Hainburg. Haydn passed his audition with Reutter, and in 1740 moved to Vienna, where he worked for the next nine years as a chorister, after 1745 in the company of his younger brother Michael.

Haydn lived in the Kapellhaus next to the cathedral, along with Reutter, Reutter’s family, and the other four choirboys.[12] He was instructed in Latin and other school subjects as well as voice, violin, and keyboard.[13] Reutter was of little help to Haydn in the areas of music theory and composition, giving him only two lessons in his entire time as chorister.[14] However, since St. Stephen’s was one of the leading musical centers in Europe, Haydn was able to learn a great deal simply by serving as a professional musician there.[15]

Struggles as a freelancer

By 1749, Haydn had matured physically to the point that he was no longer able to sing high choral parts—the Empress herself complained to Reutter about his singing, calling it “crowing”.[17] One day, Haydn carried out a prank, snipping off the pigtail of a fellow chorister.[17] This was enough for Reutter: Haydn was first caned, then summarily dismissed and sent into the streets with no home to go to.[18] He had the good fortune to be taken in by a friend, Johann Michael Spangler, who shared his family’s crowded garret room with Haydn for a few months. Haydn immediately began his pursuit of a career as a freelance musician.

During this arduous time, Haydn worked at many different jobs: as a music teacher, as a street serenader, and eventually, in 1752, as valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned “the true fundamentals of composition”.[19] He also was briefly in Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz‘s employ, playing the organ in the Bohemian Chancellery chapel at the Judenplatz.[20]

When he was a chorister, Haydn had not received serious training in music theory and composition, which he perceived as a serious gap. To fill it, he worked his way through the counterpoint exercises in the text Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux, and carefully studied the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence.[21]

musicnotesAs his skills increased, Haydn began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel “The Limping Devil”, written for the comic actor Johann Joseph Felix Kurz, whose stage name was “Bernardon”. The work was premiered successfully in 1753, but was soon closed down by the censors.[22] Haydn also noticed, apparently without annoyance, that works he had simply given away were being published and sold in local music shops.[23] Between 1754 and 1756 Haydn also worked freelance for the court in Vienna. He was among several musicians who were paid for services as supplementary musicians at balls given for the imperial children during carnival season, and as supplementary singers in the imperial chapel (the Hofkapelle) in Lent and Holy Week.[24]

With the increase in his reputation, Haydn eventually obtained aristocratic patronage, crucial for the career of a composer in his day. Countess Thun,[25] having seen one of Haydn’s compositions, summoned him and engaged him as her singing and keyboard teacher.[26] In 1756, Baron Carl Josef Fürnberg employed Haydn at his country estate, Weinzierl, where the composer wrote his first string quartets. Fürnberg later recommended Haydn to Count Morzin, who, in 1757,[27] became his first full-time employer.[28]

The return to Vienna in 1795 marked the last turning point in Haydn’s career. Although his musical style evolved little, his intentions as a composer changed. While he had been a servant, and later a busy entrepreneur, Haydn wrote his works quickly and in profusion, with frequent deadlines. As a rich man, Haydn now felt that he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity. This is reflected in the subject matter of The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), which address such weighty topics as the meaning of life and the purpose of humankind, and represent an attempt to render the sublime in music. Haydn’s new intentions also meant that he was willing to spend much time on a single work: both oratorios took him over a year to complete. Haydn once remarked that he had worked on The Creation so long because he wanted it to last.[70]

The change in Haydn’s approach was important in the history of classical music, as other composers were soon following his lead. Notably, Beethoven adopted the practice of taking his time and aiming high.[71]

Read more about Haydn

Louis L’Amour Books: Classic Western Fiction Quotations

Classic Western Fiction Quotations

From unforgettable author: Louis L’Amour

2nd Amendment

You will remember that we won our freedom because we were armed. We were not a simple peasantry unused to weapons. The men who wrote our Constitution knew our people would be safe as long as they were armed. (Lonesome Gods, 216)

Western Civilization

keyIf men are to survive upon the earth there must be law, and there must be justice, and all men must stand together against those who would strike at the roots of what men have so carefully built. (Lonesome Gods, 415)

Here in these western lands men were fighting again the age-old struggle for freedom and for civilization, which is one that always must be fought for. The weak and those unwilling to make the struggle, soon resign their liberties for the protection of powerful men or paid armies; they begin by being protected, they end by being subjected. ~ Louis L’Amour (Man Called Noon)

Appeasement

We have a saying that power corrupts.

