Today’s selection is from Symphony Number One in D Major by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). It is song number 75 in the list of 100 Classical Songs.
I also made it in the key of A Major instead of D MInor. I wonder if Gustav Mahler would approve? (The name of the symphony contains the words D Major, but the opening theme is written in D Minor.)
Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major, also known as the ‘Titan’ symphony, was primarily composed between the 20th January and the end of March 1888 in Leipzig, although the work also incorporates pre-existing musical themes and ideas from earlier Mahler compositions. The first version of the work, which was titled in the concert program: “A Symphonic Poem in Two Sections”, was premiered in 1889 at the Vigadó Concert Hall in Budapest conducted by Mahler. The work was poorly received by the Budapest audience. Its second performance took place three years later in Hamburg after Mahler had made major revisions to the work. Mahler continued to revise the work up until the score was first published in 1899. A typical performance lasts around 55 minutes, making it one of Mahler’s shortest symphonies. The symphony is a regular feature in concert programs around the world.
I have always loved this song. Even if I didn’t know until recently that it was written by Hubert Parry (1848-1918), and it is called Jerusalem. It is song number 74 in the countdown of 100 Classical Songs. After I finish the list I plan on writing my own music. I will turn music on its head. Not literally, though.
Some of you may notice that he passed away the same year as another composer whose music was posted here recently. (I’ll give you a hint: He wrote a song about a Fawn.)
But seriously, feel free to sing along.
And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England’s pleasant pastures seen? And did the countenance divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here Among those dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire! I will not cease from mental fight Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant Land
Today’s song contains selected melodies from The Merry Widow, by Franz Lehar (1870-1948). It is number 73 in the countdown of 100 Classical Songs.
Franz Lehár was an Austro-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas, of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe).
Lehár was born in the northern part of Komárom, Kingdom of Hungary (now Komárno, Slovakia), the eldest son of Franz Lehár (1838–1898), an Austrian bandmaster in the Infantry Regiment No. 50 of the Austro-Hungarian Army and Christine Neubrandt (1849–1906), a Hungarian woman from a family of German descent. He grew up speaking only Hungarian until the age of 12. For more on the composer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Leh%C3%A1r
And here is one of the very first songs I made, with a few instrument changes.
Yesterday’s Mozart song sounded so good I thought I would follow it up with two more songs today. Number 71 in the countdown of 100 classical songs is titled Eine kleine Nachtmusik(A Little Night Music), written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
And number 72 is Sonata in C Major by the same composer. It is the sixth and final song in the list that was written by Mozart (or, ‘da Man’ as he is sometimes known):
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period.
Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty, embarking on a grand tour. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position.
While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death are largely uncertain, and have thus been much mythologized.
Today’s song was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and is titled Alleluia. It is number 70 in the countdown of 100 classical songs, which means there are only 30 songs left.
This religious solo motet was composed when Mozart was staying in Milan during the production of his opera Lucio Silla which was being performed there in the Teatro Regio Ducale. It was written for the castrato (huh?) Venanzio Rauzzini,who had sung the part of the primo uomo Cecilio in Lucio Silla the previous year.
While waiting for the end of the run Mozart composed the motet for his singer, whose technical excellence he admired. Its first performance took place at the Theatine Church on January 17, 1773, while Rauzzini was still singing in Mozart’s opera at night. Mozart made some revisions around 1780. On May 30, 1779, a Trinity Sunday, a revised version was performed by Francesco Ceccarelli at the Holy Trinity Church in Salzburg. Another revised version was intended for Christmas. The manuscripts of the two Salzburg versions were discovered in 1978 in St. Jakob, Wasserburg am Inn.In modern times, the motet is usually sung by a female soprano.
Today’s song was written by Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) and is entitled Fur Elise. It is number 69 in the countdown of 100 classical songs.
Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor for solo piano, commonly known as Für Elise, is one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most popular compositions. It was not published during his lifetime, only being discovered (by Ludwig Nohl) 40 years after his death, and may be termed either a Bagatelle or an Albumblatt. The identity of “Elise” is unknown; researchers have suggested Therese Malfatti, Elisabeth Röckel, or Elise Barensfeld. For more on that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BCr_Elise
Today’s songs are selected melodies from MHS Pinafore, written by Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900). Do you know what a Pinafore is? It is a “collarless sleeveless dress worn over a blouse or sweater; a jumper.” H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailoris a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, on May 25, 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time.
H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.The story takes place aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. She abides by her father’s wishes at first, but Sir Joseph’s advocacy of the equality of humankind encourages Ralph and Josephine to overturn conventional social order. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. The Captain discovers this plan, but, as in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically near the end of the story.
And today’s song is number 67 in the countdown of classical music. It is from the opera entitled Hansel and Gretel by Englebert Humperdinck (1854-1921), who described it as a Märchenoper (fairy-tale opera). The libretto was written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette, based on the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”. It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the “Abendsegen” (“Evening Benediction”) from act 2.
The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on “Hansel and Gretel”. After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.
Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in the Hoftheater in Weimar on 23 December 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss (wow!). It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.
Number 64 was written by Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849) and is called Prelude in E Minor. It is the fifth and final song by Chopin in the book of 100 classical songs. He has four Preludes and one Waltz in the list of 100. But he wrote so much more than that. And he never even reached the age of 40.
Number 65 was written by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and is called Ave Maria (this version is faster than the original. I made it that way because I know we are all on a tight schedule.)
And finally, Song Number 66 is an excerpt from Symphony No. 94 in G Major by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809):
Today’s song was written by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), and is entitled Solvejg’s Song. It is from the opera Peer Gynt, Op. 23, and is the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play of the same name. It premiered along with the play on 24 February 1876 in Christiania, which is now Oslo, Norway.
Did you know that Edvard Grieg was Norwegian? Well now you do.