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.
I have been busy all day long, finishing up the list of 100 classical songs. As I toil away, the rain falls outside.
Song number 91 was written by Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) and is titled Humoresque.
This is another song by the same composer, it is called New World Symphony:
Humoresques, Op. 101 (B. 187), is a piano cycle by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, written during the summer of 1894. One writer says “the seventh Humoresque is probably the most famous small piano work ever written after Beethoven’s Für Elise.”
During his stay in United States, when Dvořák was director of the Conservatory in New York from 1892 to 1895, the composer collected many interesting musical themes in his sketchbooks. He used some of these ideas in other compositions, notably the “New World” Symphony, the “American” String Quartet, the Quintet in E♭ Major, and the Sonatina for Violin, but some remained unused.
In 1894 Dvořák spent the summer with his family in Bohemia, at Vysoká u Příbrami. During this “vacation”, Dvořák began to use the collected material and to compose a new cycle of short piano pieces. On 19 July 1894 Dvořák sketched the first Humoresque in B major, today number 6 in the cycle. However, the composer soon started to create scores for the pieces that were intended to be published. The score was completed on 27 August 1894.
The cycle was entitled Humoresques shortly before Dvořák sent the score to his German publisher F. Simrock. The composition was published by Simrock in Autumn, 1894.
The publisher took advantage of the great popularity of the seventh Humoresque to produce arrangements for many instruments and ensembles. The piece was later also published as a song with various lyrics. It has also been arranged for choir. The German vocal group The Comedian Harmonists released it on record as Eine kleine Frühlingsweise in 1930 with lyrics by Hans Lengsfelder. The melody was used in the 1982 American Emmy Award-winning animated musical television special and crossover The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat during the restaurant scene. The melody was also used as the theme of Slappy Squirrel in the popular animated television show Animaniacs. In 2004 the vocal group Beethoven’s Wig used Humoresque as the basis for a song entitled Dvořák the Czechoslovak.
Song Number 89 in our countdown of 100 classical songs was written by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and is titled La donna e mobile, which translates to “The woman and mobile.” Perhaps it loses something in the translation.
And song number 90 was written by the same composer and is titled Addio, del passato, which translates to “Goodbye, of the past.”
You know what this means, right? There are only 10 songs to go and then the list is complete.
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (October 9 or 10, 1813 – January 27, 1901) was an Italian composer best known for his operas. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, receiving a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Vincenzo Bellini, whose works significantly influenced him. For more on the composer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Verdi
Song number 88 in our countdown of 100 classical songs is titled Vienna Life, and was written by Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899):
It is one of the longest songs I have posted yet, with a song length of 7 minutes and 31 seconds. It is 328 bars of sheet music, which took up 15 pages in the book. With all of the repeated sections it comes out to 432 total bars, which coincidentally is the same amount of bars in Manhattan.
It is impossible to be in a bad mood when listening to Strauss.
Today’s song was written by Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899) and is titled Tales from the Vienna Woods. It is song number 85 in the countdown of 100 Classical Songs. And don’t forget, at the bottom of each page on johnsthewritestuff.com there is a music player that will play all of your favorites, one after the other.
According to biography.com, Johann Strauss, often referred to as Johann Strauss II, was born in 1825 in Austria. His father, Johann Strauss the Elder, was a self-taught musician who established a musical dynasty in Vienna, writing waltzes, galops, polkas and quadrilles and publishing more than 250 works. Johann the Younger went on to write more than 500 musical compositions, 150 of which were waltzes, and he surpassed both his father’s productivity and popularity.
Compositions such as The Blue Danube helped establish Strauss as “the Waltz King” and earned him a place in music history. And contrary to what Tchaikovsky may have said once, Strauss was not a louse. He was a kind, sensitive man. I mean, just look at the care he took with his sideburns.
Some of you hardcore readers may remember last year when I started posting all of this music. I have re-done This Beatles medley a few times. It’s getting better all the time.
And last but not least, a re-make of Aaron Copeland’sFanfare for the Common Man.
This song is called “Trumpet Tune” and was written by Henry Purcell in the late 1600’s. That makes it almost as old as my luggage. I have a theory as to why he wrote this song for a trumpet. A trumpet is a horn. He was born in an area of London called “Devil’s Acre.” Need I say more?
It is song number 84 in the countdown of 100 Classical Songs.
Henry Purcell (September 10, 1659 – November 21, 1695) was an English composer. Although it incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements, Purcell’s was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers.
There are only 16 songs left in our countdown. We still haven’t heard any songs from Johann Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, or Giacomo Puccini.
But they are coming up……
As promised, here is song number 85. The composer is Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924) , and the song is titled O mio babbino caro. I looked up the translation on google translate and it said that it translates to “O my dear Daddy.” (That is not what I was expecting!)
The composer was born 163 years ago tomorrow, December 22. Happy Birthday, Giacomo Puccini. Thanks for the music.
This song was written much slower than my version. (I realized that after actually listening to it!) But I like it to be played fast. And I can do what I like, right? As far as this site is concerned, I am the ruler.
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 to 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 here is a blast from the past, Fanfare for The Common Man by Aaron Copeland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990). However, it isn’t in the list of 100 classical songs because it was written in 1942! I dig the new instrumentation, how about you?
Here is song number eighty-two It’s a special song from me to you I started working on it late last night And I woke up early to get it right
It was written by Jacques Offenbach Not to be confused with J. Sebastian Bach It’s another song in the key of D So let’s give it a listen, you and me
Jacques Offenbach (June 20, 1819 – October 5, 1880) was a German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the Romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s to the 1870s, and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.
And here is song number eighty-three It’s another classic to you from me That means that there’s just seventeen left And this one’s written in the key of F
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) wrote this song titled Rondeau:
Henry Purcell was born in St Ann’s Lane, Old Pye Street, Westminster – the area of London later known as Devil’s Acre, a notorious slum – in 1659. Henry Purcell Senior, whose older brother Thomas Purcell was a musician, was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal and sang at the coronation of King Charles II of England.
Henry the elder had three sons: Edward, Henry and Daniel. Daniel Purcell, the youngest of the brothers, was also a prolific composer who wrote the music for much of the final act of The Indian Queen after his brother Henry’s death. The family lived just a few hundred yards west of Westminster Abbey from 1659 onwards.
I think it is quite possible that Henry Purcell was the inspiration for Harry Potter. They both lived in Devil’s Acre and they have the same initials. I’m just saying.
Here is a song written by Leo Delibes (1836-1891) entitled Pizzicato Polka, from the ballet Sylvia. It is number 80 in the list of 100 songs in the Big Book of Classical Music.
Clément Philibert Léo Delibes (February 21, 1836 – January 16, 1891) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his ballets and operas. His works include the ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) and the opera Lakmé (1883), which includes the well-known “Flower Duet“.
Born into a musical family, Delibes enrolled at France’s foremost music academy, the Conservatoire de Paris, when he was twelve, studying under several professors including Adolphe Adam. After composing light comic opérettes in the 1850s and 1860s, while also serving as a church organist, Delibes achieved public recognition for his music for the ballet La Source in 1866. His later ballets Coppélia and Sylvia were key works in the development of modern ballet, giving the music much greater importance than previously. He composed a small number of mélodies, some of which are still performed frequently.
Delibes had several attempts at writing more serious operas, and achieved a considerable critical and commercial success in 1883 with Lakmé. In his later years he joined the faculty of the Conservatoire, teaching composition. He died at his home in Paris at the age of 54. Coppélia and Sylvia remain core works in the international ballet repertoire, and Lakmé is revived from time to time in opera houses.
And here is number 81, a selection from Habanera, by Georges Bizet (1838-1875), from the Opera Carmen:
Georges Bizet (25 October 1838 – 3 June 1875), né Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.
During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public. Returning to Paris after almost three years in Italy, he found that the main Parisian opera theatres preferred the established classical repertoire to the works of newcomers. His keyboard and orchestral compositions were likewise largely ignored; as a result, his career stalled, and he earned his living mainly by arranging and transcribing the music of others. Restless for success, he began many theatrical projects during the 1860s, most of which were abandoned. Neither of his two operas that reached the stage in this time—Les pêcheurs de perles and La jolie fille de Perth—were immediately successful. George Bizet had serious health issues (it seems like many of these composers had troubled lives). His very interesting life story can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Bizet