It does. Such rulers begin by demanding a little and end by demanding all. Power not only corrupts he who  wields the power but those who submit to it. Those who grovel at the feet of power betray their fellows to hide themselves beyond the cloak of submission. It is an evil thing. (Haunted Mesa, 293)

You cannot submit to evil without allowing evil to grow. Each time the good are defeated, or each time they yield, they only cause the forces of evil to grow stronger. Greed feeds greed, and crime grows with success. Our giving up what is ours merely to escape trouble would only create greater trouble for someone else. (Man Called Noon)

LAmour-cherokee-trailThere’s pushy folks around this country, and if they start pushing you, you have to push back. If you don’t they’ll soon push you out of the country. (Taggart)

Character

They had never learned how to rationalize, and their world was a simple one where right and wrong were quite obvious. Where the Long Grass Grows, 145

To die is not so much, it is inevitable. The journey is what matters, and what one does along the way. (Ferguson Rifle, 97-98).

Pride can be a dangerous associate, and a thinking man should beware of it.  (Ferguson Rifle, 165)

We’re not talking about what’s fair or unfair. We’re talking realities. (Comstock Lode, 49)

Uncommonly shrewd? no. Possibly not shrewd at all. Perhaps only a man who moved into whatever opening appeared, taking every advantage. Often the man appears shrewd who is only ruthless and without scruples.  (Comstock Lode, 331)

But I am somebody. I am me. I like being me, and I need nobody to make me somebody. I need no setting. As for a home, I can build my own. As for position, each of us finds his own.  (Comstock Lode, 333)

Generations will follow who must themselves live from that land …It would not be enough to leave something for them; we must leave it all a little better than we found it. (Lonesome Gods, 373)

Hatred is an ugly thing, more destructive of the hater than the hated. (Lonesome Gods, 371)

All he would say was to ask me, “Do you think you did the right thing?”

A question like that sticks in a man’s mind, and after awhile I judged everything by it, deciding whether it was the right thing, and often if there was no other way. I expect it was a good lesson to learn, but a man in his life may have many teachers, some most unexpected. The question with the man himself: Will he learn from them? (Fast Draw)

For a man to be at peace with himself was important, Will said, not what people say. People are often wrong, and public opinion can change, and the hatreds of people are rarely reasonable things. I can hear him yet. He used to say there was no use a man wearing himself out with hatred and ill-feeling, and time proved it out. First Fast Draw, 27

Me, I was never likely to build anything. A no-account drifter like me leaves no more mark behind him

than you leave a hole in the water when you pull your finger out. Every man could leave something, or should. Well, maybe it wasn’t in me to build much, but I surely could keep the work of other men from being destroyed. Nobody had the right to take from them what they had built. (Ride the Dark Trail, 101)

The thing to remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for. (Ride the Dark Trail, 53)

A man had to see, not just look. (The Quick and the Dead, 18)

It’s the way with women. [They] fall for a man, then set out to change him. Soon’s they got him changed they don’t like him no more. Never seen it to fail. (Outlaws of Mesquite, 32)

The man had charted his own course, followed his own trail. If it led to death … he had probably saved himself from a bullet or a noose, for he was headed for one or the other. When a man begins a life of violence, or when he decides to live by taking something away from others, he just naturally points himself toward one end. He can’t win—the odds are too much against him. (Mustang Man, 93)

Walking opens the mind to thought.

