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My Top 10 Favorite Melodies in Classical Music

There are many thousands of beautiful melodies in classical music in all three Eras of classical music, Baroque; Classical; and Romantic. So, I am going way out on a limb attempting to choose my 10 favorites. I will limit my choices to the symphonic and chamber works without voice [so I will not include any of the many beautiful operatic arias].

Remember, this will be my favorites of movements or pieces that contain beautiful melodies. I am not choosing my favorite 10 pieces of all time, which could and probably are completely different. 

There are many, many beautiful melodies in classical music

Also, this is only my list, and not a definitive list from a group of musical scholars. I am sure there can be other lists of 10 totally different pieces, and none would be wrong, just a matter of opinions.  Also, I am sure I will look back on these 10 in the future and think to myself, “how could I miss this or that beautiful melody”.  🙂 

Now without further ado, please turn up the volume and enjoy my picks of pieces of classical music with beautiful melodies. I will go in reverse order, with my selection of number 10 first, and number one last:

#10 Felix Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture:

#9 Edvard Grieg: “Peer Gynt”, Suite #1, Morning Mood:

#8 W.A. Mozart: Wind Serenade, “Gran Partita”, Movement 3, Adagio:

#7 Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings:

#6: Bedrach Smetana: “The Moldau”:

#5 Serge Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2 in C minor, Movement 3, Allegro Scherzando:

#4 Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto #2 in E minor, Movement 2, Larghetto:

#3 L.V. Beethoven: “Pastoral Symphony” #6 in F Major Movement 5 Allegretto:

#2 L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5 in Eb Major, “Emperor”, Movement 2, Adagio un poco motto:

and

#1 Sir Edward Elgar: Enigma Variations, variation #9, “Nimrod”:

Note: the conductor in this video is the great Daniel Barenboim who is celebrating his 80th Birthday today Nov. 15.


Thank you for listening.  I hope you enjoyed and will come back to listen to these beautiful melodic pieces often.  I know when I go on my morning walks I will turn to these to help me through my walks. 🙂




Featured

Scotch Treats

There are three great classical music pieces from two classical music composers that come to mind when the country Scotland is mentioned.  Both composers of those three pieces are ironically German composers in the Romantic Era of music. 

Felix Mendelssohn [1809 – 1847]

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Felix Mendelssohn had two pieces with a Scottish flavor, his Symphony #3 in C-minor, known as the Scottish symphony, and his Hebrides Overture also known as Fingal’s Cave. 

Mendelssohn is one of my favorite composers because of the so many beautiful melodies he includes in his pieces. He was 33 years old when he composed his 3rd symphony.  It is thought that a painting Mendelssohn saw on a trip he had made to Scotland inspired him to compose this symphony. This is heard in the opening theme of the first movement. Thus, this third symphony is known as the Scottish symphony.  

Mendelssohn’s gorgeous Scottish Symphony is scored in the typical four movements: 1. Andante con moto-Allegro un poco agitato,  2. Vivace non troppo,  3. Adagio and 4. Allegro Vivacissimo.

This from Wikipedia, on Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture: “It was inspired by one of Mendelssohn’s trips to the British Isles, specifically an 1829 excursion to the Scottish island of Staffa, with its basalt sea cave known as Fingal’s Cave. It was reported that the composer immediately jotted down the opening theme for his composition after seeing the island.

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Max Bruch was a great composer and conductor of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Although Bruch never visited Scotland, he pays homage to Scotland with his Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra in E-flat Major

He composed this piece in dedication to the virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate. The Scottish Fantasy is one of Bruch’s signature pieces.  I also love this piece.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy these 3 great “Scotch” treats: Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, and the finale of Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra. 

Felix Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture, “Fingal’s Cave”:

Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony #3 in C-minor, “Scottish”:

Max Bruch: Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in E Flat Major:

Thank you, Scotland for inspiring this beautiful music.  So, in your honor here is your national song,  “Flower of Scotland” and the well known traditional Scottish song [composer unknown] “Loch Lomond” [I’ll Be In Scotland Afore Ye]. 

Flower of Scotland:

Loch Lomond:

I hope you enjoyed these Scotch Treats.

Happy Birthday Franz Schubert

On January 31, 1797 classical music composer, Franz Schubert, was born in Vienna, Austria. This child prodigy of the late classical, early Romantic era of music died at the age of 31, and despite his short life this true genius was a prolific composer of many forms of classical music. He completed many overtures, symphonies, chamber music, and some of the most beautiful pieces [sonatas, impromptus] for solo piano and songs for voice.

Franz Schubert [Jan. 31, 1797 – Nov. 19, 1828]

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Franz Schubert, with his beautiful melodic compositions, is one of my favorite composers.  I think by these following melodic compositions you will understand why I love Franz Schubert’s brilliant beautiful music. 

