Category Archives: Music History

Chopin on Scarlatti: “He sometimes reaches even Mozart.”

“My colleagues, the piano teachers, are dissatisfied that I am teaching Scarlatti to my pupils. But I am surprised that they are so blind. In his music there are exercises in plenty for the fingers and a good deal of … Continue reading

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“One note follows another with complete inevitability”

Leonard Bernstein plays through – on piano and with an orchestra – some fragments and sketches that Beethoven rejected when composing his Fifth Symphony. It’s a fascinating look at what might have been. Or might not have been. And it … Continue reading

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Heartrending melancholy

“At the Symphony concert, Casals played, one of the most marvelous musicians who ever lived! The sound of his cello is of heart-rending melancholy. His execution unfathomable. At times going outward from the depths, at times going inward, into the … Continue reading

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Fearlessly embrace things that seem odd

Vihart – the mathemusician – has done it again. A brilliant video that teaches, inspires, and makes you fall in love with something you never thought you would. Her video on the overtone series is required for my history students. … Continue reading

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Relationship status: It’s complicated.

Brahms never did marry, but he did have what was described as a “passionate friendship” with his friend Robert Schumann’s wife, Clara Schumann. In today’s words: it’s complicated. Clara hadn’t seen her husband, Robert, in nearly a year since he … Continue reading

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Rejoice. There’s a disconnect.

Thought I had my summer reading material planned. A couple of books by Harold Schonberg have been started but not finished – The Great Pianists and Lives of the Great Composers. I love his writing. He brings to life the … Continue reading

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Composers refuse to be bound by rules

“Some people will perhaps wonder why I have undertaken to write about music, there being so many works by outstanding men who have treated the subject most thoroughly and learnedly; and more especially, why I should be doing so just … Continue reading

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A passport to anarchy

Carl Czerny – composer of that myriad of musically boring etudes – was a big fan of the ritardando. In his Klavierschule, he allows it everywhere: when the main theme returns when a phrase is to be separated from the … Continue reading

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“Rule” should be a four-letter word

Ersatz: being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation. (Merriam-Webster) “Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” This quote by Debussy was Wednesday’s post. I didn’t think a lot about it – just wanted … Continue reading

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A balance for soul. A balance for beauty.

“People are craving this great progress in electronics, going after computers, the Internet, etc. It’s a great progress technologically. But they must have a balance for soul, a balance for human beauty. That means art has an important role.” ~Mstislav … Continue reading

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It means just as much as living

Cellist Janos Starker died on Sunday, at the age of 88. He was renowned as a soloist, for his work with orchestras, and his commitment to teaching. Born in Budapest, his path to becoming an international star included surviving life … Continue reading

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It’s okay to not love Beethoven

Tchaikovsky didn’t. He adored Mozart. And considered Bach, Handel, Gluck and Haydn mere forerunners to Mozart. From his diaries (1886):  “… I shall start with Beethoven, whom it is usual to praise unconditionally and whom it is commanded to worship … Continue reading

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