Carl Czerny

Composer: Carl Czerny
Date of Birth: 21 February 1791
Date of Death: 15 July 1857
Nationality: Austrian
Period/Era/Style:
Contribution(s): Czerny was an Austrian composer, teacher, and pianist of Czech origin whose vast musical production amounted to over a thousand works. His books of studies for the piano are still widely used in piano teaching.

Biography: Carl Czerny was born in Vienna (Leopoldstadt) and was baptized in St. Leopold parish. His parents were of Czech origin; his mother was Moravian. His parents spoke the Czech language with him. Czerny came from a musical family: his grandfather was a violinist at Nymburk, near Prague, and his father, Wenzel, was an oboist, organist and pianist. When Czerny was six months old, his father took a job as a piano teacher at a Polish manor and the family moved to Poland, where they lived until the third partition of Poland prompted the family to return to Vienna in 1795.

A child prodigy, Czerny began playing piano at age three and composing at age seven. His first piano teacher was his father, who taught him mainly Bach, Haydn and Mozart. He began performing piano recitals in his parents’ home. Czerny made his first public performance in 1800 playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor.

Studies with Beethoven: In 1801, Wenzel Krumpholz, a Czech composer and violinist, scheduled a presentation for Czerny at the home of Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven asked Czerny to play his Pathétique Sonata and Adelaide. Beethoven was impressed with the 10-year-old and accepted him as a pupil. Czerny remained under Beethoven’s tutelage until 1804 and sporadically thereafter. He particularly admired Beethoven’s facility at improvisation, his expertise at fingering, the rapidity of his scales and trills, and his restrained demeanour while performing.

Czerny’s autobiography and letters give many important references to Beethoven during this period. Czerny was the first to report symptoms of Beethoven’s deafness, years before the matter became public: “I also noticed with that visual quickness peculiar to children that he had cotton which seemed to have been steeped in a yellowish liquid, in his ears.”

Czerny was selected by Beethoven for the premiere of the latter’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1806 and, at the age of 21, in February 1812, Czerny gave the Vienna premiere of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”. Czerny wrote that his musical memory enabled him to play all the Beethoven works by heart without exception and, during the years 1804–1805, he used to play these works in this manner at Prince Lichnowsky’s palace once or twice a week, with the Prince calling out only the desired opus numbers. Czerny maintained a relationship with Beethoven throughout his life, and also gave piano lessons to Beethoven’s nephew Carl.

Teacher and composer: At the age of fifteen, Czerny began a very successful teaching career. Basing his method on the teaching of Beethoven and Muzio Clementi, Czerny taught up to twelve lessons a day in the homes of Viennese nobility. His ‘star’ pupils included Theodor Döhler, Stephen Heller, Sigismond Thalberg, Leopoldine Blahetka and Ninette de Belleville. In 1819, the father of Franz Liszt brought his son to Czerny, who recalled:

He was a pale, sickly-looking child, who, while playing, swayed about on the stool as if drunk…His playing was…irregular, untidy, confused, and…he threw his fingers quite arbitrarily all over the keyboard. But that notwithstanding, I was astonished at the talent Nature had bestowed upon him.

Liszt became Czerny’s most famous pupil. He trained the child with the works of Beethoven, Clementi, Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Sebastian Bach. The Liszt family lived in the same street in Vienna as Czerny, who was so impressed by the boy that he taught him free of charge. Liszt was later to repay this confidence by introducing the music of Czerny at many of his Paris recitals. Shortly before Liszt’s Vienna concert of 13 April 1823 (his final concert of that season), Czerny arranged, with some difficulty (as Beethoven increasingly disliked child prodigies) the introduction of Liszt to Beethoven. Beethoven was sufficiently impressed with the young Liszt to give him a kiss on the forehead. Liszt remained close to Czerny, and in 1852 his Études d’exécution transcendente were published with a dedication to Czerny.

