June 2015

  1. Obscure Music Monday: Sousa's The American Maid

    In American music, the name Sousa is synonymous with John Philip Sousa’s marches that fill the air every summer. Sousa, though, desired to become a theatrical composer to rival Gilbert and Sullivan. El Capitan and Chris and the Wonderful Lamp are probably his most known stage works, but today we take a look at one of the lesser known works, The American Maid, also known as The Glass Blowers. Continue reading →
  2. Obscure Music Monday: Jongen's Introduction & Dance for Viola & Piano

    Belgian composer Joseph Jongen was a prodigy, taking to composition early in life, but most of his works have fallen into obscurity since his death in 1953. The works that are performed today are mainly his organ works - either for solo organ, or the occasional performance of his works for organ & orchestra. During his life, however, Jongen showed a mastery of chamber and solo music for strings, such as the Introduction and Dance, Op. 102, for viola & piano that we look at today. Continue reading →
  3. Obscure Music Monday: Parker's Suite for Piano Trio

    While Horatio Parker's influence on the development of an American musical culture is certainly undeniable, few of his works are performed regularly today. An organist and composer, it was his later years as a teacher, then Dean, at Yale University where he influenced a young Charles Ives and Roger Sessions. His Suite for Piano Trio, in A Major, Op. 35, is a rarely performed gem with a lush, romantic sound. Continue reading →
  4. Obscure Music Monday: Reyer's Sigurd

    While for many, the summer months mean outdoor concerts with pops music, for some the summer months bring opera festivals. One of the best known of these, of course, is the Bayreuther Festspiele, with a theater built specifically for performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Today we take a look at much lesser known opera - Ernest Reyer's Sigurd, sometimes referred to as the "French Ring." Continue reading →
  5. Obscure Music Monday: Taneyev's String Quartet No. 5

    TaneyevMany talented Russian composers have slid from the memories of the rest of the world over the past century, which leaves us with a lot of gems to discover in their works. Today we look at one of those works that has faded from the repertoire - Sergey Taneyev’s String Quartet No. 15, Op. 13. Taneyev was a composition student of Tchaikovsky’s at the Moscow Conservatory, as well as a piano student of Edward Langer, who created virtuosic arrangements of many of Tchaikovsky’s works for multiple piano players. While Taneyev came from an era of Russian nationalism in music, he rejected this emotional and, at times, bombastic style for a more technical language more in line with European composers of the time. His music shows the influence he had on future generations of Russians, including students Rachamaninoff and Scriabin. Continue reading →

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