Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

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Haiku Wednesday:  Butterfly

Monarch butterfly on a cluster of purple flowers

With fluttering wings
The butterfly alights on
A vibrant flower.

Sweet summer nectar,
Abundant blossoms, and a
Gentle summer breeze;
These are the good times,
And the butterfly dances
To music unheard.

Soon its wand’ring path
Will lead it to warmer climes
Before the air chills,
And fall’s orange leaves
Become a poor mimic on
The cold autumn wind.

Butterflies seem impossible; their wings are so delicate, their colors too bright to be real.  And yet, you can walk right up to them, and for the most part, they don’t mind if you look closely at the texture of their wings as they extract nectar from flowers one by one.  And then, on a whim, they fly off, seemingly not quite under control, in search of a new set of blossoms.

In Norway, Edvard Grieg too must have stopped to watch these marvels, and the result was Butterfly (Op. 43, No. 1) from his Lyric Pieces.  And here is a treat—this recording comes from a reproducing piano roll that was created as Grieg himself played the piece.  Perhaps you can hear the butterfly’s fluttering, somewhat chaotic flight in the notes.


More asides than references

If you’d like to see the reproducing piano at work, here is a video of Grieg’s Berceuse (Op. 38, No. 1) being played from a piano roll created by Grieg.

Grieg’s Lyric Pieces is great summer music.  You might also like Summer Evening (Op. 71, No. 2).

In case you were wondering, there are over 2,000 species of butterflies and moths in Norway.


Image attribution: Monarch butterfly by Richiebits (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,


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Pianos in the Washington Post

While I’m sure there are some listed for sale there, that’s not what I mean.

The September 5, 2015 edition of the Washington Post has articles on today’s piano manufacturers, and comments on the dominance of Steinway in the concert piano market.

You might also like to read the review of Stephen Hough’s recording of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, the subject of an earlier post. Here’s a promo for the CD.

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Haiku Wednesday -Edvard Grieg’s Lyric Pieces


Grieg’s Lyric Pieces
Ten books of songs without words
All tell a story

Edvard Grieg wrote 66 songs for solo piano that are collectively known as Lyric Pieces. They are in various opus numbers, and were written between 1867 and 1901.  A characteristic feature of the Lyric Pieces is that they paint a picture or describe a mood. These miniatures are gems, and I have enjoyed learning a few of them.

Here is Stephen Hough playing excerpts of the Lyric Pieces.

Here is Grieg himself playing Butterfly.  The sound quality is so good because he played into a Welte-Mignon reproducing piano.  The date of the recording is 1906.

And here is a 1903 phonograph recording of Grieg playing Wedding Day at Troldhaugen.