ClassicalConnect is a English-speaking blog specialized in the field of classical music and opera. As such, ClassicalConnect is a qualified source of soClassiQ, like ClassicsToday or The Classical Review and many others. The oldest article indexed by soClassiQ is dated 2017-11-20. Since then, a total of 140 articles have been written and published by ClassicalConnect.
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This Week in Classical Music: July 27, 2020. Dufay’s peregrinations. Guillaume Dufay, the great composer of the Early Renaissance, is unique on at least two accounts: one is his position as the most influential composer of his generation, who was acknowledged as such during his time and retained that position for the following half-millennium. Another is a curiosity: Dufay is one of the very few musicians born in the 14th century whose birthday was “reconstructed” with some certainty. It was done by the musicologist Alejandro Planchart, the foremost scholar of Dufay and his time, who established the date based on the time of Dufay’s ordination, his years as a chorister at Cambrai Cathedral, and events connected with the funding of his obit service. Planchart had determined that Dufay was born on August 5th of 1397 in Beersel, Brabant, not far from Brussels, and moved with his mother to Cambrai, France, […]
This Week in Classical Music: July 20, 2020. Stern 100. Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of Isaac Stern, one of the greatest violinists and cultural figures of the 20th century. Stern was born on July 21st of 1920 in the small town of Kremenets which was then in Poland but is now part of the Ukraine. His family was Jewish, many Jews were leaving the pogrom-ridden lands, and so did the Stern family, just one year after Isaac’s birth. They moved to San Francisco; when Isaac was just eight years old, and he was enrolled in the SF Conservatory. He made his recital début in 1935 and a year later he performed Saint-Saëns’s Violin Concerto no. 3 with the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Pierre Monteux. Stern made his New York debut in 1937, then played there again, to great acclaim, in 1939, establishing himself as one of […]
This Week in Classical Music: July 27, 2020. Three Tenors. Only two of our tenors were born this week, Sergei Lemeshev and Mario del Monaco, but the birthday of the third one, Giuseppe Di Stefano, was three days ago. The Russian tenor Sergei Lemeshev is the oldest of the three: he was born on this day in 1902. One of the greatest tenors of the Soviet Union, (along with Ivan Kozlovsky) Lemeshev was born into a peasant family. He went to St.-Petersburg to be a shoemaker, listened to gramophone recordings in his free time and learned the musical basics at a vocational school. In 1920 he was sent to the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied for four years, 1921 through 1925. In 1924 he performed the role of Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin under the direction of the famed Konstantin Stanislavsky. That was to become his most famous (and favorite) […]
This Week in Classical Music: July 13, 2020. On Mahler and the Music Scene. Last week we celebrated Gustav Mahler’s 160th anniversary. WFMT, the premier classical music station based in Chicago, also celebrated the event: they played 10 minutes of the Finale of the Symphony no. 4, when Carl Grapentine, their former morning host who now presents “Carl’s Almanac,” short musical introductions, spoke about Mahler for a couple of minutes. Then, at the end of the day, WFMT played "Adagietto," the fourth movement of Symphony no. 5, which, after so much use and misuse turned trite and reminds one more of Luchino Visconti’s film “Death in Venice” rather than Mahler’s symphony. And this is how the same WFMT celebrated Mahler’s 150th anniversary ten years ago: they played all of his symphonies plus Das Lied von der Erde and several song cycles. They played them without interruption, from beginning to end. […]
This Week in Classical Music: June 22, 2020. Mahler at 160. Gustav Mahler, one of the greatest composers in the history of music (Grove Dictionary is more circumspect, calling him “one of the most important figures of European art music in the 20th century,” but we think he was much more than that) was born on July 7th of 1860 in a small town of Kaliště in Moravia (then Kalischt, Austria-Hungary). We’ve been tracing Mahler’s life by his symphonies, the last one, two years ago, being his Symphony no. 6, written in 1903 – 1904. The Seventh followed soon after: Mahler started working on the symphony in 1904 and completed it a year later; he conducted the premiere in Prague in 1908, the work wasn’t well received. By 1904 Mahler’s routine was well established: he would spend music seasons conducting and producing operas at the Hofoper in Vienna and conducting […]