LAmour-western2We have to earn our place, just like all the others. There’s no special sun that shines on any man, regardless of religion, philosophy, or the color of his skin. There’s no reason why any man should expect a special dispensation from pope or president. In this country, more than any other, you have to make your mark. You’re not going to be treated like something special until you are.

Some men become outlaws. They can’t make a living honestly, so they try to do it by force and strength.

That is the hardest question of history, the question people have asked in every age, in every time. Many men want what other men have. Men are often greedy, jealous, and vindictive. Or they look across the fence at what they think is greener grass.(Dry Side)

LAmour-brionneThe wood with which we work has strength, it has beauty, it has resilience! If it is treated well, it will last many, many years! If you build, build well. No job must be slackly done, no good material used badly. There is beauty in building, but build to last, so that generations yet to come will see the pride with which you worked. (Rivers West, 113)

Remember this. If you stop pushing on, you lose. It is always a little further to the top than you think. (Reilly’s Luck, 17)

Riding the wild country gives a man time to think, and Will Reilly had encouraged thinking. “You have to be objective,” he had said. “Each problem must be taken by itself, and you have to leave emotion out of it. Be stern with yourself. Don’t pamper yourself.” (Reilly’s Luck, 94)

Think nothing of treasure and stories of treasure. You will have in this world just what you earn … and save. Remember that. Do not waste your life in a vain search for treasure that may not exist. (Rivers West, 64)

A mill does not turn upon water that is past, nor does a ship sail with the winds of yesterday. (Rivers West, 5)

LAmour-skibbereenI am a poor man, and no fortune will come to me unless I earn it with me two hands. The hands and the will, they’re all I have. (Man from Skibbereen, 39)

“I could come to hate them!”

“Don’t. Isn’t worth it, Molly. I don’t hate anybody and never have. A man does what he has to do, and sometimes it’s not what I believe he should do. There’s no reason to use up energy hating him for it.

“If a man comes at me, I defend myself. If he hunts me, I figure I can hunt some myself.” (Milo Talon, 156)

There was something else, too, that was not generally recognized—that just as the maternal instinct is the strongest a woman has, just so the instinct to protect is the strongest for a man. (Mountain Valley War, 10)

They know who they are, they know what they believe in, and their kind will last. Other kinds of people will come and go. The glib and confident, the whiners and complainers, and the people without loyalty, they will disappear, but these people will still be here plowing the land, planting crops, doing the hard work of the world because it is here to be done. (Mountain Valley War, 12)

LAmour-ben-shafterYou’ve a good mind, too. Don’t let it go to seed. A brain is only as good as you give it a chance to be. (Mountain Valley War, 65)

There was a cold, bitter anger within him. For a moment he looked back, felt the weight of the guns at his hips, and remembered the contempt of Cub Hale, the arrogance of his father. No … now was not the time. Jody was gone, and Wilson too, but what they had fought for must not be lost. The surest way to make Hale pay was not to kill him but to destroy him and what he had done, to win so the rest of them could keep their homes. (Mountain Valley War, 130)

Sometimes a man’s ego gets so inflated that other people … are to be brushed aside. Well, he destroyed himself … when he brushed a man aside the other day who will haunt him the rest of his life. (Mountain Valley War, 141)

Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn’t really like, or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else.” (Ride the River, 35)

Courage

LAmour-westernDo not be afraid. A little fear can make one cautious. Too much fear can rob you of initiative. Respect fear, but use it for an incentive, do not let it bind you or tie you down. (Lonesome Gods, 218-219)

They had come upon me in a mob, too cowardly to face me alone, and no man deserves to be beaten and hammered by a mob, and the men who make up a mob are cowards. First Fast Draw, 36

They had mobbed me, beaten me, and for no reason. Yet they had declared war, I had not. First Fast Draw, 38

There’s some who will remember you and be afraid, and men try to destroy anybody they are scared of.  First Fast Draw, 45

Only a fool takes chances. That isn’t bravery, not one bit. The good fightin’ man never takes chances he can avoid. You have to take plenty you can’t help, and only a fool would go to gambling with his life.

