has been described as having been a lively, energetic man, with a sense
of humor, and a temper – but not a very reflective or philosophical
This can be seen in his music, which is always full of color and
beautifully orchestrated, dramatic even, but not often moving or
1833 in St Petesburg,
Alexander Borodin was the illegitimate son of the Russian Prince
and his 24 year old mistress Madame Antonova, and although a very
child, he was not, it seems, a musical prodigy.
expected to pay his way, and so, at the age of thirteen, he was sent to
earn money by playing the piano late at night in Hamburg's dockside
composers of the
period, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Liszt, regarded the
piano as their favourite instrument. But nobody understood it better
Chopin. He could make the piano sound more truly romantic and poetic
this over painting
Debussy is said to have declared in 1906, it can bring together all
of variations of colour and light, and of course is always in motion as
opposed to static as a painting can only be.
father ran a
music shop in Worcester, and eventually the whole family moved to live
above it. Elgar later recalled the experience as giving him the chance
to ‘read everything, play everything, hear everything'.
famous ‘Piano Concerto in A minor' as I am now, I have to agree with
who say that it is deservedly recognized as one of the finest specimens
of the piano concerto repertoire.
Emperor's Hymn' became the theme of the German National anthem, which
to become one of his most popular songs, and certainly the composer's
tuned in to the traditional Viennese spirit of sweetness and charm,
was by then increasingly tempered with a nostalgia for a happier past
its collapse in 1918 at the end of the First World War.
Many of his
reflect his phenomenal technique, and still tax the best of pianists.
contemporary, Anton Rubenstein, also a virtuoso pianist, observed that,
compared with Liszt all other pianists were 'children'.
of 1897, most
government and other important public posts were open only to Roman
Mahler was born a Jew, so in order to secure the coveted post he became
sound of the sea has intrigued many composers with its wide variety of
orchestral possibilities. It is a recurring theme in several overtures
composed by Mendelssohn, even before his visit to Scotland in 1829.
belongs to the
Classical period which came about in the latter half of the 18th
It was a time of order, simplicity, and refinement, and in marked
to the extravagant Baroque era that went before it.
was the main
founder of 'operetta' (light opera with dialogue). This was a genre
led toward the musical theatre of the 20th century, and a distinctly
world of popular music.
violin concertos, I can see his ecstatic glee in the music he produced
from his instrument, the blazing eyes, and the demonic energy which
the world over found so hypnotic.
din and dissonance
of a work such as ‘The Steel Step', and the drama and excitement of
and Juliet' (both ballets) to the innocent charm of the fairy
‘Peter and the Wolf', Prokofiev has emerged as one of the most powerful
and popular composers of the 20th century.
realm of opera,
few composers can compare with Puccini in his ability to match a
theme to a dramatic situation and touch the hearts of his listeners.
pulsating rhythm, 'Bolero' a bravura piece for orchestra, is probably
Ravel's best known work.
July 1871, although still a naval lieutenant and without formal
in composition, he accepted a post at the St. Petersburg Conservatory,
teaching himself in secret to stay ahead of his pupils.
composed over three hundred works, including 13 operas, and was the
major composer to write music specifically for the cinema.
Schumann's ‘Opus 54, Third Movement' starts off in what I can only
as a blaze of color with a solo piano taking center stage.
immediate as he was able to develop his father's dance forms, including
not only waltzes, but gallops, quadrilles, and polkas with richer
and more ambitious structures.
who would not claim to be fond of classical music would nevertheless be
familiar with Tchaikovsky's most famous of overtures - the 1812 - which
recalls Napoleon's invasion of Russia and his defeat in 1812.
or goaded? When his son began to show signs of exceptional
talent, Johann van Beethoven sought to exploit it in the way Mozart's
father had done so successfully twenty years earlier.
Italians liked the
common touch Verdi never lost, and the way many of his operas echoed
patriotic feelings of his day, so that for them he became a
work was largely forgotten, but in the mid 20th century the discovery
a large number of manuscripts, combined with the revival of interest in
the Baroque period, produced a Vivaldi renaissance.