Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


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Free Concert Webcast Today: Beethoven’s Fifth and Brahms’s Violin Concerto

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

In just two hours from now (10:45 EST, GMT -5), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present the Brahms Concerto for Violin, featuring Christian Tetzlaff, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto.  You can see it at https://www.dso.org/live.

If you’ve already missed it, or if it doesn’t fit into your schedule, I’d like to mention that a $50 donation (or more) to the Detroit Symphony comes with a one-year subscription to Replay, the orchestra’s online library of concerts, which includes their last four seasons as well as the Brahmsfest, Mozartfest, and Frenchfest series of concerts, over 200 works to choose from, as well as artist interview and pre-concert lectures.

Enjoy!

 

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Free Concert Webcast:  Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and More!

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

On Saturday, November 17 at 8:00 EST (GMT-5) the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a free live webcast of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.  John Storgårds will conduct.  The webcast will also feature violinist Pekka Kuusisto.  The webcast can be seen at https://www.dso.org/live.  Here’s the program.

George AntheilOver the Plains

Daniel Bjarnason: Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

 

By the way, you should really read George Antheil’s bio.  It’s rare to find a composer who developed a radio guidance system for torpedoes (with actress Hedy Lamarr, no less; I am not making this up), and who was a friend of the poet Ezra Pound.


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Free Live Concert Webcast:  Prokofiev, Elgar and More

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

On Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 3:00 PM EDT (GMT -4) the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, will present a free concert webcast.  You can see the webcast at https://www.dso.org/live.

Here’s the program:

ErbThe Seventh Trumpet

ProkofievViolin Concerto No. 1, Gil Shaham, violinist.

Elgar: Variations on an Original Theme (also known as the Enigma Variations)

If you’d like to learn more about Elgar’s variations (and see a cute animal video while you’re at it) see my post about Variation XI and Bulldog Dan here.


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Free Concert Webcast: Vaughan Williams, Gounod, Dvorak, and More

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has just added a new concert to their free on-demand concert libraryYou can see the concert here.  Here is the program:

Charles GounodPetite Symphonie for Wind Instruments

Lembit Beecher: The Conference of the Birds

Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

Antonín Dvořák: Serenade for Strings

While you’re there, check out other performances in the library, which you can browse by composer, genre, nationality, conductor, or performer.

Enjoy!


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To the Sun:  Classical Music and an Exciting NASA Mission

The Sun. Credit: NASA/SDO

The Sun. Credit: NASA/SDO

Many composers have written music to evoke the mood of seeing the rising sun, and I thought I’d bring some of this music to you today because an exciting new scientific mission is about to begin.  Early Saturday morning, NASA, the American space agency, is sending an unmanned spacecraft closer to the Sun than ever before to study its many mysteries.  It is the Parker Solar Probe.

NASA has wanted to implement this mission since the dawn of the space age, but it is only now that the technology is available to make it possible.  Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield will withstand temperatures of 2500 degrees Fahrenheit (1377 Celsius) while the measuring instruments in its shadow will remain at a comfortable room temperature.

You can see live coverage of the launch of the Parker Solar Probe, named for pioneering scientist Eugene Parker, at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public starting at 3:00 AM EDT (GMT-4) on Saturday, August 11, 2018 (the launch window begins at 3:33 AM).

And now to the music.  We must start with an excerpt of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, iconic sunrise music if there ever was any.

You can see Gustavo Dudamel conduct the entire piece with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra here.  And here is an audio recording of Richard Strauss conducting his own piece in 1944 with the Vienna Philharmonic.

For a calmer start to your morning, I suggest Grieg’s Morning Mood.

Here is the beautiful and haunting On the Nature of Daylight (Entropy) by Max Richter.

You may also enjoy Aulis Sallinen’s Sunrise Serenade, Op. 63 for two trumpets and orchestra.  And here is Carl Nielsen’s Helios Overture, Op. 17.

Reaching back in time, here is Joseph Haydn’s Quartet in B flat Major, Op. 76, No. 4 “Sunrise.”

Finally, here is the oldest surviving music about the sun, nearly the oldest surviving written music, the Hymn to the Sun by Mesomedes of Crete, second century CE.

Wishing NASA the best of luck with its pioneering mission, and wishing all of you sunny days ahead!

 

Previous space-related posts you may enjoy

Haiku Wednesday:  Beyond–Bach in Interstellar Space

Beethoven’s Cavatina–The Universe in the Palm of Your Hand


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Haiku Wednesday: Toccata

Flashing fingers fly
And dance across the keyboard
Weaving their magic.

Feet too join the dance
Executing bass figures,
Sliding as on ice.

The word toccata
Means to touch—fingers, yes, and
Heart and soul and mind.

The toccata is by nature a flashy piece of music.  It typically includes fast runs of notes, and can sound like an improvisation.  It is a showcase for a musician’s skills.  Toccatas are typically written for a keyboard instrument, but that’s not a requirement—toccatas have been written for string instruments, and even for orchestra (the prelude to Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo is a toccata).  While the form had its heyday in the Baroque period, with Bach, master improviser, at the summit (Toccata in D Minor, the toccata everyone knows), the form never entirely went away.

Schumann wrote a Toccata in C (Op. 7) which he believed was the most difficult music at the time.  In this video, you can follow the sheet music, which will give you an idea of the complexity.  Liszt also gave it a whirl (Toccata, S. 197a).

Ravel included a toccata in his Le Tombeau de Couperin, and Debussy’s Jardins sous la pluie from Estampes is a toccata as well.  One can also look to the finale of Widor’s Symphony No. 5 for a fine example of a toccata.  You can find some videos of the finale here, including Widor himself playing the toccata.

Khachaturian wrote a toccata that became very popular (the suite it came from is nearly forgotten).  The link features pianist Lev Oborin, who was the first to perform it.

For some real flash (and the piece that prompted this post) check out Prokofiev’s Toccata Op. 11.  Here it is on a piano.  Now add feet:  here is the same toccata on an organ.

Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concerto begins with a toccata.  The last movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 8 contains a toccata.  Also check out John Rutter’s Toccata in 7.

And now for the strings!  The last movement of John Adams’s Violin Concerto contains a toccata, and Hindemith’s Kammermusik No. 5, a viola concerto, also contains a toccata (he also wrote a Toccata for a Mechanical Piano, meaning a player piano, which you can see here).

If you’re ever having a blah day, and need a quick pick-me-up, try a toccata!


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Free Concert Webcasts Alert!

stick guy singing opera on a television with a viking helmet for an antenna

This morning, April 13, 2018 at 10:45 AM (GMT -4) The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will offer a free live webcast (see it here) with the following program:

Debussy: Printemps
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No 1 with violinist Ray Chen
Schumann: Symphony No 1, “Spring”
Hannu Lintu will conduct.

Tomorrow, April 14, 2018, OperaVision will present a live stream of events from Den Norske Opera in Oslo to celebrate the opera house’s 10th anniversary.  You can see it on the OperaVision YouTube channel.  Highlights of the broadcast will be an attempt at a world record (at 8:15AM ET, GMT-4) for the largest number of people singing Verdi’s aria Va Pensiero from the roof of the opera house (which can also be seen on OperaVision’s Facebook page), and a live performance of Verdi’s La Traviata at 3:00PM ET (GMT-4).