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.


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 Smetana

YouTube Music:

Classic Smetana

All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. ~Alma 30:44

Smetana – Die Moldau (Karajan)




Dear Viewers: Yes, these are not pictures from the moldau in Prague.

Jakub Valenta

This is not about the Moldau in Prague. The song is about all the river, from beginning to Prague. Every part of this classical song expresses part of the Moldau between headwater and Prague. Faster places, slower places, etc… This is how was the song composed.

Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana (Czech pronunciation: [ˈbɛdr̝ɪx ˈsmɛtana]  2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country’s aspirations to independent statehood. He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Internationally he is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride and for the symphonic cycle Má vlast (“My Homeland”), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer’s native land.

Smetana was naturally gifted as a composer, and gave his first public performance at the age of 6. After conventional schooling, he studied music under Josef Proksch in Prague. His first nationalistic music was written during the 1848 Prague uprising, in which he briefly participated. After failing to establish his career in Prague, he left for Sweden, where he set up as a teacher and choirmaster in Gothenburg, and began to write large-scale orchestral works. During this period of his life Smetana was twice married; of six daughters, three died in infancy.

In the early 1860s, a more liberal political climate in Bohemia encouraged Smetana to return permanently to Prague. He threw himself into the musical life of the city, primarily as a champion of the new genre of Czech opera. In 1866 his first two operas, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and The Bartered Bride, were premiered at Prague’s new Provisional Theatre, the latter achieving great popularity. In that same year, Smetana became the theatre’s principal conductor, but the years of his conductorship were marked by controversy. Factions within the city’s musical establishment considered his identification with the progressive ideas of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner inimical to the development of a distinctively Czech opera style. This opposition interfered with his creative work, and might have hastened a decline in health that precipitated his resignation from the theatre in 1874.

By the end of 1874, Smetana had become completely deaf but, freed from his theatre duties and the related controversies, he began a period of sustained composition that continued for almost the rest of his life. His contributions to Czech music were increasingly recognised and honoured, but a mental collapse early in 1884 led to his incarceration in an asylum and subsequent death. Smetana’s reputation as the founding father of Czech music has endured in his native country, where advocates have raised his status above that of his contemporaries and successors. However, relatively few of Smetana’s works are in the international repertory, and most foreign commentators tend to regard Antonín Dvořák as a more significant Czech composer.

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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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YouTube Music: Chopin Concerto 1 romance

Dinner Topics for Friday

YouTube Music:

Chopin romance

keyoldAnd the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance forever. ~Isaiah 32:17


Frederic Chopin
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. II – Romanza – Slovak Symphony Orchestra


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.

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YouTube Music for the Soul: Classic Handel

Dinner Topics for Friday

View and Listen to Handel’s Messiah

Book Review

George Friedrich Handel loved to play the harpsichord, but his father didn’t approve, so Handel practiced in secret.

Handel’s music was well-known to composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

keyTo Beethoven he was “the master of us all… the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb”.[61] Beethoven emphasized above all the simplicity and popular appeal of Handel’s music when he said, “Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means”.

American Culture Dinner Talk Journal Article: Handel and the Gift of Messiah

Book Review:

Great Quotes

“I wish to breathe my last word on Good Friday, in hopes of meeting mine good God and sweet Lord and Savior on the day of His resurrection.”
“I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself sitting upon His throne.”
~George Frederic Handel to his manservant Peter LeBlonde


A novel by J. Scott Featherstone
The Story of the coming forth of Handel’s Messiah

This is the remarkable story of one of the greatest events in musical history, the creation of George Frederic Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.  Composed in just twenty-four days, Handel’s “Grand Oratorio which rendered him immortal” was birthed in the darkest and most desperate hours of his life. His health was failing. Critics ridiculed him. Creditors hounded him. Enemies persecuted him. Pride had nearly destroyed him. Yet, out of Handel’s night emerged the dawn of Messiah.

Anyone who has thrilled at hearing the Hallelujah Chorus will feel “profound attachment” to Handel’s story of hope and redemption as timeless and poignant as the music itself.

From far away, as if wending its way toward him in the night breeze, something began to develop in Handel’s mind. It was so faint and distant that he could not recognize it but only anticipate its arrival. He waited in the stillness for the shape to take the form of sound. He imagined he could see the sound coming toward him, a veiled line of blue streaming toward him through an ocean of black.

Then softly, like a voice from a distant source it came to him-a single violin of transcendent purity, echoing across this mind like music ringing down the valleys of Halle in the cool of the night. So distinct and clear was the melody that he could see the notes on paper as he heard them.

~From Hallelujah!

Gethsemane2This book is written as a type of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is, it tells of people who are thrown into debtor’s prison. Handel, having been in serious debt himself, had compassion for these people.  When he created The Messiah, he would not perform it for money. He dedicated it to the Children’s Foundling Hospital in Halle, Germany, his home town. For years it was performed by the children’s choir there. Every year, when it was performed, Handel would use donations to liberate people from debtor’s prison.  What a fitting event to be connected to the performance of the glorious Messiah! For over a hundred years after Handel’s death the pages of music for the great oratorio languished in oblivion. Then, on a cold January day in 1896, Dr. Davan Whetton, seeking funds for The Foundling Hospital of which he was principal and organist, rediscovered Handel’s Messiah in a tiny, unknown room behind the pulpit.  Author Featherstone portrays the moving story of Handel’s Messiah in a very powerful way. The book is now out of print; you may find a used one online. It is a worthwhile, unforgettable read.

