Today’s assignment is a very popular piece by Johann Pachelbel called Canon in D.
A canon is a technique that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration (e.g., quarter rest, one measure, etc.). The initial melody is called the leader, while the imitative melody, which is played in a different voice, is called the follower. The follower must imitate the leader, either as an exact replication of its rhythms and intervals or some transformation thereof. Repeating canons in which all voices are musically identical are called rounds—”Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Frère Jacques” are popular examples.
The original version:
Can you see why the cellist is bored?
Here’s what his music looks like
And that repeats over and over for the whole piece!
Today’s assignment is Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor. It is the second in a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by composer Franz Liszt, and is by far the most famous of the set.
In both the original piano solo form and in the orchestrated version this composition has enjoyed widespread use in animated cartoons. Its themes have also served as the basis of several popular songs.
Above, Danish comedian and pianist Victor Borge gives every impression of having been asked to play a duet with someone whom he not only doesn’t know but doesn’t particularly like. Forced to come up with a mutually agreeable way of sharing the musical workload, he settles on the most difficult route possible.
It’s not clear why two pianists were needed for this performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, S.244/2. I think that they did it just for the fun of it. The result is hilarious.
They’re not the only ones to tackle Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 as a piano duo.
We also have these guys:
The “history” of this piece in several cartoons:
This is very interesting:
As he often did, Horowitz arranged it more for his liking:
Today we’re going to listen and learn about the opera Carmen.
I chose this for today since it’s the anniversary of French composer Georges Bizet‘s death.
Georges Bizet was born in Paris, France. Both his parents were musicians, and they actually wanted their son to become a composer when he grew up! Bizet loved music, but he also loved to read books. His parents wound up hiding his books so that he would spend more time on his music.
When Georges was 10 years old, his father enrolled him in the Paris Conservatory. While he was there, he wrote his only symphony, but it wasn’t performed until many years after he died. Bizet graduated from the Conservatory with awards in both composition and piano.
Bizet also composed operas. His most famous opera is Carmen. When Carmen first opened in Paris, the reviews were terrible. Many critics said there were no good tunes in it, so audiences stayed away.
In the middle of the night during the first round of Carmen performances, Bizet died. He was only 36. Four months later, Carmen opened in Vienna, Austria, and was a smash hit. It is now one of the most popular operas ever written. Bizet never knew that audiences would come to consider it his masterpiece.
Vladimir Horowitz made Carmen his own by turning it into a fantasy (or the more musical spelling – fantasie).
The fantasia (Italian; also English: fantasy, fancy, fantazy, phantasy, German: Fantasie, Phantasie, French: fantaisie) is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, like the impromptu, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form.
When you play wrong notes for an audience, just tell the audience it’s a “Fantasie”, not the original work!
As you can see, Carmen is a popular work. Here it is for two pianos, played by Anderson and Roe.
The Canadian Brass tell the story of Carmen in their own humorous words.