This Week in Classical Music: June 22, 2020. Henze, Gluck and Janáček. The calendar divides composers into serendipitous groups, and this week we have three that are as musically different as they can get. Christoph Willibald Gluck was a famous opera composer, who created a new style by merging the Italian and French traditions; for six years he was feted in Paris where some of his best operas, Orphée et Euridice, Iphigénie en Aulide, Alceste and Iphigénie en Tauride saw their premiers. Then, after one failure (with Echo et NarcisseI), he fell out of favor, left Paris and lived the rest of his live in Vienna suffering from melancholy. Gluck was born on July 2nd of 1714, you can read more about him here. While Gluck was born in what is now Germany, in his youth he spent many years in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic; Leoš Janáček, also […]
This Week in Classical Music: June 22, 2020. Orlando di Lasso. No, the great Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance was not born this week. We are not even sure when he was born, whether in 1530 or 1532. We do know, though, that he was one of the greatest and most prolific composers of his time. Orlando, often spelled as Orlande de Lassus, was born in the town of Mons in the County of Hainaut in what is now Belgium; at that time Hainaut and the rest of the Low Countries were part of the empire of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. As a boy, Orlando moved to Italy with Ferrante Gonzaga, a condottiero who was then serving Charles V (Ferrante belonged to a minor branch of Gonzagas, the dukes of Mantua). Orlando’s first stop in Italy was Mantua but several months later Ferrante left the city for Sicily, […]
This Week in Classical Music: June 15, 2020. Musical dynasties, Stravinsky. Several very interesting composers were born this week, two of them belonging to dynasties: Johann Stamitz was the head of one, while Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach was one of several sons of Johann Sebastian who became prominent composers. Johann Stamitz was born on June 18th of 1717 in Bohemia, then ruled by the Habsburgs and to a large extent dominated by the German language and Austrian-German culture. Stamitz was a violin virtuoso; sometime around 1741 he was hired by the Mannheim Court to play in the famous orchestra. Stamitz’s career advanced quickly: he was soon appointed Konzertmeister, then Director of Court music and the orchestra’s chief conductor. Stamitz developed the orchestra into the “most renowned ensemble of the time, famous for its precision and its ability to render novel dynamic effects,” to quote the musicologist and historian Eugene Wolf. Johann’s sons Carl and Anton were among the best composers of the […]
This Week in Classical Music: June 8, 2020. Charles Wuorinen. Robert Schumann’s 210th anniversary is today: he was born on June 8th of 1810 in Zwickau, Germany. He is without a doubt one of the greatest composers of all time, and we’ve written about him many times. Many musicologists and regular listeners believe that Schumann’s best work was composed early in his life, and he was suffering greatly by the end of it (he died at just 46 years old in a mental institution). Despite all the depressions and hallucinations, Schumann continued to compose till almost the very end of his life. His last piano composition, called Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) was written in 1854. At that time Schumann thought that he was surrounded by spirits who played him music, “both "wonderful" and "hideous".” Soon after he was admitted to the mental hospital in Endenich, a suburb of Bonn. He died […]
This Week in Classical Music: June 1, 2020. Argerich. Our apologies to the devotees of the music of Georg Muffat, if there are any. We’re not going to write about him, even though his birthday is today (he was born in 1653); however, you can check our earlier entries about himhere and here. Neither will we write about Mikhail Glinka, also born on this day, in 1804, Edward Elgar, born June 2nd of 1857 and beloved by the English, or Aram Khachaturian, the pride of the Armenians. Khachaturian was born on June 6th of 1903 in Tbilisi into an Armenian family; Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, had a large Armenian population at the time. He eventually moved to Moscow and lived there for the rest of his life and only visited Armenia on several occasions. He was affected by the Armenian folk tunes, though, which he loved and collected on […]