Happy Birthday Robert Schumann

On June 8, 1810 the German Romantic Era composer, pianist, and music critic Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau, [Central] Germany. Happy 213th Birthday Robert Schumann!

From Wikipedia-Robert Schumann: “He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. His teacher, Friedrich Wieck, a German pianist, had assured him that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

In 1840, Schumann married Freidrich Weik’s daughter Clara Wieck, after a long and acrimonious legal battle with Friedrich, who opposed the marriage. A lifelong partnership in music began, as Clara herself was an established pianist and music prodigy. Clara and Robert also maintained a close relationship with German composer Johannes Brahms.” [for more on that relationship, please check out my post: “Robert, Clara, and Johannes”]

From NPR’s Morning Edition with Miles Hoffman: “Robert Schumann, A Romantic Hero”: “When it comes to what moved Robert Schumann to compose exquisite music, he said, “You write to become immortal, or because the piano happens to be open, or you’ve looked into a pair of beautiful eyes.”

“Although Schumann may not be on the same level as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, Hoffman says his music represents a complete picture of what humans have been able to accomplish in music.

“[It’s] because of the depth, because of how well Schumann was able to capture the human spirit, also in a vast range of works, in all sorts of combinations of instruments for voice, for large forces, for small forces. There’s an encyclopedic body of work,” Hoffman says.”

[Sadly] “Schumann’s life was filled with beauty, and the great love for his wife, but he was also tormented with psychological problems. He suffered from mental illness most of his life,” Hoffman says. “Some people say it was schizophrenia, some say it was bipolar syndrome. It was terribly serious. He heard voices. He had hallucinations. Eventually, he threw himself from a bridge into the Rhine, and he spent the last 2 1/2 years of his life in a sanatorium.”

From Wikipedia-Robert Schumann: “After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted at his own request to a mental asylum in Edenich (now in Bonn). Diagnosed with psychotic melancholia, he died of pneumonia two years later [on July 29, 1856] at the age of 46, without recovering from his mental illness”.

While sadly, Robert Schumann had a troubled life and a very sad death, we are blessed with much beautiful, romantic, and melodic music that he was still able to create. So, please turn up the volume and enjoy some of his beautiful compositions, on this day, what would be Robert Schumann’s 213th Birthday.

Symphony #1 in B Flat Major, “Spring”:

“Träumerei”, from “Kinderszenen” No. 7, Scenes from Childhood:

Piano Concerto in A minor:

Symphony #3 in E Flat Major, “Rhenish”:

Kreisleriana [8 pieces for piano]:

RIP Robert Schumann on this your 213th Birthday

Happy Birthday Martha Argerich

On this date, June 5, Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the year, 1941, making this virtuoso pianist 82 years old today! This Argentinian is considered one of the greatest classical pianists ever. Wishing Martha a Happy Birthday and many more happy ones!

From Wikipedia: “Argerich performed her debut concert at the age of 8, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20 in D minor and Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto in C Major. Argerich gained international prominence when she won the VII International Piano Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965, at age 24. In that same year, she debuted in the United States in Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series. In 1960, she had made her first commercial recording, which included works by Chopin, Brahms, Ravel, Prokofiev, and Liszt; it received critical acclaim upon its release in 1961.”

Please turn up the volume and listen to these great performances on the piano by the great Martha Argerich, on this her 82nd birthday.

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 in B Flat minor:

Barenboim and Argerich: Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos, K448:

J.S. Bach: Piano Partita no. 2 in C minor, BMV 826:

Happy 82nd Birthday Blessings Martha Argerich!

Serene Sunday With Dvorak’s Humoresque

Wishing everyone a peaceful and a serene Sunday. Hoping to help make this a serene Sunday on this classical music blog I turn to the great Czech Romantic Era composer, Antonin Dvorak, with his serene and melodic, “Humoresque #7”, known simply as Humoresque.

Antonin Dvorak [1841 – 1904]

From Wikipedia on Humoresque: “Humoresque (or Humoreske) is a genre of Romantic music, characterized by pieces with fanciful humor in the sense of mood rather than wit.”

“The name refers to the German term Humoreske, which was given from the 1800s (decade) onward to humorous tales. Many humoresques can be compared to a gigue in their dance-like qualities, and many were used as dance music from the 1700s onwards.”

