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).

Read more


YouTube Music: Classic Rossini

Dinner Topics for Friday

Opera, the Barber of Seville, by Rossini

keyNothing is difficult to those who have the will.

From Wikipedia

Rossini1Gioachino Antonio Rossini [1] (February 29, 1792 – November 13, 1868) was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music.

His best-known operas include the Italian comedies Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and La cenerentola and the French-language epics Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell (William Tell). A tendency for inspired, song-like melodies is evident throughout his scores, which led to the nickname “The Italian Mozart.” Until his retirement in 1829, Rossini had been the most popular opera composer in history.[2] During his Paris years, between 1824 and 1829, Rossini created the comic opera Le Comte Ory and Guillaume Tell (William Tell). The production of his Guillaume Tell in 1829 brought his career as a writer of opera to a close. He was thirty-eight years old and had already composed thirty-eight operas.

Read more

YouTube Music: Classic Leo Delibes

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyOnly when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.

DelibesClément Philibert Léo Delibes (21 February 1836 – 16 January 1891) was a French composer of ballets, operas, and other works for the stage. His most notable works include ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) as well as the operas Le roi l’a dit (1873) and Lakmé (1883). Some musicologists believe that the ballet in Gounod‘s Faust was actually composed by Delibes. He died in Paris from natural causes on 16 January 1891, at the age of 54. He was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.

Léo Delibes was born in Saint-Germain-du-Val, now part of La Flèche (Sarthe), France, in 1836. His father was a mailman, his mother a talented amateur musician. His grandfather had been an opera singer. He was raised mainly by his mother and uncle following his father’s early death. In 1871, at the age of 35, the composer married Léontine Estelle Denain. His brother Michel Delibes migrated to Spain; he was the grandfather of Spanish writer Miguel Delibes.

Starting in 1847, Delibes studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire as a student of Adolphe Adam. A year later he began taking voice lessons, though he would end up a much better organ player than singer. He held positions as a rehearsal accompanist and chorus master at the Théâtre Lyrique, as second chorus master at the Paris Opéra (in 1864), and as organist at Saint-Pierre-de-Chaillot (1865–71). The first of his many operettas was Deux sous de charbon, ou Le suicide de Bigorneau (“Two sous-worth of coal”), written in 1856 for the Folies-Nouvelles.

A ceremonial cantata, Algers, for Napoleon III on the theme of Algiers, brought him to official attention; a collaboration with Léon Minkus resulted, in which his contribution of an act’s worth of musical numbers for a ballet La source (1866) brought him into the milieu of ballet. In 1867 Delibes composed the divertissement Le jardin animé for a revival of the Joseph Mazilier/Adolphe Adam ballet Le corsaire. He wrote a mass, his Messe brève, and composed operettas almost yearly and occasional music for the theater, such as dances and antique airs for Victor Hugo‘s Le roi s’amuse, the play that Verdi turned into Rigoletto.

Delibes achieved true fame in 1870 with the success of his ballet Coppélia; its title referred to a mechanical dancing doll that distracts a village swain from his beloved and appears to come to life. His other ballet is Sylvia (1876).


It has been suggested that he also wrote the ballet music for Gounod‘s Faust which had been inserted ten years after the original performance of the opera.[1]

Delibes also composed various operas, the last of which, the lush orientalizing Lakmé (1883), contains, among many dazzling numbers, the famous coloratura showpiece known as the Légende du Paria or Bell Song (“Où va la jeune Indoue?”) and The Flower Duet (“Sous le dôme épais”), a barcarolle that Patricia Rozema made famous in her film “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” and later used by British Airways commercials. At the time, his operas impressed Tchaikovsky enough for the composer to rate Delibes more highly than Brahms—although this may seem faint praise when one considers that the Russian composer considered Brahms “a giftless bastard.”[2]

His work is known to have been a great influence on composers such as Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns and Debussy. His ballet Sylvia was of special interest to Tchaikovsky, who wrote of Delibes’ score: “… what charm, what wealth of melody! It brought me to shame, for had I known of this music, I would have never written Swan Lake.”


YouTube Music: Classic Segovia


Dinner Topics for Friday

Segovia plays Leyenda, by Albeñiz on acoustic guitar

keyNothing is difficult to those who have the will.

From Wikipedia

SEGOVIA, ANDRES 1963 © ERLING MANDELMANNAndrés Segovia Torres, 1st Marquis of Salobreña (Spanish: [anˈdɾes seˈɣoβja ˈtores]) (21 February 1893 – 2 June 1987),[1] known as Andrés Segovia, was a virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist from Linares, Spain. He is the father of modern classical guitar and has been regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Practically all professional classical guitarists today are students of Segovia, or students of his students.[2][3]

Segovia’s contribution to the modern-romantic repertoire not only included commissions but also his own transcriptions of classical or baroque works. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive musical personality, phrasing and style.

Segovia was born in Linares, Jaén, Spain. He was sent at a very young age to live with his uncle Eduardo and his wife Maria. Eduardo arranged for Segovia’s first music lessons with a violin teacher after recognizing that Segovia had an aptitude for music. This proved to be an unhappy introduction to music for the young Segovia because of the teacher’s strict methods, and Eduardo stopped the lessons. His uncle decided to move to Granada to allow Segovia to obtain a better education; after arriving in Granada Segovia recommenced his musical studies. Segovia was aware of flamenco during his formative years as a musician but stated that he “did not have a taste” for the form and chose instead the works of Sor, Tárrega and other classical composers.[4] Tárrega agreed to give the self-taught Segovia some lessons but died before they could meet and Segovia states that his early musical education involved the “double function of professor and pupil in the same body”.[5]


Segovia’s first public performance was in Granada[6] at the age of 16 in 1909.[7] A few years later he played his first professional concert in Madrid which included works by Francisco Tárrega and his own guitar transcriptions of J.S. Bach. Despite the discouragement of his family, who wanted him to become a lawyer, and criticism by some of Tárrega’s pupils for his idiosyncratic technique,[8] he continued to diligently pursue his studies of the guitar.

He played again in Madrid in 1912, at the Paris Conservatory in 1915, in Barcelona in 1916, and made a successful tour of South America in 1919.[1] Segovia’s arrival on the international stage coincided with a time when the guitar’s fortunes as a concert instrument were being revived, largely through the efforts of Miguel Llobet.[9] It was in this changing milieu that Segovia, whose strength of personality and artistry coupled with new technological advances such as recording, radio, and air travel, succeeded in making the guitar more popular again.

