Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

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Free Webcast Concert: Berlin Phil, Mehta, Zukerman Play Tchaikovsky and Elgar

On Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 3PM EDT (8PM in Berlin, UTC -4) the Berlin Philharmonic will present a free concert on its website.  The concert will feature Zubin Mehta and Pinchas Zukerman, and the program will include Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Elgar’s Violin Concerto.   The concert is a benefit concert for UNICEF.

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Free Concert Webcast: Emanuel Ax and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Play Beethoven, Elgar

Pianist Emanuel Ax

Pianist Emanuel Ax. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Here’s another free webcast from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra!  On December 11, 2016 at 3PM (GMT -5) pianist Emanuel Ax will be featured in a program of Beethoven and Elgar. Leonard Slatkin will conduct.  Here’s the program:

Beethoven:  Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus

Beethoven:  Piano Concerto No. 2

Elgar:  Symphony No. 1

If you can’t see the webcast at that time, the DSO offers an reasonably-priced alternative. For a donation to the orchestra of $50 or more, you can access DSO Replay, their catalog of previous webcasts, for a year.  There are over 100 works available, viewable on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices, in high-definition, and more than 26 new concerts are added during the season.  Find out more about DSO Replay here.


Edward Elgar, Cute Internet Animals, and Multimedia: The Enigma Variations and Bulldog Dan

Here is a video of a bulldog rolling down a hill.

Why am I showing you a cute internet animal video?  Other than it’s Monday, and besides, why not?

George Robertson Sinclair and his bulldog Dan, subject of Elgar's Enigma Variation XI

George Robertson Sinclair and his bulldog Dan, subject of Elgar’s Enigma Variation XI

When Edward Elgar wrote the Enigma Variations, each variation was intended to depict a friend.  In the case of Variation XI, even though it is labeled G. R. S. (George Robertson Sinclair, an organist friend), it is actually about Sinclair’s bulldog Dan.  It depicts Dan falling into the river Wye (perhaps after rolling?), waddling up the bank, reaching the top and barking.

See if you can hear bulldog Dan in this recording of Variation XI from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  Afterward, you might want to try playing the bulldog video at the same time as the variation (start the dog video first, then the music; they don’t synch up entirely, but it’s closer that way).

Here is Elgar’s own explanation of the Enigma Variations, a booklet titled My Friends Pictured Within, written to accompany a 1929 piano roll of the piece.

In an article in the The Elgar Society Journal on the variations I found the following passage:

It should be explained that Elgar’s notes and the running commentary are printed on the rolls themselves, which may explain why the material has been so little consulted. Copies are scarce, and the rolls are both cumbersome and fragile (I timed the rewinding of one at thirteen minutes). The running commentary was designed to be read from the roll during performance (hence, presumably, the subtitle of the series: ‘Audiographic Music’).1

Edward Elgar went multimedia—in 1929.

If you are looking for a comprehensive Elgar site, go to

The orchestral score and Elgar’s own solo piano version can be found here.

And finally, here is the complete Enigma Variations, performed by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.


  1. Smith, Mike, “Friends Revisited: an edition of Elgar Birthplace EB722,” in The Elgar Society Journal, Vol 16 No 2, July 2009, p 8.


Image attributions: Photograph of George Robertson Sinclair and bulldog Dan from My Friends Pictured Within.  London: Novello and Co. Ltd.

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Free Webcast: Mozart’s “Prague” Symphony from the DSO


Detroit. Tomorrow. Be there.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a free webcast of Mozart’s “Prague” Symphony on January 16, 2016 at 8:00 PM EST.  The program will also include works by Dvorak, Elgar, and Mohammed Fairouz.  Here’s the program:

Dvorak              Serenade for Winds

Elgar                  Serenade for Strings

Mozart              Symphony No 38, “Prague”

Mohammed Fairouz       Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

The program will feature Israeli-born cellist Maya Beiser performing the world premiere of the concerto by Mohammed Fairouz titled “Desert Sorrows.”

You can find the webcast here.  Don’t miss it!


Image attribution: Mozart c. 1780, portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce. Public domain. Questionably modified by C. Gallant.