The Sapho Affair! Charles Gounod and Pauline Viardot

Charles Gounod unabashedly referred to Pauline Viardot as “The godmother of my career.” He first met her around a rather difficult time in his life. His brother Urbain had unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a two-year-old child and a widow [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 15th, 2018
Queen and Writer: Elisabeth of Wied and Carmen Sylva

Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise zu Wied (1843– 1916), the Queen of Romania as the wife of King Carol I of Romania, led her literary life as the author Carmen Sylva. She wrote across a wide number of genres, including poems, [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | June 14th, 2018
The Beautiful Cat and the Elegant Fowl

How do different composers approach the same text? In a recent review of a new biography of the poet and landscape artist Edward Lear, there was extensive discussion of the great love story Lear put into poetry. In its extensive [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | June 7th, 2018
Mikhail Glinka and the Physician’s Daughter Grand Sextet in E-flat Major

Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), often called the “Father of Russian music,” was a bit of a delicate flower. Because his older brother had died in infancy, his grandmother lavished great care on his physical wellbeing. Glinka remembers, “Soon after my birth [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 4th, 2018
Simple and Plain

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) started composing as a child and, unlike most children, kept careful track of his writings. His early works are the expected piano pieces and songs but also chamber and orchestral attempts. His first major work took those [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | May 29th, 2018
Gershwin’s Preludes

From Bach onward, the idea of a cycle of preludes has intrigued composer. George Gershwin (1898-1937) took up the task of writing an intended 24, only completed 6 and only published 3.

by Maureen Buja | May 15th, 2018
Chausson and a Symphonic Love Story

Another composer who gave up his father’s dream that he become a lawyer, the French composer Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) completed his studies, was admitted to the bar, but found writing, drawing, and especially composition much more to his liking. In [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | May 11th, 2018
For Children and for Everyone: Fauré’s Dolly Suite

Gabriel Fauré didn’t like giving his works revealing names. He once said that he’d rather name every work ‘Piano Piece No. …’ than commit to a name. Commercialization in the person of his publisher defeated him and so we have [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | May 8th, 2018