In 1921 in Paris, Segovia met Alexandre Tansman,[10] who later wrote a number of guitar works for Segovia, among them Cavatina, which won a prize at the Siena International Composition contest in 1952.[11]

At Granada in 1922 he became associated with the Concurso de Cante Jondo promoted by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. The aim of the “classicizing” Concurso was to preserve flamenco in its purity from being distorted by modern popular music.[12] Segovia had already developed as a fine tocador of flamenco guitar, yet his direction was now classical.[13] Invited to open the Concurso held at the Alhambra, he played Homenaje a Debussy by Falla.[14]

In 1923 Segovia was in Mexico for the first time. There Manuel Ponce was so impressed with the concert that he wrote a review in El Universal.[15] Later Ponce went on to write many works for Segovia, including numerous sonatas.

In 1924, Segovia visited the German luthier Hermann Hauser Sr. after hearing some of his instruments played in a concert in Munich. In 1928 Hauser provided Segovia with one of his personal guitars for use during his United States tour and in his concerts through to 1933. When Hauser delivered the new instrument Segovia had ordered, Segovia passed his 1928 Hauser to his U.S. representative and close friend Sophocles Papas, who gave it to his classical guitar student, the famous jazz and classical guitarist Charlie Byrd, who used it on several records.

Segovia’s first American tour was arranged in 1928 when Fritz Kreisler, the Viennese violinist who privately played the guitar,[16] persuaded F. C. Coppicus from the Metropolitan Musical Bureau to present the guitarist in New York.[17][18]

After Segovia’s debut tour in the U.S. in 1928, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos composed his now well-known Twelve Études (Douze études) and later dedicated them to Segovia. Their relationship proved to be lasting as Villa-Lobos continued to write for Segovia. He also transcribed numerous classical pieces himself and revived the pieces transcribed by predecessors like Tárrega.

More about Segovia from Wikipedia


YouTube Music: Classic Mendelssohn

Dinner Topics for Friday

key  It’s the little moments that make life big.

I love Mendelssohn music. It is like the balm of Gilead. ~C.D.

Song without Words

Itzhak Perlman Mendelssohn Violin Concerto andante

Itzhak Perlman plays Mendelssohn Violin Concerto finale.

Felix Mendelssohn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To the noble artist who, surrounded by the Baal-worship of false art, has been able, like a second Elijah, through genius and study, to remain true to the service of true art. ~Prince Albert, 1847    .[121] 

MendelssohnBartholdyJakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy born, and generally known in English-speaking countries, as Felix Mendelssohn[n 1] (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period.

A grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family, although initially he was raised without religion and was later baptised as a Lutheran Christian. Mendelssohn was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his talent.

Early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, was followed by travel throughout Europe. Mendelssohn was particularly well received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist, and his ten visits there – during which many of his major works were premiered – form an important part of his adult career. His essentially conservative musical tastes, however, set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Hector Berlioz. The Leipzig Conservatoire (now the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig), which he founded, became a bastion of this anti-radical outlook.

Mendelssohn’s work includes symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music and chamber music. His most-performed works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the overture The Hebrides, his Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality has now been recognised and re-evaluated. He is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.


Felix Mendelssohn was born on 3 February 1809, in Hamburg, at the time an independent city-state,[n 2] in the same house where, a year later, the dedicatee and first performer of his Violin Concerto, Ferdinand David, was to be born. Mendelssohn’s father was the banker Abraham Mendelssohn, the son of the German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His mother was Lea Salomon, a member of the Itzig family and a sister of Jakob Salomon Bartholdy.[1] Mendelssohn was the second of four children; his older sister Fanny also displayed exceptional and precocious musical talent.

The family moved to Berlin in 1811, leaving Hamburg in disguise fearing French revenge for the Mendelssohn bank‘s role in breaking Napoleon‘s Continental System blockade.[2] Abraham and Lea Mendelssohn sought to give their children – Fanny, Felix, Paul and Rebecka – the best education possible. Fanny became a well-known pianist and amateur composer; originally Abraham had thought that she, rather than Felix, would be the more musical. However, at that time, it was not considered proper, by either Abraham or Felix, for a woman to have a career in music, so Fanny remained an active, but non-professional musician. Abraham was also disinclined to allow Felix to follow a musical career until it became clear that he intended seriously to dedicate himself to it.[3]

Mendelssohn grew up in an intellectual environment. Frequent visitors to the salon organised by his parents at the family’s home in Berlin included artists, musicians and scientists, amongst them Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, and the mathematician Gustav Dirichlet (whom Mendelssohn’s sister Rebecka would later marry).[4] Sarah Rothenburg wrote of the household that “Europe came to their living room”.[5]

Felix’s surname

Abraham Mendelssohn renounced the Jewish religion; he and his wife deliberately decided not to have Felix circumcised, in contravention of the Jewish tradition.[6] Felix and his siblings were first brought up without religious education, and were baptised as Lutherans in 1816, at which time Felix took the additional names Jakob Ludwig. Abraham and his wife Lea were baptised in 1822, formally adopting the surname Mendelssohn Bartholdy (which they had used since 1812) for themselves and their children.[7] The name Bartholdy was added at the suggestion of Lea’s brother, Jakob Salomon Bartholdy, who had inherited a property of this name in Luisenstadt and adopted it as his own surname.[8] Abraham later explained this decision in a letter to Felix as a means of showing a decisive break with the traditions of his father Moses: “There can no more be a Christian Mendelssohn than there can be a Jewish Confucius“.[9] On embarking on his musical career, Felix did not entirely drop the name Mendelssohn as Abraham requested, but in deference to his father signed his letters and had his visiting cards printed using the form ‘Mendelssohn Bartholdy’.[10] In 1829, his sister Fanny wrote to him of “Bartholdy […] this name that we all dislike”.[11]

Meeting Goethe and conducting Bach

In 1821 Zelter introduced Mendelssohn to his friend and correspondent, the elderly Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was greatly impressed by the child, leading to perhaps the earliest confirmed comparison with Mozart in the following conversation between Goethe and Zelter:

“Musical prodigies … are probably no longer so rare; but what this little man can do in extemporizing and playing at sight borders the miraculous, and I could not have believed it possible at so early an age.” “And yet you heard Mozart in his seventh year at Frankfurt?” said Zelter. “Yes”, answered Goethe, ” … but what your pupil already accomplishes, bears the same relation to the Mozart of that time that the cultivated talk of a grown-up person bears to the prattle of a child.”[26]

water color by Mendelssohn

water color of Lucerne by Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn was a fine and enthusiastic artist in pencil and watercolour, a skill which he used throughout his life for his own amusement and that of his friends.[57][58] His enormous correspondence shows that he could also be a witty writer in German and English – sometimes accompanied by humorous sketches and cartoons in the text.


