Classical Masterpieces – Issue no. 2
This weeks post not only brings back a terrific piano and violin performance, but also a work written for Cello by Schumann, which we’ll show a little later.
Let’s begin first off with a fantastic orchestral piece by Glinka called ‘Ruslan and Ludmila Overture!
It’s amazing how those violin players keep up with the incredible speed of this piece!
Fantasiestücke by Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann was born in the year 1810, and only lived a short 46 years. During his life however he wrote a huge amount of music, for orchestra and instrumental solos, including piano and violin.
From a young age, Schumann dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. His father even encouraged this, seeing his sons amazing talent early on. Unfortunately his father passed away when Robert was only 16 years old, but the love of music continued to develop after this.
However, a hand injury at the age of 20 meant he had to leave his dream of becoming a pianist, so he focused his attention on composition instead.
The piece of music, Fantasiestücke, was written for Cello or Clarinet and Piano in 1849. It is a beautiful work, allowing the cello to sing out its rich and warm tone, which is what it is best at.
Take a listen to Jean-Guihen Queyras as he plays this great piece of music.
Look For This:
- Notice the rich, full tone of his sound – the cello sounds as if it is singing!
- Can you hear the simplicity of the piano part? A lot of it is just a few notes over and over.
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt, 1811-1886, was born in the country of Hungary. He was an amazing pianist, composer, conductor and organist throughout his life. This work, Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2, is perhaps his most well known composition.
The themes in this work are based on Hungarian melodies and folk tunes, of which Liszt was a huge fan, and he was often referred to as a nationalist. He wrote 19 rhapsodies in total, originally written for orchestra. This particular piece is in many different sections, some faster, some slower, but all with an overarching feel of brilliance.
You may even recognise the tunes throughout this piece, as they have featured in many shows and TV shorts over the years, including Looney Toons Rhapsody Rabbit, Mickey Mouse in The Opry House, The Muppets and Sesame Street, and even Victor Borge, the classical comedian, did a routine on this piece.
Watch a piano solo version of this work performed by Adam Gyorgy.
Look For This:
- This piece of music has many different themes – how many can you count?
- There is a frequent use of the trill (alternating between different notes rapidly). Can you spot some?
Polonaise Brilliante by Henryk Wieniawski
And finally today, we have a work written by the lesser-known composer Henryk Wieniawski.
Wieniawski was born in the year 1835 and was Polish by nationality, which is seen in some of his writings. As were most writers of their instruments, he was a terrific Violinist, and by the age of 8 was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire due to his ability on the violin. He studied there for approximately 4 years and then went on to tour extensively in his country and beyond.
Henryk began to see a young lady named Isabella Hampton, and they grew quite fond of each other. However her parents objected to the engagement and wouldn’t permit their marriage. Undeterred however, Henryk set to work writing a new work called Légende, and after showing it to Isabellas parents, they went ahead and agreed to the engagement. No one knows why or how their mind was changed – maybe they had always dreamed of having a composer as a son in law!
His composition, ‘Polonaise Brilliante’, has fast become a favourite of violin players around the world, being played in many different concerts and theatres. Todays performance of it is by Joshua Bell, an American violinist, who does an extraordinary job at playing this piece.
Look For This:
- Notice the interaction between the piano and violin – can you make out when the piano has the tune?
- How many different bowing techniques can you spot?
- Notice the frequent use of harmonics (when the player lightly touches the string, producing a high sounding note)? Some of them are very high!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and tell us what you liked about it! We’d love to hear from you!
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Until next time,
Evans Music School