Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


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Free On-Demand Viewing of 10 Operas for the European Opera Days Celebration

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

The Opera Platform will present ten operas as part of the European Opera Days celebration, May 5-14, 2017.  On-demand viewing begins at midnight CET (11PM UTC; 7PM EDT).  Here’s what you can see:

Ginestera: Bomarzo from the Teatro Real Madrid

Bizet: Carmen, two performances, from the Latvian National Opera and the Opéra de Lyon

Vivaldi: Farnace from the Opéra National du Rhin Strasbourg

Janáček: Foxie! Cunning Little Vixen from La Monnaie De Munt Brussels

Rossini: Il Turco in Italia from the Bergen National Opera

Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea from Opéra de Lille

Charpentier: Médée from Theater Basel

Thordarson (Þórðarson): Ragnheiður

Mozart: The Magic Flute (set in outer space) from Den Norske Opera Oslo

Learn more about European Opera Days and the featured operas here.

See other operas currently available on The Opera Platform here.


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Free Live Webcast: Vivaldi, Mahler, Brubeck

Guitarist Sharon Isbin, photo by J. Henry Fair

Guitarist Sharon Isbin, photo by J. Henry Fair

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 8:00 EDT (GMT -5) the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a live concert webcast featuring guitarist Sharon Isbin.  The program will include Vivaldi’s Concerto for Lute and Orchestra in D major (R. 93), and new music from Chris Brubeck, Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra.  You can read the program notes for the Brubeck concerto here.  Chris Brubeck is the son of jazz great Dave Brubeck.  You can see the webcast at this link.

The program will conclude with a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 10 as completed by musicologist Deryck Cooke.  Leonard Slatkin will conduct.  Mahler had completed a draft of the symphony, but most of it was not orchestrated at the time of his death.  Mahler fans may be interested in this 1960 BBC broadcast recording featuring a lecture by Cooke and a performance of his first (incomplete) version of the symphony’s reconstruction.

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Image attribution: Photograph of Sharon Isbin by J. Henry Fair via http://www.sharonisbin.com/photos.html.


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Haiku Wednesday: Winter

Trees covered in ice and snowCardinal in ice-covered tree

Ice has turned the trees
Into a fine filigree:
A shawl of white lace,

Tracery beaded
With berries, ‘til cardinals
And jays replace them.

Water droplets cling
To the tips of icicles,
Forming pearl-edged fringe.

Winter’s shawl remains
Until spring smiles and dons her
New leafy green dress.

Snowy winters have been a great source of inspiration to countless composers.  I thought I’d present a few and give you some resources to find more if you would like a playlist that provides the sonic image of a snowy day (whether you’re in the midst of one looking out at the falling snow with a cup of hot cocoa, or sipping a cool drink while looking for a little relief from sweltering heat).

Here is Tchaikovsky’s December, performed by Denis Matsuev, from The Seasons.

And how can we forget Vivaldi?  Here is the first movement of Winter performed by Voices of Music from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Want more?  Check out WQXR’s page “10 Pieces That Sound Like a Winter Wonderland”, as well as Classic fm’s “Winter Music.”  If you subscribe to a music streaming service, I’m sure you can find more classical winter playlists for your listening pleasure.

And to close, a wonderful percussion performance of Debussy’s The Snow is Dancing from The Children’s Corner.

 

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Image attributions: Trees covered in snow and ice, photo by C. Gallant, 2016.  Cardinal in tree branches covered in ice, photo courtesy of Genuine Kentucky website [no photographer credit given], http://www.genuinekentucky.com/kentucky-is-even-beautiful-covered-in-ice-pictures-of-the-day/.


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Haiku Wednesday: Autumn and Vivaldi

A Wooded Path in Autumn, painting by H. A. Brendekilde, 1902

Fall paints its portrait.
The backdrop sky, so blue, and
Clouds, the brightest white.

Leaves start to transform,
Red, orange, yellow, and brown,
The painter’s palette.

Some leaves, still green yet,
Cling to dark branches dotted
With bright red berries.

The crisp autumn wind
Flutters leaves like brush strokes and
Carries them away.

Caught in the light breeze,
They sign the painter’s name as
They float to the ground.

When I think of autumn and music, the piece that first comes to mind is Autumn from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Here is Autumn played by Frederieke Saejis on the Guarneri “Ex-Reine Elisabeth” violin with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.  The words that appear in the video refer to the poem that Vivaldi included with the composition for each season.

 

Rapper Mo Trip (website) has used Autumn in his song So Wie Du Bist [The Way You Are], which you can see at the beginning of this video on Das Vivaldi ExperimentThe English translation of the German words can be found hereEducational materials have also been prepared as part of Das Vivaldi Experiment to introduce German-speaking schoolchildren to Vivaldi.  Ausgezeichnet! [Excellent!]

