Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Musical Musings Volume 9 - Works For Voice

The human voice is in many ways the most flexible and expressive musical instrument known to man, as well as being the first. The organization of sounds that developed into the first musical systems of the world were based on the human voice, and professional composers have been inspired to write for it for centuries.  Contemporary popular music is almost exclusively for the accompanied voice, and classical music has a huge repertoire of vocal music for soloist, chorus, and all kinds of combinations with instrumental accompaniment.

Volume 9 - Works For Voice
This 9th Volume in the Musical Musings series of articles about classical music continues with works that are for or include the voice. All types of vocal music are included save for opera, which I consider to be a separate category in itself.  The time line of composers is from Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) to Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975) and range from works for solo voice and piano, to works for soloists, chorus and orchestra. The mix of compositions contained within also range from the well known to the obscure.

Most of the works are not in English, a detriment to understanding for some. Indeed, the essence of most vocal music is in the meaning behind the words and how the composer has molded the music to them. But the listener who accepts the challenge of exploring the words and music will be rewarded with hearing some of the most powerful, beautiful, and masterful music written. 

Translations are included for the text of each work. These translations have been gleaned from various sources. Some are copyrighted, and proper credit is given to the translator, some are in the public domain, and for some of the lesser-known pieces I have provided my own English translation. I am by no means a polyglot, and these translations were done with the help of the computer. As such, they can only give an approximation and are intended to give a general idea of the original text’s meaning.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Musical Musings Volume 8 - Symphonies Part Two

This 8thVolume in the Musical Musings series of articles about classical music continues with selected compositions in the genre of the symphony. As in Part One (Musical Musings Volume II – Symphonies Part One) there are well known works represented in addition to works that are less well known.

The symphony evolved over many years, and this volume includes a symphony by one of the first acknowledged composers who wrote in the form, Giovanni Sammartini, who began writing symphonies as early as 1732.  So the symphony as a form has been around for nearly 300 years.    

There are 50 works included from 26 different composers, including two women composers; the American Mrs. H.H.A Beach and the British Alice Mary Smith.  As with the rest of the volumes in the series, there are links to performances of the works that are discussed included at the end of each article.  I invite one and all to visit Musical Musings, the blog where these articles first appeared.  

Happy listening!
Alan Beggerow  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Musical Musings Volume 7 - Concertos Part Two

The history of concerted music for orchestra and one or more soloists is a long one, beginning with the early Baroque period (beginning roughly in 1600) to the modern contemporary period. The repertoire for one or more soloists and orchestra is huge in sheer number and variety of works, hence the Concerto category is the first category to have a second volume devoted to it.

The solo concerto really came into being in the early 18th century with the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi who made the concerto a vehicle for a soloist on one instrument with orchestra backing. He also steered music away from counterpoint and fugue and into the more accessible style gallant.  Vivaldi’s innovations in style and content led to the result in t he early 19th century of the performer/composer, virtuoso performers that wrote music for their own use that would show off their prowess on their given instrument. Many composers first made a name for themselves as performer/composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and many, many more.
This 7th volume in a series of ebooks about classical music composers and their works is a collection of 50 concertos. Included are works by familiar and unfamiliar composers, as well as well-known and so not well-known compositions.  There are 37 different composers included, so this volume has the greatest variety of composers of any other of the seven current volumes.

As with the rest of the volumes in the series, there are links to performances of the works that are discussed included at the end of each article.  I invite one and all to Musical Musings, the blog where these articles first appeared. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Musical Musings Volume 6


This 6th volume of articles from my classical music blog Musical Musings deals with chamber music, which is by definition music written for a small group of musicians, most often with each instrument having its own individual part.  The term chamber music also refers to the size of the venue that the music is to be performed in, such as salons, parlors and small rooms in individual dwellings.  This sense still applies today, but chamber music can also played in larger venues such as concert halls.

There are many different combinations of instruments within chamber music.  Perhaps the most well-known chamber music combination is the string quartet, which consists of two violins, viola and cello.  But the combinations of instruments range from two instruments up to nine.

The articles contained in this ebook range from the 17th century to the 20th century, with well-known and not so well-known composers represented. 

Chamber music by its nature a very intimate form of music. There is beautiful, powerful and passionate music within the genre that is unique to chamber music. I hope this modest volume adds to the musical pleasure of the listener by giving some information about the composer and analysis of the specific works being discussed, as well as an internet link to a performance of the work.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Musical Musings Volumes 4 and 5

Two more ebooks of classical music analysis and performances:

Musical Musings Volume 4 - Music For Keyboard

This is the 4th volume in my series of articles about classical music. All of these articles originally appeared on my classical music blog Musical Musings. As with the other volumes in the series, there is a link to a performance of the musical work discussed in the article.

This volume contains works for keyboard; works for organ, clavichord, harpsichord and piano. There are examples of all 4 instruments in articles that begin with the Italian composer Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583 - 1643) and end with the American composer Henry Cowell (1897-1965). By the way, the work by Cowell that is included, The Banshee, is to be played on the piano, but by using the fingers of the ‘pianist’ directly on the strings, so it isn’t actually for a keyboard per se. 

The repertoire for piano alone is enormous. Add the repertoire for other keyboard instruments and the number grows to gigantic proportions.  This collection is but a miniscule scratch in the vast repertoire of keyboard music, and as such it is hardly representative. The pieces contained herein are some of my favorites, some familiar, some not so much, and some have been added purely for their uniqueness.

This 5th volume in the series of ebooks taken from my music blog Musical Musings contains articles concerning works for orchestra that are not symphonies or concertos. This primarily means that that works in this volume are overtures from operas or concert overtures, and symphonic poems.

The most heavily represented composer in this volume is Franz Liszt. While Liszt was not the first composer by any means to write music inspired by other arts, he was the first to label them as symphonic poems. Nine of his thirteen symphonic poems are in this volume. Along with Liszt are 22 other composers from Beethoven (born in 1770) to Penderecki (born in 1933).

As with other volumes in this ebook series, there is a link at the end of each article to a performance of the work discussed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Circle Bar Four

The second volume in the series Wyoming Territory sees the new ranch battling external problems created by Boss Katzman and internal troubles caused by partners in the ranch itself.