Please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy this celebration of the great composer, Franz Schubert, on his birthday. 

Franz Schubert: Symphony # 8 in B minor, “Unfinished”:

Franz Schubert: Impromptu #3 in G Flat Major:

Franz Schubert: Ave Maria:

Franz Schubert: String Quartet #14 in D minor, “Death and the Maiden”, Movement 4, Presto:

Franz Schubert: Piano Quintet in A Major: “Trout”:

Happy Birthday #226 Franz Schubert!

Happy Birthday Mozart

Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, is the 267th birthday of one of my favorite composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  The quintessential classical composer was born Jan. 27, 1756 in Austria. Sadly, Mozart died at the young age of 35, on December 5, 1791 in his home in Vienna, Austria.

Mozart was a child prodigy on piano and violin and while he only lived to be 35 years old, this genius was still one of the most prolific composers in almost every genre of classical music.  

From Biography-Mozart: “A prolific artist, Austrian composer Wolfgang Mozart created a string of operas, concertos, symphonies and sonatas that profoundly shaped classical music.”

“Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musician capable of playing multiple instruments who started playing in public at the age of 6. Over the years, Mozart aligned himself with a variety of European venues and patrons, composing hundreds of works that included sonatas, symphonies, masses, chamber music, concertos and operas, marked by vivid emotion and sophisticated textures.”

“At the time of his death, Mozart was considered one of the greatest composers of all time. His music presented a bold expression, oftentimes complex and dissonant, and required high technical mastery from the musicians who performed it. His works remained secure and popular throughout the 19th century, as biographies about him were written and his music enjoyed constant performances and renditions by other musicians. His work influenced many composers that followed — most notably Beethoven. Along with his friend Joseph Haydn, Mozart conceived and perfected the grand forms of symphony, opera, string ensemble, and concerto that marked the classical period. In particular, his operas display an uncanny psychological insight, unique to music at the time, and continue to exert a particular fascination for musicians and music lovers today.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) | Composer | Biography, music and facts

Thank you God for this blessing of Mozart, who gave us so much wonderful beautiful music. Please turn up the volume and enjoy some great music from the great Mozart, on this, his birthday.

W.A. Mozart: Symphony #40 in G minor:

W.A. Mozart: Piano Sonata #16 in C Major:

W.A. Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major:

W.A. Mozart: Piano Concerto #23 in A-Major:

W.A. Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik:

W.A. Mozart: “Lacrimosa” from Requiem Mass in D minor:

Happy Birthday Mozart!

Happy Birthday Muzio Clementi

Born on this day, January 23 in 1752 was born the Italian composer, pianist and conductor, Muzio Clementi. He was a composer in the classical era of music.

Muzio Clementi [1752 – 1832]

From Wikipedia: [Besides being a composer, pianist and conductor, Muzio Clementi was a] “music publisher, editor, and piano manufacturer, who was mostly active in England.” “… he toured Europe numerous times from his long-standing base in London. It was on one of these occasions, in 1781, that he engaged in a piano competition with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.”

“Though the reputation of Clementi was exceeded only by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Rossini in his day, his popularity languished for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.”

“As a composer of classical piano sonatas, Clementi was among the first to create keyboard works expressly for the capabilities of the piano. He has been called “Father of the Piano“.

As this would be Muzio Clementi’s 271st Birthday, please turn up the volume and enjoy some great music from this Italian composer:

Piano Sonata in B Flat Major:

Piano Sonatina in C Major: [My daughter, Ebony, when taking classical Suzuki method piano lessons with her great teacher Mrs. Kurinets, played the first movement of this sonata (by memory) at a young age…I can’t remember now, I’m thinking between ages 8-9]

Piano Sonatina in D Major:

Symphony #1 in C Major:

Monferrina in D minor:

Capriccio in A Major:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUZIO CLEMENTI!

The Amazing History and Music of The Chevalier de Saint Georges

About a year and a half ago [in September of 2021], Sheralyn and I were blessed to once again go to Jones Hall in downtown Houston and hear our world class Houston Symphony Orchestra. It was a wonderful program that contained a piece by a composer I was unfamiliar with-and shame on me for not knowing, Joseph Bologne-Chevalier de Saint Georges. What an amazing history and what an amazing man.

Joseph Bologne [December 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799]

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From Wikipedia: “Born in the then French colony of Guadeloupe, he was the son of Georges de Bologne Saint-Georges, a wealthy married planter, and Anne, dite (called) Nanon, his wife’s African slave. When he was young, his father took him to France, where he was educated. During the French Revolution, the younger Saint-Georges served as a colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the Republic.”

