A long long time ago, even before “The Masked Singer” was on TV, I bought a book called “101 Chorales Harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach.” It was required reading for a music class, and I have since discovered many treasures within its pages. The song I have posted here was written in the Baroque era, before the Classical period, which began in 1750.
Here is Chorale Number One, “O God Look Down From Heaven and View.” Just 100 Chorales to go…..
See if you can name these Classical Masterpieces. Or not. It is entirely up to you. No pressure. I will give you a hint: The composers (in alphabetical order) are Bach, Beethoven, Grieg, Mahler, and Mozart.
And remember all of the songs I have posted in the past 2 years can be played in the music player at the bottom of every page on this site. With no cost to you!
Also, if you didn’t already know this, you can adjust the speed of each song while it is playing. Click on the three dots, and choose to either slow it down or speed it up. I like the first song here on 1.5 speed.
And way back in 2020, I re-harmonized the previous song during my “music teacher” phase. Here it is again with lots of loud instruments:
Months ago I started transcribing sheet music from The Big Book of Classical Music. There were forty different composers, and 352 pages of music. Today’s songs are song numbers 99 and 100.
Song #99 was written by Johannes Brahms (1830-1897) and is an excerpt from the fourth movement of his First Symphony in C Minor.
And the 100th and final song was written by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and is titled Pilgrim’s Chorus, from the opera Tannhauser:
Do you notice how they sound similar? That is because they were both written in C-Minor, a favorite key of Beethoven also.
I hope you have all enjoyed listening to this music. I learned many things about classical music, and the history of our world, while doing this project. A video that will test your knowledge will be posted here next week, so be sure to study.
Song Number 98 in the countdown of 100 classical songs was written by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and is titled The Evening Star. That means there are just two songs left.
“Song to the Evening Star” (“O du, mein holder Abendstern”), also known as “Oh Star Of Eve”, is an aria sung by the character Wolfram (baritone) in the third act of Richard Wagner’s 1845 opera Tannhäuser. Wolfram greets the Evening Star (the planet Venus) for offering hope in darkness; with an implied contrast to Tannhäuser’s lover Venus at the beginning of the opera, in her underground realm Venusberg.
Franz Liszt wrote in 1849 a paraphrase for piano of this aria, S. 444, arranged with Bernhard Cossmann for cello and piano in 1852 as S. 380.
It has been arranged for voice and piano, and for various wind instruments and piano.
Song number 97 in our countdown of classics was written by Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) and is titled The Moldau. I previously posted a longer version of this song, but this version comes from the music book titled “The Big Book of Classical Music.” You can almost see the water nymphs bathing in the moonlight. (What exactly are those?)
The Moldau, Czech Vltava, symphonic poem by Bohemian composer Bedřich Smetana that evokes the flow of the Vltava River—or, in German, the Moldau—from its source in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest, through the Czech countryside, to the city of Prague. A devoutly patriotic work, The Moldau captures in music Smetana’s love of his homeland. Completed in 1874 and first performed the following year, the piece constitutes the second movement of a six-movement suite, Má vlast (My Country), which premiered in its entirety in Prague on November 5, 1882.
Smetana conceived of a series of orchestral pieces with topics drawn from the legends and landscapes of his homeland, what he called “musical pictures of Czech glories and defeats.” It took the better part of the 1870s for the composer to bring the idea to full fruition as Má vlast. Each movement of the suite is a self-standing symphonic poem with its own program (story). In the order of their placement within the suite, the movements portray chivalrous deeds at a medieval castle (Vyšehrad); a river journey with scenes of rural life (Vltava); the legendary revenge of a spurned maiden (Šárka); the fields and woods along the Elbe River (Z c̆eských luhů a hájů); the perseverance of Czech warriors (Tábor); and the reminder of their eventual return in victory (Blanik).
