Classical Music Talk

December 4, 2009

Gaetano Donizetti

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Donizetti was a prolific composer of classical music. His work includes 75 operas, 16 symphonies, 19 string quartets, 193 songs, 45 duets, 3 oratorios, 28 cantatas, instrumental concerts, sonatas and other pieces of classical music.
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti (born November 29 1797, Bergamo, Italy – died April 8 1848) was an Italian composer of classical music and especially opera, living in Bergamo, Lombardy region. The Italian composer known work is Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) and most recognizable track is the area of his music, “Una furtiva lagrima” from the opera L’Elisir d’amore (1832). Along with Vincenzo Bellini and Gioacchino Rossini, Donizetti was one of the leading composers of bel canto opera.
Donizetti studied in his hometown, then in Bologna,  the abbot  Pietro Mattei, who also worked with a period of time, after Gioacchino Rossini.
The first work that was successfully is “Zoraide di Granata” ( “Soraya of Granada”), presented in Rome in 1822. Since 1827, Donizetti is working in Napoli (Naples) where he became director of the Royal Theater, and later professor of counterpoint at the Conservatory. In only three years, he wrote 12 works, all illustrating the interpretive Bel canto style. In this creative period, characterized by the composer Gioacchino Rossini’s influence, may be noted “Anna Bolena” (1830), “Elixir of Love” (1832), “Lucrezia Borgia” (1833), but especially “Lucia di Lammermoor “(1835) which can be considered his masterpiece.
Since 1839, Donizetti settled in Paris, where he present new works, “Favorita” (1840), “Daughter of the regiment” (1840), “Rita” (1841), “The Duke of Alba” (1842), ” Don Pasquale “(1843) and” Don Sebastian, King of Portugal “(1843).
In his wanderings through the great musical cities of Europe, Donizetti arrived in Vienna, where he held his first opera “Linda di Chamounix” (1842).
On April 8, 1848, aged only of 51 years, Gaetano Donizetti dies in his hometown, Bergamo.
Donizetti’s reputation is based on his work: comedy, his position was not contested. His works survive by the grace and spontaneity of the songs, formal poise, their effortless dramatic pace, their fire and above all the romantic vitality.  Like Bellini, Donizetti summarizes the spirit of the 1830 Italian romantic era. Having imitated Rossini’s formal, florid style for ten years (1818-28), gradually, he wrote highly decorated male-voice pieces, lyrical songs and design allowing the drama to determine ensemble structures.


November 29, 2009

Classical music helps regulate heartbeat and blood pressure

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classical music

classical music

There are several different classical music genre, but all related. Without any particular classification, meaning the usual classical music is the European classical music. Also, the term can refer to classical music to people outside Europe, such as Persian classical music, Indian classical music or Chinese classical music.
Basically, classical music is composed and performed by highly trained professional rtists. Classical music is a written tradition, being composed, written and transmitted.

Classical music includes the following genres: avant-garde music, ballet music, orchestral music, chamber music, choral music, concert music, film music, keyboard music, theater, opera, symphonic music and vocal music.
For many types of existing art, music is one of the closest to human spirit, it rightly accompany us during the life cycle. From the time of publication, and even today, about the millennium, the music is included as an element inherent in society, consciousness in harmony with the human nature. Together with other findings it became a big phenomenon in the world, accompanying the history of human civilization during high ups and downs.
Therefore, it would be hard to imagine someone that could totally miss the music .The music in present in the life of each of us it acts as one of the most important remedies in the service of our body and soul.

Italian researchers from the University of Pavia argue that classical music helps regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. At the same time, opera has beneficial effects on recovery of patients who suffered a stroke.
Thus, areas of work such as “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini, who has many passages crescendo and decrescendo, have proved effective in the treatment of recovery of patients suffering a stroke. Moreover, scientists have found that areas with a fast tempo stimulate respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. On the other hand, areas with slow tempo have adverse effects.
In research participated healthy volunteers who listened to five different areas. Meanwhile, Italian experts have monitored how the subjects’ body reacts.
Those participating in the study had heard “9th Symphony” by Beethoven, aria “Nessun Dorma” from “Turadot” by Puccini, “Cantata no. 169 “by Bach,” “Pensiero” from “Nabucco” and “Traviata” by Verdi.
In the crescendo passages caused narrowing of blood vessels and increased blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. However, musical passages led decrescendos relax the whole body.
Areas composed by Verdi, whose musical phrases are long about 10 seconds, seem to sync well with the natural cardiovascular rhythm.