Although Mendelssohn was a conforming (if not over-zealous) Lutheran by confession,[n 3] he was both conscious and proud of his Jewish ancestry and notably of his connection with his grandfather Moses Mendelssohn. He was the prime mover in proposing to the publisher Heinrich Brockhaus a complete edition of Moses’s works, which continued with the support of his uncle Joseph Mendelssohn.[59] Mendelssohn was notably reluctant, either in his letters or conversation, to comment on his innermost beliefs; his friend Devrient wrote that “[his] deep convictions were never uttered in intercourse with the world; only in rare and intimate moments did they ever appear, and then only in the slightest and most humorous allusions”.[60] Thus for example in a letter to his sister Rebecka, Mendelssohn rebukes her complaint about an unpleasant relative: “What do you mean by saying you are not hostile to Jews? I hope this was a joke […] It is really sweet of you that you do not despise your family, isn’t it?”[61]. Some modern scholars have devoted considerable energy to demonstrate that Mendelssohn was either deeply sympathetic to his Jewishness or sincere to his Lutheran beliefs (though there is in fact no reason to suppose these attitudes to be incompatible).[n 4]

Marriage and children

Mendelssohn married Cécile Charlotte Sophie Jeanrenaud (10 October 1817 – 25 September 1853), the daughter of a French Protestant clergyman, on 28 March 1837.[67] The couple had five children: Carl, Marie, Paul, Lilli and Felix. The second youngest child, Felix August, contracted measles in 1844 and was left with his health impaired; he died in 1851.[68] The eldest, Carl Mendelssohn Bartholdy (7 February 1838 – 23 February 1897), became a distinguished historian, and professor of history at Heidelberg and Freiburg universities, dying in 1897 in a psychiatric institution in Freiburg.[69] Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1841–1880) was a noted chemist and pioneered the manufacture of aniline dye. Marie married Victor Benecke and lived in London. Lili married Adolph Wach, later Professor of Law at Leipzig University.[70] The family papers inherited by Marie and Lili’s children form the basis of the extensive collection of Mendelssohn manuscripts, including the so-called ‘Green Books’ of his correspondence, now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.[71]

Jenny Lind

In general Mendelssohn’s personal life seems to have been fairly conventional compared to his contemporaries Wagner, Berlioz, and Schumann – except for his relationship with Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, whom he met in October 1844. An affidavit from Lind’s husband, Otto Goldschmidt, which is currently held in the archive of the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation at the Royal Academy of Music in London, reportedly describes Mendelssohn’s 1847 written request for Lind, who was then not married, to elope with him to America. The affidavit, though unsealed, is currently unreleased by the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation, despite requests to make it public.[73][n 5]

Mendelssohn met and worked with Lind many times, and started an opera, Lorelei, for her, based on the legend of the Lorelei Rhine maidens; the opera was unfinished at his death. He is said to have included a high F-sharp in his oratorio Elijah (“Hear Ye Israel”) with Lind’s voice in mind,[75] although she did not sing this part until after his death, at a concert in December 1848.[76] In 1847 Mendelssohn attended a London performance of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable – an opera which musically he despised – in order to hear Lind’s British debut, in the role of Alice. The music critic Henry Chorley, who was with him, wrote “I see as I write the smile with which Mendelssohn, whose enjoyment of Mdlle. Lind’s talent was unlimited, turned round and looked at me, as if a load of anxiety had been taken off his mind. His attachment to Mlle. Lind’s genius as a singer was unbounded, as was his desire for her success”.[77]

Upon Mendelssohn’s death Lind wrote, “[He was] the only person who brought fulfillment to my spirit, and almost as soon as I found him I lost him again”. In 1869 Lind erected a plaque in Mendelssohn’s memory at his birthplace in Hamburg; in 1849 she established the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation, which makes an award to a British resident young composer every two years in Mendelssohn’s memory.[73] The first winner of the scholarship was Arthur Sullivan, then aged 14, in 1856.


The numbering of Mendelssohn’s mature symphonies is approximately in order of publishing, rather than of composition. The order of actual composition is: 1, 5, 4, 2, 3. Because he worked on it for over a decade, the placement of No. 3 in this sequence is problematic; Mendelssohn started sketches for it soon after starting No. 5, but completed it following both Nos. 5 and 4.

The Symphony No. 1 in C minor for full-scale orchestra was written in 1824, when Mendelssohn was aged 15. This work is experimental, showing the influences of Beethoven and Carl Maria von Weber.[81] Mendelssohn conducted this symphony on his first visit to London in 1829, with the orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society. For the third movement he substituted an orchestration of the Scherzo from his Octet. In this form the piece was a success, and laid the foundations of his British reputation.[82]

During 1829 and 1830 Mendelssohn wrote his Symphony No. 5, known as the Reformation. It celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Lutheran Church. Mendelssohn remained dissatisfied with the work and did not allow publication of the score.[83]

The Scottish Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in A minor) was written and revised intermittently between 1829 (when Mendelssohn noted down the opening theme during a visit to Holyrood Palace)[84] and 1842, when it was given its premiere in Leipzig, the last of his symphonies to be performed in public. This piece evokes Scotland’s atmosphere in the ethos of Romanticism, but does not employ any identified Scottish folk melodies.[85]

Mendelssohn’s travels in Italy inspired him to write the Symphony No. 4 in A major, known as the Italian Symphony. Mendelssohn conducted the premiere in 1833, but he did not allow this score to be published during his lifetime as he continually sought to rewrite it.[86]

Mendelssohn wrote the choral Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, entitled Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), to mark the celebrations in Leipzig of the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press; the first performance took place on 25 June 1840.[87]


The Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844), written for Ferdinand David, has become one of the most popular of all of Mendelssohn’s compositions. David, who had worked closely with Mendelssohn during the piece’s preparation, gave the premiere of the concerto on his Guarneri violin.[91]

The hymn tune Mendelssohn – an adaptation by William Hayman Cummings of a melody from Mendelssohn’s cantata Festgesang (Festive Hymn) – is the standard tune for Charles Wesley‘s popular hymn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. This extract from an originally secular 1840s composition, which Mendelssohn felt unsuited to sacred music,[87] is ubiquitous at Christmas.

