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,.
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.
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
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:
With scrolling sheet music
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!”