When I was a kid they told me I was scared for not walkin’ a small log over a high canyon. The other kids all did it, but not me. Now if there had been something on the other side I wanted, I would have gone over after it if there was no other way to get it. I never did see any sense in taking chances that weren’t necessary. There’s a sight of difference between being brave and being a dang fool. (Rustlers of West Fork, 131)

Trouble? All my life there’s been trouble, and where man is there will be trouble to the end of time, if not of one kind, then another. But I take my trouble as it comes. (Showdown at Yellow Butte, 86)

Culture

Men destroy what they do not understand, as they destroyed the son of God when he chose to walk among them. (Lonesome Gods, 512)

LAmour-quick-n-deadIs it to be a place where only business is done? Simply a marketplace, or is it to be a place of beauty? The great cities, the remembered cities, are the cities known for their beauty. (Lonesome Gods, 218)

Because a custom is old is no reason for junking it. (Long grass, 56)

The empty people, they wanted nothing more; they chafed at bonds because they were not mature enough for discipline, the kind of discipline one gives himself. He had seen too many of them, sad, misguided people, railing at institutions and ideas they were too juvenile to accept. The important thing in life called for maturity, for responsibility. Too many fled from it, wanting to be back in childhood when somebody else coped with the problems. Long Grass, 86

I had no grudge against any man, nor did I know what it meant to hate. To be wary, yes, for I knew there were hating folks about, but for myself, I hated no man. Only there was a point beyond which I’d not be pushed. First Fast Draw,15

The good people …made less noise and attracted less attention. (Rustlers of West Fork, 211)

Defend Right and Truth

LAmour-utah-blaineYou have to fight for most of the things worth having … or somebody does. (The Quick and the Dead, 116)

A man can get killed taking things for granted. (Ride the Dark Trail, 52)

Me, I was never likely to build anything. A no-account drifter like me leaves no more mark behind him than you leave a hole in the water when you pull your finger out. Every man could leave something, or should. Well, maybe it wasn’t in me to build much, but I surely could keep the work of other men from being destroyed. Nobody had the right to take from them what they had built. (Ride the Dark Trail, 101)

Education

He who ceases to learn is already a half-dead man. And do not be like an oyster who rests on the sea bottom waiting for the good things to come by. Search for them, find them. (Lonesome Gods, 39)

Family

There’s nothing better than two, a man and woman, who walk together. When they walk right together there’s no way too long, no night too dark. (Ride the Dark Trail, 49)

Long ago we had come from England and Wales, but the family feeling within us was older still, old as the ancient Celtic clans I’d heard spoken of. It was something deep in the grain, but something that should belong to all families …everywhere. I did not envy those who lacked it. (Ride the Dark Trail, 65)

“Her? Really? But she’s nobody. She’s just a broken-down nester’s daughter.”

“Everybody is somebody to me.” (Ride the Dark Trail, 202)

Government

There is no greater role for a man to play than to assist in the government of a people, nor anyone lower than he who misuses that power. (Lonesome Gods, 373

LAmour-flintA man is only king as long as folks let him be. (Ride the Dark Trail, 87)

You’ve got to make a stand somewhere. We are making a decision here today whether this community is to be ruled by justice and by law or by force and crime. (Law of Desert Born. 218)

What we have most to fear, I believe, are those within our own borders who think less of country than of themselves, who are ambitious for money, for power, for land. Some of these men would subvert anything, anything at all, for their own profit. They would even twist the laws of their own country in their desire to acquire wealth or power. Such men are always prepared to listen to a smooth-talking man with a proposal. (Rivers West, 27)

You must remember that if we leave the governing to others, then others will govern, and possibly not as we would like. In a country such as this, none of us is free of responsibility. Good government is everybody’s business. ~ Louis L’Amour (Rivers West, 29)

You know, Jack, there’s a clause in the Constitution that says the right of an American to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged. The man who put that clause there had just completed a war that they won simply because seven out of every ten Americans had their own rifles and knew how to use them. They wanted a man to always be armed to defend his home or his country. Right now there is a man in this area who is trying to take away that liberty and freedom from some men. (Mountain Valley War, 13)

