(Magyar) Ránki Dezső az Unikum bérlet első fellépője

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“Music, being identical with heaven…”

Gustav Holst“Music, being identical with heaven, isn’t a thing of momentary thrills, or even hourly ones. It’s a condition of eternity.”

Gustav Holst was one of the great originals of English music, who was born on 21st of September in 1874. He enjoys a reputation that rests almost entirely on one masterpiece: The Planets. Each movement tells the story of each of the planets characters – but he didn’t write a movement for earth! Mars – the bringer of war, Venus – the bringer of peace, Mercury – the winged messenger of the gods, Jupiter – the bringer of jollity, Saturn – the bringer of old age, Uranus – the magician, Neptune – the mystic.

Rameau, reformer of the French opera

jean-philippe-rameauJean-Philippe Rameau, a legendary composer who transformed the face of French opera, was ahead of his time, his theories and works inspiring such succeeding operatic innovators as Gluck and Wagner. His most famous works are Hippolyte Et Aricie, Samson, Castor Et Pollux, Les Indes Galantes, Pygmalion. Rameau was one of the most profoundly gifted of all French composers. At a time when the finest musician in Spain was an Italian (Domenico Scarlatti) and England’s most celebrated composer was German (Handel), Rameau stemmed the tide of popular Italian operatic imports with a series of bracing theatrical masterpieces. He shunned trends towards showpiece arias sung by the latest stars charging exorbitant fees and put the focus firmly back on dramatic tension and pacing. “I conceal art with art,” was his maxim, and his desire to unite all the arts in one magnum musical opus led to the operatic reforms of Gluck and, most notably, Wagner.

Anton Bruckner was born in September

anton_brucknerAnton Bruckner (1824–1896) was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. Bruckner’s father was the local church organist and his mother a singer in the choir. However, he didn’t begin his formal music training until he was 11, when he spent five years as a choirboy at the monastery of St Florian, near Linz. Starting out professional life as a music teacher, Bruckner made a few attempts at small-scale composition, although it was not until 1848 that he felt inspired to produce his first notable work, the Requiem in D minor. Having been appointed organist back at St Florian, most of Bruckner’s energies remained on teaching and the organ, an instrument upon which he had become widely recognised as one of Europe’s greatest exponents. On attending a performance of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser, the 38-year-old Bruckner felt driven to make composition his main vocation. Inspired by Wagner’s example, he set to work on an Overture in G minor and the (unnumbered) Symphony in F minor, which were gradually followed over the next three years by Symphonies Nos. ‘0’ and 1, and his first indisputable masterpiece, the Mass in D minor of 1864. The sheer strain caused by the hours of constant study in addition to his professional responsibilities, resulted in an acute nervous collapse early in 1867. Recovered, in 1867 he took a teaching post in Vienna at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. In 1875, Bruckner became the first lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at the University of Vienna. Bruckner’s final years were largely devoted to the composition of the Ninth Symphony, which remained tantalisingly incomplete at the time of his death.

(Magyar) Interjú Vashegyi Györggyel

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20th century’s most exciting composer

igor-stravinsky_c_jpg_681x349_crop_upscale_q95Where literature had James Joyce and the art world had Picasso, music had the genius of Igor Stravinsky. Even though it would be easy to label him a modernist, especially in the light of his more disruptive works that he composed for the Ballets Russes, he was resistant to many of the modernist ideals: he did not care much for the importance of the unconscious and the irrational, and considered avant-garde movements such as futurism quite risible. We can place him in the same category as T.S. Eliot, as both were well-versed in literary/musical tradition and well aware of the current avant-garde movements, but maintained quite a conservative approach to novelty. This is particularly true in Stravinsky’s case: after spending the 1910s innovating the symphonic music panorama, he retreated to the realm of Greek mythology, neoclassicism and sacred music.

Edvard Grieg was born on 15th June

edvard-grieg-2He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor and Peer Gynt. Grieg appears to have dedicated himself to establishing single-handedly a national identity for classical music in Norway. Writing to his American biographer, Henry Finck once explained:”The traditional way of life of the Norwegian people, together with Norway’s legends, Norway’s history, Norway’s natural scenery, stamped itself on my creative imagination from my earliest years.” During a visit to Copenhagen in 1862 Grieg met the young composer Rikard Nordraak, whose passionate interest in the sagas, landscape and music of his homeland inspired Grieg to take up the musical cudgels on behalf of Norway.

Sir Edward William Elgar

edward-elgar-1235641401-hero-wide-0One of the greatest English composers was born at Broadheath, a village some three miles from the small city of Worcester. The young Elgar had the great advantage of growing up in a thoroughly practical musical atmosphere. He studied the music available in his father’s shop and taught himself to play a wide variety of instruments. It is a remarkable fact that Elgar was very largely self-taught as a composer – evidence of the strong determination behind his original and unique genius. His long struggle to establish himself as a pre-eminent composer of international repute was hard and often bitter. For many years he had to contend with apathy, with the prejudices of the entrenched musical establishment, with religious bigotry, as he was a member of the Roman Catholic minority in a Protestant majority England, and with a late Victorian provincial society where class consciousness pervaded everything.

The man who reinvented the German opera

wagnerRichard Wagner was born in May of 1813. He reinvented German opera and became one of the most influential composers of all time. His reforms affected opera composition, theatrical practice in general, and the development of the orchestra. Now, the Bayreuth Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the world where only Richard Wagner’s music dramas are performed. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. While Wagner was in exile (due to the thorny issue of his increased revolutionary activity in Dresden), he completed several key works including his opera Lohengrin. However, unable to stage the work himself, he wrote to his friend Franz Liszt in the hope of getting it produced. Not only did Liszt get the work staged, he also conducted the premiere in Weimar. Wagner later married Liszt’s daughter Cosina.


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in May

csajkovszkijWith a body of work of 169 compositions, whose genres include symponies, concertos, operas, ballet, chamber music and even a choral setting of the Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Tchaikovsky composed some of the most popular theatrical music within the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer to acquire a solid reputation and career abroad, to the point that he appeared at the inaugural concert of Carnegie Hall in New York in 1891. Tchaikovsky studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he received a western-oriented teaching that set him apart from the nationalist Russian composers. However, in 1880, during commemoration ceremonies for the Pushkin Monument in Moscow, Fyodor Dostoyevsky maintained that Pushkin had voiced the need for Russia to pursue a “universal unity with the west.” Not only was Dostoyevsky’s message widely acclaimed throughout the country, but the disdain for Tchaikovsky’s music evaporated.

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