Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
-- Monday, September 7 is Labor Day holiday. I will not be teaching that day.
-- I am performing in the orchestra pit for the Douglas Morrison Theatre production "Sullivan & Gilbert". The performances run from September 25 through October 11.
Also, there are dress rehearsals every evening the week of September 21, leading up to opening night. As a result of my involvement in these rehearsals, I will be ending my teaching early - at 6:30pm - on the evenings of 9/21, 9/22, and 9/24.
This is post #50 on my blog. Hooray for productivity!
Here’s a note about some of the things that will be happening in my teaching studio from Fall 2009 through Spring 2010.
1) Music history -- listening and quizzes
I am preparing a program of study that will take interested students through the different periods of music history, teaching them about the famous composers and music from each period. The months of September and October will be spent learning about the Baroque Period (1600-1750). The following two months will focus on the Classical Period (1750-1825), and so on.
Listening examples will be available from September 1st via links on the front page of my website -- www.micekmusic.com -- along with composer biographies and other helpful material. At the end of October, I will present a listening test to participating students.
(*If you prefer not to download the audio online, you can purchase a compilation CD of all the listening examples from me for $10)
2) July 2009 Recital DVDs
Copies of the July 2009 Piano/Guitar Recital DVD are available for a fee of $5. You can watch a promo clip of the recital on my website.
3) December 2009 Recital
There will be another joint piano and guitar recital in December. We are leaning toward Sunday, December 13th as the date, but we haven’t reserved the CSUEB recital hall yet, so this may change. I will keep you posted.
4) Certificate of Merit program -- Spring 2010
I will be presenting the Certificate of Merit program again in Spring 2010. This is for students & parents who wish to mark the student’s progress with yearly performance and music theory evaluations. Participation is encouraged. There is a minimal fee. If the student fulfills all the required elements for their level, they receive a certificate acknowledging their accomplishment.
More information can be found at www.mtac.org
5) Composing Scenarios -- a composition exercises workbook
In recent months, I have been working on developing a workbook for students interested in composing their own music. The title of this series is “Composing Scenarios”. The first book is still a rough draft at this point, but I am willing to share the material with motivated students who would like to help me develop the book and also develop their abilities as young composers.
6) Student Binders
I would like all of my students who have not already done so to organize a binder for ongoing use in our lessons. The binder should contain dividers labelled with these titles:
- Practice notes (fill this section with at least a dozen sheets of notebook paper)
- Miscellaneous (a place for any handouts from me, etc.)
- Polyphonic texture
- Use of ornamentation
- Compositions for dance forms (often a full dance suite)
- Limited use of dynamic and expression marks by composers
Toccata & Fugue in D Minor
Prelude & Fugue in C Major (from The Well-Tempered Clavier)
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (from Cantata 147)
Suite for Cello Solo No. 1 in G
Johann Sebastian Bach was a Baroque composer, organist, singer and violinist. He was a master of counterpoint, and is particularly renowned for his church music, including the famous St. John Passion and Mass in B Minor. Bach's music was "rediscovered" in the 19th century care of the "Bach revival" promoted by Felix Mendelssohn. J.S. Bach is now universally acclaimed as the unequaled giant of Baroque music, and one of the greatest musicians to ever live.
Early Life of Johann Sebastian Bach
J.S. Bach, was born in Eisenach, Germany on 21 March 1685. Orphaned at age 10, he went to live with his older brother Johann Christoph who gave him musical instruction on the clavichord.
Bach came from a distinguished family of musicians and composers, dating as far back as the 16th century. In his own immediate family, only a few were not musicians.
He married twice and had over 20 children, although several died in infancy. After his first wife, Maria Barbara died, he re-married, to Anna M. Wulkens, a singer. Among his many children, the ones who gained musical acclaim were: Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel (C.P.E.), Johann Christoph Friederich Bach, and Johann Christian Bach (J.C.).
German Protestant Musician
Bach was a devoted German Protestant. All of his compositions were dedicated with the inscription: ‘To the Greater Glory of God’. His sacred music includes about 200 church cantatas, the Easter and Christmas oratorios, masses and magnificat, canons, chorales, and his two great passions, St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion. These last two represent the culmination of his work in church choral music.