Dvorak composed a set of 8 humoresques, with his number 7 being the most famous and beloved by concert goers. Because of that it is often just called Dvorak’s Humoresque.

Please turn up the volume to enjoy Antonin Dvorak’s, “Humoresque” , on hopefully a serene Sunday for you.

Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio

One of my favorite composers is the quintessential classical era music composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and one of my favorite pieces from Mozart is his beautiful and sublime piano trio in E Flat Major for piano, clarinet, and viola, known as the “Kegelstatt Trio”.

This soothing trio has three movements: 1. Andante; 2. Minuetto; and 3. Rondo. This is truly a beautiful piece of music, especially for someone like me whose two favorite instruments are the piano and clarinet.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio!

Handel’s Chaconne in G

On my morning walk in the mall on Saturday, May 27th, I was listening to Seattle’s Classical King FM on my I phone, and the announcer said, “next will be a Chaconne”, and I immediately thought… ah, Bach and his amazing Chaconne in D minor; but then she said, “Handel’s Chaconne in G Major“. I thought, oh, I want to hear this. And while not Bach, it was really good and I enjoyed it so much I want to share it with you.

George Frideric Handel [1685 – 1759]

From Wikipedia: Chaccone: “is a type of musical composition often used as a vehicle for variation on a repeated short harmonic progression, often involving a fairly short repetitive bass-line which offers a compositional outline for variation, decoration, figuration and melodic invention. In this it closely resembles the passacaglia. It originates and was particularly popular in the Baroque Era [of classical music]”.

From DePauw University School of Music, Form and Analysis, Re: Handel’s Chaconne in G: “Handel’s Chaconne in G Major possesses traits of both continuous and sectional variations. Characteristic of a chaconne, a continuous variation form, variations 1 through 8 maintain the same repeating harmonic structure as the original theme.”

Also, from DePauw University School of Music: “Despite being a chaconne based creating multiple variations of one theme, the piece manages to be enjoyable to listen to. The piece displays several different moods, such as majesty (the slower, more grand original theme) playfulness with quick passages full of scales and rhythmic liveliness (variations 5 and 6, for example), melancholy (the Lamenti bass of Variation 9, for example), and virtuosity and showmanship.”

Read more: http://depauwform.blogspot.com/2008/03/george-frideric-handel-1685-1759.html#ixzz82wC3obkn
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

I really enjoyed this music that helped me get through my morning walk with ease! 🙂

Please turn up the volume and enjoy,

George Frideric Handel’s Chaconne in G Major:

Since I mentioned JS Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, from Partita No. 2, please turn up the volume and enjoy, as a bonus, this amazing music. by Bach.

J.S. Bach: Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004:

Honoring The Fallen on This Memorial Day

On this Monday, May 29, 2023 is Memorial Day. May God Bless all of the fallen heroes of America’s armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us and for our country. Without the sacrifice made by so many, we would not have the free country we have today. Their sacrifice can never be repaid, but it must never be forgotten, and it must always be honored.

This classical music blog would like to honor our fallen heroes with two pieces: First, a somber, passionate, beautiful piece that has been played at many memorials: Samuel Barber’s, “Adagio for Strings“. I feel this piece is very appropriate on this American holiday not just because of the appropriate music but also because on this American Holiday, Samuel Barber is one of the greatest American composers of the twentieth century. 

Please turn up the volume for these beautiful and emotional pieces.

Samuel Barber: Adagio For Strings:

Eternal Father, Strong To Save (Navy Hymn):

Let us honor the Fallen of the American Armed Forces Who Paid The Ultimate Sacrifice for our country

The Sonata Form Used In the Composition of Classical Music

Literally, the word sonata means a piece played as opposed to a cantata-a piece sung.  In classical music sonatas [other than piano sonatas] are pieces written for an instrument that will usually involve piano accompaniment.  For example, a violin sonata involves one violin and one piano.  A violin sonata could also be described as a “sonata for violin and piano”. There are sonatas that have been written for almost every instrument of the orchestra.  

Franz Joseph, “Papa”, Haydn:


There is another meaning of the word sonata which was developed in the classical era by Franz “Papa” Joseph Haydn. That definition of sonata is what this post will deal with. It is the form or structure that many pieces in the classical era use in their composition.  This form of composition will involve 3 parts: 1. exposition, 2. development, and 3. recapitulation.


