Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in c-sharp minor

liszt

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, S.244/2, is the second in a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by composer Franz Liszt, and is by far the most famous of the set. Few other piano solos have achieved such widespread popularity, offering the pianist the opportunity to reveal exceptional skill as a virtuoso, while providing the listener with an immediate and irresistible musical appeal.

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.

It is probable that you have heard this piece of music somewhere at one time or another because it is perhaps the most prominent piece of classical (romantic, actually) music featured in animated cartoons across the years.

Now, let the anvils fall and dynamite explode!

And, in real life, Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

This piece is available in Piano Pronto Movement 5 and several anthologies of classical music.

On February 7 in Music History

today

. 1710 ~ William Boyce, English organist/composer (Cathedral Music), born in London (d. 1779)

. 1818 ~ Henry Charles Litolff, piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music and music publisher

. 1871 ~ Wilhelm Stenhammar [Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar], Swedish composer considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time, born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1927)

. 1883 ~ Herbert “Eubie” Blake, American jazz pianist, vaudevillian, songwriter and composer
More information about Blake

. 1920 ~ Oscar Brand, Folk singer, composer, music director of NBC-TV Sunday, host of Let’s Sing Out

. 1921 ~ Wilma Lee Cooper (Leary), Country singer with husband, Stoney and the group, Clinch Mountain Clan with her daughter, Carol Lee

. 1931 ~ The American opera, “Peter Ibbetson”, by Deems Taylor premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

. 1941 ~ The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Frank Sinatra teamed to record Everything Happens to Me for Victor Records in New York City.

. 1948 ~ Jimmy Greenspoon, Organist with Three Dog Night

. 1949 ~ Alan Lancaster, Bass with Status Quo

. 1959 ~ Brian Travers, Saxophone with UB40

. 1962 ~ (Troyal) Garth Brooks, American Grammy Award-winning singer: In Another’s Eyes (1998 with Trisha Yearwood), Friends in Low Places and The Thunder Rolls. His LP Ropin’ the Wind was the first LP in history to debut at #1 on Billboard’s pop and country charts, The Chase, In Pieces, Fresh Horses, Sevens, Double Live has sold over 80 million albums — second only to The Beatles.

. 1962 ~ David Bryan, Keyboards with Bon Jovi

. 1964 ~ 3,000+ fans crowded the JFK airport in New York to receive the four stars of the music sensation, The Beatles. One word summarizes the reaction to The Beatles on their first US tour: hysteria.

. 1969 ~ Tom Jones, ‘The Prince of Wales’, premiered on ABC-TV after the network acquired the rights to the singing sensation’s popular United Kingdom show. The network paid a British production company an estimated $20 million for those rights. And they cried in one of Tom’s hankies all the way to the bank.

. 1974 ~ Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra received a gold record for the disco hit Love’s Theme.

. 1985 ~ New York, New York became the official anthem of the Big Apple. The announcement was made by then New York mayor, Ed “How’m I Doin’?” Koch. Frank Sinatra fans rejoiced at the honor.

. 2001 ~ Dale Evans died at the age of 88. She was an actress-singer who became “Queen of the West” by starring with husband Roy Rogers in 27 cowboy films and writing their theme song, Happy Trails.

. 2002 ~ Bert Conway, an actor and director whose 60-year career included theater, movies and television, died of heart failure. He was 87. The son of vaudeville performers, Conway was born in Orange, N.J. He had a walk-on part in the original 1937 Group Theater staging of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy” and later had the lead as a reform school youth in Lee Strasberg’s production of “Dance Night.” After serving in the Army in World War II, Conway went to Hollywood. He began directing plays in 1947. His work included the first interracial production of “Golden Boy” for the Negro Art Theater in Los Angeles. In 1950, he returned to New York to act in and direct plays. His work included an off-Broadway revival of “Deep Are the Roots” and appearances with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. He also appeared in several road company productions, had small roles in the movies “The Three Musketeers,” “Little Big Man” and “The Arrangement,” and on TV’s “St. Elsewhere.”

. 2009 ~ Blossom Dearie, American jazz singer and pianist, died of natural causes at the age of 84

What Does Music Mean? ~ Bernstein

On January 18, 1958 Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean?  The series ran for 53 programs.  Some of the episodes can be found below:

Part 1 What is Classical Music?

Plot: Bernstein conducts Handel’s Water Music and cites it as an indisputable example of classical music. “Exact” is the word that best defines classical music, Bernstein says and he demonstrates with musical illustrations from Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major and The Marriage of Figaro, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.

The decline of classical music at the end of the eighteenth century is tied to Beethoven’s innovations and the Romantic movement, and Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.


Part 2 What is Melody?

Plot: Bernstein discusses the different forms melody can take, including tune, theme, motive, melodic line and musical phrase. He illustrates by conducting the orchestra in excerpts from Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms.