Life of George Handel

By Spencer J. Condie

George Frideric Handel, born February 23, 1685

George Frideric Handel seemed to have been born a musician. As a young lad in Germany, he became proficient on both the violin and the organ. After composing his first opera in Germany, he moved to Italy, the operatic center of the world, to try his hand at musical composition in the Italian style. There he achieved some success in composing operas and chamber music.

In 1711, at age 26, Handel decided to move to England, where his operas and oratorios initially gained acceptance. By the late 1730s, however, British audiences had become less enthusiastic about operas sung in German or Italian; instead, they favored comedic performances such as The Beggar’s Opera. Thus, for several years Handel struggled to keep the wolves—his creditors—away from the door.

In 1737, after pushing himself to his physical limits by composing four operas within 12 months, the 52-year-old composer suffered a stroke, leaving his right arm temporarily paralyzed. A doctor told Handel’s faithful secretary: “We may save the man—but the musician is lost forever. It seems to me that his brain has been permanently injured.”1

The composer defied the diagnosis. Over time his body responded to treatment in the thermal springs at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany), and he recovered his physical strength. After testing his ability to play the organ at a nearby cathedral, he jubilantly proclaimed, “I have come back from Hades.”2

When he returned to London and resumed composing operas, his work was not well received, and creditors began to hound him again. In the depths of despondency, he began to wonder, “Why did God permit my resurrection, only to allow my fellow-men to bury me again?”3In April 1741 Handel held what he assumed would be a farewell concert. His creativity was spent. A biographer wrote: “There was nothing to begin or to finish. Handel was faced with emptiness.”4

Late one August afternoon that same year, Handel returned from a long and tiring walk to find that a poet and previous collaborator, Charles Jennens, had left him a manuscript. This libretto quoted liberally from the scriptures, particularly the words of Isaiah, foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ and describing His ministry, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. The work was to be an oratorio. Given his previous failures, Handel was apprehensive as he began to read through the text.

“Comfort Ye,” the first words of the manuscript, seemed to leap from the page. They dissipated dark clouds that had been pressing upon Handel for so long. His depression waned and his emotions warmed from interest to excitement as he continued to read of angelic proclamations of the Savior’s birth and of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah, who would come to earth to be born as other mortal infants. A familiar melody Handel had composed earlier flooded into his mind as he read “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” The notes distilled upon his mind faster than he could put pencil to paper as he captured the image of the loving Good Shepherd in the aria titled “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Then came the overpowering exultation reflected in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” followed by the soft, supernal testimony of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” The work came to its majestic conclusion with “Worthy Is the Lamb.”

musicnotesAfter all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah, largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.”5Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”6

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”7

He had finally been relieved of his restless quest for fame, fortune, and public praise—but only after composing his crowning work for an audience that included those not of this earth. The things that mattered most were no longer at the mercy of the things that mattered least. Handel, the restless composer, was now at rest.

Lessons from Handel’s Life

HaendelWhat lessons may we learn from the life of George Frideric Handel and the composition of a piece of music that has become a spiritual landmark?

  1. We must develop confidence in our abilities and learn to live with criticism of our work. In the words of poet Rudyard Kipling: “Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”8
  2. Quantity is no substitute for quality and variety. Handel’s earlier operas have largely been forgotten. Their predictable, formulaic templates simply failed to inspire; each opera sounded much like the others he had composed.
  3. When we act on inspiration, we are doing the work of heaven. We cannot force the Spirit, but when inspiration and revelation come, we must listen and act upon the promptings. The Lord has promised that “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (D&C 33:16).
  4. We must acknowledge our source of inspiration and revelation. We are only instruments in the work we do that blesses others. We must realize, as Handel did when he deflected the honor given upon his achievement, that “God has visited [us].”
  5. We must never underestimate the power of the word. There is a power in the word of God that far surpasses the narratives of this world’s most gifted writers (see Alma 31:5).
  6. Real spiritual meaning in a work is conveyed by the witness of the Holy Ghost. “When [an individual speaks or sings] by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1).
  7. Power is in God and His works, not in our words. Speaking of the professors of religion of the day, the Savior told Joseph Smith, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, … having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Handel had composed other oratorios and operas with biblical texts, but the form of his music did not match the power of the scriptures—Isaiah’s powerful prophecies of the Savior’s birth and ministry or the fulfillment of those prophecies as found in Revelation and the Gospels of Luke and John. In Handel’s Messiah, we find both the form of godliness and the power thereof. In Messiah, lips and hearts are drawn nearer to heaven.

Each of us, like George Frideric Handel, is engaged in a creative spiritual enterprise in this life. Both the physical fostering of mortal life and the righteous living of our days on earth are spiritual achievements. I pray that we may be sensitive to inspiration from on high, that we may be inspired in such a way that the fruits of our labors are inspiring to others. As we seek to rescue others, may we not be bound by time-tested templates and self-imposed perceptions that restrict our spiritual creativity and lock out revelation.

In her epic poem, Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed the eloquent thought:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. 9

May each of us unlatch our shoes and cram our labors with the essence of heaven, and may none of us be found plucking blackberries when a much grander, loftier work needs to be done.

And at the end of our divinely ordained days, may we be able to acknowledge, with Handel, that God has visited us in our labors.

More about George Handel



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]

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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