November 25, 2009

Franz Schubert, noted for his original melodic and harmonic writing

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In classical music history, Franz Schubert has shown a real genius for melodic writing and had a huge composing prolificacy, writing up to 1000 songs for voice and piano. His genial compositions were written from his mind so fast and perfect that his ability to produce music in a short time became legendary. In February 1818 he directed one of the 2 overtures in the Italian classical music style, written under the impulse of the fashion adopted in Vienna and drawing favorable reviews in the Wiener Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung and reaching his first signs of celebrity.
In the summer of 1819 traveling in the province of Upper Austria, Steyr, Franz Schubert was hired to write a piano quintet, which later became known as the “Trout Quintet, Die Forelle”.
Schubert did not achieve greatness, until the publication of his first piano sonatas ‘‘Grande Sonate pour le Piano Forte”. During his mature creation period, he gives sonatas for piano: ”Moments musicaux”, ”Impromptu in C minor Op. 90”and “Impromtu in F minor No.3”. In the fall of 1819 started a small decline, decline that would continue in 1820, the year in which, he finally give life to ”Rosamund” Overture in E minor.
Since 1821, besides the focus on lieder, Schubert created symphonies, arriving in 1823 to write the famous ”Unfinished Symphony” in b minor, named “unfinished” because it has only two acts instead of four, like any other symphony. Franz Schubert continues his work composition in the field of lied cycle ”Die schone Mullerin”.
In the ensuing years, until the extinction of life, Franz Schubert continued to create new music and managed to write up and on biblical texts such as the Latin text of ” Ave Maria” prayer. His contemporaries believed that Schubert visited Beethoven in 1827, at which point the titan of German music was dying and it seems that he was one of the coffin bearers at his funeral.In the last two years of his life, Schubert wrote the ”Great Symphony” in C major, his last Three Piano Sonatas and the beautiful song cycle ”Die Winterreise”. Schubert successfully established the German lied as a new classical musical form in the 19th century.


November 20, 2009

Liszt, perhaps the greatest pianist of all time

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Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt

In the winter of 1839 Liszt returned to Hungary, which he had left 18 years ago. Here he visited his native Budapest and then his home town, Raiding. Here he listened carefully for the first time the Hungarian music, who gave him an idea: a composition that reflects the Hungarian spirit. He began writing his famous Hungarian Rhapsodies.

Over the next five years he has given numerous concerts throughout Europe, in front of a large ecstatic audience.  The young talent could sing for hours, without the slightest mistake. But in 1847 he finally gave up the stage, choosing to devote himself exclusively to his own compositions. His marriage was practically a closed chapter, the distance between the two couldn’t be overcome – in fact, none of them made the slightest attempt to fix things, and Liszt returned to music.

In 1842, during a tour in Ukraine, he met the Princess Caroline Sayn-Wittgenstein, a rich person, eccentric and, most importantly, divorced. The two began a relationship that would last 12 years, during which Liszt composed some of his most important works, among them the symphonies Dante and Faust. Because of Liszt’s celebrity, the city of Weimar has become a veritable Mecca of music, the headquarters of the neo-German school, brilliantly represented by Berlioz, Brahms and Wagner. Liszt stayed here a while, but the backstage intrigues and games, and rivalries between composers and sponsors disgusted him, making him finally to leave the city.

Although 25 years of his life had been very productive for his creation, Liszt went through many difficult times, and become mentally unstable. Caroline went crazy around 1860’s and the composer has lost two children, a son and a daughter, in a period of three years. Feeling that he cannot withstand so many shocks, Liszt headed back to his old refuge, the religion, retreating to a Dominican monastery. But here he did not give up classical music and continued to write, even in its poor room’s walls.

