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The last article in ClassicalConnect, "Gustav Holst and more, 2021", is dated 2021-09-20. By 2020, this source had published 52 articles (39 since the beginning of 2021). Over the past 12 months, ClassicalConnect has published an average of 4 articles per month.
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This Week in Classical Music: September 20, 2021. Geography. This week is rich on anniversaries and exceptionally diverse on geography. Gustav Holst was born on September 21stof 1874 in Cheltenham, England. A thoroughly English composer, he got his German-sounding name from his German-Swedish ancestors on the paternal side: his great-grandfather, Matthias Holst, a minor composer, pianist and harpist, was born in Riga and served at the Imperial Russian Court in St. Petersburg. Gustav Holst was quite famous during his lifetime; these days outside of Britain he’s mostly known for his orchestral suite The Planets. Holst studied at the Royal College of Music under Charles Stanford. Another English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, was his close friend, and so was Arnold Bax. Holst was a wonderful teacher, among his students were composers Michael Tippett and Benjamin Britten. The Planets were composed between 1914 and 1917. Each of the “planet” movements is supposed […]
This Week in Classical Music: August 9, 2021. Many composers and Solomon. We’d like to acknowledge several composers, none of them great, all very interesting: a Venezuelan-born Frenchman Reynaldo Hahn (born August 9th of 1874): it’s not clear if these days he’s better known for his wonderful songs or the friendship with Marcel Proust. Alexander Glazunov, a Russian composer, was also born on August 9th, in 1865. He was a prolific composer of rather old-fashioned music. Glazunov led the St-Petersburg Conservatory during a very difficult time after the revolution; Dmitry Shostakovich was his pupil. Heinrich Ignaz Biber, an Austrian composer, was born in Bohemia on August 12th of 1644, he’s known for his violin music. Maurice Greene (born August 12th of 1696) was an English composer who wrote several popular “anthems.” Another English composer, Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, one of the most unusual composers of all time, was born on August […]
This Week in Classical Music: September 13, 2021. The Little-Known Boismortier. Today our guest Aleah Fitzwater writes about the French composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. Before we get to this interesting but rather obscure Frenchman, we’d like to mention several composers and singers whose anniversaries are celebrated this week. Girolamo Frescobaldi, one of the first composers to write for a clavier instrument, was born on this day in 1583. Also on this day but in 1819 Clara Wieck was born. We know her better as Clara Schumann, Robert’s wife; she was a wonderful pianist and composer and an influential figure in German musical circles. And Arnold Schoenberg, a great modernist composer who pretty much changed the way we listen to music, was also born on September 13, in 1874. Luigi Cherubini, beloved by Beethoven and Rossini, was born September 14th of 1760. And the three singers, Jessye Norman, Elīna Garanča […]
This Week in Classical Music: August 2, 2021. Short takes. We’ll follow the lead of the musicologist Alejandro Planchart who, after sorting out all kind of information, had determined that Guillaume Dufay was born on August 5th of 1397. Dufay (his name was also spelled as Du Fay and Du Fayt) was the most famous composer of his time, that being the early Renaissance of European music. (The picture to the left indirectly attests to his fame: depicted on the left is Guillaume Dufay, on the right – Gilles Binchois, three years younger but also a famous composer; the script above the figures calls Dufay, and only him, “maître,” or master– Binchois is identified just by his name). We’ve written about Dufay a number of times, the last time just a year ago when we analyzed his peregrinations around Europe, here, which are absolutely fascinating, considering the distances he traveled […]
This Week in Classical Music: September 6, 2021. London Young Musician. One of our goals here at Classical Connect is to support and promote young artists. London Young Musician is an online competition which has similar goals. Even though this week is rich on significant birthdays (from Isabella Leonarda to Hernando De Cabezon, Antonin Dvořák, Henry Purcell, William Boyce and Arvo Pärt), we decided to publish their announcement as London’s deadline is fast approaching. Here it is: London Young Musician is an international online music performance competition focusing on supporting the worldwide learning and creation of classical music. It is open to young musicians under the age of 28 and is available to all classical music instruments and vocals. The competition is held entirely online and welcomes applications from around the world. It provides excellent experience of competing internationally, without the hassle of travelling. Thousands of candidates from over 70 […]
This Week in Classical Music: August 30, 2021. Bruckner and more. Anton Bruckner was born on September 4th of 1824 in a small town of Ansfelden near Linz. We love Bruckner, we’ve written about him on a number of occasions, and presented many of his symphonies (take a look here). One symphony that so far was missing from our library is Bruckner’s Symphony no. 2. As so many other compositions, it has a rather torturous history. Even though it is listed as number two, it’s the fourth symphony that Bruckner composed. Bruckner was a late starter: the very first symphony he wrote, in F minor without a number (but sometimes called “Symphony 00,” or “Study Symphony”) was an immature attempt composed in 1863; it was premiered more than a century later, in 1972, and is almost never performed. Then, in 1866, came Symphony no. 1, which Bruckner, famously unsure of […]
This Week in Classical Music: August 23, 2021. Microtonal Music and Easley Blackwood. When we listen to music, we rarely think about tuning: while dissonances abound, the basic scale sounds good to our ear. But in reality, this is not quite right: take two fifth from a C, and you’ll arrive at a B an octave above, B1. But two exact fifths are not the same as an octave B to B1. The frequency of B is 494, B1 has the frequency that is twice that, or 988. But two exact fifths from C would have the frequency of 987. It’s close enough, and a “well-tempered” (remember Bach?) scale sounds good to our ear. But what if we decided to use microtones intentionally, to create music? Stephen Weigel, a composer and performer, writes about Easley Blackwood, who did just that: he composed many pieces using microtonal scales. Here are two […]
This Week in Classical Music: August 16, 2021. Ginette Neveu and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Last week we promised to write about the violinist Ginette Neveu. The reason Neveu is not better known is because her life was tragically short. Neveu was born in Paris on August 11th of 1919. Her mother was Ginette’s first violin teacher. Ginette made her first public appearance at the age of seven playing Bruch's Violin Concerto no. 1 and later that same year performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Colonne Orchestra under the direction of Gabriel Pierné. She studied at the Paris Conservatory, receiving a premier prix at the age of 11, and then continued with George Enescu and the Hungarian teacher and violinist Carl Flesch (among Flesch’s pupils were Ivry Gitlis, Ida Haendel, Josef Hassid and Henryk Szeryng). In 1935, aged 15, Neveu won the International Wieniawski Competition; David Oistrakh, who was 11 years her […]
This Week in Classical Music: July 26, 2021. Di Stefano. We missed a big date, Giuseppe Di Stefano’s 100th anniversary, by two days: he was born in a small village of Motta Sant’Anastasia, near Catania in Sicily on July 24th of 1921. His family moved all the way north to Milan when Giuseppe was six. At the age of 20 he began voice studies with Luigi Montesanto, a fine baritone and teacher. The war interrupted his career as Di Stefano was conscripted. The regiment’s doctor, having heard him singing, gave him a medical dispensation, saying that he would better serve Italy as singer than a soldier. The regiment was sent to the Russian front where most of the soldiers, including the doctor, were killed. In 1943 Di Stefano fled to Switzerland, was interned there but then released. In Lausanne he made his first recordings. He returned to Italy in 1946 […]