Reputation and legacy

Criticism of Mendelssohn for his very ability – which could be characterised negatively as facility – was taken to further lengths by Richard Wagner. Mendelssohn’s success, his popularity and his Jewish origins irked Wagner sufficiently to damn Mendelssohn with faint praise, three years after his death, in an anti-Jewish pamphlet Das Judenthum in der Musik:

“[Mendelssohn] has shown us that a Jew may have the amplest store of specific talents, may own the finest and most varied culture, the highest and tenderest sense of honour – yet without all these pre-eminences helping him, were it but one single time, to call forth in us that deep, that heart-searching effect which we await from art […] The washiness and the whimsicality of our present musical style has been […] pushed to its utmost pitch by Mendelssohn’s endeavour to speak out a vague, an almost nugatory Content as interestingly and spiritedly as possible.”[115]

This was the start of a movement to downgrade Mendelssohn’s status as a composer which lasted almost a century, the echoes of which still survive today in critiques of Mendelssohn’s supposed mediocrity.[n 6] Even the comment of Friedrich Nietzsche that Mendelssohn was “a lovely interlude” in German music (i.e. biding time between Beethoven and Wagner)[116] is condescending. In the 20th century the Nazi regime and its Reichsmusikkammer cited Mendelssohn’s Jewish origin in banning performance and publication of his works, even asking Nazi-approved composers to rewrite incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Carl Orff obliged.)[117] Under the Nazis, ‘Mendelssohn was presented as a dangerous “accident” of music history, who played a decisive role in rendering German music in the 19th century “degenerate” .’[118] The German Mendelssohn Scholarship for students at the Leipzig Conservatoire was discontinued in 1934 (and not revived until 1963). The monument dedicated to Mendelssohn erected in Leipzig in 1892 was removed by the Nazis in 1936. A replacement was erected in 2008.[119]

Mendelssohn’s reputation in England remained high throughout the 19th century. Prince Albert inscribed (in German), a libretto for the oratorio Elijah in 1847:

To the noble artist who, surrounded by the Baal-worship of false art, has been able, like a second Elijah, through genius and study, to remain true to the service of true art.[121]

Read more


YouTube Music: Classic Schubert

Dinner Topics for Friday

Franz Schubert

keyEach life needs its own quiet place.

From Wikipedia

YouTube Music: Classic Schubert Serenade

Don’t miss this video of Schubert’s lovely “Serenade”, and displaying beautiful photos.

FranzSchubertFranz Peter Schubert 31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer.

In a short lifespan of less than 32 years, Schubert was a prolific composer, writing some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous “Unfinished Symphony“), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of Schubert’s music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th century. Today, Schubert is seen as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.

Early life and education

Schubert was born in Himmelpfortgrund (now a part of Alsergrund), Vienna, on 31 January 1797. His father, Franz Theodor Schubert, the son of a Moravian peasant, was a parish schoolmaster; his mother, Elisabeth (Vietz), was the daughter of a Silesian master locksmith, and had also been a housemaid for a Viennese family prior to her marriage. Of Franz Theodor’s fourteen children (one illegitimate child was born in 1783),[1] nine died in infancy; five survived. Their father was a well-known teacher, and his school in Lichtental, a part of Vienna’s 9th district, was well attended.[2] He was not a musician of fame or with formal training, but he taught his son some elements of music.[3]


At the age of five, Schubert began receiving regular instruction from his father and a year later was enrolled at his father’s school. His formal musical education also started around the same time. His father continued to teach him the basics of the violin,[3] and his brother Ignaz gave him piano lessons.[4] At the age of seven, Schubert began receiving lessons from Michael Holzer, the local church organist and choirmaster. Holzer’s lessons seem to have mainly consisted of conversations and expressions of admiration[5] and the boy gained more from his acquaintance with a friendly joiner‘s apprentice who used to take him to a neighboring pianoforte warehouse where he had the opportunity to practice on better instruments.[6] He also played the viola in the family string quartet, with brothers Ferdinand and Ignaz on violin and his father on the cello. Schubert wrote many of his early string quartets for this ensemble.[7]

Schubert first came to the attention of Antonio Salieri, then Vienna’s leading musical authority, in 1804, when his vocal talent was recognized.[7] In October 1808, he became a pupil at the Stadtkonvikt (Imperial seminary) through a choir scholarship. At the Stadtkonvikt, Schubert was introduced to the overtures and symphonies of Mozart.[8] His exposure to these pieces and various lighter compositions, combined with his occasional visits to the opera set the foundation for his greater musical knowledge.[9] One important musical influence came from the songs of Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg, who was an important Lied composer of the time, which, his friend Joseph von Spaun reported, he “wanted to modernize”.[10] Schubert’s friendship with Spaun began at the Stadtkonvikt and endured through his lifetime. In those early days, the more well-to-do Spaun furnished the impoverished Schubert with manuscript paper.[9]

Meanwhile, his genius began to show in his compositions. Schubert was occasionally permitted to lead the Stadtkonvikt’s orchestra, and Salieri decided to begin training him privately in musical composition and theory in these years.[11] It was the first germ of that amateur orchestra for which, in later years, many of his compositions were written. During the remainder of his stay at the Stadtkonvikt he wrote a good deal of chamber music, several songs, some miscellaneous pieces for the pianoforte and, among his more ambitious efforts, a Kyrie (D. 31) and Salve Regina (D. 27), an octet for wind instruments (D. 72/72a, said to commemorate the 1812 death of his mother),[12] a cantata for guitar and male voices (D. 110, in honor of his father’s birthday in 1813), and his first symphony (D. 82).[13]

The setbacks of previous years were compensated for by the prosperity and happiness of 1825. Publication had been moving more rapidly; the stress of poverty was for a time lightened; and in the summer he had a pleasant holiday in Upper Austria, where he was welcomed with enthusiasm. It was during this tour that he produced his “Songs from Sir Walter Scott“. This cycle contains Ellens dritter Gesang (D. 839), a setting of Adam Storck‘s German translation of Scott‘s hymn from The Lady of the Lake, which is widely, though mistakenly, referred to as “Schubert’s Ave Maria“. It opens with the greeting Ave Maria, which recurs in the refrain; the entire Scott/Storck text in Schubert’s song is frequently substituted with the complete Latin text of the traditional Ave Maria prayer.[47] In 1825, Schubert also wrote the Piano Sonata in A minor (Op. 42, D. 845), and began the “Great” C major Symphony (Symphony No. 9, D. 944), which was completed the following year.[48]


Last years and masterworks

Despite his preoccupation with the stage, and later with his official duties, Schubert found time during these years for a significant amount of composition. He completed the Mass in A flat (fr) (D. 678) and, in 1822, embarked suddenly on a work which more decisively than almost any other in those years showed his maturing personal vision, the “Unfinished Symphony” in B minor. The reason he left it unfinished after two movements and sketches some way into a third remains an enigma, and it is also remarkable that he did not mention it to any of his friends even though, as Brian Newbould notes, he must have felt thrilled by what he was achieving. The event has been debated endlessly without resolution.

