Just the other day I was watching a show, and there was a familiar song playing in the background. I knew what song it was, because I had recently posted it. The song was “Waltz In A-Flat Major” by Chopin. (The show was called “Hanna” on Amazon Prime. The song was playing in the restaurant scene.)
But today’s song isn’t that one. Today’s song is an excerpt from Gypsy Rondo, and it was written by FranzJoseph Haydn (1732-1809). It is song number 78 in the countdown of 100 Classical Masterpieces.
Joseph Haydn, in full Franz Joseph Haydn, (born March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria—died May 31, 1809, Vienna), was an Austrian composer who was one of the most important figures in the development of the Classical style in music during the 18th century. He helped establish the forms and styles for the string quartet and the symphony. I haven’t come across any other composers who were born on the 31st of the month, and passed away on the 31st of another month.
Haydn was the second son of humble parents. His father was a wheelwright, his mother, before her marriage, a cook for the lords of the village. Haydn early revealed unusual musical gifts, and a cousin who was a school principal and choirmaster in the nearby city of Hainburg offered to take him into his home and train him. Haydn, not yet six years old, left home, never to return to the parental cottage except for rare brief visits.
I took Beethoven’s Third Symphony in E-Flat Major, deleted all of the flats and sharps, then moved the entire piece of music down a step at a time. The result was interesting. Some of the versions sound minor, because they are.
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. Don’t forget to clap!
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.
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
What is it about Claude DeBussy’s music? It sounds like something you would hear in a dream. Number 61 on our countdown of classics is Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, written by Claude DeBussy (1862-1918).
Claude Debussywas a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he objected to that term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Born to a family of modest means and little cultural involvement, Debussy showed enough musical talent to be admitted at the age of ten to France’s leading music college, the Conservatoire de Paris. He originally studied the piano, but found his vocation in innovative composition, despite the disapproval of the Conservatoire’s conservative professors. He took many years to develop his mature style, and was nearly 40 when he achieved international fame in 1902 with the only opera he completed, Pelléas et Mélisande.
It is amazing how much I am learning while going through these 100 Classical Songs. I hope I have broadened your horizons also. The word Reverie means “a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream.” What a perfect title for today’s song.
Number 58 on the big countdown is Reverie by Claude Debussy (1862-1918).
Johannes Brahms has five songs in the Big Book of Classical Music. I have posted four already, here is number five – Waltz in A Flat Major. It is number 56 in the countdown of 100 Classical Songs. And don’t forget to share this with your friends!