He had a moment of triumph in late 1867, when he made a great work at the coronation of the Emperor Franz Joseph. But Liszt knew that he needed peace, he was tired. So he made a program that allowed him to live in peace and especially to write without interference from outside. For the last 15 years of his life he ranged a pleasant routine: from January to March live and work in Budapest, from April to June taught at Weimer, in the rest of the year retreating to a villa near Rome. Because of this wise program, the last decade of his life proved very creative.

In 1870 Liszt suffered a stupid and trivial accident; fell on some stairs. He has never really recovered. Moreover, he began to lose money because of his cataract and his finances began to be fewer and harder to win. In the summer of 1866, while participating in the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Liszt was ill with pneumonia, and died on July 31. Unfortunately this point was obscure to contemporaries, who were glad to honor the new Titan of classical music, Wagner.

Liszt, the most technically pianist of his age

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Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt

Physical and mental condition of his Liszt was always a fragile balance. At 16 years he was teaching piano lessons, and fallen in love with one of his schoolgirls. When the girl’s father brutally intervened to separate the two lovers, and Liszt had a mental breakdown, accompanied by catatonic crisis. His condition was as serious as to say even that would have died. He returned with a heavy effort after a year and could not even touch the piano. He already thought to give up music and finally to retire from public life, eventually to be a priest. The event that caused him to leave was the revolution of July 1830. Fanaticism and enthusiasm for street fighting healed him from the dreaming depression and made him return to his first love, the classical music.But the real revelation which marked him took place on 9 March 1831, when he had the chance to hear the great violinist Paganini, who had a concert at the Opera in Paris. Virtuosity of Liszt motivated the young musician who has promised himself to become a true Paganini of the piano. He began practice as crazy, up to 14 hours a day, no matter how tired he was or what would have happened around him.

Among his friends and admirers, not few in number, was he great Chopin. Liszt meet Marie d’Agoult, a 28 years Countess, then married her. The two scandalized Paris when everyone went together in Switzerland, and settled in Geneva. The couple had two daughters and a son, and the financial status of Marie gave Liszt material stability that was badly needed. He continued to write classical music masterpieces, for the first time-without even worry about tomorrow. But just as happened with his parents, his marriage suffered because of the composer’s crazy ambitions. Liszt wanted to resume the series of concerts. He lacked the public cheers and the magic that lived when, transported by his own vision, gave birth to his compositions. He accepted a series of concerts, wanting to raise money for flood victims in Hungary in 1838, then dedicated a memorial statue to Beethoven. Marie opposed to this idea, wanting Franz to stay at home, where he could write in peace, free from the agitation of the artistic life. But Liszt resisted to family pressures and continued his career.

Liszt, renowned for his great skill as a performer

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Franz Liszt

Liszt was the son of a manager, working for the Esterhazy family, Haydn’s protectors and sponsors. Franz was born in 1811 in Raiding, Hungary, but the whole family moved to Vienna soon enough. There future composer began studying music really early, his first piano teacher was Czerny. Franz Liszt has another great classical music teacher of composition, the very famous Salieri. Both his father, Adam Liszt, and his grandfather had been administrator, working for Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, and little Franz would probably be to do the same, if the father had not realized that the boy has a special talent for music. And Adam wanted a career in classical music for his little boy, he had the same goal for himself and his failure decided him to closely take care of the musical education of Franz.


Similar to Mozart, but without the same severity, Adam has prepared several concerts for the boy, while he was only nine years old. Besides his pride of having a talented son, Adam Liszt had a practical purpose, he hoped that in public he will find a generous sponsor, who will help him pay the boy’s school. The attempt was successful, many Hungarian nobles offering money for little Franz to go to Vienna, where was the best music teachers.

At the age of 12 years, Liszt suffered his first disillusionment because he was denied to learn at the Paris Conservatory. The reason was trivial and it seems ridiculous today – the little musician was not French. So the solution found was to study further in private. He debuted in March 1824 in Paris, and has enjoyed an enormous success, reaching Franz to give concerts in all major salons of the time. But when Adam wanted to continue this mini-tournament, his wife opposed. The relations between the two were strained for a long time, so separation was not a surprise to anyone. Young Liszt was really affected, but the crisis is only the first step toward the emotional problems that affected him later. He started again, with concerts in England, then again in France. He retired with his father at Boulogne, for a period of rest. Here Franz had a serious problem, Adam died of typhoid fever. Since he was a child, Franz was forced to return to Paris, where he lived with his mother and was forced to provide material existence of the family. At the age of 15 years he began to teach piano lessons.

