For lovers of classical music and those who would like to learn about classical music. I am, big Mike, just a fan of classical music and certainly not a pro. So, I do make mistakes and would appreciate you correcting me if I do. I am married to the wonderful Sheralyn with daughter, Ebony and granddaughter Skye. I am Jewish and love not just classical music but all sports, walking, and reading [mostly thriller novels]. I love to share what little knowledge I have RE: classical music and hope you enjoy some of my posts. Thanks!
Franz Joseph Haydn: “(born March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria—died May 31, 1809, Vienna), [was an] Austrian composer who was one of the most important figures in the development of the Classical style in music during the 18th century.”
On this Friday, March 31, 2023 we say Happy 291st Birthday to this giant of classical music.
Franz Joseph “Papa” Haydn was one of the most important pioneers in the development of classical music. He was the creator of the classical symphony. He gave the future great masters much to study from as he wrote an amazing 104 classical symphonies. That is not all. This great composer did in the development of classical music. He also developed the sonata style of composition [exposition, development, recapitulation] that became a staple of composers of classical music.
Papa Haydn also was a leader in developing the string quartet. He was prolific in his string quartets and it led the way to the great string quartets from the masters that followed Haydn’s lead.
With all of these influences Haydn had on the development of classical music, it is no wonder most lovers of classical music will include him in their top echelon of composers.
In my opinion, only JS Bach had more influence in the development of music than Franz Joseph Haydn. So, is it just a coincidence or the hand of God that both Bach and Haydn share the same birthday, March 31. Please check out my post celebrating Bach’s birthday today.
Without further ado, please turn up the volume and enjoy some amazing music from one of the greatest influences in the development of classical music, Franz Joseph Haydn.
F.J. Haydn:String Quartet #62 in C Major “Emperor”, movement 2, poco adagio, cantabile, theme and variations:
F.J. Haydn: Cello Concerto #2 in D Major:
F.J. Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E Flat Major, Movement 3, Allegro:
The quintessential Baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, was born 338 years ago in Germany on either March 21, 1685 or March 31, 1685 – this time dispute relates to the change of calendars [Julian to Gregorian] during that time period. Because most musicologists celebrate Bach’s birthday on March 31, this blog also will celebrate his birthday on Friday March 31, 2023.
When you say Baroque music, the name Bach must first come up. He is one of, if not the most, influential person in classical music with his musical inventions, techniques and great compositions. Without Johann Sebastian Bach, it is doubtful, in my opinion, that classical music would have developed as fully as it did. Most of the great composers in the Classical and Romantic Era’s to follow [and even with children learning how to play classical music today] got their foundation from Bach’s musical inventions. Bach was a virtuoso organist whose upbringing in religion and deep faith led him to compose much sacred music for organ and for choral works. Bach had a fairly long life [for that period of time] of 65 years and he used this blessing by God to be a prolific composer of some of that greatest music ever written. He was a composer of cantatas and oratorios and many organ pieces and other keyboard pieces [mainly for harpsichord] and he was also an orchestral composer of concertos for violin and keyboard [that some have been transformed for the modern piano] and of orchestral suites and dances, and also of many great chamber music compositions.
From Wikipedia: Bach’s famous instructive ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ for keyboard [at the time – harpsichord] “consists of Books 1 and 2 with each book containing a prelude and fugue in each of the 24 major and minor keys in chromatic order from C major to B minor.”
Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ for keyboard is “an aria with 30 variations” with an “unconventional structure: the variations build on the bass line of the aria, rather than its melody.”
J.S. Bach [March 31, 1685 – July 28, 1750]
Make no doubt about it, when one talks about the giants in classical music, J.S. Bach must be mentioned right near the top. Along with Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, Bach fills my list of who I believe are the top 4 most influential composers with regards to the development of music. [classical or non-classical].
Bach was the main developer of the polyphony technique that was a main characteristic in the Baroque period of music. Polyphony means ‘many voices’ and in the compositions was demonstrated by different thematic lines [voices] of music being played at the same time.
Without further ado, please turn up the volume and enjoy some of the greatest music ever composed by the genius, Johann Sebastian Bach to celebrate his 338th Birthday.
JS Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor:
JS Bach: Air on the G String:
JS Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C minor:
JS Bach: J.S. Bach: Brandenberg Concerto #2 in F Major, Movement 3, Allegro Assai:
UPDATE: I have just found out that they are going to come out with a movie on the life of Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint Georges, called Chevalier, that will be in the movie theaters in the United States opening on April 21, 2023! Because of that I am repeating this post!
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]
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.
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.
Giacomo Puccini was one of the greatest Italian composers in the Romantic Era who is widely known for his magnificent luscious operas and the beautiful melodic arias they have produced.
With a hat/tip to All Classical Portland, a Tune in Radio station I was listening to on my morning walk this Sunday March 25, they reminded the listeners, that while most of Puccini’s greatest works were operatic, he also had some symphonic non-operatic beautiful pieces. They played a symphonic melodic piece that I really enjoyed on my morning walk.
I didn’t write it down but I believe the non-operatic symphonic piece that played this early morning was Prelude Sinfonica. It is very beautiful. Also, another non-operatic symphonic piece by Puccini I have here is Capriccio Sinfonica.
So, please turn up the volume to enjoy a couple of non-operatic symphonic pieces by the great Italian [mostly operatic] composer, Giacomo Puccini.
Note: in the first video, our Houston Symphony Orchestra’s great director, Maestro Juraj Valcuha, is leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
As today Monday, March 20, 2023 is the vernal equinox marking the beginning of Spring, I say Welcome, Spring-Vivaldi’s Spring that is from his set of four short violin concertos: “Four Seasons”-each concerto representing one of the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
Antonio Vivaldi – Italian Baroque Composer [1678-1741]
Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Concerto #1 in E Major, Spring:
Today, Saturday, March 18, is the birthday or the Russian Romantic composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
This from Wikipedia: “Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov[a] (March 18, 1844 – June 21, 1908) was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of [19th Century Russian] composers known as The Five [Rimsky-Korsakov, Mily Balakirev, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin].
He was a master of orchestration. His best-known orchestral compositions—Cappricio Espagnol, the Russia Easter Festival Overture, and the symphonic suite Scheherazade—are staples of the classical music repertoire, along with suites and excerpts from some of his 15 operas. Scheherazade is an example of his frequent use of fairy-tale and folk subjects.”
From Brittanica-Rimsky-Korsakov: “… of [the group known as] “The Five”, Rimsky-Korsakov was the most learned and the most productive; he composed works in all genres, but he most excelled in the field of opera.”
“Rimsky-Korsakov rendered an inestimable service to Russian music as the de facto editor and head of a unique publishing enterprise financed by the Russian industrialist M.P. Belyayev and dedicated exclusively to the publication of music by Russian composers.”
“Of the composer’s orchestral works, the best known are Capriccio espagnol (1887), the symphonic suite Scheherazade, and Russian Easter Festival (1888) overture. “The Flight of the Bumble Bee” from The Tale of Tsar Saltan and the “Song of India” from Sadko are perenial favourites [sic] in a variety of arrangements.”
Turn up the volume and enjoy some of the great works of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov on his heavenly 179th birthday.
Today, March 14, is the birthday of Johann Strauss I.
This from Wikipedia: “Johann Baptist Strauss I … also , Johann Strauss Sr., the Elder, the Father, (March 14 1804 – September 25 1849) was an Austrian composer of the Romantic Period. He was famous for his light music, namely waltzes, polkas and galops, which he popularized alongside Joseph Lanner, thereby setting the foundations for his sons—Johann, Joseph, and Eduard—to carry on his musical dynasty. He is best known for his composition of the Radetsky March.”
“Johann Strauss II often played his father’s works and openly declared his admiration of them, although it was no secret to the Viennese that their rivalry was intense”.
“Strauss died in Vienna on September 25, 1849 at the age of 45 from scarlet fever … Hector Berlioz himself paid tribute to the ‘Father of the Viennese Waltz’ by commenting that “Vienna without Strauss is like Austria without the Danube”.
So, on this Johann Strauss, “The father”, 219th birthday, please turn up the volume to hear his most famous piece, The Radetsky March:
The fetching Mrs. B and I will once again trek to Jones Hall in downtown Houston this Saturday to attend another great concert program by our award winning Houston Symphony Orchestra. This is a great program featuring two Romantic Era composer giants, Johannes Brahms, with his Piano Concerto in D minor, and Antonin Dvorak and his Symphony #8 in G Major. We are blessed to have the young internationally renowned guest conductor, Jonathan Hayward leading our Houston Symphony Orchestra.
From the HSO website: “Dvořák’s enchanting Symphony No. 8 invites listeners on a sun-drenched jaunt through nature’s endless charms, and the result is joyous, uplifting, and life-affirming. Surging with youthful fire, tender passion, and thunderous power, Brahm’s Piano Concerto No. 1 looms large as one of music history’s most monumental and stunning creative achievements—all the more amazing that Brahms wrote it at the tender age of 25. Stephen Hough, “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off” (Washington Post) joins Jonathon Heyward and the orchestra, and the concerts open with Carlos’s Simon’s Beethoven-inspired Fate Now Conquers.”
Brahms Piano Concerto #1 is scored in the key of D minor with 3 movements: 1. Maestoso; 2. Adagio; and 3. Rondo-Allegro non troppo.
Dvorak’s 8th symphony in G Major has 4 movements: 1. Allegro con brio; 2. Adagio; 3. Allegretto Grazioso – Molto Vivace [trio]; and 4. Allegro ma non troppo.
As usual, whenever Sheralyn and I go to Jones Hall to hear our great Houston Symphony Orchestra, I like to share some of most of what we will be hearing that night [Saturday, March 11, 2023].
So, please turn up the volume and enjoy two melodic romantic pieces by two of the greatest Romantic composers, Johannes Brahms and Antonin Dvorak.