J.S. Bach's orchestral music includes his 6 Brandenburg Concertos written in 1721. These comprise a group of six instrumental works dedicated to Christina Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. Additionally, he composed 4 instrumental suites.
His keyboard music for pianoforte and organ, fugues, and choral music are of equal importance in his canon. These include a collection of 48 preludes and fugues, compiles under the title "The Well-Tempered Clavier", and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for Organ (the “haunted house” music made famous by the original Phantom of the Opera). Among his organ music some of the finest works are the chorale preludes.
J.S. Bach also wrote sonatas, partitas, chamber music and songs, and The Italian Concerto, a spectacular work for harpsichord, other concertos for keyboard and violin, and the collections of instrumental music from his final years at Leipzig.
Bach had eye surgery twice in 1749 and became totally blind for a period. Miraculously, his eyesight returned for a while but during this same period, he died of a brain hemorrhage. He died in Leipzig on July 28, 1750 at the age of 65.
Johann Sebastian Bach composed music for every genre of Baroque music except opera. His work has proved extremely influential on the composers who followed him. J.S. Bach may not have revolutionized musical forms, but he gave the musical world models to follow. His ceaseless creativity and tireless work ethic left a vast trove of music that is worthy of our continued appreciation.
J.S. Bach's Most Famous Works
- Toccata and Fugue in d Minor, for organ 1705
- Cantata No.208 'Where Sheep May Safely Graze' 1713
- Brandenburg Concertos 1721
- The Well-Tempered Clavier, first book 1722
- St. John Passion; Cantata No.147 (including 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring') 1723
- Easter Oratorio, 1725
- St. Matthew Passion, oratorio 1727
- Suite No.3 in D (including 'Air on the G string') 1729
- Magnificat in D major 1731
- Christmas Oratorio 1734
- Italian Concerto 1735
- The Goldberg Variations 1741-42
- The Well-Tempered Clavier, second book 1742
- Musical Offering for Flute and Violin with Continuo 1747
- Mass in B minor 1749
- Opera Rinaldo, 1711
- Instrumental Water Music, 1717
- Pastoral Opera Acis and Galatea, 1718
- Opera Giulio Cesare (Julius Cesar), 1720
- Coronation Anthem, Zadok the Priest, 1727
- Opera Orlando, 1733
- Opera Berenice including the famous 'Minuet', 1737
- Opera Serse (Xerxes), including 'Largo', 1738
- Oratorio Israel in Egypt, 1739
- Oratorio Saul, 1739
- 12 Instrumental Concerti Grossi, 1740
- Oratorio Messiah, 1741
- Opera Semele, 1744
- Oratorio Solomon including 'Arrival of the Queen of Sheba', 1749
- Instrumental, Music for the Royal Fireworks 1749
Ave Maris Stella (from Vespers for the Blessed Virgin)
Claudio Monteverdi was an Italian composer. He is most well-known for his opera La Favola d'Orfeo (The Fable of Orpheus). His lifespan stretched across the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods, and as a composer he provided crucial contributions to the early development of opera. He specialized in composing operas, madrigals, and motets. He is particularly renowned for his skillful vocal writing.
Monteverdi exhibited consistent development in his abilities from his first opera, La favola d’Orfeo (The Legend of Orpheus), to his last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea). The opera he wrote to follow these, Arianna, is now lost in performance except for the famous work's famous "Lament".
Monteverdi is often compared to his German contemporary Heinrich Schütz, a noted composer whose work also helped develop the opera form. Much like the 20th century composer Igor Stravinsky, Monteverdi showed a tremendous capacity to adapt his musical style according to the changing times.
Claudio Monteverdi was born on May 15, 1567, in Cremona, born to a surgeon. Claudio's father engaged the director of music of Cremona's cathedral to instruct Claudio and his brother in music. He was in the service of the Duke of Mantua as maestro di cappella for some eleven years, and later, became director of music at St. Mark’s church in Venice.