This structure or form that a composer uses to write the movement of a piece is not just used for sonatas, as you might think.  It is also used in many large orchestral works, symphonies and concertos.  Sonata is not the only form that the great composers used to compose a movement or an entire piece of classical music.  Some other forms of composition are “rondo”, “theme and variations”, “trio”, et. al. 

While there were other forms of composition in the Classical Era, usually, but not always, when the movement of a classical music piece isn’t designated by which form it has used to compose it, the structure of the piece will be in sonata form.

The sonata form consists of three different sections. Like a book or a speech that has a beginning, middle and end, so does a classical movement in the sonata form. The three parts are called exposition, development and recapitulation.

1. Exposition is the beginning of the movement or piece of music, with a theme or themes introduced. These theme[s] will be developed and define the character of the movement/or piece.

2. After the exposition comes the development. This could be considered like the middle of the movement. This could develop the original theme or begin a completely new theme. As the exposition defines the character of the movement, you could consider the middle part developing the character.

3. The final section [and ending of the movement or piece of music] of the sonata form is recapitulation. This means that the music will return to the opening of the exposition. It will sound like the movement is starting all over again and the exposition is being replayed.

So, I like to say in a piece or movement of music using the sonata form [structure], you will hear a beginning, then a middle, and then back to the beginning.

A more professional description of the sonata form of music can be found in this You Tube Video-from @InsideTheScore “How to Listen to Classical music”. Thank you, Inside The Score!

Here are some great pieces of classical music that use the sonata form of composition. Please turn up the volume and see if you can detect the exposition, development and then recapitulation in their structure.

I will give you the first one [Mozart Clarinet Quintet-Larghetto]: The exposition is about the beginning to the 2 minute mark; then the Development is about 2:09-3:25; and the recapitulation is about 3:30 -5:30. Also, in the second video, the exposition begins after the introduction by the orchestra [tutti] and after the recapitulation will be a solo cadenza by the pianist.

W.A. Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A-Major, Movement 2, Larghetto:

Franz Joseph Haydn: Piano Concerto in D Major, Movement 1, Vivace:

Franz Joseph Haydn: String quartet #3 in G Minor, “The Rider”, Movement 4, Allegro con Brio:

Felix Mendelssohn: String Octet in E-Flat MAJOR, MOVEMENT 1, ALLEGRO MODERATO:

I hope you enjoyed some beautiful music from Mozart, Haydn, and Mendelssohn composed in the sonata form. Thank you for listening.

The Ultimate Use of Crescendo by Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel, while in the Romantic era of music, was among the group of French composers [along with Claude Debussy] in the late 19th and early 20th century, who were known as impressionists. 

Maurice Ravel [March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937]


Who would have thought it would be a French composer to bring such a wonderful Spanish flavor in his universally beloved masterpiece, “Bolero“.  Ravel originally composed it for ballet as commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubenstein.  Today it is almost always performed as a stand alone orchestral piece.

This one movement orchestral piece [featuring the snare drum] is a very unique piece in that it has just one theme that is repeated over and over again.  You might think that would make for a boring piece, but it is anything but that.  Ravel’s use of crescendo, with the dynamics beginning with pianissimo and ending with fortissimo makes this an exciting, not a boring piece.  The crescendo in this piece is a slow rising of volume that is constant and never interrupted.  

This is the ultimate use of crescendo as it starts at the first note of the piece [very softly] and continues all the way to the end of the piece [finishing very loudly].  

Ravel only varies the one theme character with a quick surprise climactic ending.  While you may say this is a simple one theme piece, Ravel, with the use of dynamics in this unique way, takes that simple repeated theme to ingeniously creates an epic masterpiece.

What concentration it must take for the percussionist to play the snare drum with the same rhythmic pattern for the entire piece; and like the orchestra the percussionist starts playing at a pianissimo (very soft sound) with a slow crescendo to the fortissimo end.

Maurice Ravel loved his Bolero and so do audiences around the world.  

This is a favorite piece for concert goers everywhere, and it is my wife’s favorite piece of all.   So, this is for you Sheralyn!

Everyone please turn up the volume [especially needed with the pianissimo opening by the snare drum], play in full screen and enjoy.

Maurice Ravel: Bolero: