In 95 years of life, Carl Ruggles composed only 84 minutes of music - including his masterpiece for orchestra, "Sun-Treader"
. Charles Seeger called it "dissonant counterpoint". Charles Ives called it simply "strong, masculine music". In 1980, Michael Tilson Thomas recorded all of it for a long-out-of-print 2 LP set that has never been reissued on CD. Today, with almost none of the music from this significant American composer commercially available in any form, the Internet Archive has performed a valuable cultural service by hosting a 24-bit lossless rip of the Tilson Thomas set. It is powerful stuff
posted by Trurl
on Nov 13, 2011 -
[Arvo] Pärt’s mature style was inaugurated in 1976 with a small piano piece, “Für Alina”, that remains one of his best-known works. It is governed by the compositional system that he called “tintinnabuli,” derived from the Latin word for “bells.” The tintinnabuli method pairs each note of the melody with a note that comes from a harmonizing chord, so they ring together with bell-like resonance. [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Oct 27, 2011 -
The maqam al-'iraqi is considered the most noble and perfect form of the maqam. As the name implies, it is native to Iraq; it has been known for approximately four hundred years in Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk. The maqam al-'iraqi has been passed on orally through the Iraqi masters of the maqam, who cultivate the form especially in Baghdad. The maqam is performed by a singer (qari') and three instrumentalists playing santur (box zither), juzah (spike fiddle), and tablah or dunbak (goblet drum).
posted by Trurl
on Sep 11, 2011 -
"I was unaware, in my awe of adults playing folk songs, that they would push me into a different world altogether, a world in which only some would ultimately be deemed worthy to publicly perform music: those who were ‘musically talented’. And that talent was determined by one’s ability to imitate, precisely, music written by others." How I Learned To Play Guitar
posted by mippy
on Jul 26, 2011 -
The Avant Garde Project is a series of recordings of 20th-century classical, experimental, and electroacoustic music digitized from LPs whose music has in most cases never been released on CD, and so is effectively inaccessible to the vast majority of music listeners today.
Until now, of course. [more inside]
posted by carsonb
on Jun 28, 2011 -
A very eloquent and tranquil performance of a young chap from Sweden playing C418's "Sweden"
that you may have heard from Minecraft on classical guitar (SLYT)
posted by Cogentesque
on Apr 14, 2011 -
Looking for something familiar with a twist?
Best told from their About Us Page: Vitamin Records was formed in Los Angeles in 1999 to provide music lovers with high quality string quartet, lounge and electronic tributes to major pop and rock artists. Vitamin's mission is to offer fans exciting versions of their favorite songs performed in new musical contexts. [more inside]
posted by filmgeek
on Mar 23, 2011 -
... the International Music Score Library Project, has trod in the footsteps of Google Books and Project Gutenberg and grown to be one of the largest sources of scores anywhere. It claims to have 85,000 scores, or parts for nearly 35,000 works, with several thousand being added every month. That is a worrisome pace for traditional music publishers, whose bread and butter comes from renting and selling scores in expensive editions backed by the latest scholarship. More than a business threat, the site has raised messy copyright issues and drawn the ire of established publishers. (previously)
posted by Joe Beese
on Feb 22, 2011 -
Classical pianists tend to be identified by their favorite repertoire. Thus, Murray Perahia
got stamped as a Mozart and Schumann pianist in his early career, and people raised their eyebrows when he embarked on Liszt
and other heavy repertoire. And Rudolf Serkin
is today perhaps known best for his Beethoven, and not for the Chopin etudes
he played in his earlier years.
Searching for something totally else, I stumbled upon a few private recordings by Clara Haskil [more inside]
posted by Namlit
on Nov 7, 2010 -
There's never been a better time to be a curious classical pianist. A few YouTube users
have been uploading synchronized scores to dozens of interesting pieces, usually virtuosic
, and often out of print or otherwise unavailable. There are all sorts of treasures
, but perhaps the most notable scores are those of a lost generation of post-Scriabin Russian composers
whose avant-garde output was later suppressed by the Soviet government.
posted by dfan
on Nov 4, 2010 -
Dame Joan Sutherland has died
at the age of 83. One of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century, she was dubbed La Stupenda by a La Fenice audience in 1960 after a performance as Alcina. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, "pin point staccatos, a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction. Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the "Voice of the Century", while Montserrat Caballé described the Australian's voice as being like "heaven".
posted by Joe Beese
on Oct 11, 2010 -
"But this wasn't quite enough and so then I got the idea of having all thirteen of the lowest tones of the piano played together... In other words, I was inventing a new musical sound later to be called 'tone clusters'... Anyway, this was my professional debut as a composer." Henry Cowell's musical autobiography
. Cowell was one of the most important figures in 20th-century American music, described
by John Cage as "the open sesame for new music in America." In this hour-long program recorded four years before his death in 1965, compositions from every stage in Cowell's career are contextualized and discussed by the man himself.
posted by No-sword
on Aug 8, 2010 -
"In a way I wish it did not require such a formidable technique, because I do not really enjoy sweating over this music." This is virtuoso pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin speaking of Charles-Valentin Alkan
, the Romantic pianist said to have made even Liszt nervous, and whose exhilarating works fell into obscurity due to their rigorous technical demands. For a warm-up, here's Alkan's major etude "Allegro barbaro"
, as performed by Jack Gibbons. A machine recording of his piece Le Chemin de Fer
in which you can see the keys being pressed. Recordings of Youtube exist of people attempting his near-impossible Scherzo focoso
(and, for comparison, a mechanical rendition of the same
). And for encore, here is Hamelin again playing Les Quatre Ages
, frequently considered Alkan's most mature work, a sonata depicting the four ages of man.
posted by Rory Marinich
on Jul 29, 2010 -
Imagine this: 'This evening we are going to hear the 2nd Symphony by Claude Debussy, the Austrian première of Insect Life by the Finnish opera composer Kalevi Aho, and the 2nd Symphony by Bela Bartók.’ What is a symphony? What does the concept mean nowadays? And what does it mean, to compose symphonically?
posted by Wolfdog
on Jun 29, 2010 -
from the 2010 Old-Time Piano Championship
in Peoria. Featuring early March, Cakewalk, Ragtime, Boogie, Stride, Blues, Novelty, Jazz, Classical, and popular song styles from before 1930.
posted by gman
on Jun 20, 2010 -
[Martha] Argerich brings to bear qualities that are seldom contained in one person: she is a pianist of brainteasing technical agility; she is a charismatic woman with an enigmatic reputation; she is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music. This last may be the quality that sets her apart. A lot of pianists play huge double octaves; a lot of pianists photograph well. But few have the unerring naturalness of phrasing that allows them to embody the music rather than interpret it.
- Alex Ross, "Madame X". The New Yorker
- November 12, 2001
posted by Joe Beese
on Jun 9, 2010 -