November 15, 2009

Puccini, the great operatic composer

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Giacomo Puccini – Towards the end of life, Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini wrote to a friend: “Almighty God touched me with the little finger and said:” You must write for theater-look out-only for theater. I obeyed his command. ” Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini – was subject to both obedience and inevitability because he composed three of the most popular opera in the history of the genre; when he died his fortune was estimated at around four million dollars; he played poker at pleasure of his heart and could freely decimated the population of wild ducks near his villa in Torre del Lago and has satisfied his passion for fast boats, car for performance and beautiful women.

This is essentially the story of Puccini’s life. (He composed several works which do not fall like opera, but only a few and not very important). It looks like he said once: ” If not I would be devoted to music, I would have been able to do anything else in my life!” He was not interested in politics and the world around it. It not seemed preoccupied by the music world or young composers, not interested by the oldest either. There was neither conservative nor revolutionary.

Puccini was not a member of musical cliques.He was not a member of  that school which aims to portray “everything as it is” that attracts so many of the Italian composers of the 90’s, although elements of this classical music current appear in many of his works. Neoclassicism, Futurism, Impressionism, dodecaphony – remained indifferent to all those, although not dislike the musical works of modern classics such as Debussy’s Pelléas and Melisande and Schoenberg’s Pierrot on the Moon, and was ready to incorporate in his own music ideas of  the new school.

Puccini was not an eclectic. He had a style too powerful, too personal. He stood completely outside intellectual trends of the time. This is one of the miracles related to composer works, the famous La Boheme, Tosca and Madame Butterfly.

He was born in Lucca on December 22, 1858 (died in Brussels on November 29, 1924, while doing a treatment for neck cancer, undoubtedly caused by excessive smoking, due to anxiety) and was the latest in a line of five generations of respected musicians who grew naturally in the shadow of Verdi, the dominant force of Italian classical music in the last half of the nineteenth century.

Paganini, one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi

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Niccolo Paganini was an apparent talent that was seen as inhuman and many of his rivals believed that this was a proof of a pact similar to that made by Faust with the devil.  Others thought that his skills would be the result of intensive exercises during the period when the great Paganini was closed for a crime.  These stories have strengthened the reputation of Niccolo Paganini.

He was born in1782 in Genoa. Niccolo Paganini’s family lived in an uncertain income of the father, Antonio, who worked in port. Then Teresa, mother of Niccolo Paganini, dreamed an angel telling her son will be the best violinist in the world. His father Antonio Paganini turned the prophecy in reality.  He felt that his wife dream was a premonition, and he forced the young Niccolo Paganini to study hard classical music.

At the age of 11 years, Niccolo Paganini already gave public concerts. In 1795 he settles temporarily in Parma and was studying classical music with Rosso, Ghiretti and Paer. In 1801 he settles in Lucca where he is designated the leader of the national orchestra and, later, he moved to the new palace of Princess Elisa, leading the orchestra Bacciochi.

In 1813 Niccolo Paganini already conquered Milan, the capital of music, with a triumphant concert held in La Scala, and for the next three years he performed throughout the country, playing mostly his own whims for concerts and violin concerts. No matter where he performed, he induces strong sensations and high emotions. The audience was so impressed with his abilities that people tried to reach and touch him to see if he is really in flesh and bones.

Between 1828 and 1834 Niccolo Paganini went into a series of concert tours, having a huge success in Austria, France and Britain. In 1834 he is established at Villa Gaione in Parma, Italy, and in 1835 the Grand Duchess Marie Louise of Austria calls him the master of court music.

In 1840 Niccolo Paganini died in Nice for a throat disease. His famous Guarneri violin was donated his hometown, Genoa, and is preserved today in the Palazzo Civico.

