Classical Masterpieces – Issue no. 3

Classical Masterpieces – Issue no. 3

Welcome to this next edition of Classical Masterpieces! Today we’ll be looking at some fantastic music, some of which you may have heard before, and some which will probably be new.

I’d like to begin this blog with an orchestral piece of music by Edvard Grieg, called “Morning Mood” from the Peer Gynt Suite no. 1. It is a very well known piece and has often been used in film soundtracks. Enjoy!

It’s a beautiful composition, written for a poem that was set in the mountains of Norway.

David Popper

This next work is one I personally find absolutely stunning. David Popper, born June of 1843 in the Czech Republic, was a brilliant Cellist and composer. He wrote around 80 pieces of music, mostly for the Cello, which included 4 difficult concertos.

This work, Elfentanz (Dance of the Elves), is probably one of his more well known works. Only 2 and a half minutes long, it’s a piece most cellists aspire to be able to play one day (including myself!) Take a listen here!

Look For This!

  • Notice how far his left hand travels up the Cello!
  • Can you see how relaxed all of his body parts are (arms, shoulders etc.)?
  • After the first section, when he brings his left hand right down the cello, can you hear the use of harmonics (where he lightly touches the string to produce a note)?

Frederick Chopin

We now come to the very well known and loved Polish composer Chopin, who wrote most of his works for the Piano. In fact, every single one of his compositions includes the piano, if not as the soloist, as an accompaniment.

Chopin (born 1810), was an improvisor,  meaning he didn’t usually turn up to a concert with a full list of planned pieces, but came up with them on the spot. His favourite places to perform were not in large concert halls (although he did play in them occasionally), but in restaurants and saloons, where he would play for the rich as they dined. This explains why much of his music is not large sounding and broad, but more delicate and ornamental, as he would be playing in smaller rooms.

I’d like to play 2 of his smaller works today, both of which are Studies (or as he called them, Etudes) Studies/Etudes were generally written for an instrument to zero in on a difficult technique, such as scale playing or staccato playing etc, and also, in Chopins case, as show pieces, displaying what he could do on the piano.

Both of these Studies today are fast, technical studies. As you listen, try to find the technique that each of these pieces are trying to work on.

Look For This!

  • What technique (or piano skill) do you think these studies are working on?
  • In the first one, notice his constant flow up and down the piano with his right hand!
  • In the second piece, listen for the passion and emotion the pianist puts into this amazing piece.

Niccolò Paganini

For those who watched the first post back in February, I covered a short article on Niccolo Paganini. He was an Italian violinist virtuoso and composer, mostly of violin music.

One of his works, called Molto Perpetuo, is a piece that would probably strike fear into any violinists heart. From beginning to end, this piece moves at a constant pace of ‘fast’! It only slows in a few places, hence why it is called what it is (Molto – Very, Perpetuo – Never ending/unchanging). Paganini was a fantastic player, and obviously liked to show his amazing technique to his listeners.

Like the pieces we heard from Chopin, Molto Perpetuo is very much like a study, although not called one.

Take a listen here!

Look For This:

  • Notice his relaxed bow hand – no tension which allows him to play this fast.
  • The way he is playing with his bow is called Spiccato, which is playing each note while bouncing the bow on the string. Can you see how he’s doing this?
  • Notice how simple the piano part is! It’s probably the violin playing that kept him from falling asleep!

Robert Schumann

And finally today we have a piece of music written for the Violin by Robert Schumann.

Schumann (born 1810 in Germany), was not actually a violinist, but a pianist. He wanted to pursue piano performance as a career, but it was cut short after a hand injury (see blog Classical Masterpieces issue no. 2).

He did however write for other instruments, which is a good thing, as this next pieces is an absolutely beautiful work for Violin. It’s called simply, Romance No. 2, but I think it speaks for itself once you’ve heard it.

Take a listen to Joshua Bell’s version of this piece of music.

Look For This:

  • Listen how full Joshua’s violin tone is!
  • Can you hear how the piano and violin work together to create this music?

As always, 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!

Also be sure to share this on social media and other platforms to help us get these masterpieces out and about!

Until next time,

Jacob Evans
Evans Music School

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