What is kind of amazing, at the time period, his father, instead of rejecting this son born from an African slave, he took not just his wife, but also “Nanon” and his son, with him to France, and spent much money making sure his son, Joseph Bologne, had the best possible education and music training and swordsmanship training.

Joseph Bolgne, who would become a virtuoso violinist and classical composer and great conductor, was also a great athlete: he was a great boxer and swimmer and he became a renowned championship fencer. It has been said the Joseph was the greatest swordsman in all of Europe, at that time. Because of his grace and his great accomplishments he would receive French knighthood, and therefore called Chevalier.

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From the Houston Symphony Orchestra’s website: “Upon becoming a chevalier (knight), he took his father’s suffix “de Saint-Georges”—named after a plantation in Guadeloupe—to become known as ‘Chevalier de Saint-Georges’.

Saint-Georges composed and published numerous operas, string quartets, concertos, and symphonies over a short span of time, from 1771-1779. He performed all his violin concertos as soloist with Le Concert Olympique—an orchestra he also conducted.”

The Chevalier de Saint Georges, became acquainted with Mozart, and some people refer to Saint Georges as the Black Mozart. But some also dismiss that title because it seems like there were actually some musical ideas that Mozart borrowed from the Chevalier, not the other way around. In fact, in the concert at Jones Hall they have this pre-concert talk called “prelude”, and Calvin Dotsey played some examples of the violin concerto we were about to hear and in one phrase I heard, I thought to myself-I have heard that in some of Mozart pieces, and Mr. Dotsey asked, at the exact moment I was thinking that, have any of you heard that in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. Yes, yes I have. 🙂

In the HSO prelude talk we learned that the Chevalier de Saint Georges was truly a brilliant violinist who not only loved to play fast and furious but he loved to use the difficult high register notes on the violin.

Also something amazing about Joseph Bologne – again from the HSO website: “Saint-Georges commissioned Joseph Haydn to write six symphonies for his orchestra—Le Concert Olympique. These compositions are best known as Haydn’s “Paris” symphonies and were premiered and conducted by Saint-Georges.”

You would think with all these great accomplishments and the knighthood he received that he would be beloved by everyone. But no, he would still face bigotry and discrimination because of his mother being an African: “His name was put forward as a candidate for the director of the Paris Opera at one point, but the Opera’s prima donnas went to Queen Marie Antoinette and scuttled his candidacy (because they didn’t want to take orders from a “mulatto.”). Despite this, it’s thought that Marie Antoinette may have subsequently performed with Saint-Georges as his accompanist.

Also, there is this example from Wikipedia: “Louise Fusil, who had idolized Saint-Georges since she was a girl of 15, wrote: “In 1791, I stopped in Amiens where St. Georges and Lamothe were waiting for me, committed to give some concerts over the Easter holidays. We were to repeat them in Tournai. But the French refugees assembled in that town just across the border, could not abide the Creole they believed to be an agent of the despised Duke of Orléans. St. Georges was even advised [by its commandant] not to stop there for long.” According to a report by a local newspaper: “The dining room of the hotel where St. Georges, a citizen of France, was also staying, refused to serve him, but he remained perfectly calm; remarkable for a man with his means to defend himself.“”

At the age of 53, in 1799, the Chevalier de Saint Georges died of bladder disease in Paris, France.

This from Artaria: “There were certainly greater composers than Saint-Georges during the late 18th century but none who possessed anywhere near his remarkable range of talents, his exotic persona and fascinating personality.”

To read the entire interesting and informative article about The Chevalier de Saint-Georges from Artaria, please click here.

It’s a shame that there are more people like me, who have never heard of this amazing man, this great classical composer from African descent. I can see why his music would be popular at that time because of the melodic and Haydn like playfull bright characteristic nature of his compositions.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy some melodic sweet compostitions by this classical French composer of African descent, Joseph Bologne-The Chevalier de Saint Georges.

Joseph Bologne: Symphony #1 in G Major:

Joseph Bologne: Symphony Concertante in G Major:

Joseph Bologne: Violin Concerto in C Major:

Joseph Bologne: Sonata for Two Violins in B Flat Major:

Joseph Bologne: String Quartet #3 in g minor, Allegro:

Thank you for reading and listening. I hope you enjoyed some of The Chevalier de Saint Georges’ music.

Relaxing Brahms Cello Sonata

For those of you who love the cello, Johannes Brahms composed a wonderful pleasant and warm cello sonata in E-minor.  This warm and relaxing character is especially exemplified in its first movement.

JOHANNES BRAHMS [May 17, 1833 – April 3, 1897]

The first movement, in sonata form, is scored Allegro non troppo. The second movement is Allegretto quasi menuetto and the final movement is scored Allegro.

So, please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy this pleasant piece for cello and piano by Johannes Brahms.

Johannes Brahms: Cello Sonata in E minor: