Anton Arensky (1861-1906) was a Russian composer of Romantic classical music, a pianist and a professor of music.
Composer full Name: Anton Stepanovich Arensky
Date of Birth: 12 July 1861
Date of Death: 25 February 1906
Nationality: ?? Russian
Biography: Arensky was born in a music-loving, affluent family in Novgorod, Russia. He was musically precocious and had composed a number of songs and piano pieces by the age of nine. With his mother and father, he moved to Saint Petersburg in 1879, after which he studied composition at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
After graduating from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1882, Arensky became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Among his students there were Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Gretchaninov.
In 1895 Arensky returned to Saint Petersburg as the director of the Imperial Choir, a post for which he had been recommended by Mily Balakirev. He retired from this position in 1901, living off a comfortable pension and spending his remaining time as a pianist, conductor, and composer.
Arensky died of tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Perkjärvi, in what was then the Russian-administered Grand Duchy of Finland, at the age of 44. While very little is known about his private life, Rimsky-Korsakov alleges that drinking and gambling undermined his health. He was buried in the Tikhvin Cemetery.
The Antarctic Arensky Glacier was named after him.
Ottorino Respighi (9 July 1879 – 18 April 1936) was an Italian violinist, composer and musicologist, best known for his three orchestral tone poems Fountains of Rome (1916), Pines of Rome (1924), and Roman Festivals (1928). His musicological interest in 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century music led him to compose pieces based on the music of these periods. He also wrote several operas, the most famous being La fiamma.
Composer full Name: Ottorino Respighi
Date of Birth: 09 July 1879
Date of Death: 18 April 1936
Period/Era/Style: 20th century, impressionism
Biography: Early life:Ottorino Respighi was born on 9 July 1879 in an apartment inside Palazzo Fantuzzi on Via Guido Reni in Bologna, Italy, into a musical family. His father, a local piano teacher, encouraged his son’s musical inclinations and taught him basic piano and violin at an early age. Not long into his violin lessons, however, Respighi suddenly quit after his teacher whacked him on the hand with a ruler when he had played a passage incorrectly. He resumed lessons several weeks later with a more patient teacher. His piano skills too, were a hit and miss affair, but his father arrived home one day surprised to find his son reciting Symphonic Studies by Robert Schumannon the family piano, revealing that he had learned it by himself in secret.
Respighi studied the violin and viola with Federico Sarti at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna, composition with Giuseppe Martucci, and historical studies with Luigi Torchi, a scholar of early music. Respighi passed his exams and received a diploma in the violin, in 1899. By the time his studies had finished, he had acquired a large book collection, the majority of which were atlases and dictionaries due to his interest in languages.
Percy Grainger (08 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist. In the course of a long and innovative career, he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. Although much of his work was experimental and unusual, the piece with which he is most generally associated is his piano arrangement of the folk-dance tune “Country Gardens”.
Grainger left Australia at the age of 13 to attend the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Between 1901 and 1914 he was based in London, where he established himself first as a society pianist and later as a concert performer, composer and collector of original folk melodies. As his reputation grew he met many of the significant figures in European music, forming important friendships with Frederick Delius and Edvard Grieg. He became a champion of Nordic music and culture, his enthusiasm for which he often expressed in private letters, sometimes in crudely racial or anti-Semitic terms.
In 1914, Grainger moved to the United States, where he lived for the rest of his life, though he travelled widely in Europe and in Australia. He served briefly as a bandsman in the United States Army during 1917–18, and took American citizenship in 1918. After his mother’s suicide in 1922 he became increasingly involved in educational work. He also experimented with music machines that he hoped would supersede human interpretation. In the 1930s he set up the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, his birthplace, as a monument to his life and works and as a future research archive. As he grew older he continued to give concerts and to revise and rearrange his own compositions, while writing little new music. After the Second World War, ill health reduced his levels of activity, and he considered his career a failure. He gave his last concert in 1960, less than a year before his death
Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) was an Austro-Bohemian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century. In 2016, a BBC Music Magazine survey of 151 conductors ranked three of hissymphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time.
Composer full Name: Gustav Mahler
Date of Birth: 07 July 1860
Date of Death: 18 May 1911
Period/Era/Style: Late Romantic/20th Century
Biography: Born in Bohemia (then part of the Austrian Empire) as a German-speaking Jew of humble circumstances, Mahler displayed his musical gifts at an early age. After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper). During his ten years in Vienna, Mahler—who had converted to Catholicism to secure the post—experienced regular opposition and hostility from the anti-Semitic press. Nevertheless, his innovative productions and insistence on the highest performance standards ensured his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Late in his life he was briefly director of New York’s Metropolitan Operaand the New York Philharmonic.
Mahler’s œuvre is relatively limited; for much of his life composing was necessarily a part-time activity while he earned his living as a conductor. Aside from early works such as a movement from a piano quartet composed when he was a student in Vienna, Mahler’s works are generally designed for large orchestral forces, symphonic choruses and operatic soloists. These works were frequently controversial when first performed, and several were slow to receive critical and popular approval; exceptions included his Second Symphony, Third Symphony, and the triumphant premiere of his Eighth Symphony in 1910. Some of Mahler’s immediate musical successors included the composers of the Second Viennese School, notably Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten are among later 20th-century composers who admired and were influenced by Mahler. The International Gustav Mahler Institute was established in 1955 to honour the composer’s life and work.
Stephen Foster (1826-1864) born on the 4th of July, known as “the father of American music”, was an American songwriter known primarily for his parlor and minstrel music. Foster wrote over 200 songs; among his best-known are “Oh! Susanna“, “Hard Times Come Again No More“, “Camptown Races“, “Old Folks at Home” (“Swanee River”), “My Old Kentucky Home“, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair“, “Old Black Joe“, and “Beautiful Dreamer“. Many of his compositions remain popular more than 150 years after he wrote them. His compositions are thought to be autobiographical. He has been identified as “the most famous songwriter of the nineteenth century” and may be the most recognizable American composer in other countries. His compositions are sometimes referred to as “childhood songs” because they have been included in the music curriculum of early education. Most of his handwritten music manuscripts are lost, but copies printed by publishers of his day can be found in various collections.
Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist and teacher. He was inspired by Moravian and other Slavic folk music to create an original, modern musical style
Until 1895 he devoted himself mainly to folkloristic research and his early musical output was influenced by contemporaries such as Antonín Dvořák. His later, mature works incorporate his earlier studies of national folk music in a modern, highly original synthesis, first evident in the opera Jenůfa, which was premiered in 1904 in Brno. The success of Jenůfa (often called the “Moravian national opera”) at Prague in 1916 gave Janáček access to the world’s great opera stages. Janáček’s later works are his most celebrated. They include operas such as Káťa Kabanová and The Cunning Little Vixen, the Sinfonietta, the Glagolitic Mass, the rhapsody Taras Bulba, two string quartets, and other chamber works. Along with Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana, he is considered one of the most important Czech composers.
Gluck was a composer of Italian and French opera in the early classical period. Born in the Upper Palatinate and raised in Bohemia, both part of the Holy Roman Empire, he gained prominence at the Habsburg court at Vienna. There he brought about the practical reform of opera’s dramaturgical practices for which many intellectuals had been campaigning. With a series of radical new works in the 1760s, among them Orfeo ed Euridice and Alceste, he broke the stranglehold that Metastasian opera seria had enjoyed for much of the century. Gluck introduced more drama by using simpler recitative and cutting the usually long da capo aria. His later operas have half the length of a typical baroque opera.
The strong influence of French opera encouraged Gluck to move to Paris in November 1773. Fusing the traditions of Italian opera and the French (with rich chorus) into a unique synthesis, Gluck wrote eight operas for the Parisian stage. Iphigénie en Tauride was a great success and is generally acknowledged to be his finest work. Though he was extremely popular and widely credited with bringing about a revolution in French opera, Gluck’s mastery of the Parisian operatic scene was never absolute, and after the poor reception of his Echo et Narcisse, he left Paris in disgust and returned to Vienna to live out the remainder of his life.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.
Composer full Name: Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
Date of Birth: 17 June [O.S. 5 June] 1882
Date of Death: 06 April 1971
Nationality: Russian-born, Naturalized American in 1945
Period/Era/Style: 20th century
Contribution(s): Stravinsky’s compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresarioSerge Diaghilev and first performed in Paris by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: The Firebird(1910), Petrushka (1911), and The Rite of Spring (1913). The last of these transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure and was largely responsible for Stravinsky’s enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary who pushed the boundaries of musical design. His “Russian phase” which continued with works such as Renard, the Soldier’s Tale and Les Noces, was followed in the 1920s by a period in which he turned to neoclassical music. The works from this period tended to make use of traditional musical forms (concerto grosso, fugue and symphony), drawing on earlier styles, especially from the 18th century. In the 1950s, Stravinsky adopted serial procedures. His compositions of this period shared traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells and clarity of form, and of instrumentation.
Composer full Name: STRAUSS, Richard Georg
Date of Birth: June 11, 1864
Date of Death: September 8, 1949
Period/Era/Style: Late Romantic / 20th Century
Contribution(s): Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; his tone poems, including Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben, Symphonia Domestica, and An Alpine Symphony; and other instrumental works such as Metamorphosen and his Oboe Concerto. Strauss was also a prominent conductor in Western Europe and the Americas, enjoying quasi-celebrity status as his compositions became standards of orchestral and operatic repertoire.