Czerny left Vienna only to make trips to Italy, France (in 1837, when he was assisted by Liszt) and England. After 1840, Czerny devoted himself exclusively to composition. He wrote a large number of piano solo exercises for the development of the pianistic technique (Gradus ad Parnassum), designed to cover from the first lessons for children up to the needs of the most advanced virtuoso.

Death: Czerny died in Vienna at the age of 66. He never married and had no near relatives. His large fortune he willed to charities (including an institution for the deaf), his housekeeper and the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, after making provision for the performance of a Requiem mass in his memory.

 Playlist of Examples:

 Playlist Tracklist:

  • Op. 14, Brilliant Variations on an Austrian Waltz
  • Op. 153, Concerto for piano four-hands and orchestra in C major
  • Op. 780, Symphony No. 1 in C minor “Grand Symphony”
  • Op. 781, Symphony No. 2 in D major
  • WoO Symphony No. 5 in E♭
  • WoO Symphony no. 6 in G minor
  • Op. 73, Variations on “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser”, for piano & orchestra
  • Op. 256, Fantasia concertante, for piano, flute and cello in G major
  • Op. 689, Grande Fantasy on the themes of ‘Norma’ by Vincenzo Bellini for piano, 6 hands
  • Op. 89, Capriccio à la fuga for the piano
  • Op. 204, Divertissement de concert, piano & orchestra
  • Op. 172, Gran Capriccio, in C minor
  • Op. 145, Great fantasy in the form of sonata, sonata No. 9 in B minor
  • Op. 740, Études, (The Art of Finger Dexterity) Nos. 7, 8, 25, 31, 35 & 36

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Arcangelo Corelli

Composer: Arcangelo Corelli
Date of Birth: 17 February 1653
Date of Death: 08 January 1713
Nationality: Italian
Period/Era/Style: Middle Baroque
Contribution(s): Corelli was an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era. His music was key in the development of the modern genres of sonata and concerto, in establishing the preeminence of the violin, and as the first coalescing of modern tonality and functional harmony.

Biography: Baptismal records indicate that Corelli was born on 17 February 1653 in the small Romagna town of Fusignano, then in the diocese of Ferrara, Papal States. His family were land-owners who had lived in Fusignano since 1506 (a Corelli moved to the area from Rome in the fifteenth century). Although apparently prosperous, they were almost certainly not of the nobility, as several fanciful accounts of the composer’s genealogy subsequently claimed. Corelli’s father, from whom he took the name Arcangelo, died five weeks before the composer’s birth. Consequently, he was raised by his mother, Santa (née Ruffini, or Raffini), alongside four elder siblings.

The wealth of anecdotes and legends attached to Corelli contrast sharply with the paucity of reliable contemporary evidence documenting events in his life. This gap is especially pronounced for his formative years, including his musical education, even though traditional accounts of a highly idealized childhood have long been debunked. According to the poet Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, who presumably knew the composer well, Corelli initially studied music under a priest in the nearby town of Faenza, and then in Lugo, before moving in 1666 to Bologna.

A major centre of musical culture of the time, Bologna had a flourishing school of violinists associated with Ercole Gaibara and his pupils, Giovanni Benvenuti and Leonardo Brugnoli. Reports by later sources link Corelli’s musical studies with several master violinists, including Benvenuti, Brugnoli, Bartolomeo Laurenti and Giovanni Battista Bassani. Although historically plausible, these accounts remain largely unconfirmed, as does the claim that the papal contralto Matteo Simonelli first taught him composition. A remark Corelli later made to a patron suggests that his musical education focused mainly on the violin.

Chronicles of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna indicate that Corelli was accepted as a member by 1670, at the exceptionally young age of seventeen. The credibility of this attribution has been disputed. Although the nickname Il Bolognese appears on the title-pages of Corelli’s first three published sets of works (Opus 1 to 3), the duration of his stay in Bologna remains unclear. Anecdotes of trips outside Italy to France, Germany and Spain lack any contemporary evidence. For example, the anecdote that Corelli’s continental fame stemmed from a trip to Paris at the age of nineteen, where he was chased away by an envious Jean-Baptiste Lully, seems to have originated with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It was also claimed that Corelli spent time in Germany in the service of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (supposedly in 1681), as well as in the house of his friend and fellow violinist-composer Cristiano Farinelli (between 1680 and 1685).

Although it is unclear quite when Corelli arrived in Rome, he was certainly active there by 1675, when “Arcangelo Bolognese” (as he was referred to) was engaged to play as one of the supporting violinists in lenten oratorios at the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, as well as in the French national celebrations held each year on 25 August at San Luigi dei Francesi and during the ordination of a member of the powerful Chigi family at Santi Domenico e Sisto. In August 1676, he was already playing second violin to the renowned Carlo Mannelli at San Luigi dei Francesi. Although Rome did not have any permanent orchestra providing stable employment for instrumentalists, Corelli rapidly made a name for himself, playing in a variety of ensembles sponsored by wealthy patrons, such as Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili, for whom he played in Lenten oratorios at San Marcello from 1676 to 1679.

In 1687 Corelli led the festival performances of music for Queen Christina of Sweden. He was also a favorite of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, grandnephew of another Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, who in 1689 became Pope Alexander VIII. From 1689 to 1690 he was in Modena. The Duke of Modena was generous to him. In 1708 he returned to Rome, living in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni. His visit to Naples, at the invitation of the king, took place in the same year.

The style of execution introduced by Corelli and preserved by his pupils, such as Francesco Geminiani, Pietro Locatelli, Pietro Castrucci, Francesco Gasparini, and others, was of vital importance for the development of violin playing. It has been said that the paths of all of the famous violinist-composers of 18th-century Italy led to Arcangelo Corelli, who was their “iconic point of reference”.

However, Corelli used only a limited portion of his instrument’s capabilities. This may be seen from his writings. The parts for violin very rarely proceed above D on the highest string, sometimes reaching the E in fourth position on the highest string. The story has been told and retold that Corelli refused to play a passage that extended to A in altissimo in the overture to Handel’s oratorio The Triumph of Time and Truth (premiered in Rome, 1708), and felt seriously offended when the composer (32 years his junior) played the note.

Nevertheless, his compositions for the instrument mark an epoch in the history of chamber music. His influence was not confined to his own country. Johann Sebastian Bach studied the works of Corelli and based an organ fugue (BWV 579) on Corelli’s Opus 3 of 1689. Handel’s Opus 6 Concerti Grossi take Corelli’s own older Opus 6 Concerti as models, rather than the later three-movement Venetian concerto of Antonio Vivaldi favoured by Bach.

Musical society in Rome also owed much to Corelli. He was received in the highest circles of the aristocracy, and for a long time presided at the celebrated Monday concerts in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni. Corelli died in Rome in possession of a fortune of 120,000 marks and a valuable collection of works of art and fine violins, the only luxury in which he had indulged. He left both to his benefactor and friend, who generously made over the money to Corelli’s relatives. Corelli is buried in the Pantheon at Rome.

His concerti grossi have often been popular in Western culture. For example, a portion of the Christmas Concerto, Op. 6 No. 8, is in the soundtrack of the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Corelli’s Op. 6 No. 2 also provided the theme for Sir Michael Tippett’s Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli.

 Playlist Tracklist:

  • Opus 1: 12 sonate da chiesa (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1681)
  • Opus 2: 12 sonate da camera (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1685)
  • Opus 3: 12 sonate da chiesa (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1689)
  • Opus 4: 12 sonate da camera (trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo) (Rome 1694)
  • Opus 5: 12 Suonati a violino e violone o cimbalo (6 sonate da chiesa and 6 sonate da camera for violin and continuo) (Rome 1700) The last sonata is a set of variations on La Folia.
  • Opus 6: 12 concerti grossi (8 concerti da chiesa and 4 concerti da camera for concertino of 2 violins and cello, string ripieno, and continuo) (Amsterdam 1714)
  • Sonate Op. 5, No. 12 “La Follia”

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Quincy Porter

Composer: Quincy Porter
Date of Birth: February 7, 1897
Date of Death: November 12, 1966
Nationality: American
Period/Era/Style: 20th Century
Contribution(s): Porter was an American composer and teacher of classical music.

Biography: Born in New Haven, Connecticut, he went to Yale University where his teachers included Horatio Parker and David Stanley Smith. Porter received two awards while studying music at Yale: the Osborne Prize for Fugue, and the Steinert Prize for orchestral composition. He performed the winning composition, a violin concerto, at graduation. Porter earned two degrees at Yale, an A.B. from Yale College and a Mus. B from the music school.

After graduation, he spent a year in Paris, studying at Schola Cantorum, then went to New York where he studied with Ernest Bloch and Vincent d’Indy. In 1923 Porter joined the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music where he was later appointed head of the Theory Department. He remained there until 1928 when he resigned to focus on composition. Returning to Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship Porter began composing in earnest. During his 3 years in Paris, he composed Blues Lointains (1928), the Suite for Viola Alone (1930), his 3rd String Quartet (1930), 4th String Quartet (1931), his 2nd Violin Sonata (1929), and his Piano Sonata (1930). During the first trip, his daughter, Helen, was born.

In 1931 Porter returned to the United States, first rejoining the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music, then teaching at Vassar, where he was appointed a professor in 1932. In 1954, Porter’s 1953 Concerto Concertante, a concerto for two pianos and orchestra, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Tawa calls the piece, “affectively compelling, orchestrally luminous, and contrapuntally active”; cooperative rather than competitive. In 1938 later Porter became dean (1938–42) and then director (1942–46) of the New England Conservatory of Music, and in 1946 returned to Yale, as professor, to teach until 1965. Porter also served, from 1958 until his death, as chairman of the board of directors of the American Music Center, which he had founded with Howard Hanson and Aaron Copland in 1939. He died in Bethany, Connecticut.

He wrote a substantial amount in the “absolute (established) forms”, including nine string quartets (1923–1953), several concertos (including one for harpsichord, one for viola, and one for two pianos, the latter work receiving the 1954 Pulitzer Prize for Music), and two symphonies. His later music—while tonal—is harmonicallyacerbic and dissonant.

 

Playlist 1:

  • Symphony No. 1 (1934)
  • Symphony No. 2 (1962)
  • Poem and Dance (1932)
  • Viola Concerto (1948)
  • Ukrainian Suite – complete
  • Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra (“Concerto concertante”)
  • In Monasterio, for string quartet
  • Our Lady Of Potchaiv (1923), for string quartet
  • Scherzo for String Quartet
  • Fugue for String Quartet
  • Suite for Viola Solo
Playlist 2:

  • String Quartet No. 1 in E minor (1923)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1925)
  • String Quartet No. 3 (1930)
  • String Quartet No. 4 (1931)
  • String Quartet No. 5 (1935)
  • String Quartet No. 6 (1937)
  • String Quartet No. 7 (1943)
  • String Quartet No. 8 (1950) – complete
  • String Quartet No. 9 (1958)

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Wilhelm Stenhammar

Composer: Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar
Date of Birth: February 7, 1871
Date of Death: November 20, 1927
Nationality: Swedish
Period/Era/Style: Romantic / 20th Century Transition
Contribution(s): Stenhammar was a Swedish composer, conductor and pianist.

Biography: Stenhammar was born in Stockholm, and was the brother of architect Ernst Stenhammar. He received his first musical education in Stockholm. He then went to Berlin to further his studies in music. He became a glowing admirer of German music, particularly that of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner. Stenhammar himself described the style of his First Symphony in F major as “idyllic Bruckner”. He subsequently sought to emancipate himself and write in a more “Nordic” style, looking to Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius for guidance. The latter’s Symphony No. 2, especially, had a great effect on him, leading him to change his style and refuse to refer to his First Symphony as anything but a trivial piece.

From 1906 to 1922 he was Artistic Director and chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, the first full-time professional orchestra in Sweden. In this capacity, he organised many performances of music by contemporary Scandinavian composers. In 1909, he briefly held the position of director of music at Uppsala University, where he was succeeded the following year by Hugo Alfvén.

Wilhelm Stenhammar died of a stroke at 56 years of age in Jonsered in the historic province of Västergötland. He is buried in Gothenburg.

Works: His works were quite varied and included two completed symphonies, a substantial Serenade for Orchestra, two piano concertos, four piano sonatas, a violin sonata, six string quartets, many songs and other vocal works, including several large-scale works for chorus or voices and orchestra: the early ballad Florez och Blanzeflor, Op. 3, written around 1891, Ithaka, Op. 21, from 1904, the cantatas Ett folk (A people) from 1905 and Sången (The song), Op. 44, from 1921.

Writing in The Chamber Music Journal, R.H.R. Silvertrust notes that Stenhammar’s six string quartets are the most important written between those of Johannes Brahms and Béla Bartók. Whether or not this is so, there is no denying that Stenhammar’s quartets represent a very important development during the twenty-five years he was writing chamber music. Tonally, they range from the middle late Romantics to a style akin to mature Sibelius. Though not unknown by the Swedish chamber music public, his string quartets have been neglected elsewhere. In 2008 Musikaliska konstföreningen published the world premiere edition of his Allegro Brillante for piano quartet composed in 1891 and his Allegro non tanto for piano trio composed in 1895.

Stenhammar was considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time. Pianists who venture into the realm of the string quartet often wind up writing compositions which sound as though they were composed at, and are perhaps better played on, the piano. That Stenhammar’s works show no such trait is because for nearly half of his life, he worked intimately with the Aulin Quartet, the top Swedish string quartet of his day and one of the best then performing in Europe. In fact, he toured throughout Europe with them for many years and a piano quintet was nearly always featured on their programmes. Thus it is no accident that his quartets show a fine grasp of instrumental timbre and technique. The part writing is sure, always idiomatic and evenly distributed.

Stenhammar recorded five piano rolls for Welte-Mignon on 21 September 1905.

 Playlist Tracklist:

  • Piano Concerto No. 1 in B♭ minor, Op. 1 (1893)
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23 (1904–1907)
  • Symphony No. 1 in F major (1902–03, withdrawn)
  • Symphony No. 2 in G minor, Op. 34 (1911–1915)
  • Symphony No. 3 in C major (1918–19, fragment)
  • Excelsior! Concert Overture, Op. 13 (1896)
  • A Dream Play, Concert version of the incidental music Op. 36 (1916)
  • As You Like It, Selections from the incidental music (1920)
  • Choral Songs (3) – 1. September (Alle de voksende skygger)
  • Ett Folk (cantata), Op. 22 (1904–1905) – complete
  • Sången (symphonic cantata for soloists, mixed chorus, children’s choir and orchestra), Op. 44 (1921) – Intermezzo
  • Romances (2) for Violin & Piano, Op. 28 – complete
  • Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 19 (1899–1900) – complete
  • Fantasies (3) for piano, Op 11 – complete

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Felix Mendelssohn

Composer: Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Date of Birth: 03 February 1809
Date of Death: 04 November 1847
Nationality: German
Period/Era/Style: Early Romantic
Contribution(s): Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early romantic period. Mendelssohn wrote symphonies, concertos, oratorios, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. His Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions. After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and antisemitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality has been re-evaluated. He is now among the most popular composers of the romantic era.

A grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family. He was brought up without religion until the age of seven, when he was baptised as a Reformed Christian. Felix was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his talent.

Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, and revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, notably with his performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1829. He became well received in his travels throughout Europe as a composer, conductor and soloist; his ten visits to Britain  – during which many of his major works were premiered – form an important part of his adult career. His essentially conservative musical tastes set him apart from more adventurous musical contemporaries such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Charles-Valentin Alkan and Hector Berlioz. The Leipzig Conservatoire, which he founded, became a bastion of this anti-radical outlook.

Biography: Life: Childhood   |    Surname    |    Career: Musical education   |   Early maturity    |   Meeting Goethe and conducting Bach   |   Düsseldorf   |   Leipzig and Berlin   |   Mendelssohn in Britain   |   Death   |   Personal life: Personality   |   Religion   |   Mendelssohn and his contemporaries    |    Marriage and children   |    Jenny Lind

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Franz Schubert

Composer: Franz Peter Schubert
Date of Birth: 31 January 1797
Date of Death: 19 November 1828
Nationality: German
Period/Era/Style: Classical / Romantic transition
Contribution(s): Schubert died at age 31, but was extremely prolific during his lifetime. His output consists of over 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.

Appreciation of Schubert’s music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and other 19th-century composers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical and early Romantic eras and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early 19th century.

Biography   |   Early life and education   |   Teacher at his father’s school   |   Supported by friends   |    Musical maturity  |   Last years and masterworks   |   Final illness and death   |   Music   |   Style   |   Instrumental music, stage works and church music   |   Lieder and art songs   |   Publication – catalogue   |   Complete editions   |   Deutsch catalogue   |   Numbering issues   |   Recognition   |   Tributes by other musicians   |   Commemorations   |   Portrayal in film  |   Filmography

Symphony No. 1 in D Major, D. 82
Symphony No. 2 in B-Flat Major, D. 125
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200
Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, D. 417 ‘Tragic’
Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, D. 485
Symphony No. 6 in C Major, D. 589
Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D.759 ‘Die Unvollendete’
Symphony No. 9 in C Major, Op. posth., D. 944 ‘The Great’
Symphony No. 3 in D major
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
Symphony No. 8 in B minor – Unfinished
Moment Musical Op. 94 D 780
“Polonaise” in B flat major D 580
Piano sonata n. 19 in B flat D 960
Scherzo No. 1
“Rosamunde” Intermezzo in B flat major
Ave Maria
Violin Sonata in A Major, D. 574
Fantasie in C Major, D. 934
Violin Sonata in D Major, D. 384
Violin Sonata in A Minor, D. 385
Violin Sonata in G Minor, D. 408
Rondo in B Minor, D. 895
Arpeggione Sonata in A Minor, D. 821
1. Symphony No. 5 (Excerpt)
2. Ellens Gesang 3, Op. 52/6, D 839, “Ave Maria”
3. Impromptu In G Flat, D 899
4. German Dance No. 1 In C, D 90
5. String Quintet In C Major D. 956 – II. Adagio (Excerpt)
6. Symphony No. 9 In C Major Great D. 944 – III. Scherzo, Allegro vivace (Excerpt)
7. Standchen
8. Piano Quintet In A, Op. 114, D 667, “Trout” (Excerpt)
9. Moment Musical No. 3 In F Minor, Op. 94, D 780
10. Impromptus, Op. 90, D 899 – #4 In A Flat
11. Symphony No. 3 In D, D 200 – Allegretto
12. Menuet (From “3 Small Pieces”)
13. Piano Sonata In A, D 664 (Excerpt)
14. Tantum Ergo In E Flat, D 962
15. Mass No. 6 In E-Flat Major D. 950 – III. Credo: Et in carnatus est
16. Symphony No. 8 In B Minor, D 759, “Unfinished” – 2. Andante Con Moto

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Georg Christoph Wagenseil

Composer: Georg Christoph Wagenseil
Date of Birth: 29 January 1715
Date of Death: 01 March 1777
Nationality: Austrian
Period/Era/Style: Early Classical
Contribution(s): Wagenseil was an Austrian composer.

He was born in Vienna, and became a favorite pupil of the Vienna court’s Kapellmeister, Johann Joseph Fux. Wagenseil himself composed for the court from 1739 to his death. He also held positions as harpsichordist and organist. His pupils included Johann Baptist Schenk (who was to teach Ludwig van Beethoven), and Marie Antoinette. He traveled little, and died in Vienna having spent most of his life there.

Wagenseil was a well-known musical figure in his day — both Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are known to have been familiar with his works. His early works are Baroque, while his later pieces are in the Classical style. He composed a number of operas, choral works, symphonies, concertos, chamber music and keyboard pieces.

 Playlist of Examples:
 Playlist Tracklist:

  • Concerto in E-flat major for oboe & bassoon, WWV 345
  • Concerto for Harp, Two Violins and Cello
  • Symphony in G major, WV 413
  • Symphony in G minor, WV 418
  • Symphony in B flat major, WV 441
  • Symphony in B flat major, WV 438
  • Symphony in D major (WV 374, D10)
  • Sonata IV in A major
  • Symphony in A Op.12 Nº 5

 

 

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart
Date of Birth: 27 January 1756
Date of Death: 05 December 1791
Nationality: Austrian
Period/Era/Style: Late Classical
Contribution(s): Mozart was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

Born in Salzburg, he showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35.

The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote: “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”.

Biography: Life and career: Early life   |   Family and childhood   |   1762–73: Travel   |   1773–77: Employment at the Salzburg court   |   1777–78: Journey to Paris   |   Vienna   |   1781: Departure   |   Early years   |   Marriage and children   |   1782–1786   |   1786–87: Return to opera   |   Later years    |   1788–90   |   1791  |   Final illness and death

Music: Mozart’s Works by Köchel Numbers: These are selective video playlists of the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, listed by assigned  Köchel (KV) number. For a complete and chronologically ordered list, see Köchel catalogue.

KV 1-50 KV 201-250 KV 401-450  KV 601-626b
KV 51-100 KV 251-300 KV 451-500  KV deest (Uncatalogued works attributed to Mozart.)
KV 101-150 KV 301-350 KV 501-550  KV Anhang (Arrangements, Spurious Works, Misattributions & Forgeries.)
KV 151-200 KV 351-400 KV 551-600  KV Appendix C (Spurious Works & Forgeries)

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Works by Mozart

Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga

Composer: Juan Crisóstomo Jacobo Antonio de Arriaga y Balzola
Date of Birth: January 27, 1806
Date of Death: January 17, 1826
Nationality: Spanish Basque
Period/Era/Style: Early Romantic
Contribution(s): Arriaga was a Spanish Basque composer. He was nicknamed “the Spanish Mozart” after he died, because, like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he was both a child prodigy and an accomplished composer who died young. They also shared the same first and second baptismal names; and they shared the same birthday, January 27 (fifty years apart).

Biography: Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga was born in Bilbao, Biscay, on what would have been Mozart’s fiftieth birthday. His father (Juan Simón de Arriaga) and the boy’s older brother first taught him music. Juan Simón had some musical talent and at age seventeen was an organist at a church in Berriatúa. He worked in Guernica and in 1802 moved to Bilbao and became a merchant in wool, rice, wax, coffee, and other commodities. The income generated in this way allowed Juan Simón to think about providing his son, who had shown prodigious musical talent, a way of developing those gifts.

In September 1822 Arriaga’s father, with the encouragement of composer José Sobejano y Ayala (1791–1857), sent Juan Crisóstomo to Paris, where in November of that year Arriaga began his studies. These included the violin under Pierre Baillot, counterpoint with Luigi Cherubini and harmony under François-Joseph Fétis at the Paris Conservatoire. From all evidence, Arriaga made quite an impression on his teachers. In 1823, Cherubini, who had become director at the Conservatoire the previous year, famously asked on hearing the young composer’s Stabat Mater, “Who wrote this?” and learning it was Arriaga, said to him, “Amazing – you are music itself.”

