August 22, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

The Polovtsian Dances form an exotic scene at the end of act 2 of Alexander Borodin’s opera Prince Igor.

The work remained unfinished when the composer died in 1887, although he had worked on it for more than a decade. A performing version was prepared by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov in 1890. One of the more famous dances is found in Piano Pronto Movement 4 and Alfred Premier Piano Course Book 3,.

Can you find it in here?

 

Follow the score!

A different dance

 

The dance that’s usually in method books

August 14, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

To a Wild Rose is the first piece from Ten Woodland Sketches, Op. 51, by the American composer Edward MacDowell. It was completed in 1896, Numerous arrangements of the piece have been made. Though the original was for solo piano, it has been arranged for two sopranos, alto and piano.

It has been said that the piece is best played by children, as they wouldn’t embellish it heavily but perform it quite simply. Find it in Piano Pronto Movement 4 and other books.

Chamber Orchestra

A beginning band

Flute

Harp

Tuba

August 7, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

Today’s piece is Beethoven’s Rage Over a Lost Penny found in Piano Pronto Movement 4, Songs I Love to Play 2 and Beethoven: Exploring His Life and Music. The official title is The “Rondo alla ingharese quasi un capriccio” in G major, Op. 129 (Italian for “Rondo in the Hungarian [i.e. gypsy] style, almost a caprice”).

The story goes –

At one point Beethoven was composing this piece, a booming and boisterous piece that exuded energy and vitality.

One night a neighbor heard a loud dispute.

Beethoven was in a rage, accusing a maid of stealing a gold penny. The maid ran out and was never heard from again.

The neighbor then heard furniture crashing, and he could only conclude that the great Maestro was tipping over furniture, madly looking for the lost gold penny.

The story spread through the neighborhood and became part of the legend of Beethoven’s bad moods and curmudgeonly behavior.

 

 

An easier version

A tad faster

 

From Piano Pronto

 

Orchestra

 

July 9, Daily Listening Assignment

 

Today’s piece is based on a collection of tales known as the One Thousand and One Nights or Arabian Nights.

The story, which was written many hundreds of years ago, tells of a Persian king who married a young girl every night. Every morning he would send his new wife to have her head chopped off. He had already killed 3000 women in this way.

When Scheherazade heard about this, she wanted to spend the night with him. She spent all night telling him a story. At the end of the night, she stopped the story at an exciting moment, like a modern-day soap opera.

The next night she finished the story and began another one, which she again stopped when it was dawn. The king had to wait another night to hear the rest of the story. Scheherazade kept this up for 1001 nights. By then, the king had fallen in love with Scheherazade and he let her live.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s best-known work is Scheherazade, an orchestral piece which describes in music the stories told by Scheherazade.

The work consists of four movements:

The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship

The Kalandar Prince

The Young Prince and The Young Princess

Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman

Today, we’re focusing on The Young Prince and The Young Princess which can be found in Piano Pronto Movement 4

 

 

Piano duet

Orchestra

Flute ensemble

 

Gene Kelly dancing with a cartoon partner

 

 

The entire work

 

July 2, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Today’s piece is the other one of two pieces that are so often played incorrectly that they have the distinction of being banned from competition in Northern Virginia Piano Teacher competitions.

The first was Fur Elise.  This one is Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich.  It’s in many, many piano method books.  When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I tore it out of my book, put it in a construction paper cover and played it for some Girl Scout talent show.  I have no idea why I couldn’t leave it in the book.

The left hand is supposed to sound like the foot pumping the wheel to make it move

 

This is part of a larger work called Musikalische Genrebilder, Op.14 which can be downloaded at IMSLP:

Spinnliedchen (Spinning Song), the best known item from the set, seems to be universally referred to as number four. The announcement of the first edition in Hofmeister’s Monatsberichte lists it as the fifth item. In Schirmer’s 1878 edition (see cover: here) of Op.14 it appears that items two and three were possibly combined into one number (entitled Sorrow and Consolation) so that Spinnliedchen became number four. Perhaps, this is the origin of the re-numbering.

To learn this sheet music, it’s available in Piano Pronto Movement 4 and Alfred Premier Piano Course Book 6

Here’s a sample:

 

A tutorial

With scrolling sheet music

For organ

How to conduct(?)

While this piece is not usually popular with other instruments, a trumpet quartet gave it a try

The DMS Percussion Ensemble

Singers from the Londonderry Middle School gave it a try:

The first half of this video is flute tuning. After that is a lovely flute duet.

 

For clarinet “quartet”.  Quartet is in quotes because the performer wrote “This is a ‘cover’ I did of Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich. I played all the parts on my clarinet, using the really crappy camera I have. So the sound quality sucks… Also, I don’t have a bass clarinet, so the low part is edited down… and it sounds like a saxophone… oh well. lol!”

I can’t take any more of these!

 

June 3, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

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.

If you want to learn this, just let me know!