Má vlast ultimately became Smetana’s most enduring composition, and of its movements, the second, The Moldau, has remained the most popular. The movement starts with light, rippling figures that represent the emergence of the Moldau River as two mountain springs, one warm and one cold. Water from the springs then combines to become a mighty river, symbolized by a thickly orchestrated, stately theme that recurs periodically throughout the remainder of the work. Farther downstream, the river passes jubilant hunters, portrayed by a horn melody, and then passes a village wedding, signaled by a passage in polka rhythm. The river then enters a gorge where, according to legend, water nymphs—suggested by serene and mysterious melodies—come out to bathe in the moonlight. With the morning light, the main river theme returns, though it soon breaks into tumultuous dissonance as the river enters the St. John’s Rapids. Beyond the white water, the river reaches Prague, where to grand arpeggios of a regal hymn, it flows past the castle Vyšehrad, once the seat of power for Bohemian kings. After fading to a trickle, the piece—and the journey—comes to an unambiguous close with a loud two-chord cadence.
That’s right, folks. This is song number 96 in our countdown of 100 classical songs. It was written by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and is titled Bridal Chorus. I wonder what they played at weddings before 1850? Perhaps some Bach? In any event, we now have just four songs to go and we will have explored 100 classical masterpieces together! Isn’t that exciting? I feel as if my musical knowledge has really increased during this project.
According to Wikipedia, The “Bridal Chorus” from the 1850 opera Lohengrin by German composer Richard Wagner, who also wrote the libretto, is a march played for the bride’s entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world. In English-speaking countries, it is generally known as “Here Comes the Bride” or “Wedding March”, but “wedding march” refers to any piece in march tempo accompanying the entrance or exit of the bride, notably Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”. Wagner’s piece was made popular when it was used as the processional at the wedding of Victoria the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1858.
Song Number 95 in the list of 100 classical songs was written by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), and is titled Vissi d’arte, which translates to “I lived for art.” Who knew? Not me! I am sure you have heard this melody before. Unless of course you haven’t.
“Vissi d’arte” is a soprano aria from act 2 of the opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini. It is sung by Floria Tosca as she thinks of her fate, how the life of her beloved, Mario Cavaradossi, is at the mercy of Baron Scarpia and why God has seemingly abandoned her. For more on that:
Happy New Year to you, from me and “The Cool Cats.”
Here is another song written by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), titled Un bel di vedremo. According to my online translater, that means “A lot of we’ll see.” Perhaps it again loses something in translation. It is from the opera Madam Butterfly, and it is song number 94 in the list of 100 classical songs. You know what that means, right? We only have six songs left, at which point I will have transcribed 100 Classical Masterpieces, and you will have heard them all.
Can you believe that it is almost the New Year? I can’t believe it. Here’s to a new year full of happiness and hope for everyone.
Song Number 93 in our list of 100 classical songs was written by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) and is titled Quando men vo, which translates to “When I Drop.“ That title seems especially appropriate at this moment. It is another song from the opera La Boheme. And if you a regular reader here, you already know that Puccini came from a long line of composers, all the way back to the Baroque era. (It’s called that because back then everyone was baroque.)
This song may be short, but it was a very complicated song to transcribe. It was written by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) and is titled O soave fanciulla, which means “O sweet girl.” (Isn’t that also a song by the Dave Clark Five?). It is song number 92 in the ongoing list of 100 classical songs. It is from the opera La Boheme.
Giacomo Puccini (December 22, 1858 – November 29, 1924) was an Italian composer known primarily for his operas. Regarded as the greatest and most successful proponent of Italian opera after Verdi, he was descended from a long line of composers, stemming from the late-Baroque era. Though his early work was firmly rooted in traditional late-19th-century Romantic Italian opera he later developed his work in the realistic verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.
His most renowned works are La bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (1924), all of which are among the most frequently performed and recorded of all operas. And it was the opera Dan Aykroyd was going to see in the film “Trading Places” before he was set up by his employer and had his life taken over by Eddie Murphy.