Part 3 What is a Mode?

Plot: Bernstein discusses scales, intervals, and tones, and analyzes several pieces, including Debussy’s Fêtes, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and music from the Kinks and the Beatles, to illustrate different modes.

An excerpt from Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free is also performed.

 

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in c-sharp minor

liszt

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, S.244/2, is the second in a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by composer Franz Liszt, and is by far the most famous of the set. Few other piano solos have achieved such widespread popularity, offering the pianist the opportunity to reveal exceptional skill as a virtuoso, while providing the listener with an immediate and irresistible musical appeal.

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.

It is probable that you have heard this piece of music somewhere at one time or another because it is perhaps the most prominent piece of classical (romantic, actually) music featured in animated cartoons across the years.

Now, let the anvils fall and dynamite explode!

And, in real life, Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

This piece is available in Piano Pronto Movement 5 and several anthologies of classical music.

February 7 in Music History

today

. 1710 ~ William Boyce, English organist/composer (Cathedral Music), born in London (d. 1779)

. 1818 ~ Henry Charles Litolff, piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music and music publisher

. 1871 ~ Wilhelm Stenhammar [Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar], Swedish composer considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time, born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1927)

. 1883 ~ Herbert “Eubie” Blake, American jazz pianist, vaudevillian, songwriter and composer
More information about Blake

. 1920 ~ Oscar Brand, Folk singer, composer, music director of NBC-TV Sunday, host of Let’s Sing Out

. 1921 ~ Wilma Lee Cooper (Leary), Country singer with husband, Stoney and the group, Clinch Mountain Clan with her daughter, Carol Lee

. 1931 ~ The American opera, “Peter Ibbetson”, by Deems Taylor premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

. 1941 ~ The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Frank Sinatra teamed to record Everything Happens to Me for Victor Records in New York City.

. 1948 ~ Jimmy Greenspoon, Organist with Three Dog Night

. 1949 ~ Alan Lancaster, Bass with Status Quo

. 1959 ~ Brian Travers, Saxophone with UB40

. 1962 ~ (Troyal) Garth Brooks, American Grammy Award-winning singer: In Another’s Eyes (1998 with Trisha Yearwood), Friends in Low Places and The Thunder Rolls. His LP Ropin’ the Wind was the first LP in history to debut at #1 on Billboard’s pop and country charts, The Chase, In Pieces, Fresh Horses, Sevens, Double Live has sold over 80 million albums — second only to The Beatles.

. 1962 ~ David Bryan, Keyboards with Bon Jovi

. 1964 ~ 3,000+ fans crowded the JFK airport in New York to receive the four stars of the music sensation, The Beatles. One word summarizes the reaction to The Beatles on their first US tour: hysteria.

. 1969 ~ Tom Jones, ‘The Prince of Wales’, premiered on ABC-TV after the network acquired the rights to the singing sensation’s popular United Kingdom show. The network paid a British production company an estimated $20 million for those rights. And they cried in one of Tom’s hankies all the way to the bank.

. 1974 ~ Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra received a gold record for the disco hit Love’s Theme.

. 1985 ~ New York, New York became the official anthem of the Big Apple. The announcement was made by then New York mayor, Ed “How’m I Doin’?” Koch. Frank Sinatra fans rejoiced at the honor.

. 2001 ~ Dale Evans died at the age of 88. She was an actress-singer who became “Queen of the West” by starring with husband Roy Rogers in 27 cowboy films and writing their theme song, Happy Trails.

. 2002 ~ Bert Conway, an actor and director whose 60-year career included theater, movies and television, died of heart failure. He was 87. The son of vaudeville performers, Conway was born in Orange, N.J. He had a walk- on part in the original 1937 Group Theater staging of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy” and later had the lead as a reform school youth in Lee Strasberg’s production of “Dance Night.” After serving in the Army in World War II, Conway went to Hollywood. He began directing plays in 1947. His work included the first interracial production of “Golden Boy” for the Negro Art Theater in Los Angeles. In 1950, he returned to New York to act in and direct plays. His work included an off-Broadway revival of “Deep Are the Roots” and appearances with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. He also appeared in several road company productions, had small roles in the movies “The Three Musketeers,” “Little Big Man” and “The Arrangement,” and on TV’s “St. Elsewhere.”

Happy Birthday to Felix Mendelssohn

mendelssohn-birthday

 

Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn lived between 1809 and 1847. He is considered to be a romantic composer and pianist best known for his symphonies and concert overtures. Mendelssohn played the piano in public by the age of nine, so he was often compared to Mozart.

He composed works for solo instruments and orchestra, and German songs. Some of his better known works are the Wedding March, Elijah and Fingal’s Cave. Felix Mendelssohn, along with Hector Berlioz was one of the first conductors of a large orchestra.

Mendelssohn harmonized the works of other composers, including Johann Crüger. Listen to Mendelssohn’s harmonization of Now Thank We All our God:

One of my favorites, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in g minor, op. 25:

     Read more about Mendelssohn in the Baroque section

     Mendelssohn’s birthday

     Listen to Mendelssohn’s music.

     Read information about Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

     First performance date of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the Wedding March

     Read information about a Mendelssohn family Stradivari violin.

 

Happy Birthday to Franz Schubert!

Franz Peter SchubertFranz Peter Schubert lived between 1797 and 1828. He is considered to be a romantic composer. He was an Austrian composer who was one of the greatest creators of melody and foremost writer of ‘lieder’ (German songs).

Although he only lived for 31 years, Schubert composed more than 600 songs, 22 piano sonatas and many short piano pieces. This melodic output has never been equaled either in quantity of quality. He was one of the first musicians to earn a living from the sale of his music.

Schubert’s Ave Maria was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia.


This is from Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical.

Schubert’s musical genius went well beyond his incomparable gift for melody

During Beethoven’s funeral in 1827, one of the torchbearers was a young composer who would himself die the following year. There’s a poignant irony in this image of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) paying homage to the master, for the extent of Schubert’s own accomplishment was to remain one of music’s best-kept secrets for decades after his death. He had indeed struck out on a uniquely personal creative path, however intense his hero worship of Beethoven was. As often happens in such periods of transition–in this case, the evolution in style and attitude from classical balance toward romantic experimentation–Schubert simply slipped through the cracks, not easily fitting into his contemporaries’ sense of the direction music was taking.

Yet the fact that the only recognition that came his way was mostly confined to a tight-knit circle of musical friends didn’t deter Schubert from pursuing his inspiration. Even though an astonishing number of compositions were never performed during his short lifetime, the prolific composer produced a wide body of material, all with a seemingly effortless swiftness reminiscent of Mozart (another of the composer’s idols). His style is most frequently associated with an uncanny gift for melody, but that’s a shortsighted view of the true nature of Schubert’s genius.

The selections on our featured disc represent two key but divergent aspects of his music: the gemlike miniaturism of his songwriting and his preoccupation with large-scale forms from the classical period. “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”)–sung here with a silvery, seductive grace by Barbara Bonney–is an example of how Schubert elevated the art of song to an opera in miniature, rich in evocative scene-painting. Pay attention not just to the beguiling melody but to how perfectly Schubert mirrors the text’s images in the details of the burbling piano accompaniment.

The cheerful quintet that takes its name from the song makes an excellent introduction to the composer’s longer works. Most of these belong to the realm of “chamber music”; that is, pieces written for small groups of musicians to be performed in people’s homes. From the high-spirited interplay of the ensemble gathered here–all virtuosos on their respective instruments but clearly merging their voices into a common goal–it’s easy to imagine a typical evening of Schubert making music with his friends. There’s a flowing sense of conversation in the music, and just as you think you’ve heard one untoppable melody, Schubert obliges with another, taking it down an unexpected course with a sudden harmonic surprise–another of the composer’s trademarks–and spinning it out as it suits his fancy. Schumann once characterized the composer’s tendency to make us want the music to last, following its multiple digressions, as Schubert’s “heavenly lengths.”

Much of the pleasure here can also be heard in the way Schubert plays sonorities off each other, above all in the fourth movement. It offers a set of variations on the melody from the “Trout” song, presaging how Mahler would later incorporate material from his own songs into vast symphonic structures. You can notice this both in the interwoven yet contrasting timbres from the keyboard against four strings and in the opposition between double bass and sparkling passages high in the register. And within the spontaneity of the moment, there’s something else: emerging within all the joie de vivre are ambivalent shadows hinting at Schubert’s darker side, particularly in the intensity of the slow movement’s middle core. This is also apparent in the opening of the “Arpeggione” Sonata (nicknamed after a short-lived invention that was a sort of cross between a guitar and a cello), which unfolds a kind of aching, spun-out lyricism that could belong to no one but Schubert.

In his final decade, when intense poverty and a debilitating case of syphilis began to take their toll, Schubert would mine this vein of profound self-expression. His last quartets and piano sonatas, the String Quintet, and his despairing song cycle Winterreise, he touches in his own way on the inwardness probed by Beethoven’s late-period creations. Thomas May, Classical Editor

More Schubert can be found in Musical Information and Recommendations for Adults.

Schubert’s birthday

Schubert’s works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

Listen to Schubert’s music.

     Read quotes by and about Schubert

     Guess what my li’l Chopin played today

     Information about Schubert’s Symphony in D

     Schubert MIDI Section

     Read Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical feature