Read more and listen to excerpts


YouTube Music: Classic Mozart

Dinner Topics for Friday

key“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Enjoy A Little Night Music!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (German: baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart[2] (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

MozartfamilytourlMozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound; Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”[3]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 to Leopold Mozart (1719–1787) and Anna Maria, née Pertl (1720–1778), at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg. This was the capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, a former ecclesiastical principality in what is now Austria, then part of the Holy Roman Empire.[4] He was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died in infancy.[5] His elder sister was Maria Anna (1751–1829), nicknamed “Nannerl”. Mozart was baptized the day after his birth at St. Rupert’s Cathedral. The baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He generally called himself “Wolfgang Amadè Mozart”[6] as an adult, but Mozart’s name had many variants.

Leopold Mozart, a native of Augsburg,[7] was a minor composer and an experienced teacher. In 1743, he was appointed as fourth violinist in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.[8] Four years later, he married Anna Maria in Salzburg. Leopold became the orchestra’s deputy Kapellmeister in 1763. During the year of his son’s birth, Leopold published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved success.[citation needed]

When Nannerl was seven, she began keyboard lessons with her father while her three-year-old brother looked on. Years later, after her brother’s death, she reminisced:

He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was ever striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good. […] In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier. […] He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time. […] At the age of five, he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down.[9]

These early pieces, K. 1–5, were recorded in the Nannerl Notenbuch.

Biographer Maynard Solomon[10] notes that, while Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, there is evidence that Mozart was keen to progress beyond what he was taught. His first ink-spattered composition and his precocious efforts with the violin were of his own initiative and came as a surprise to his father.[11] Leopold eventually gave up composing when his son’s musical talents became evident.[12] In his early years, Mozart’s father was his only teacher. Along with music, he taught his children languages and academic subjects.[10]

762–73: Travel

Main articles: Mozart family grand tour and Mozart in Italy

During Mozart’s youth, his family made several European journeys in which he and Nannerl performed as child prodigies. These began with an exhibition, in 1762, at the court of the Prince-elector Maximilian III of Bavaria in Munich, and at the Imperial Court in Vienna and Prague. A long concert tour spanning three and a half years followed, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Mannheim, Paris, London, The Hague, again to Paris, and back home via Zurich, Donaueschingen, and Munich.

During this trip, Mozart met a number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers. A particularly important influence was Johann Christian Bach, whom Mozart visited in London in 1764 and 1765. The family again went to Vienna in late 1767 and remained there until December 1768. In 1767, during this period, Mozart composed the Latin drama Apollo et Hyacinthus first performed in Salzburg University.[citation needed]

These trips were often difficult and travel conditions were primitive.[14] The family had to wait for invitations and reimbursement from the nobility and they endured long, near-fatal illnesses far from home: first Leopold (London, summer 1764)[15] then both children (The Hague, autumn 1765).[16]

After one year in Salzburg, Leopold and Mozart set off for Italy, leaving Mozart’s mother and sister at home. This travel lasted from December 1769 to March 1771. As with earlier journeys, Leopold wanted to display his son’s abilities as a performer and a rapidly maturing composer. Mozart met G. B. Martini, in Bologna, and was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. In Rome, he heard Gregorio Allegri‘s Miserere twice in performance in the Sistine Chapel and wrote it out from memory, thus producing the first unauthorized copy of this closely guarded property of the Vatican.[17][18]

In Milan, Mozart wrote the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770), which was performed with success. This led to further opera commissions. He returned with his father later twice to Milan (August–December 1771; October 1772 – March 1773) for the composition and premieres of Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772). Leopold hoped these visits would result in a professional appointment for his son in Italy, but these hopes were never realized.[19]

Toward the end of the final Italian journey, Mozart wrote the first of his works to be still widely performed today, the solo motet Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165

1786–87: Return to opera

See also: Mozart and dance

Despite the great success of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Mozart did little operatic writing for the next four years, producing only two unfinished works and the one-act Der Schauspieldirektor. He focused instead on his career as a piano soloist and writer of concertos. Around the end of 1785, Mozart moved away from keyboard writing[55][page needed] and began his famous operatic collaboration with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. 1786 saw the successful premiere of The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna. Its reception in Prague later in the year was even warmer, and this led to a second collaboration with Da Ponte: the opera Don Giovanni, which premiered in October 1787 to acclaim in Prague, and also met with success in Vienna in 1788. The two are among Mozart’s most important works and are mainstays of the operatic repertoire today, though at their premieres their musical complexity caused difficulty for both listeners and performers. These developments were not witnessed by Mozart’s father, who had died on 28 May 1787.[citation needed]

In December 1787, Mozart finally obtained a steady post under aristocratic patronage. Emperor Joseph II appointed him as his “chamber composer”, a post that had fallen vacant the previous month on the death of Gluck. It was a part-time appointment, paying just 800 florins per year, and required Mozart only to compose dances for the annual balls in the Redoutensaal. This modest income became important to Mozart when hard times arrived. Court records show that Joseph’s aim was to keep the esteemed composer from leaving Vienna in pursuit of better prospects.[56]

In 1787 the young Ludwig van Beethoven spent several weeks in Vienna, hoping to study with Mozart.[57] No reliable records survive to indicate whether the two composers ever met.

Later years and death


See also: Mozart’s Berlin journey

Toward the end of the decade, Mozart’s circumstances worsened. Around 1786 he had ceased to appear frequently in public concerts, and his income shrank.[58] This was a difficult time for musicians in Vienna because of the Austro-Turkish War, and both the general level of prosperity and the ability of the aristocracy to support music had declined.[55]

By mid-1788, Mozart and his family had moved from central Vienna to the suburb of Alsergrund.[58] Although it has been thought that Mozart reduced his rental expenses, research shows that by moving to the suburb, Mozart had not reduced his expenses (as claimed in his letter to Puchberg), but merely increased the housing space at his disposal.[59] Mozart began to borrow money, most often from his friend and fellow Mason Michael Puchberg; “a pitiful sequence of letters pleading for loans” survives.[60] Maynard Solomon and others have suggested that Mozart was suffering from depression, and it seems that his output slowed.[61] Major works of the period include the last three symphonies (Nos. 39, 40, and 41, all from 1788), and the last of the three Da Ponte operas, Così fan tutte, premiered in 1790.

