Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


Free Concert Webcast: Gershwin, Copland, and More

aaroncopland_detailPhotograph of American composer George Gershwin

Go to on Sunday, October 9 at 3PM EDT (GMT -5)  for a free concert webcast from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Here’s the program:

COPLAND Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue
MILHAUD Création du Monde
RESPIGHI The Pines of Rome


Image attributions: Publicity photograph of George Gershwin around 1935, By Mishkin (RR Auctions) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, Detail from photograph of Aaron Copland, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Library of Congress photograph


Free Concert Webcast: Hilary Hahn and the DSO

Violinist Hilary Hahn

Violinist Hilary Hahn. Copyright Michael Patrick O’Leary.

On Friday, September 30, 2016 at 8:00PM EDT (GMT -5), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a free live webcast featuring violinist Hilary Hahn.  Here’s a short video of Hahn performing a Bach sarabande.

The webcast will also include the world premiere of Ferran Cruixent’s Big Data.  Here’s a short video to introduce you to Cruixent’s work, in particular, his composition Cyborg.

You can watch the webcast at Here’s the program:

Bernstein:  Overture to Candide

Gershwin:  Lullaby for String Orchestra

Ferran Cruixent:  Big Data (world premiere)

Beethoven:  Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

There will be an informal pre-concert presentation beginning at 7:00PM.


Image attribution:  Photo of violinist Hilary Hahn © Michael Patrick O’Leary via


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Haiku Wednesday: Summer, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Savings

Miniature of 'The Spanish Dance'; from Códice de trajes, Germany, 1547.

It’s summer! Have a party and dance!

In the northern climes,
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!

Vivaldi wrote some
Sonnets for The Four Seasons;
That I never knew!

The Four Seasons app
Is on sale for the summer,
And we say “Woo-hoo”!

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere.  School is out, the heat is ramping up, and summer thunderstorms blaze through, leaving (hopefully) cooler air in their wake.

People have been singing about summer for a long time.  The first stanza of today’s haiku refers to one of the earliest notated songs in English, Sumer Is Icumen In (loudly sing cuckoo).  The earliest manuscript dates to the mid- to late-13th century.  Here’s some sheet music to follow along, and here’s the tune.

Manuscript of song Sumer Is Icumen In from the British Library

Sumer Is Icumen In. MS Harley 978 f. 11v, British Library.

Somewhat later (between 1720 and 1723), Antonio Vivaldi wrote The Four Seasons.  You may hear familiar refrains, as it is frequently used in television commercials.  Something that I learned is that the piece is accompanied by four sonnets, possibly written by Vivaldi himself.  You can find the four sonnets in Italian and English in the link, but here is the translation of the one for summer (Boreas is the north wind):

Under the merciless sun
Languishes man and flock; the pine tree burns,
The cuckoo begins to sing and at once
Join in the turtledoves and the goldfinch.
A gentle breeze blows, but Boreas
Joins battle suddenly with his neighbor,
And the shepherd weeps because overhead
Hangs the dreaded storm, and his destiny.

His tired limbs are robbed of their rest
By his fear of the lightning and the heavy thunder
And by the furious swarm of flies and hornets.

Alas, his fears are well founded
There is thunder and lightning in the sky
And the hail cuts down the lofty ears of corn.1

The sonnet itself is broken into three sections, which is not uncommon for the sonnet form, but also echoes the three movements of the composition.  See if you can hear what is depicted above.  Here is Vivaldi’s Summer.

(I know it’s summer, but educators can find a teacher resource kit on Vivaldi and The Four Seasons at the link.  It’s written for students in grades 4-6, but I enjoyed reading it!)

Now, if you have an iPad or iPhone, you are in luck.  This summer, Touchpress is offering the Vivaldi Four Seasons app for $2.99 (70 percent off!)

Here’s a review of the Vivaldi Four Seasons app.  Here is the website for the app (which is available through the Apple iTunes App Store).

The Four Seasons app joins Touchpress’s other iPad offerings, The Liszt Sonata, The Orchestra, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (free!).

I hope you will enjoy lots of music this summer, and I hope your living is easy.

The blog will be on summer vacation for a week.  See you again soon!




Image attributions:

Miniature of ‘The Spanish Dance’; from Códice de trajes, Germany, 1547, BNE MS Res 285, ff. 2v-3r via  The original can be found at the Biblioteca Nacional de España BNE MS Res 285, ff. 2v-3r,

Manuscript of Sumer Is Icumen In, MS Harley 978 f. 11v.  British Library digitized manuscript, via Wikimedia Commons  See the original (and more) at the British Library website