September 2019

  1. Obscure Music Monday: Boulanger's Two Pieces for Violin and Piano

    Marie-Juliette Olga "Lili" Boulanger (Aug. 21, 1893 - March 15, 1918) was a French composer, and  the younger sister of the famed composition teacher/composer Nadia Boulanger. Born in Paris, Lili Boulanger was a child prodigy; at the age of two, it was discovered that she had perfect pitch. Her parents, both musicians, encouraged her musical education, and she would accompany her sister Nadia to classes at the Paris Conservatory, studying music theory and organ. Her sister Nadia was one of her teachers, and later on studied with Paul Vidal, George Caussade, and Gabriel Faure, who was particularly impressed by her abilities. Lili would go on to win the Prix de Rome at the age of 19; she was the first woman to ever win the composition prize. Tragically, she died at the young age of 24. Continue reading →
  2. Obscure Music Monday: Elgar's A Song of Autumn

    Sir Edward Elgar, 1st Baronet (June 2, 1857 - February 23, 1934) was an English composer, born to musically inclined parents Edward's father, William, was a piano tuner, and apprenticed at a music publishing house, in addition to being a violinist, and organist at a church. Edward was given piano and violin lessons growing up, but didn't have any real formal training; the most formal training he got was some advanced violin lessons in London, but he never attended a conservatory or anything similar. In addition to playing violin professionally, Elgar also conducted a group at an asylum, where he wrote and arranged music for their irregular instrumentation, which helped him gain a better understanding of writing for particular instruments, and was an important piece of his musical development.  Continue reading →
  3. Obscure Music Monday: Schumann's Piano Trio

    Clara Schumann (Sept. 13, 1819 - May 20, 1896) was a German composer and pianist, born to musical parents in Leipzig. Her father was well-known throughout Leipzig, where he sold and repaired pianos, and gave piano lessons. She took lessons from him, and he also made sure she was educated in music theory, counterpoint, harmony, and composition. She had her first recital at age 10, and had a wildly successful career as a pianist from that point onward, receiving praise from audiences and critics alike. The day before she turned 21 she married composer Robert Schumann. Continue reading →
  4. Obscure Music Monday: Bantock's Viola Sonata

    Sir Granville Ransome Bantock (Aug. 7, 1868 - Oct. 16, 1946) was a British composer and conductor, born in London. His parents hoped he would enter the Indian Civil Service, but poor health would prevent him from that. He turned to chemical engineering, but around 20 years old, he started looking at musical manuscripts. His first teacher was at Trinity College of Music, and in 1888 he entered the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Frederick Corder. Bantock's conducting took him around the world, and he was known at times for devoting an entire concert to one composer. He was professor at the University of Birmingham (succeeding Sir Edward Elgar) from 1908 - 1934, and elected Chairman of the Corporation of Trinity College of Music in London. He was knighted in 1930. Continue reading →
  5. Obscure Music Monday: Lavignac's Galop-Marche à Huit Mains

    Alexandre Jean Albert Lavignac (Jan. 21, 1846 - May 28, 1916) was a French music scholar, and composer. He wrote several essays about music theory, and Richard Wagner's operas and use of leitmotifs, among other things.  Continue reading →

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