Around this time, Mozart made long journeys hoping to improve his fortunes: to Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin in the spring of 1789, and to Frankfurt, Mannheim, and other German cities in 1790. The trips produced only isolated success and did not relieve the family’s financial distress.[citation needed]


Mozart’s last year was, until his final illness struck, a time of great productivity—and by some accounts, one of personal recovery.[62] He composed a great deal, including some of his most admired works: the opera The Magic Flute; the final piano concerto (K. 595 in B-flat); the Clarinet Concerto K. 622; the last in his great series of string quintets (K. 614 in E-flat); the motet Ave verum corpus K. 618; and the unfinished Requiem K. 626.

Mozart’s financial situation, a source of extreme anxiety in 1790, finally began to improve. Although the evidence is inconclusive,[63] it appears that wealthy patrons in Hungary and Amsterdam pledged annuities to Mozart in return for the occasional composition. He probably[vague] benefited from the sale of dance music written in his role as Imperial chamber composer.[63] Mozart no longer borrowed large sums from Puchberg, and made a start on paying off his debts.[63]

He experienced great satisfaction in the public success of some of his works, notably The Magic Flute (which was performed several times in the short period between its premiere and Mozart’s death)[64] and the Little Masonic Cantata K. 623, premiered on 15 November 1791.[65]

Appearance and character

MozartMozart’s physical appearance was described by tenor Michael Kelly, in his Reminiscences: “a remarkably small man, very thin and pale, with a profusion of fine, fair hair of which he was rather vain”. As his early biographer Niemetschek wrote, “there was nothing special about [his] physique. […] He was small and his countenance, except for his large intense eyes, gave no signs of his genius.” His facial complexion was pitted, a reminder of his childhood case of smallpox. There is a photofit of Mozart, created from four contemporary portraits.[76] He loved elegant clothing. Kelly remembered him at a rehearsal: “[He] was on the stage with his crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat, giving the time of the music to the orchestra.” Of his voice his wife later wrote that it “was a tenor, rather soft in speaking and delicate in singing, but when anything excited him, or it became necessary to exert it, it was both powerful and energetic”.[77]

Mozart usually worked long and hard, finishing compositions at a tremendous pace as deadlines approached. He often made sketches and drafts; unlike Beethoven’s these are mostly not preserved, as his wife sought to destroy them after his death.[78] He was raised a Roman Catholic and remained a member of the Church throughout his life.[citation needed]

Mozart lived at the center of the Viennese musical world, and knew a great number and variety of people: fellow musicians, theatrical performers, fellow Salzburgers, and aristocrats, including some acquaintance with the Emperor Joseph II. Solomon considers his three closest friends to have been Gottfried von Jacquin, Count August Hatzfeld, and Sigmund Barisani; others included his older colleague Joseph Haydn, singers Franz Xaver Gerl and Benedikt Schack, and the horn player Joseph Leutgeb. Leutgeb and Mozart carried on a curious kind of friendly mockery, often with Leutgeb as the butt of Mozart’s practical jokes.[79]

Read more


YouTube Music for the Soul: Sibelius

Dinner Topics for Friday

Be Still My Soul

Listen to this Lovely Hymn, Be Still My Soul, music by Sibelius (text by Katherine von Schlegel b. 1697)

JesusonwaterFrom Wikipedia

Jean Sibelius 8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period. His music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as “prodigious.”[1]

The core of Sibelius’s oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies. Like Beethoven, Sibelius used each successive work to further develop his own personal compositional style. His works continue to be performed frequently in the concert hall and are often recorded.

In addition to the symphonies, Sibelius’s best-known compositions include Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto in D minor and The Swan of Tuonela (one of the four movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite). Other works include pieces inspired by the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala; over 100 songs for voice and piano; incidental music for 13 plays; the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower); chamber music; piano music; Masonic ritual music;[2] and 21 separate publications of choral music.

Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s. However, after completing his Seventh Symphony (1924), the incidental music to The Tempest (1926), and the tone poem Tapiola (1926), he produced no large scale works for the remaining thirty years of his life. Although he is reputed to have stopped composing, he in fact attempted to continue writing, including abortive efforts to compose an eighth symphony. He wrote some Masonic music and re-edited some earlier works during this last period of his life, and retained an active interest in new developments in music, although he did not always view modern music favorably.

The Finnish 100 mark bill featured his image until it was taken out of circulation in 2002.[3] Since 2011, Finland celebrates a Flag Day on 8 December, the composer’s birthday, also known as the ‘Day of Finnish Music’.[4]

Jean_sibeliusJohan Julius Christian Sibelius was born in Hämeenlinna in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland, the son of Swedish-speaking doctor Christian Gustaf Sibelius and Maria Charlotta Sibelius née Borg. Although known by the typical Finnish and Swedish name “Janne” to his family, during his student years he began using the French form of his name, “Jean”, inspired by the business card of his seafaring uncle.[5] He is now universally known as Jean Sibelius.

On 10 June 1892, Jean Sibelius married Aino Järnefelt (1871–1969) at Maxmo. Their home, called Ainola, was completed at Lake Tuusula, Järvenpää in 1903. They had six daughters: Eva, Ruth, Kirsti (who died at a very young age), Katarina, Margareta and Heidi. Eva married an industrial heir Arvi Paloheimo and later herself became the CEO of the Paloheimo Corporation. Ruth Snellman was a prominent actress, Katarina Ilves wife of a banker, and Heidi Blomstedt a designer, her husband Aulis Blomstedt being an architect. Margareta married the conductor Jussi Jalas, previously Blomstedt, Aulis Blomstedt´s brother.

In 1908, Sibelius underwent a serious operation for suspected throat cancer. The impact of this brush with death has been said to have inspired works that he composed in the following years, including Luonnotar and the Fourth Symphony.

Sibelius spent long periods abroad studying in Vienna and Berlin 1889-91 and 1900-1901 with family in Italy. He composed, conducted and socialized actively in Scandinavian Countries, UK, France and Germany. In 1914 he was the composer of the year at the Norfolk Music Festival in Conn., USA, premiering his symphonic poem The Oceanids commissioned by the millionaire Carl Stoeckel.[6] Sibelius met ex-President Taft in Washington DC and also visited Canada briefly. He had five tours in England 1905-1922. After 1930 he did not travel abroad again. Instead he became a representative figure of the Finnish Music and received a constant flow of dignitaries and delegations in Ainola until his last days.

When freemasonry was revived in Finland, having been forbidden during the Russian sovereignty, Sibelius was one of the founding members of Suomi Lodge Nr 1 in 1922 and later the Grand Organist of the Grand Lodge of Finland. He composed the ritual music used in Finland (op 113) in 1927 and added two new pieces composed 1946. The new revision of the ritual music of 1948 is one of his last works.[7]

Sibelius loved nature, and the Finnish landscape often served as material for his music. He once said of his Sixth Symphony, “[It] always reminds me of the scent of the first snow.” The forests surrounding Ainola are often said to have inspired his composition of Tapiola. On the subject of Sibelius’s ties to nature, one biographer of the composer, Erik W. Tawaststjerna, wrote the following:

Even by Nordic standards, Sibelius responded with exceptional intensity to the moods of nature and the changes in the seasons: he scanned the skies with his binoculars for the geese flying over the lake ice, listened to the screech of the cranes, and heard the cries of the curlew echo over the marshy grounds just below Ainola. He savoured the spring blossoms every bit as much as he did autumnal scents and colours.[8]

On 1 January 1939, Sibelius participated in an international radio broadcast which included the composer conducting his Andante Festivo. The performance was preserved on transcription discs and later issued on CD. This is probably the only surviving example of Sibelius interpreting his own music.[12]

Since 1903 Sibelius had lived in the country, but 1939-1944 Jean and Aino had again a residence in Helsinki. After the war he came to the city only a couple of times. The so-called “Silence of Ainola” appears a myth, knowing that in addition to countless official visitors and visiting colleagues also his grandchildren and great grandchildren spent their holidays in Ainola.

Sibelius avoided public statements about other composers, but Tawaststjerna and Sibelius´secretary Santeri Levas have documented his private conversations in which he considered Bartók and Shostakovich the most talented composers of the younger generations. In the 1950s he actively promoted the young Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara.

His 90th birthday, in 1955, was widely celebrated and both the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham gave special performances of his music in Finland. The orchestras and their conductors also met the composer at his home; a series of memorable photographs were taken to commemorate the occasions. Both Columbia Records and EMI released some of the pictures with albums of Sibelius’s music. Beecham was honored by the Finnish government for his efforts to promote Sibelius both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Tawaststjerna also related an endearing anecdote regarding Sibelius’s death:

[He] was returning from his customary morning walk. Exhilarated, he told his wife Aino that he had seen a flock of cranes approaching. “There they come, the birds of my youth,” he exclaimed. Suddenly, one of the birds broke away from the formation and circled once above Ainola. It then rejoined the flock to continue its journey. Two days afterwards Sibelius died of a brain hemorrhage, at age 91 (on 20 September 1957), in Ainola, where he is buried in the garden. Another well-known Finnish composer, Heino Kaski, died that same day. Aino lived there for the next twelve years until she died on 8 June 1969; she is buried with her husband.[8]


Parents: Teaching Chastity and Fidelity

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Richard and Linda Eyre

Parenting Value for December: Chastity and Fidelity, Part 1

General Methods for teaching chastity and fidelity

momdaughterwillowMake your own example of fidelity as obvious and noticeable as possible. You can help your children see the importance that you place on this value as well as the happiness and security it gives you. Talk about commitment in personal terms. If you are a two-parent family, point out how the two of you belong to each other so that you don’t need any other man or woman. Try to let children see the basic physical signs of love and commitment, such as holding hands or a kiss as you leave for work.

Make sex and sexual maturity an open topic in your family. Maximize the number of opportunities you have to comment on the logic and benefits of chastity and fidelity and to permit concerns and problems to surface early rather than late. With children over eight (assuming that you have had your initial talk with them as suggested), do all you can to make sex an open and agreeable subject rather than something that is secret or off-limits or silly or embarrassing. It may seem difficult and unnatural at first, but these feelings are a sign that the subject needs opening up. Things you observe on television, movies, and music – or in article or books – or in styles of dress – all present potential opportunities to make comments about what you think is appropriate or not appropriate, what things are moral in the sense that they help and what things are immoral (or amoral) in the sense they may hurt someone physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Look for chances to discuss the behavior of young adolescents (your children’s acquaintances) and bring up the possible connections of that behavior to hormones and the effects of puberty.

Strive to convey the following two impressions whenever possible: (a) sex, the feelings and changes of puberty, and the attractions and feelings they cause us to feel are natural and good, even wonderful and miraculous; and (b) because sex is natural and good, and because its urges are powerful and have to do with the creation of life, its use should be connected to love and commitment – it is too beautiful to be made common or to squander.

Sample Method for Elementary Age:

Focusing on Age Eight

When our children have their eighth birthday, they undergo something of a rite of passage, going from a kid to a semi-grown-up, from a tutee to a tutor, from someone who knew almost nothing about sex and reproduction to someone who could probably teach a course on the subject.

We begin several weeks before the child’s eighth birthday, “priming” him by indicating that when he turns eight, he will be given some new privileges, some new responsibilities, and will learn about “the most beautiful and wonderful thing on earth.”

When the big day arrives, we take the new eight-year-old on a private daddy-mommy date to a nice restaurant, making every effort to treat him with a new maturity and respect. As mentioned earlier, we give him some added responsibility in areas such as choosing his own clothes and earning more money by doing family chores. We express our pride in him and our appreciation of him.

Then we go home for the much-anticipated highlight of the evening: our private talk about the “most wonderful and beautiful thing on earth.” In upbeat, positive terms we explain the facts of life using diagrams and pictures to explain reproduction. (We particularly like using the child’s book Where Did I Come From?) We encourage questions; we ask him often if he understands; and we watch his expressions to be sure he’s not only comprehending but appreciating what we are telling him.

Then we make a very strong point of how smart and how right it is to be careful how we use something as important and as miraculous as sex. We point out that something that special should be saved for one person – for the commitment of marriage, where it can be a wedding gift that has never been given before.

Children accept this idea very easily. It seems natural to them that something so private and so beautiful (and something so magic and powerful that it starts new babies) should be saved and used carefully rather than spent indiscriminately.

It is also natural to them to understand that after two people are married, sex is a bond and a special, private way of expression love between them that should not be used outside of marriage.

