In essence

Up close with composers

Villa-Lobos: Bachiana Brasileira No. 1 Premiered Today in 1932

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) has been described as “the single most significant creative figure in 20th century Brazilian art music.” His quest to develop musical compositions using indigenous Brazilian elements fueled a number of ethno-musicological excursions into the northeastern states of [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 12th, 2018
Musical Selfies and Snapshots Part I François Couperin

Representing his crowning achievements as a composer, Couperin published four harpsichord books, containing roughly 220 pieces. In the preface to his 1713 collection he wrote, “In composing these pieces, I have always had an object in view, furnished by various [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 11th, 2018
Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini Premiered Today in 1838

For all his dislike of Italian music, Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) kept returning to Italian subjects. We only need to think of Romeo and Juliette, Harold in Italy, and the opera loosely adapted from the memoirs of the 16th century Florentine [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 10th, 2018
Schubert: Mass in C major , D. 452 Premiered Today in 1825

Ferdinand Lukas Schubert (1794-1859)—older brother of Franz Schubert—was a schoolteacher, organist, and composer. He had some compositional talent, but frequently asked for his brother’s help in his daily work. On occasion, he appropriated his brother’s compositions and passed them off [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 8th, 2018
Mozart: La clemenza di Tito Premiered Today in 1791

The majority of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) serious operas were composed for occasions connected to the Austrian ruling house of Habsburg. At the tender age of fourteen, Mozart composed Mitridate, re di Ponto for Milan, a city governed by the [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 6th, 2018
Carmen La Cubana

Entire academic careers have been built on situating the fictional character of Carmen—the heroine in Bizet’s opera—within a feminist context. The battlefield in this war between the sexes is Carmen’s body, and it is fought over by male roles attempting [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 6th, 2018
Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra Premiered Today in 1912

There is considerable debate across the entire scholarly and social spectrum as to what composer was most influential in the field of Western Classical music. It may, or may not surprise you to learn that Glenn Gould considered Arnold Schoenberg [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 3rd, 2018
Music and Emotions Mourning: Astor Piazzolla and Adíos Nonino

In the last article in this series, we looked at how Tan Dun turned to his roots for inspiration when composing his first composition. In the same manner – though around four decades earlier – the Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla [...] more >>

by Nicolette Wong | August 31st, 2018