In essence

Up close with composers

The Life and Times of Falstaff

You don’t often think of Edward Elgar and Richard Strauss in the same way, but they were connected through the idea of the symphonic poem. Strauss’ symphonic poems such as Till Eulenspiegel and Don Quixote are well known but Elgar’s [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | November 22nd, 2017
At the Center of the Musical Universe Niccolò Paganini

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) almost single-handedly established a new brand of performing musician, the touring virtuoso. In a brilliant strategy of self-promotion, he even circulated the rumor that he had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his uncanny [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | November 20th, 2017
Mapping the Musical Genome: The Gibbons Family

Orlando Gibbons (1572-1625) was born in Oxford, son of a town wait—essentially a town musician whose duties included playing his instrument for the townsfolk, welcoming Royal visitors, and leading processions on civic occasions. William Gibbons moved back and forth between [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | November 18th, 2017
Rock-A-Bye Baby II Crossing from Folk to Art

The lullaby, a gentle song intended for lulling young and/or ailing children to sleep originated in various folk repertories. It easily crossed into art music not only as a song but also as a short instrumental piece, frequently scored for [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | November 17th, 2017
Erich Korngold and Luzi Sonnenthal A Triumph of Love

Luise von Sonnenthal (1900-1962) was born into a dynasty of ennobled actors. Her grandfather Adolf Ritter von Sonnenthal was not only Vienna’s most popular classical actor and matinee idol at the Burgtheater, he was also one of the first Jewish [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | November 16th, 2017
Copland’s Ballets: Billy the Kid, Rodeo, Appalachian Spring

Aaron Copland, son of Polish and Lithuanian emigrants, was born in Brooklyn in 1900 and by the time he was 24, his compositions were already gaining interest. He was Nadia Boulanger’s first American pupil in Paris, laying the groundwork for [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | November 15th, 2017
Works Disliked By Their Composers! Part II

What happens when a composer writes a piece of music…and then ends up not liking it? In Part I, we saw how Saint-Saëns, Ravel, and Sibelius dealt with the problem. Now we look at how three more composers did:

by Emily E. Hogstad | November 14th, 2017
At the Center of the Musical Universe Ludwig van Beethoven

Whether we like it or not, Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the greatest disruptive forces in the history of music. He was a revolutionary man who lived and worked in revolutionary and tumultuous times, and his music exerted tremendous [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | November 13th, 2017