One could not yield to the lawless and the ruthless, or soon there would be no freedom. It was among men as it was among nations. (Mountain Valley War, 85)

Davy was said to be a sort of Robin Hood bandit who took from the rich to give to the poor. If he was like most of those Robin Hood bandits I’d heard tell of, the poor he gave to was himself or over the bar in the nearest tavern. (Ride the River, 59)

History

All history is important to us. From each we learn a little about survival, a little about what causes peoples to decay and nations to die. We try to learn from others so we shall not make the same mistakes, but many of us learn simply for the love of knowing. (Haunted Mesa, 159)

LAmour-ride-riverMen needed stories to lead them to create, to build, to conquer, even to survive, and without them the human race would have vanished long ago. (Lonesome Gods, 142)

Not until 1818 had a firm boundary been established between the United States and Canada along the forty-ninth parallel from the Rainy Lake to the Rockies.

Only recently had the treaty been signed with Spain ceding Florida to the United States and defining the western border of the Louisiana Purchase at the forty-second parallel. The Untied States had renounced claims to Texas, and rights to many parts of this great new land were openly disputed.

The changing status of the slave trade had caused a number of slave traders to abandon the sea. In 1808 a law had been passed forbidding the importation of slaves into the United States, and even now a bill was before Congress that would make foreign slave trade an act of piracy punishable by death. Although the smuggling of slaves would almost certainly continue, many of those traders who wished to take no chances were leaving the trade and looking for a fresh area for their talents. (Rivers West, 39-40)

“I cannot believe this is happening to me. I cannot believe that those men would be as brutal as you say.”

“Nobody ever believes it until it is too late. Everyone has the same idea: that it could not happen to them. It is always happening to somebody else, and you see it in the papers and don’t credit it.”

~Louis L’Amour (Man from Skibbereen, 48)

Liberty

Are you prepared to lose all this? To have someone else reap where you have sown? You must fight or be enslaved. (Haunted Mesa, 270)

You will remember that we won our freedom because we were armed. We were not a simple peasantry unused to weapons. The men who wrote our Constitution knew our people would be safe as long as they were armed. (Lonesome Gods, 216)

He had breathed the free air of a free country too long and had the average American’s fierce resentment of tyranny. (Desert Born, 201)

LAmour-westward-tideMobs must be anonymous. Most men who make up mobs act under influence of the crowd. Singled out and suddenly alone, they become uncertain and uneasy. Deliberately, he let them know that he knew them. Deliberately, he walked among them, making each man feel known, cut off. He must break their shell of mob thinking and force each man to think of his own plight and the consequences to himself. He must make each man sure he was recognized, known. As a mass, thinking with one mind, they were dangerous, but if each began to worry …(Desert Born, 226-228)

Any man can run a town with killings, if he is fast enough. To clean up a tough town without killing, that takes a man!” (Desert Born, 232)

They were God-fearing, stern, and fierce to resent any intrusion on their personal liberty. It was such men as these who had destroyed Major Patrick Ferguson and his command at King’s Mountain. Not understanding what manner of men he dealt with, Ferguson had threatened them with fire and hanging, and they had responded by coming down from the mountains with their long Kentucky rifles. These were the sort of men who had been the backbone of the early American armies.

They were like Ethan Allen, Daniel Boone, the Green Mountain boys, Kit Carson, and Jim Bridger. There was also a fierce resentment for those who abused their power. (Mountain Valley War, 19-20)

Propaganda

They believe too hard. Men will give up anything rather than what they want to believe. And hate you for telling them there’s nothing to believe. And even if you prove it to them, they’ll continue to believe, and hate you for proving them foolish. ~Louis L’Amour

YouTube Music: Classic Vivaldi

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAnything unattempted remains impossible.

Antonio Vivaldi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

vivaldiAntonio Lucio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741), nicknamed il Prete Rosso (“The Red Priest”) because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over forty operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons.

Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi had been employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon after Vivaldi’s arrival.

Though Vivaldi’s music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi ranks among the most popular and widely recorded of Baroque composers.

Childhood

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in 1678 in Venice,[1] then the capital of the Republic of Venice. He was baptized immediately after his birth at his home by the midwife, which led to a belief that his life was somehow in danger. Though not known for certain, the child’s immediate baptism was most likely due either to his poor health or to an earthquake that shook the city that day. In the trauma of the earthquake, Vivaldi’s mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood.[2] Vivaldi’s official church baptism did not take place until two months later.[3]

Vivaldi’s parents were Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, as recorded in the register of San Giovanni in Bragora.[4] Vivaldi had five siblings: Margarita Gabriela, Cecilia Maria, Bonaventura Tomaso, Zanetta Anna, and Francesco Gaetano.[5] Giovanni Battista, who was a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. Antonio was probably taught at an early age, judging by the extensive musical knowledge he had acquired by the age of 24, when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà.[6] Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, an association of musicians.[7]

The president of the Sovvegno was Giovanni Legrenzi, an early Baroque composer and the maestro di cappella at St Mark’s Basilica. It is possible that Legrenzi gave the young Antonio his first lessons in composition. The Luxembourg scholar Walter Kolneder has discerned the influence of Legrenzi’s style in Vivaldi’s early liturgical work Laetatus sum (RV Anh 31), written in 1691 at the age of thirteen. Vivaldi’s father may have been a composer himself: in 1689, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi – the name under which Vivaldi’s father had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia.[8]

Vivaldi’s health was problematic. His symptoms, strettezza di petto (“tightness of the chest”), have been interpreted as a form of asthma.[3] This did not prevent him from learning to play the violin, composing or taking part in musical activities,[3] although it did stop him from playing wind instruments. In 1693, at the age of fifteen, he began studying to become a priest.[9] He was ordained in 1703, aged 25. He was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, “The Red Priest”, because of his red hair.[10] “Rosso” is Italian for “Red”, and would have referred to the colour of his hair, a family trait. Not long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a dispensation from celebrating Mass because of his ill health. Vivaldi only said Mass as a priest a few times. He appears to have withdrawn from priestly duties, but he remained a priest.

At the Conservatorio dell’Ospedale della Pietà

In September 1703, Vivaldi became maestro di violino (master of violin) at an orphanage called the Pio Ospedale della Pietà (Devout Hospital of Mercy) in Venice.[1] While Vivaldi is most famous as a composer, he was regarded as an exceptional technical violinist as well. The German architect Johann Friedrich Armand von Uffenbach referred to Vivaldi as “the famous composer and violinist” and said that “Vivaldi played a solo accompaniment excellently, and at the conclusion he added a free fantasy [an improvised cadenza] which absolutely astounded me, for it is hardly possible that anyone has ever played, or ever will play, in such a fashion.”[11]

Vivaldi was only 25 when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà. Over the next thirty years he composed most of his major works while working there.[12] There were four similar institutions in Venice; their purpose was to give shelter and education to children who were abandoned or orphaned, or whose families could not support them. They were financed by funds provided by the Republic.[13] The boys learned a trade and had to leave when they reached 15. The girls received a musical education, and the most talented stayed and became members of the Ospedale’s renowned orchestra and choir.

Shortly after Vivaldi’s appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and esteem abroad, too. Vivaldi wrote concertos, cantatas and sacred vocal music for them.[14] These sacred works, which number over 60, are varied: they included solo motets and large-scale choral works for soloists, double chorus, and orchestra.[15] In 1704, the position of teacher of viola all’inglese was added to his duties as violin instructor.[16] The position of maestro di coro, which was at one time filled by Vivaldi, required a lot of time and work. He had to compose an oratorio or concerto at every feast and teach the orphans both music theory and how to play certain instruments.[17]

His relationship with the board of directors of the Ospedale was often strained. The board had to take a vote every year on whether to keep a teacher. The vote on Vivaldi was seldom unanimous, and went 7 to 6 against him in 1709.[18] After a year as a freelance musician, he was recalled by the Ospedale with a unanimous vote in 1711; clearly during his year’s absence the board realized the importance of his role.[18] He became responsible for all of the musical activity of the institution[19] when he was promoted to maestro di’ concerti (music director) in 1716.[20]

In 1705, the first collection (Connor Cassara) of his works was published by Giuseppe Sala:[21] his Opus 1 is a collection of 12 sonatas for two violins and basso continuo, in a conventional style.[16] In 1709, a second collection of 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo appeared, his Opus 2.[22] A real breakthrough as a composer came with his first collection of 12 concerti for one, two, and four violins with strings, L’estro armonico Opus 3, which was published in Amsterdam in 1711 by Estienne Roger,[23] dedicated to Grand Prince Ferdinand of Tuscany. The prince sponsored many musicians including Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel. He was a musician himself, and Vivaldi probably met him in Venice.[24] L’estro armonico was a resounding success all over Europe. It was followed in 1714 by La stravaganza Opus 4, a collection of concerti for solo violin and strings,[25] dedicated to an old violin student of Vivaldi’s, the Venetian noble Vettor Dolfin.[26]

In February 1711, Vivaldi and his father traveled to Brescia, where his setting of the Stabat Mater (RV 621) was played as part of a religious festival. The work seems to have been written in haste: the string parts are simple, the music of the first three movements is repeated in the next three, and not all the text is set. Nevertheless, perhaps in part because of the forced essentiality of the music, the work is one of his early masterpieces.

Despite his frequent travels from 1718, the Pietà paid him 2 sequins to write two concerti a month for the orchestra and to rehearse with them at least five times when in Venice. The Pietà’s records show that he was paid for 140 concerti between 1723 and 1733.

Mantua and The Four Seasons

In 1717 or 1718, Vivaldi was offered a new prestigious position as Maestro di Cappella of the court of prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua.[33] He moved there for three years and produced several operas, among which was Tito Manlio (RV 738). In 1721, he was in Milan, where he presented the pastoral drama La Silvia (RV 734, 9 arias survive). He visited Milan again the following year with the oratorio L’adorazione delli tre re magi al bambino Gesù (RV 645, also lost). In 1722 he moved to Rome, where he introduced his operas’ new style. The new pope Benedict XIII invited Vivaldi to play for him. In 1725, Vivaldi returned to Venice, where he produced four operas in the same year.

During this period Vivaldi wrote the Four Seasons, four violin concertos depicting scenes appropriate for each season. Three of the concerti are of original conception, while the first, “Spring”, borrows motifs from a Sinfonia in the first act of his contemporaneous opera “Il Giustino“. The inspiration for the concertos was probably the countryside around Mantua. They were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterized), barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes, crying shepherds, storms, drunken dancers, silent nights, hunting parties from both the hunters’ and the prey’s point of view, frozen landscapes, ice-skating children, and warming winter fires. Each concerto is associated with a sonnet, possibly by Vivaldi, describing the scenes depicted in the music. They were published as the first four concertos in a collection of twelve, Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, Opus 8, published in Amsterdam by Le Cène in 1725.

During his time in Mantua, Vivaldi became acquainted with an aspiring young singer Anna Tessieri Girò who was to become his student, protégée, and favorite prima donna.[34] Anna, along with her older half-sister Paolina, became part of Vivaldi’s entourage and regularly accompanied him on his many travels. There was speculation about the nature of Vivaldi’s and Giro’s relationship, but no evidence to indicate anything beyond friendship and professional collaboration. Although Vivaldi’s relationship with Anna Girò was questioned, he adamantly denied any romantic relationship in a letter to his patron Bentivoglio dated 16 November 1737

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YouTube Music: Classic Chopin

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyWhat we see depends mainly on what we look for.