Arriaga soon became a teaching assistant in Fétis’s class, and also became noted both among the students and other faculty at the Conservatoire for his talent. Cherubini referred to Arriaga’s fugue for eight voices (also lost) based on the Credo Et Vitam Venturi simply as “a masterpiece”, and Fétis was no less effusive—apparently, what impressed all his mentors was Arriaga’s ability to use musically sophisticated harmonies, counterpoint, and related techniques, without having been taught. Fétis was already familiar with Arriaga’s now-lost opera Los Esclavos Felices (“The Happy Slaves”), stating that “without any knowledge whatsoever of harmony, Juan Crisóstomo wrote a Spanish opera containing wonderful and completely original ideas.” Arriaga was well-supported during his four years in Paris by his father, but the intensity of his commitment to his studies at the Conservatoire and the almost meteoric rise one could expect based on his teachers’ compliments and assessments of his promise, may have taken a toll on his health. Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga died in Paris ten days before his twentieth birthday, of a lung ailment (possibly tuberculosis), or exhaustion, perhaps both. He was buried in an unmarked grave at the Cimetière du Nord in Montmartre. Thanks to the Spanish Embassy, there is since 1977 a plaque marking the house at 314 rue Saint-Honoré in memory of the composer.

 Playlist of Examples:

 Playlist Tracklist:

  • String Quartet No. 1 in D major – complete
  • String Quartet No. 2 in A major – complete
  • String Quartet No. 3 in E♭ major – complete
  • Symphony in D major
  • Overture: “Los esclavos felices”
  • Overture “Nonetto”, Op. 1, for small orchestra
  • Overture in D major, Op. 20, for orchestra
  • Motet “Stabat Mater”, for two tenors, bass and orchestra

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Arriaga: Chamber Works    .99¢
Arriaga: Choral Works    .99¢
Arriaga: Orchestral Works    .99¢
Arriaga: Piano Works    .49¢

Witold Lutosławski

Composer: Witold Roman Lutosławski
Date of Birth: 25 January 1913
Date of Death: 07 February 1994
Nationality: Polish
Period/Era/Style: 20th century
Contribution(s): Lutosławski was a Polish composer and orchestral conductor. He was one of the major European composers of the 20th century, and one of the preeminent Polish musicians during his last three decades. He earned many international awards and prizes. His compositions (of which he was a notable conductor) include four symphonies, a Concerto for Orchestra, a string quartet, instrumental works, concertos, and orchestral song cycles.

During his youth, Lutosławski studied piano and composition in Warsaw. His early works were influenced by Polish folk music. His style demonstrates a wide range of rich atmospheric textures. He began developing his own characteristic composition techniques in the late 1950s. His music from this period onwards incorporates his own methods of building harmonies from small groups of musical intervals. It also uses aleatoric processes, in which the rhythmic coordination of parts is subject to an element of chance.

During World War II, after escaping German capture, Lutosławski made a living by playing the piano in Warsaw bars. After the war, Stalinist authorities banned his First Symphony for being “formalist”—allegedly accessible only to an elite. Lutosławski believed such anti-formalism was an unjustified retrograde step, and he resolutely strove to maintain his artistic integrity. In the 1980s, Lutosławski gave artistic support to the Solidarity movement. Near the end of his life, he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest honour.

Biography: World War II   |   Post-war years   |   Maturity   |   International renown   |   Final years

 Playlist of Examples:
 Playlist Tracklist:

  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Two Pianos
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
  • Symphony No. 1
  • Symphony No. 2
  • Concerto for Orchestra
  • Symphonic Variations
  • Double Concerto for Oboe & Harp

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Lutosławski: Orchestral Works 1: Symphonies
.99¢
Lutosławski: Orchestral Works: 2
.99¢
Lutosławski: Orchestral Works: 3
.99¢

 

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