Monteverdi's Other Compositions
Besides his famed operas, Monteverdi's other works include some 250 madrigals, motets and sacred music, notably the Vespers. In 1630, he took holy orders after escaping the plague at Venice. From this period two more of his operas survived, the Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Return Of Ulysses to Country) and L'Incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea).
In 1610, Monteverdi dedicated his collection of church music, the Vespers, to Pope Paul V. This collection later became known as the "Vespers of 1610". These are a perfect introduction to Monteverdi's genius vocal writing. It was evident from the Vespers' opening chorus that for the first time, music was moving away from the private - the palace courts, and the like - into the public domain.
Claudio Monteverdi died in Venice in 1643, at the age of 76.
Monteverdi Key Works
- Book 1 of Madrigals, 1587
- La Favola d'Orfeo (The Fable of Orpheus), opera, 1607
- Vespro della beata vergine (Vespers), 1610
- Book 6 of Madrigals, including "Arianna's Lament", 1614
- Book 8 of Madrigals, Madrigali Guerrieri e Amorosi (Madrigals of War and Love", including "The Combat Between Tancredi and Clorinda")
- Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland), opera, 1640
- L’Incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea), opera, 1642
(all from The Four Seasons)
Spring - 1. Allegro
Summer - 3. Presto
Autumn - 3. Allegro
Winter - 3. Allegro
Antonio Vivaldi was a prolific Italian composer, violinist and conductor. He was widely known during his lifetime by the nickname The Red Priest (Il Prete Rosso), owing to his flaming hair color.
Early Life of Vivaldi
Vivaldi was born in Venice, Italy, on March 4, 1678, the eldest son of a professional violinist. Antonio was the only one among six children to follow in their father’s musical footsteps. His father, Giovanni Battista, was originally a baker but he eventually gave up this family trade to become a musician, finding employ at St. Mark's church as a violinist.
Aged 15, Vivaldi began training for the priesthood and was ordained in 1703. At this same time he was developing his own skills on the violin. He received an appointment as the Maesto di Violino at the Pio Ospedale della Pita, an orphanage for girls in Venice, where music played an integral part in the curriculum. With Vivaldi in charge, the regular concerts given by the orchestra of the hospice were extremely popular.
Career Change: Priesthood to Musician
Soon after his ordination, in 1705, Vivaldi ceased to say Mass - claiming health reasons - and was permitted to stay at home. He suffered from chest complaints, possibly asthma or angina. This decision was to cause him problems later on when, in 1737, a production of one of his operas was banned by conservative religious authorities, who were disturbed that the composer was a non-practicing priest, and also alleged that he had had an illicit relationship with one of the cast's female singers.
With the publication of Harmonic inspiration (1711), a collection of concertos for violins, Vivaldi firmly established a reputation as a virtuoso violinist. In 1713, his first opera, Ottone in villa, was performed in Vicenza.
Music Teacher and Composer
Vivaldi spent much of his church career teaching at a girls’ orphanage. He composed both for them and for himself. He was notorious for his careless spending and large ego. Because he was a nonconformist, he usually got into trouble and was a target of criticism, something he was extremely sensitive about.
European Tour and Final Years
He toured Europe between 1729 and 1733, and returned to Venice in 1739. In 1741, he travelled to Vienna, hoping to receive a court appointment. He died there on July 28 of that same year. After his death, there was a decline in popularity of Vivaldi's work but this was reawakened through the 19th century research of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach transcribed a number of Vivaldi's concertos and keyboard works, and did much to promote and preserve Vivaldi's work.
Works by Vivaldi
Works by Vivaldi include some 20 Symphonies, 75 Sonatas, 400 Concertos - including the enormously popular Le Quattro Stagione (The Four Seasons, 1725) for violin and orchestra, 40 Operas, and sacred music.
Vivaldi had a profound impact on the development of the concerto form, and greatly influenced 18th century music. He is best known today for The Four Seasons, a group of concertos for which he also wrote accompanying poems celebrating each season.