Summer storms

Rossini: Overture to William Tell

The overture to Rossini’s opera about the legendary apple-shooting Swiss hero contains one of music’s most vivid and violent storms. A serene, solo cello-led opening gives way to swirling strings and staccato woodwind depicting the onset of rain in a windy landscape. And then, within just a few seconds, the storm erupts in full force, trombones, timpani, descending scales of woodwind and more united in chromatic chaos. Suddenly, the storm passes and the sun appears from behind the clouds, courtesy of a beautiful passage for alternating solo oboe and flute. Then the real fun begins with that famous galloping theme as Rossini’s masterly overture hurtles towards the raised curtain and the opening scene set on the shore of the Lake Lucerne.

Debussy: Estampes: III. Jardins sous la pluie

The third movement of Debussy’s Estampes evokes a garden in Normandy during a particularly heavy rainstorm. In the opening, the racing intervals up and down the piano envelop the listener and really do shimmer in a way entirely reminiscent of the sound of rain on a roof. As the piano theme unravels and ebbs and flows, there are moments of thunder which rise up from the calm. You can almost hear the wind blowing.

Further enchanting musical storms can be enjoyed in Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest and Eine Alpensinfonie – Gewitter und Sturm by Richard Strauss.

Music always help

klasszikuszeneAs the world gradually begins the process of deconfinement, things may feel a little strange. You may not have used certain muscles or senses that you use when you go outside regularly. Listening to music is proven to reduce anxiety and neutralises negative emotions. Did you know that producing saliva is a sign of stress? In a study from 1994 in the Department of Surgery, Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Poland, patients who were exposed to music had a marked reduction in saliva in comparison to those without. This playlist provides clinically appropriate music to help you de-stress.

GlassEchorus, Liszt: Consolations, Honegger: Pastorale d’étéRavel: MiroirsBarberExcursions

Discovering Béla Bartók

250px-Bartók_Béla_1927Bartók’s parents were teachers and amateur musicians. According to his mother Paula: “When he was four years old he could play with one finger on the piano the melodies of all the folk songs he knew; he knew 40 in all…” This signalled a childhood that saw young Béla actively composing by the age of nine. He gave his first public piano recital just two years later. At the age of 17 Bartók bevame pupil of the Budapest Royal Academy of Music. Such was his astonishing rate of progress that by the time he graduated in 1903 he was confidently composing in the Liszt/Richard Strauss orchestral mould. In 1905 he caused a sensation with a Budapest performance of Liszt’s fiendishly difficult Totentanz, the following year he toured Spain and Portugal with the brilliant young violinist Ferenc Vecsey, and in 1909 he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in a performance of the Scherzo from his Second Suite. The next two years also saw him prepare critical editions of Beethoven and Mozart piano sonatas. Meanwhile he accepted a post at the Budapest Academy in 1907 and, although he loathed teaching, he stuck it out for more than a quarter of a century. Bartók’s immersion in the folk material he had collected from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Transylvania, Turkey and North Africa was now combined with the harmonic and textural revolutions wrought by Debussy to produce a First String Quartet, whose uncompromising introspection and tonal unpredictability set the tone for the rest of his output.

(Magyar) Robert Schumann kvíz

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Robert Schumann

Robert_Schumann_1839Robert Schumann was born in June 1810. The composer was 10 before he began piano lessons and soon he exhibited increasing enthusiasm for composition and a passion for Romantic literature. Schumann co-founded one of the most influential musical publications, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. He wrote many of the articles himself, using the pseudonyms Florestan and Eusebius. After an ailment in his right hand proved incurable, he was forced to concentrate solely on composition. He produced a remarkable outpouring of more than 140 songs. Schumann then turned his attention to multi-instrumental composition, producing the Piano Concerto, Piano Quintet and Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 and 4. Following the Cello Concerto and Rhenish Symphony (both 1850), there was a marked decline in Schumann’s creative powers and his ability to keep a hold on reality. Following a paralytic attack, which left his speech impaired, his hallucinatory periods increased in intensity and he attempted to drown himself in the Rhine. He spent the last two years of his life in an asylum where his condition gradually worsened.


(Magyar) Martha Argerich kvíz

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(Magyar) Pünkösdi kvíz

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Tchaikovsky’s music

csajkovszkijTchaikovsky possessed an unparalled genius for speaking from the heart to the heart. His profound melodic gift, exuberant orchestral imagination and extraordinary ability to strike right at the core of human emotion continue to thrill audiences, even where the popularity of classical music is in decline. Just as our feelings brood and swell until reaching a cathartic release, so Tchaikovsky finds exact parallels in his music, driving its intensity levels higher and higher towards climactic releases of emotion. Tchaikovsky had a wealthy benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, who loved and shared a profound understanding of his music, but preferred not to get involved with him personally. It now seems that Tchaikovsky had formed a potentially embarrassing liaison with the nephew of a Russian nobleman, and to prevent it becoming public knowledge it was decided that he should take his own life. He almost certainly died by his own hand of arsenic poisoning. 

(Magyar) Kvíz Csajkovszkijról

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Claudio Monteverdi

Bernardo_Strozzi_-_Claudio_Monteverdi_(c.1630) (1)

Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) was an Italian composer, musician and singer, who stood at the crossroads of one of the most crucial periods in musical history. Born the son of a Cremonese barber-surgeon, Monteverdi began composing at a very early age and had his first book of three-part motets published in Venice when he was 15. In 1587, he published the first of nine books of madrigals. This remarkable run was capped by his appointment at the Court of Mantua in 1592, initially as a viol player. Monteverdi married one of the court singers, Claudia de Cataneis, by whom he had two sons and a daughter. By the time he was appointed maestro di cappella at Mantua in 1601, Monteverdi was widely recognised as a distinguished composer, a reputation further enhanced by the publication of his  Fourth and Fifth Book of Madrigals in 1603 and 1605. Monteverdi’s period in Venice proved a fitting climax to his career. In 1619 he published his Seventh Book of Madrigals, which further developed the harmonic audacity of his previous volumes, while in 1624 his hybrid entertainment, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, created a sensation at its premiere. Sadly, not all of Monteverdi’s finest music survived. Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo told the mythical tale of Orpheus – a musician who, when his wife Euridice died, went down to Hades, the land of the dead, to try to get her back. 

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