Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


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Arirang

Globe with eighth note

When I came across this video of Stephen Hough playing his arrangement of the Korean folk song Arirang as an encore at a concert in Seoul, I knew I had to share it with you.  It is beautiful.  The audience laughs in surprise and delight when they realize what he is playing.

To call Arirang a Korean folk song is an understatement.  It is the Korean folk song, an unofficial national anthem, known by folks of all ages.  And yet it is many songs; each generation has its own version, each region has its own verses.  But the song remains.  And it is not only a national treasure:  the song’s importance has been recognized by UNESCO, and it is on the List of Intangible Cultural HeritageHere is a traditional version.

Here is a modern interpretation, still beautiful, but far from traditional, by popular singer Sohyang.  You will see people singing along in the audience.

And K-pop fans would chastise me for not including the BTS cover of the song.

The world is filled with wonderful music!

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Image attribution:  Image of globe and eighth note via Wikimedia Commons.

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Free Live Concert Webcast: Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Jeremy Denk

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

On September 15, 2019 at 2:00 PM CST (GMT -5) the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will present a live webcast of a performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor featuring pianist Jeremy Denk.

Don’t miss this great program, which will also include Rossini’s Overture to La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder) and Schubert’s Symphony No. 2.

Also be sure to check out the SPCO’s extensive concert library.

You can see the webcast here.


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Free Concert Webcast: Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Currier

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

On Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8:00 PM EDT (GMT -4), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will feature pianist Hélène Grimaud performing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.  Also on the program are Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, and a new work, Divisions, a commemoration of World War I, written by Sebastian Currier.  Ludovic Morlot will conduct.  You can see the concert at www.dso.org/live or on Facebook Live (https://www.facebook.com/detroitsymphony).


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One of Those Weeks, Illustrated

Stick figure on a unicycle on a tightrope juggles a sword, flaming stick, and chainsaw while crossing water filled with sharks, alligators, and snakes while beavers, woodpeckers, and a fire-lighting camper try to destroy the supports for the tightrope. Oh, and a rainstorm is coming--with lightning.

Did you ever have one of those weeks?  One for which the word “complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe it?  Yeah, one of those.

Words failing me, I attempted to depict one of those weeks in the illustration above.  And to go along with it, I’ve selected some music:  Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1.

If you’re having one of those weeks, I wish you calmer days ahead.  And to accompany them, Grieg’s Morning Mood from the Peer Gynt Suite.


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Street Piano

Red Steinway piano in Munich airport with sign "Just Play a Steinway"

Surfing the net on this overcast day, I found a video of an infectiously cheerful, driving boogie-woogie piano performance.

The sun came out.

Ok, it’s not classical music, but this is a big tent, so come on in and listen to Henri Herbert making some folks’ day at St. Pancras Station in London, and now, thanks to YouTube, everywhere.  You can find the video here.

And that video led me to another.  if you have some time, you might enjoy Street Piano: Instrument of Change, a documentary on a program that restores pianos that might otherwise end up in landfills and installs them in public places for people to play and enjoy.  It highlights the experiences of some people whose lives have been changed by public pianos.

Do you play piano? Yes? If you see a piano in a public place, sit down, commandeer it.  Play until they make you stop.  Don’t worry about making mistakes, just go for it!  It will certainly make your day, and probably other people’s too.

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Image attribution:  Photograph by Eric Fischer [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Just_Play_a_Steinway_-_Red_public_Steinway_piano_in_Munich_Airport_terminal_(2015-05-23_17.29.42_by_Eric_Fischer).jpg


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Haiku Wednesday:  Getting Away From It All

Painting, L'Embarquement pour Cythere by Jean-Antoine Watteau, couples in 18th century garb in an idyllic landscape with a body of water and cherubim in the background

L’Embarquement pour Cythera by Watteau

Where would you go now
To escape your cares and woes?
If you could go now?

Would it be some isle,
Warm, sunny, a sandy beach,
An azure ocean?

A forest clearing
Overarched with leafy trees
And dappled sunlight?

A remote cabin,
Soft rainfall gently tapping
The windows and roof?

A cityscape with
Humming traffic and lively
Nightlife, full of fun?

A snowy mountain,
Glistening in the moonlight,
Silent and peaceful.

You can see it now,
Can’t you? It’s in your mind’s eye.
Or maybe you’re there.

I hope you find peace
Wherever you may be now
On your joyous isle.

 

In 1904, Claude Debussy vacationed on the island of Jersey with his mistress (and later, second wife) Emma Bardac.  It was there that he put the finishing touches on the composition L’isle joyeuse.  Debussy deliberately used the English isle instead of the French ile to allude to Jersey.

This piece was influenced by the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau, in particular, L’Embarquement pour Cythera, pictured above.

Here is a fine performance of L’isle joyeuse by Marc-André Hamelin.

I hope you find your joyous isle, even for just a little while.

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References

For more information on Debussy’s sojourn in Jersey, see http://www.litart.co.uk/index.htm , in particular, the page on L’isle joyeuse.

Also see https://notesfromapianist.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/j-is-for-joyeuse-debussys-lisle-joyeuse/

Image attribution

L’Embarquement pour Cythera by Jean-Antoine Watteau [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:L%27Embarquement_pour_Cythere,_by_Antoine_Watteau,_from_C2RMF_retouched.jpg


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Emanuel Ax Plays Beethoven:  Live Webcast Today

Today, November 9, 2018 at 8 PM EST (GMT -5), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a live webcast featuring pianist Emanuel Ax playing Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto.  Cristian Măcelaru will conduct.  You can see the concert at www.dso.org/live.  Here’s the program:

DvořákCarnival Overture

BeethovenPiano Concerto No. 1

Andrew NormanPlay