In essence

Up close with composers

How Mozart Was Inspired by His Pet Starling

On 27 May 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart bought a pet starling bird at a Viennese pet shop.

by Emily E. Hogstad | October 23rd, 2017
Winnaretta Singer The Muse of Modern Music

Her father was the American sewing-machine inventor Isaac Merritt Singer, and her mother the Parisian model Isabelle Boyer. Winnaretta was born in New York in 1865, and her 14th birthday present was a private performance of the Beethoven Op. 131 [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 21st, 2017
Chopsticks Paraphrase

It all started pretty innocently. Gania, the young adopted daughter of Alexander Borodin asked her father to play a piano duet with her. Borodin objected by telling her that she did not know how to play. “But Daddy,” Gania replied, [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 20th, 2017
Behind the Curtain Chopin’s Funeral Music

A good many people decide to plan proceedings for their own funerals. Among the various options and choices there is always the question if music should be part of the service, and if so, what that music might be.

by Georg Predota | October 19th, 2017
Circus Polka : For a Young Elephant

Do you know what happened when George Balanchine, tenderly referred to as the father of American ballet, teamed up with Igor Stravinsky? Unless you actually know the answer, this one is somewhat difficult to guess. Turns out, they were choreographing [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 18th, 2017
Lure of the Siren Carl Maria von Weber and Gretchen Lang

The soprano Margarethe Bernbrunn, née Lang, who frequently performed under the stage name “Adalbert Prix,” was described in the following terms. “Gretchen possessed a little plump seductive form, was about twenty years of age, and, in addition to her undoubted [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 14th, 2017
George Gershwin: Teach me your Art!

There are a number of celebrated anecdotes going around that George Gershwin habitually asked famous composers to give him lessons. Apparently he wanted composition lessons from Edgard Varèse, leader of the New York musical avant-garde. Although Varèse acknowledged Gershwin’s talent, [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 13th, 2017
The magic of Karol Szymanowski

Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) was supremely gifted, intellectually and musically. Even before reaching his teenage years, he spoke fluent French, German and Russian, and his interest in music and philosophy was insatiable. Receiving instructions from Gustav Neuhaus, Karol read Schopenhauer and [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 12th, 2017