November 11, 2009

Gioacchino Rossini, Italy’s dominate opera composer of the early 19th century

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Gioachino Rossini – actually Giovacchino Antonio Rossini (born February 29, 1792, Pesaro, Italy – d. 13 November 1868) was a famous opera composer in Italy.
Gioachino Rossini was one of the most widely acclaimed and popular composers, enjoying a rare fame in his lifetime. This is because the beauty of his melodies, shiny and optimistic musical creations, full of verve and irony, which can be found in abundance in his creation. Since his father always sang in municipal brass band, the young Gioacchino was trained from an early age. As his mother, he himself said later that he did not know the notes, but led only by ear. Since his parents were always away on tours in the province, his grandparents took care of him and he becomes an apprentice at a blacksmith. In addition, two canonical, the Malerba brothers, gave him the first lessons in singing and cooking. But what is more important was their library, where the child has unrestricted access, were he studied several classical music works of Haydn and Mozart, and he took advantage.
Whatever the issues, modern jokes or medieval dark drama, Rossini’s art will always be marked by the absolute primacy of what Italians call “vocal”, which is the use of voice as the prime transmitters of emotion in classical music.

Composer activity occupies only the first part of his life. Rossini’s life is marked by a series of successes in Northern Italy, to Naples, where he married a famous singer, Isabella Colbran, then abroad: Vienna where he meets Beethoven, then London and finally Paris, where he was established in 1824 as director of the Italian theater. He work during these years, the works are: “The scale of Silk” (1812), “Tancred” and “Italian in Algiers” (1813), “Turk in Italy” (1814), “Elizabeth, Queen of England” (1815 ), then in 1816, “Barber of Seville” and “Othello”, “Cinderella” (1817), “Moses in Egypt” (1818), “La Donna del Lago” (1819), “Semiramis” (1823), which is the last of the great Italian composer opera for the scenes. In Paris, will conduct an opera buffa in Italian, then created in French, “Siege of Corinth”. The last two works, a farce, “Count Ory” (1828) and a historical drama, “William Tell” (1829) are composed directly on French librettos.

November 2, 2009

Bach, emotionally touching and technically sophisticated

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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Compared to most other major composers, Johann Sebastian Bach’s life and career were confined in a limited geographic area. Born and raised in Thuringia, he never went farther north than Hamburg and Lübeck, or farther south in Carlsbad. Equally small, its east-west range stretched from Dresden (east) to Kassel (west). Johann Sebastian Bach spent most of his life in the area of Leipzig, where he worked as a singer, composer and organist in the Lutheran Church of Saint Thomas. There he composed his masterpieces, many of them profoundly Christian and used in almost all services, such as his many cantatas, masses or the “St. Matthew Passion.”
Bach is mostly associated with his compositions for organ and its outstanding use of continuous contrapuntal structures. His music is both emotionally touching and technically sophisticated. Bach’s music is unforgettable, ever-popular and an icon of classical music.

Most of his compositions feature a basic structure of mathematical clarity and precision. Consequently, his music produces a strong interest in the composition of fugues. There are two famous master pieces of classical music : “The Well-Tempered Clavier” and “Art of Fugue.”

Other masterpieces are the “Brandenburg Concertos” and the “Goldberg Variations for Harpsichord”. Under his leadership the choir of Saint Thomas earned an excellent reputation.
A composer of the Baroque era, Bach was well known during his lifetime as a great organist, since his father was the town musician of Eisenach, and his brother was a church organist. Bach began playing, copying, and studying music at an early age. His genius as a composer has not been fully recognized until a century after his death. He remains one of the most important and influential composers of all time.
Everyone knows Bach, few people know his cantatas, and almost nobody knows them all. Bach wrote over 300 cantatas during his lifetime, of which about two-fifths are lost. These losses are due to the fact that only one of Bach cantatas has been printed during his life. Bach wrote a hymn, but most of his songs have been written for the Lutheran Church service and, of course, involves a lot of texts related to the service.

Bach used the counterpoint in a brilliant and innovative way, and the immense complexity of his compositional style – which often included religious and numerological symbols that seem to fit perfectly together in a profound puzzle of special codes – still amaze musicians today. Many consider him the greatest composer of all time.

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