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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Friday Question: Who is your favorite composer?

(Just for Fun) Permanent link
This blog is a chance for us to share reviews, commentary, and interviews with you, but it's also a chance for everyone out there to talk about classical music.  Every Friday, I'm going to post a question to help get this discussion started.  This week, I want to know:

Who is your favorite composer?

At first I thought this was an easy question, but when I tried to come up with answer, I couldn't pick just one...Beethoven? Sibelius? Berlioz? Osvaldo Golijov? JS Bach? Mahler?  And if I spent more than a minute thinking about it, I'd be even less sure!  It's just too hard for me to decide.  So, here's an alternate request:

Who is
one of your favorite composers?

Now you don't have to feel bad if you leave someone out--this name can be one of your (many) favorites.  And I'll be flexible; you can list a few runners-up.

To post comments, you do have to create an account, over on the left.  It's pretty quick and painless, and then you can use it to post comments any time you want.

I'll post my answer some time next week--it's your turn first!

Music for All Seasons

(Interviews) Permanent link
Talking about the weather might not make for the most original conversation, but the weather, and its cyclic pattern of change over the seasons, has inspired some wonderful music.

In 1798, Haydn celebrated the seasons in an oratorio, for orchestra, chorus, and vocal soloists.  Haydn's spring sounds like this: Listen to Spring from The Seasons by Haydn. 

In the 19th century, Tchaikovsky heard the seasons as piano miniatures.  And while his set is titled The Seasons, he divided it into 12 movements, one for each month.  Here's some of Tchaikovsky's April: Listen to "April" from The Seasons by Tchaikovsky. 

Dancing the seasons was also popular in Russian ballet, including Glazunov's The Seasons and scenes in Prokofiev's Cinderella.

In Argentina, tango-inspired composer Astor Piazzolla celebrated the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.  Take note: Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite of those experienced north of the equator.  Listen to Piazzolla's "Spring in Buenos Aires." 

The most famous of these seasonal celebrations in music is the original: Antonio Vivaldi's set of four violin concertos that he titled Le Quattre Stagioni, or The Four Seasons.  They were first published in 1725, and they've been a bit ever since then.

Vivaldi also wrote sonnets to go with each of the concertos, describing the images that the music evokes.  You can read the poems online.

The West Virginia Symphony performed Vivaldi's Four Seasons with violin soloist Julie Levin this past weekend as part of FestivALL.  Grant Cooper, music director and conductor of the WV Symphony, took some time to share his thoughts on dramatic music without words and the enduring popularity of these pieces. Listen to my interview with Grant Cooper.

Bonus Track: Listen to Maestro Cooper read Vivaldi's Spring Sonnet, accompanied by selections from Vivaldi's Spring Concerto

So, what's your favorite season--musically and in nature?
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