We also talk about AIDS and of the dangers of misusing sex. And we use the standard “values formula” by discussing how and who is helped by being careful about sex and how and who is hurt when people are not careful about sex.

– Richard

Eight may seem like a young age for some of the discussion represented above, but it is the right age for two very important reasons: (a) to wait longer runs the risk (if not the likely possibility) that your child will learn of reproduction and sex in the negative and silly perspective of the other children who will tell them about things before you do; (b) eight years old is a natural and curious age when children can understand in a sweet, uncynical way.

One evening and one discussion, of course, is not enough. An evening such as we have suggested can establish the basics and open wide the door of trust that permits the subject to be one of ongoing openness and discussion.

Certainly the underlying philosophy involved in teaching children the value of fidelity and chastity is that sex is too beautiful and too good to be given or used or thought of loosely or without commitment. The opposite view of sex as a dirty or evil thing should be avoided and countered at every opportunity.

Sample Method for Adolescent Age:

The Mortar Metaphor

This comparison can help adolescents understand the importance of fidelity in marriage. Look for a quiet private time (perhaps while traveling in a car or during a peaceful moment at bedtime) and relate the following comparison:

It takes many elements to build a house – the bricks, the boards, the shingles, the windows, the doors, and so on. One key element is the mortar, which holds the walls together and keeps everything in place. Similarly it takes many qualities to build a happy, unified family. It takes caring and helping and patience along with financial and emotional support. In a way the thing that “sticks” a family together and gives security and confidence to the parents and the children is the sexual fidelity of the mother and father. If either parent “cheats” on the other, it causes tremendous emotional strain. One parents feels guilty and secretive. The other feels disgraced and discarded. Even if the parents don’t separate or divorce, much of the feeling and commitment is gone, and the family, like a house without mortar, can begin to break apart.


YouTube Video, Acoustic Guitar, and Rodrigo

Dinner Topics for Friday

While we treasure appropriate cultural diversities, our goal is to be united in the culture, customs, and traditions of the gospel of Jesus Christ in every respect. This is the culture to which we aspire. ~Quentin L. Cook

Concierto de Aranjuez

Fantasia for gentilhombre


keyRodrigo, blind since age three, was a pianist. He did not play the guitar, yet he still managed to capture the spirit of the guitar in Spain.

From Wikipedia

Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez (November 22, 1901 – July 6, 1999), commonly known as Joaquín Rodrigo, was a composer of classical music and a virtuoso pianist. Despite being nearly blind from an early age, he achieved great success. Rodrigo’s music counts among some of the most popular of the 20th century, particularly his Concierto de Aranjuez, considered one of the pinnacles of the Spanish music and guitar concerto repertoire.
He was born in Sagunto, Valencia, and almost completely lost his sight at the age of three after contracting diphtheria. He began to study solfège, piano and violin at the age of eight; harmony and composition from the age of sixteen. Although distinguished by having raised the Spanish guitar to dignity as a universal concert instrument and best known for his guitar music, he never mastered the instrument himself. He wrote his compositions in braille, which was transcribed for publication.
Rodrigo studied music under Francisco Antich in Valencia and under Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique in Paris. After briefly returning to Spain, he went to Paris again to study musicology, first under Maurice Emmanuel and then under André Pirro. His first published compositions[1] date from 1940. In 1943 he received Spain’s National Prize for Orchestra for Cinco piezas infantiles (“Five Children’s Pieces”), based on his earlier composition of the same piece for two pianos, premiered by Ricardo Viñes. From 1947 Rodrigo was a professor of music history, holding the Manuel de Falla Chair of Music in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, at Complutense University of Madrid.
His most famous work, Concierto de Aranjuez, was composed in 1939 in Paris, and in later life he and his wife declared that it was written as a response to the miscarriage of their first child.[2] It is a concerto for guitar and orchestra. The central adagio movement is one of the most recognizable in 20th century classical music, featuring the interplay of guitar with English horn. This movement was later adapted by the conductor Gil Evans for Miles Davis’ 1960 album Sketches of Spain. The Concerto was adapted by the composer himself for Harp and Orchestra and dedicated to Nicanor Zabaleta.
The success of this concerto led to commissions from a number of prominent soloists, including the flautist James Galway and the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber for whom Rodrigo composed his Concierto como un divertimento and Concierto serenata for Harp and Orchestra dedicated to Nicanor Zabaleta. In 1954 Rodrigo composed Fantasía para un gentilhombre at the request of Andrés Segovia. His Concierto Andaluz, for four guitars and orchestra, was commissioned by Celedonio Romero for himself and his three sons.
None of Rodrigo’s works, however, achieved the popular and critical success of the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasia para un gentilhombre. These two works are very often paired in recordings.
He was awarded Spain’s highest award for composition, the Premio Nacional de Música, in 1983. On 30 December 1991, Rodrigo was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title of Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez[3][4] (English: Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez). He received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award—Spain’s highest civilian honor—in 1996. He was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1998.
He married Victoria Kamhi, a Turkish-born pianist whom he had met in Paris, on 19 January 1933, in Valencia. Their daughter, Cecilia, was born 27 January 1941. Rodrigo died in 1999 in Madrid at the age of 97, and was succeeded as Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez by his daughter. Joaquín Rodrigo and his wife Victoria are buried at the cemetery at Aranjuez.

Royal Palace of Aranjuez
The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the spring resort palace and gardens built by Philip II in the last half of the 16th century and rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century by Ferdinand VI. The work attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature.
According to the composer, the first movement is “animated by a rhythmic spirit and vigour without either of the two themes… interrupting its relentless pace”; the second movement “represents a dialogue between guitar and solo instruments (cor anglais, bassoon, oboe, horn etc.)”; and the last movement “recalls a courtly dance in which the combination of double and triple time maintains a taut tempo right to the closing bar.” He described the concerto itself as capturing “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains” in the gardens of Aranjuez.
Rodrigo and his wife Victoria stayed silent for many years about the inspiration for the second movement, and thus the popular belief grew that it was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in 1937. In her autobiography, Victoria eventually declared that it was both an evocation of the happy days of their honeymoon and a response to Rodrigo’s devastation at the miscarriage of their first pregnancy. It was composed in 1939 in Paris.[1]
Rodrigo dedicated the Concierto de Aranjuez to Regino Sainz de la Maza.[2]
Rodrigo, blind since age three, was a pianist.[3] He did not play the guitar, yet he still managed to capture the spirit of the guitar in Spain.

John Williams: Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez