Anthony Tommasini on composers

When he began to listen to the great works of classical music as a child, Anthony Tommasini had many questions. Why did a particular piece move him? How did the music work? Over time, he realized that his passion for this music was not enough. He needed to understand it. Take Bach, for starters. Who was he? How does one account for his music and its unshakeable hold on us today? As a critic, Tommasini has devoted particular attention to living composers and overlooked repertory. But, like all classical music lovers, the canon has remained central for him. In 2011, in his role as the Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times, he wrote a popular series in which he somewhat cheekily set out to determine the all-time top ten composers. Inviting input from readers, Tommasini wrestled with questions of greatness. Readers joined the exercise in droves. Some railed against classical music’s obsession with greatness but then raged when Mahler was left off the final list. This intellectual game reminded them why they loved music in the first place. Now in THE INDISPENSABLE COMPOSERS, Tommasini offers his own personal guide to the canon--and what greatness really means in classical music. What does it mean to be canonical now? Who gets to say? And do we have enough perspective on the 20th century to even begin assessing it? To make his case, Tommasini draws on elements of biography, the anxiety of influence, the composer's relationships with colleagues, and shifting attitudes toward a composer's work over time. Because he has spent his life contemplating these titans, Tommasini shares impressions from performances he has heard or given or moments when his own biography proves revealing. As he argues for his particular pantheon of indispensable composers, Anthony Tommasini provides a masterclass in what to listen for and how to understand what music does to us. When he began to listen to the great works of classical music as a child, Anthony Tommasini had many questions. Why did a particular piece move him? How did the music work? Over time, he realized that his passion for this music was not enough. He needed to understand it. Take Bach, for starters. Who was he? How does one account for his music and its unshakeable hold on us today? As a critic, Tommasini has devoted particular attention to living composers and overlooked repertory. But, like all classical music lovers, the canon has remained central for him. In 2011, in his role as the Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times, he wrote a popular series in which he somewhat cheekily set out to determine the all-time top ten composers. Inviting input from readers, Tommasini wrestled with questions of greatness. Readers joined the exercise in droves. Some railed against classical music’s obsession with greatness but then raged when Mahler was left off the final list. This intellectual game reminded them why they loved music in the first place. Now in THE INDISPENSABLE COMPOSERS, Tommasini offers his own personal guide to the canon--and what greatness really means in classical music. What does it mean to be canonical now? Who gets to say? And do we have enough perspective on the 20th century to even begin assessing it? To make his case, Tommasini draws on elements of biography, the anxiety of influence, the composer's relationships with colleagues, and shifting attitudes toward a composer's work over time. Because he has spent his life contemplating these titans, Tommasini shares impressions from performances he has heard or given or moments when his own biography proves revealing. As he argues for his particular pantheon of indispensable composers, Anthony Tommasini provides a masterclass in what to listen for and how to understand what music does to us.

ERIC COATES, Three Elizabeths

Reverend Arthur A. Hall,in 1941, suggested Eric Coates to consider the notion of creating an orchestral suite-based on the generations of the British royal family. The "Three Elizabeths" of the title depict three figures. For Eric Coates, Princess Elizabeth and the "Youth of Britain" gave hope of a new and positive future even as the darkest days of World War II approached. The three movements are: 1. Elizabeth Tudor - Halycon Days 2. Elizabeth of Glamis - Spring in Forfarshire (at 6:40) 3. Princess Elizabeth - The Youth of Britain March (at 13:18)

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 VIDEO: Recorded November 15, 1944, in Kingsway Hall, London, on English Decca 78-rpm matrices AR 8859 through AR 8862. Issued in January, 1945, as English Decca K 1109/10 (and in automatic sequence as AK 1109/10). In the USA the records were imported and sold with a US-made album, EDA-8, which is pictured at the beginning of this video. Eric Coates: The Three Elizabeths - Suite (1944) National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Eric Coates

Samuel Coleridge Taylor...British African composer


Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 August 1875 – 1 September 1912) was an English composer of part Creole descent who achieved such success that he was once called the "African Mahler". Coleridge-Taylor's greatest success was undoubtedly his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, which was widely performed by choral groups in England during Coleridge-Taylor's lifetime and in the decades after his death. Its popularity was rivalled only by the choral standards Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah. The composer soon followed Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with two other cantatas about Hiawatha, The Death of Minnehaha and Hiawatha's Departure; all three were published together, along with an Overture, as The Song of Hiawatha, Op. 30. The tremendously popular Hiawatha seasons at the Royal Albert Hall, which continued till 1939, were conducted by Sargent and involved hundreds of choristers, and scenery covering the organ loft. Hiawatha's Wedding Feast is still occasionally revived. Coleridge-Taylor also composed chamber music, anthems, and the African Dances for violin, among other works. The Petite Suite de Concert is still regularly played. He set one poem by his near-namesake Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Legend of Kubla Khan.

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 VIDEO: Charles Kaufmann's documentary from 2013 about the English classical music composer of Sierra-Leonean descent, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912), was made during the centennial of SC-T's death in 2012, and includes a number of excellent premiere recordings of SC-T works. Concentrating on Coleridge-Taylor and his visits to the United States in 1904, 1906 and 1910 — and his influence on the founders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the NAACP — this documentary is a who's-who of SC-T scholarship, with commentary by historians who have spent their lives researching SC-T and his work. Additional first rate performances are contributed by Rachel Barton Pine, violinist, Rodrick Dixon, tenor, and a score of talented African-American singers and instrumentalists. Mini documentaries within give insight into the lives of Maud Powell and J. Rosamond Johnson. Of special interest is the performance of one of SC-T's last works, "Keep me From Sinking Down," for violin and orchestra, based on the African-American spiritual — prepared from the manuscript score and presented on the centennial of its first performance on location in Norfolk, Connecticut, where American violinist Maud Powell first played the work on June 4, 1912. 

LEONARDO LEO

Leonardo Leo (5 August 1694 – 31 October 1744), more correctly Lionardo Oronzo Salvatore de Leo, was a Neapolitan Baroque composer. 

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A composer of the late Baroque era. He is mainly known for his operas during his lifetime, but his set of 6 cello concertos seem to be the most recorded genre today. They were written for Domenico Marzio Caraffa, the Duke of Maddaloni, who as also an amateur cellist. Although retaining qualities of the late Baroque, they really show signs of the early Classical style.

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MAHLER by Kondrashin

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is not only Mahler’s longest work, but is the longest symphony in the standard repertoire. A typical performance lasts between 90 and 105 minutes. The six-movement piece is regarded as one of Mahler’s greatest, and has been recorded by all of the major orchestras. This recording of Mahler’s 3rd symphony was taken in Moscow, 1961, and features contralto Valentina Levko as well as the Ladies of the Moscow State Choir and Children’s Choir. Alongside Mahler’s work is Prokofiev’s October, Cantata Op 74, in a recording taken in Moscow in 1966. Both of these works feature the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Kirill Kondrashin. VIDEO: Great presentation of the legendary american conductor Leonard Bernstein, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Christa Ludwig (contralto solo), the Vienna State Opera Chorus and the Vienna Boys Choir playing the Symphony No. 3 of Gustav Mahler, at 1973.

MEREDITH WILLSON'S Music NBC Radio

Robert Meredith Willson (May 18, 1902 – June 15, 1984) was an American composer, songwriter, flautist, conductor and playwright, best known for writing the book, music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical The Music Man. He wrote three other Broadway musicals, composed symphonies and popular songs, and his film scores were twice nominated for Academy Awards. WIKIPEDIA

www.QualityMusic.network is currently broadcasting transcriptions of Willson's 1942 program on NBC radio. Meredith Willson's Music was a summer replacement for Fibber McGee and Molly. VIDEO:

CLARA WIECK SCHUMANN 1819 - 1896


Clara Schumann (née Clara Josephine Wieck; 13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896) was a German musician and composer, considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. She exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital and the tastes of the listening public. Her husband was the composer Robert Schumann. Robert was a little more than 9 years older than Clara and moved into the Wieck household as a piano student of Friedrich's by the end of 1830 when she was only 11 and he was 20. In 1837 when she was 18, he proposed to her and she accepted. Then Robert asked Friedrich for Clara's hand in marriage. Wieck was strongly opposed to the marriage, as he did not much approve of Robert, and did not give permission. Robert and Clara had to go to court and sue Friedrich. The judge's decision was to allow the marriage. In 1840, despite Friedrich's objections, Clara and Robert were married. As part of the broad musical education given her by her father, Clara Wieck learned to compose, and from childhood to middle age she produced a good body of work. Her composition of the g minor sonata began in 1841 completed in 1842.

VIDEO: Clara (Wieck) Schumann: piano sonata in G minor (1st mov. allegro) Performer: Jozef de Beenhouwer 

 

Revol Samoilovich Bunin, 1924 - 1976

Revol Samoilovich Bunin (Russian: Револь Самойлович Бунин; 6 April 1924 in Moscow – 3 July 1976 in Moscow), was a Russian composer. His viola concerto (Op. 22) was composed in 1953 and dedicated to his close friend, violist Rudolf Barshai, who would later found and direct the Moscow chamber orchestra. In 1938 Revol started his compositions studies at the Music School of the Moscow Conservatory under Professor Ilya Litinsky. During his third year of studies he was admitted to the Conservatory and continued his studies under Professor Vissarion Shebalin, who was, at the time, the Conservatory’s director. In 1941, he was summoned first to work at the military factory in Moscow and then was drafted to an active duty. Taking into account his musical gift, so he could continue to attend the classes, he was stationed near Moscow. He was decommissioned due to ill health in March 1943. In June 1943 Shostakovich started to teach at the Moscow Conservatory and Bunin was the first student he selected to be his pupil. For a while, Bunin was Shostakovich’s only student. He graduated the Conservatory in 1945 with honors. Shebalin could not forgive Bunin’s defection to the Shostakovich's class from his own and did not allow his name to be added to the “Golden Board” of exemplary students. In 1947, Bunin moved to Leningrad, where he taught music arrangement at the Leningrad Conservatory and assisted Shostakovich as a co-professor of composition. The same year, his 2nd Symphony was premiered in Leningrad, under the direction of conductor Evgeny Mravinsky. In 1948, he moved back to Moscow and worked as an editor for the State Music Publishing. After a government decree set stringent regulations on music and art in the Soviet Union, Shostakovich was dismissed as Professor in the Conservatory. Consequently, his assistant, Bunin, also lost his position and became, for a while, a persona non grata. He had to make his living by writing scores for other composers. His music has won, on several occasions, the Stalin Prize, but Bunin’s name did not appear, nor was mentioned to the selection committee. Revol Bunin died on July 3, 1976 in Moscow. He was mourned by his wife, Larisa, his friends and many students. He had no children. He was never awarded State honors, for he refused to join the Communist Party, in contrast with many of his colleagues. Bunin wrote music scores for 48 motion pictures, cartoons and documentaries. He left 45 major compositions, including nine symphonies, numerous sonatas, quartets, trios, an opera, romances and several concertos for piano, violin. His viola concerto (Op. 22) was composed in 1953 and dedicated to his close friend, violist Rudolf Barshai, who would later found and direct the Moscow chamber orchestra.

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Jean Sibelius, 1865 - 1957


Jean Sibelius (/sɪˈbeɪliəs, -ˈbeɪljəs/; About this sound Swedish pronunciation (help·info); born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius; 8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic period. His music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. The core of Sibelius' oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies. Like Beethoven, Sibelius used each successive work to further develop his own personal compositional style. His works continue to be performed frequently in the concert hall and are often recorded. In addition to the symphonies, Sibelius' best-known compositions include Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto in D minor, Kullervo, and The Swan of Tuonela (one of the four movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite). Other works include pieces inspired by the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala; over 100 songs for voice and piano; incidental music for 13 plays; the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower); chamber music; piano music; Masonic ritual music; and 21 separate publications of choral music.

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VIDEO: Jean Sibelius - Finlandia, H Von Karajan