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Image attribution: A Wooded Path in Autumn (1902) by Hans Andersen Brendekilde [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AH._A._Brendekilde_-_A_wooded_path_in_autumn_(1902).jpg


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Haiku Wednesday: Vivaldi Discoveries Abound

Antonio VivaldiThey found new works by
Antonio Vivaldi
Hidden in plain sight.

You see, they weren’t
In Vivaldi’s handwriting,
But the style was his.

Who knows what wonders
Remain to be found in some
Library archive?

The earliest work of Antonio Vivaldi has been found in a library in Dresden, Germany.  Co-discoverer Javier Lupiáñez was examining 72 anonymous sonatas in the library’s archives when he realized that one of them might have been written by Vivaldi.   A watermark revealed that the manuscript of RV 820 (Trio sonata for violin and cello in G Major) came from Ansbach, where one of Vivaldi’s teachers, Giuseppe Torelli, lived. Researchers had not recognized it previously as being Vivaldi’s because it was written out by Johann Georg Pisendel, a friend of Vivaldi’s.  It is believed the work dates to around 1700, when Vivaldi was only 23.  A violin solo, in particular, had a distinctive Vivaldi technique unknown in the works of Corelli.  Lupiáñez is recognized as a co-discoverer of RV 820 with Federico Maria Sardelli.1   Sardelli discovered the work when he “stumbled by chance across one of the many anonymous manuscripts that his wife Bettina, also a musician, had gathered across Europe” and recognized the handwriting.2  You can see RV 820 here.

Javier Lupiáñez is acknowledged as the sole discoverer of RV 205/2 (Sonata for violin in A Major).1

Those keen on reading more on the discovery can read Lupiáñez’s paper on the new Vivaldi discoveries (once you set up a free account at academia.edu you can download the paper for reading).  A shorter description can be found here.

To hear a little of the new Vivaldi music, check out this lighthearted video.

This is not the first time new music from Vivaldi has come to light.  In 2012 an alternate score of Orlando Furioso was found.  While the best-known version is from 1727, a new score was found that was dated 1714.3  The history of Vivaldi discoveries can be explored hereA description of recent Vivaldi discoveries can be found here.

The co-discoverer of RV 820, Federico Maria Sardelli, who is in charge of updating the RV catalog of Vivaldi’s works, believes there is still much to be found.  “There was a complete Vivaldi silence for almost 200 years, which is very frustrating and very exciting at the same time because there is constantly a possibility of making new discoveries…Vivaldi’s body of work is like an erupting volcano.”2

Concerti con molten strumenti?

Recordings of the new works have been made by Lupiáñez’s group, Ensemble Scaramuccia and by Sardelli’s group Modo Antiquo (New Discoveries 1 and 2), among others.

References

  1. Unsigned article, “Hallan la primera sonata de Vivaldi en una biblioteca,” El Universal, 24 September 2016. Electronic version, http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/cultura/musica/2016/09/24/hallan-la-primera-sonata-de-vivaldi-en-una-biblioteca
  2. Cataldi, Benedetto, “World Premiere of Vivaldi’s Earliest Known Work,” BBC News, 7 February 2015. Electronic version, http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-31146354
  3. Alberge, Dalya, “Vivaldi’s Lost Masterpiece is Found in Library Archives,” The Guardian, 14 July 2012. Electronic version, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jul/15/orlando-furioso-vivaldi-1714-version

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Image attribution: Antonio Vivaldi by unknown painter, via http://www.scaramucciaensemble.com/en/new-discoveries-vivaldi-little-video/.  Apparently, the standard portrait of Vivaldi may not be him.  This was discovered in research by François Farges and Michel Ducastel-Delacroix, cited at http://www.scaramucciaensemble.com/en/new-discoveries-vivaldi-little-video/.


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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!

References

  1. http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/part2/vivaldi01.html

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Image attributions:

Miniature of ‘The Spanish Dance’; from Códice de trajes, Germany, 1547, BNE MS Res 285, ff. 2v-3r via http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/01/celebrating-an-anniversary-in-high-style.html.  The original can be found at the Biblioteca Nacional de España BNE MS Res 285, ff. 2v-3r, http://www.bne.es/es/Micrositios/Exposiciones/GeometriaPespuntes/Exposicion/Seccion2/Obra4.html?origen=galeria

Manuscript of Sumer Is Icumen In, MS Harley 978 f. 11v.  British Library digitized manuscript, via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASumer_is_icumen_in_-_Summer_Canon_(Reading_Rota)_(mid_13th_C)%2C_f.11v_-_BL_Harley_MS_978.jpg.  See the original (and more) at the British Library website  http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=harley_ms_978_f011v