Strauss, along with Gustav Mahler, represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.
Composer full Name: GOUNOD, Charles François
Date of Birth: 17 June 1818
Date of Death: 17 or 18 October 1893
Period/Era/Style: Early Romantic
Contribution(s): Gounod was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria, based on a work by Bach, as well as his opera Faust. Another opera by Gounod occasionally still performed is Roméo et Juliette.
Gounod died at Saint-Cloud in 1893, after a final revision of his twelve operas. His funeral took place ten days later at the Church of the Madeleine, with Camille Saint-Saëns playing the organ and Gabriel Fauré conducting. He was buried at the Cimetière d’Auteuil in Paris.
Biography: Gounod was born in Paris, the son of a pianist mother and an artist father. His mother was his first piano teacher. Gounod first showed his musical talents under her tutelage. He then entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under Fromental Halévy and Pierre Zimmerman (he later married Anne, Zimmerman’s daughter). In 1839 he won the Prix de Rome for his cantata Fernand. In so doing he was following his father: François-Louis Gounod (d. 1823) had won the second Prix de Rome in painting in 1783. During his stay in Italy, Gounod studied the music of Palestrina and other sacred works of the sixteenth century; he never ceased to cherish them. Around 1846-47 he gave serious consideration to joining the priesthood, but he changed his mind before actually taking holy orders, and went back to composition. During that period he was attached to the Church of Foreign Missions in Paris.
In 1854 Gounod completed a Messe Solennelle, also known as the St. Cecilia Mass. This work was first performed in its entirety in the church of St. Eustache in Paris on Saint Cecilia’s Day, 22 November 1855; Gounod’s fame as a noteworthy composer dates from that occasion.
During 1855 Gounod wrote two symphonies. His Symphony No. 1 in D major was the inspiration for the Symphony in C composed later that year by Georges Bizet, who was then Gounod’s 17-year-old student. In the CD era a few recordings of these pieces have emerged: by Michel Plasson conducting the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, and by Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of Felix Mendelssohn, introduced the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach to Gounod, who came to revere Bach. For him The Well-Tempered Clavier was “the law to pianoforte study…the unquestioned textbook of musical composition”. It inspired Gounod to devise a melody and superimpose it on the C major Prelude (BWV 846) from The Well-Tempered Clavier Bk. 1. To this melody in 1859 (after the deaths of both Mendelssohn siblings), Gounod fitted the words of the Ave Maria, resulting in a setting that became world-famous.
Gounod wrote his first opera, Sapho, in 1851 at the urging of his friend, the singer Pauline Viardot; it was a commercial failure. He had no great theatrical success until Faust (1859), derived from Goethe. This remains the composition for which he is best known; and although it took a while to achieve popularity, it became one of the most frequently staged operas of all time, with no fewer than 2,000 performances of the work having occurred by 1975 at the Paris Opéra alone. The romantic and melodious Roméo et Juliette(based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet), premiered in 1867, is revived now and then but has never come close to matching Faust‘s popular following. Mireille, first performed in 1864, has been admired by connoisseurs rather than by the general public. The other Gounod operas have fallen into oblivion.
From 1870 to 1874 Gounod lived in England, at 17 Morden Road, Blackheath. A blue plaque has been put up on the house to show where he lived. He became the first conductor of what is now the Royal Choral Society. Much of his music from this time is vocal, although he also composed the Funeral March of a Marionette in 1872. (This received a new lease of life in 1955 when it was first used as the theme for the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.) He became entangled with the amateur English singer Georgina Weldon, a relationship (platonic, it seems) which ended in great acrimony and embittered litigation. Gounod had lodged with Weldon and her husband in London’s Tavistock House.
He performed publicly many times with Ferdinando de Cristofaro, a mandolin virtuoso living in Paris. Gounod was said to take pleasure in accompanying Cristofaro’s mandolin compositions with piano.
Later in his life Gounod returned to his early religious impulses, writing much sacred music. His Pontifical Anthem (Marche Pontificale, 1869) eventually (1949) became the official national anthem of Vatican City. He expressed a desire to compose his Messe à la mémoire de Jeanne d’Arc (1887) while kneeling on the stone on which Joan of Arc knelt at the coronation of Charles VII of France. A devout Catholic, he had on his piano a music-rack in which was carved an image of the face of Jesus.
He was made a Grand Officer of the Légion d’honneur in July 1888. In 1893, shortly after he had put the finishing touches to a requiem written for his grandson, he died of a stroke in Saint-Cloud, France.