Chopin: Krakowiak Grand Rondeau

Prelude in C Minor

Chopin 12 Etudes

Frédéric Chopin

From Wikipedia

Chopin,_by_WodzinskaFrédéric François Chopin or Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin[1] (1 March or 22 February 1810[2] – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is widely considered one of the greatest Romantic composers.[3] Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw. A renowned child-prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw and completed his music education there; he composed many of his mature works in Warsaw before leaving Poland in 1830 at age 20, shortly before the November 1830 Uprising.

Following the Russian suppression of the Uprising, he settled in Paris as part of Poland’s Great Emigration. During the remaining 19 years of his life, Chopin gave only some 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon; he supported himself by selling his compositions and teaching piano. After some romantic dalliances with Polish women, including an abortive engagement, from 1837 to 1847 he carried on a relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin, aka George Sand. For most of his life Chopin suffered from poor health; he died in Paris in 1849 at age 39.

The vast majority of Chopin’s works are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces and some songs to Polish lyrics. His piano works are often technically demanding, with an emphasis on nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented the instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise, étude, impromptu, scherzo and prélude.

The great majority of Chopin’s compositions were written for the piano as solo instrument; all of his extant works feature the piano in one way or another. Chopin, according to Arthur Hedley, “had the rare gift of a very personal melody, expressive of heart-felt emotion, and his music is penetrated by a poetic feeling that has an almost universal appeal…. Present-day evaluation places him among the immortals of music by reason of his insight into the secret places of the heart and because of his awareness of the magical new sonorities to be drawn from the piano.”[40]

The first systematic, if imperfect, study of Chopin’s style came in F. P. Laurencin’s 1861 Die Harmonik der Neuzeit. Laurencin concluded that “Chopin is one of the most brilliant exceptional natures that have ever stridden onto the stage of history and life, he is one who can never be exhausted nor stand before a void. Chopin is the musical progone[74] of all progones until now.”[75]

Robert Schumann, speaking of Chopin’s Sonata in B-flat minor, wrote that “he alone begins and ends a work like this: with dissonances, through dissonances, and in dissonances”, and in Chopin’s music he discerned “cannon concealed amid blossoms”.[75]

According to Tad Szulc, though technically demanding,[76] Chopin’s works emphasize nuance and expressive depth rather than sheer virtuosity. Vladimir Horowitz referred to Chopin as “the only truly great composer for the piano”.[77]

Chopin’s music for the piano combined a unique rhythmic sense (particularly his use of rubato), frequent use of chromaticism, and counterpoint. This mixture produces a particularly fragile sound in the melody and the harmony, which are nonetheless underpinned by solid and interesting harmonic techniques. He took the new salon genre of the nocturne, invented by Irish composer John Field, to a deeper level of sophistication. Three of Chopin’s twenty-one Nocturnes were published only after his death in 1849, contrary to his wishes.[78] He also endowed popular dance forms, such as the Polish mazurek and the Viennese Waltz, with a greater range of melody and expression.

Chopin’s mazurkas, while based somewhat on the traditional Polish dance (the mazurek), were different from the traditional variety in that they were suitable for concerts halls as well as dance settings. With his mazurkas, Chopin brought a new sense of nationalism, which was an idea that other composers writing both at the same time as, and after, Chopin would also incorporate into their compositions. Chopin’s nationalism was a great influence and inspiration for many other composers, especially Eastern Europeans, and he was one of the first composers to clearly express nationalism through his music. Furthermore, he was the first composer to take a national genre of music from his home country and transform it into a genre worthy of the general concert-going public, thereby creating an entirely new genre.

Chopin was the first to write ballades[79] and scherzi as individual pieces. He took the example of Bach’s preludes and fugues and essentially established a new genre with his own Préludes. He reinvented the étude,[80] expanding on the idea and making it into a gorgeous, eloquent and emotional showpiece, and he used his Études to teach his own revolutionary style[17] – for instance playing with the weak fingers (3, 4, and 5) in fast figures (Op. 10, No. 2), playing in octaves (Op. 25, No. 10), and playing black keys with the thumb (Op. 10, No. 5).

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