June 15, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

liszt-hungarian

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:

 

Finally, for real:

June 10, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

It’s wedding season!  Today and tomorrow, we’ll be looking at, and listening to, the music most associated with weddings.

The “Bridal Chorus” from the 1850 opera Lohengrin by German composer Richard Wagner is a march played for the bride’s entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world.

The piece was made popular when it was used as the processional at the wedding of Victoria the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1858.

This piece is available in Keyboard Kickoff, Movement 2 and Piano Maestro.

The original from the opera

A piano version (this book is available for loan, if interested)

Handbells (rehearsal)

On accordion

And pipe organ

A very different wedding entrance in Denmark

 

 

Piano Exercises by Charles-Louis Hanon

hanon

Since the first release of this classic Schirmer edition over 100 years ago, almost anyone who has taken piano lessons for more than two years has played from The Virtuoso Pianist.

Most anyone who has ever played piano has a love-hate relationship with the “Hanon”.

The Virtuoso Pianist (Le Pianiste virtuose) by Charles-Louis Hanon, is a compilation of sixty exercises meant to train the pianist in speed, precision, agility, and strength of all of the fingers and flexibility in the wrists.

First published in Boulogne, in 1873, The Virtuoso Pianist is Hanon’s most well-known work, and is still widely used by piano instructors and pupils although some teachers are getting away from the mechanical playing these can produce.

Personally, I’ve sometimes played these on “auto-pilot” since all one really needs is to get the first pattern going, then move up a step, up a step…

hanon1

Notes by C. L. Hanon: Preparatory exercises for the Acquirement of Agility, Independence, Strength and Perfect Evenness in the Fingers. For studying the 20 exercises, begin with the metronome set at 60, gradually increasing the speed up to 108.

From Wikipedia:

The exercises are intended to address common problems which could hamper the performance abilities of a student. These include “crossing of the thumb”, strengthening of the fourth and fifth fingers, and quadruple- and triple-trills.

The exercises are meant to be individually mastered and then played consecutively in the sections they are placed in.

Apart from increasing technical abilities of the student, when played in groups at higher speeds, the exercises will also help to increase endurance. The exercises are divided in three parts:

  1. Exercises 1 – 20: Labeled “preparatory exercises”, these are also the most famous exercises, and are used to develop finger strength and independence. Each exercise contains a sequence of 8 semiquavers, beginning on C, which is then repeated starting on D, and so on across two octaves. The exercise is then repeated in reverse down two octaves to the starting C. The exercises are intended to be practiced in groups of three, except for the first two which are practiced together.
  2. Exercises 21 – 43: Labeled “further exercises for the development of a virtuoso technique.” This more difficult section is meant to be played after the pianist has fully mastered Part 1. Part 2 includes scales and arpeggios.
  3. Exercises 44 – 60: Labeled “virtuoso exercises for mastering the greatest technical difficulties.” Since this section is considerably more difficult, Hanon recommends the mastery of both previous parts before proceeding to this one. This part includes repeated notes,, and more.

After all three parts are mastered, Hanon recommends all exercises be played through daily to retain technique.

The O’Connor Music Studio has several editions of this work.

Don’t Give Up!

FaeriesAireandDeathWaltz1

I have a copy of this music (Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz) if anyone is interested in playing it!

The music above has been played:

The drive you need to accomplish whatever you’re attempting—big or small—needs fuel. Instead of letting slip-ups set you back, psychologist and author John Norcross recommends you make them the fuel:

If you are learning to play the piano, you don’t give up because you miss a note. It’s not whether you slip, it’s how you respond to the slip.

Cut yourself some slack and remember that things take time and hard work. Listen to the sound of your “missed note” and let that push you forward. You missed that note yesterday, but that doesn’t mean you’ll miss it today.

via “If You’re Learning Piano, You Don’t Give Up Because You Miss a Note”.

Christmas Countdown: Adeste Fideles

 

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” (originally written in Latin as Adeste Fideles) is a Christmas carol which has been attributed to various authors, including John Francis Wade (1711–1786), John Reading (1645–1692) and King John IV of Portugal (1604–1656), with the earliest manuscript of the hymn bearing his name, located in the library of the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa.

The original four verses of the hymn were extended to a total of eight, and these have been translated into many languages. The English translation of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” by the English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley, written in 1841, is widespread in most English speaking countries.
There are now several versions in the O’Connor Music Store if you are interested in learning this Christmas carol.

 

 

Christmas Countdown: Gesù Bambino

 

Gesù Bambino by Pietro Yon has always had a place in my childhood memories since my church choir sang it every Christmas.  Other than that, it didn’t seem to be too well known but this song has been turning up in piano books lately.  There are now several versions in the O’Connor Music Studio if you are interested in learning this beautiful older Christmas carol.

Gesù bambino was written in 1917. The melody was used by Frederick H. Martens in his English language carol “When Blossoms Flowered ‘mid the Snows”. The melody and lyrics of the chorus are derived from “Adeste Fideles” (O Come All Ye Faithful).

A piano version

Piano and Organ

 

Sung by David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

“Intervals Roasting”: The Most Educational Christmas Carol Ever

music-theory-song

Music theory has never sounded so catchy with this witty remake of the holiday classic The Christmas Song (with apologies to Mel Torme) Try not to laugh at the ending.

Though it is a bit humorous, this version titled ‘Intervals Roasting’, with lyrics by David Rakowski, attempts to encapsulate the fundamentals of music theory in just over two minutes.

It does a good job of explaining the intervals and harmonic structure of the song and also gives you an idea of how to use music theory to analyze or compose music.

The O’Connor Music Studio has a copy if anyone wants to learn this 🙂