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The sound secret

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology (EMPA)
have published a study suggesting that a violin’s varnish has a considerable impact on its tone
quality. The team, led by Marjan Gilani, investigated how the hardening effect of varnish affected
the vibrational properties of master grade tonewood. Varnish has previously been suggested as
offering the key to explain the incredible sound quality in the instruments of Antonio Stradivari.
Joseph Nagyvary, a scientist at Texas University, published a research claiming that small
samples of wood used to make stringed instruments by the famous 17th century violinmaker
turned up evidence of a special combination of chemicals, leading him to suspect that it had been
treated to guard against infestation. What’s more, Nagyvary claimed Stradivari may not have
even known about the varnish, because the wood may have been treated before he received it in
his workshop.

Whale song

Optus, the second largest telecommunications company in Australia, set about exploring
communication between humans and animals, specifically Humpback whales. “Whale song is a
form of communication,” says Ben Welsh, executive creative director, M&C Saatchi Sydney.
“It’s a form of communication that the scientists at The University of Queensland have been able
to decipher and learn. I was intrigued by this fact and so we asked ourselves whether it would be
possible to emulate a male humpback: to write our own love song and then play it, using the
instruments of an orchestra? Could we serenade a humpback ourselves? Then imagine what
could happened if the whales were to hear our song. We thought that would prove that when it
comes to communication, anything is possible.”

“Hands off”

The memories a lot of people have of piano lessons at school makes it easy to forget that some of the greatest composers also spent considerable amounts of time teaching the instruments to the star pupils of the day. Chopin, Liszt and Schubert are just a few examples. Whether or not your piano teacher is famous, the relationship built up with them is important. British pianist Stephen Hough, he is in favour of a much more hands-off approach at a higher level: “a good teacher should probably not even like everything each of her students does. The more talented the pupil the longer the leash of freedom should be.”


Hundreds of seats at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées were filled by the audience wishing to see Jean Rondeau, one of the newest and most popular names in classical music in France and abroad. At barely 21, he won first prize at the Bruges International Harpsichord Competition and was named the following year the most promising musician in Europe. Rondeau also studied classical piano and jazz improvisation at the Paris and London conservatoires. Rondeau and the Nevermind performed Bach pieces.

Music notes can help you solve the Rubik Cube!

Ever since being introduced to the markets in 1974, the Rubik Cube has made millions of humans elated (upon their being able to completing it) or utterly frustrated (upon lack thereof). If you, like me, are part of the second group, and happen to have a basic grasp of the piano, you will be happy to know that there is a way for you to solve this six-faced colorful monster thanks to some artful chord progressions. Über-resourceful TED has a video that can clarify the process developed by music theorist Michael Staff: the first thing you need to do is find chords that make up a progression within a piece of classical music. It would be interesting to know whether this experiment works with pieces other than Liszt’s Trascendental Etude.

Prokofiev, an amazing chess player

“My chief virtue (or, if you like, defect) has been a tireless lifelong search for an original, individual musical idiom. I detest imitation. I detest hackneyed devices.” (from Prokofiev’s autobiography).

If music didn’t work out for Prokofiev, he could have had a decent legacy as a professional chess player. In 1914 he handily defeated future world champion José Raúl Capablanca, something that very few world-class professional chess players ever did. Prokofiev later defeated fellow composer Maurice Ravel.

The Salzburg Festival Presents Opera for Children

opRossini conducted the premiere of The Barber of Seville in Rome at the Teatro Argentina, on 20 February, 1816. Although the initial performance was ridiculed by one of Rossini’s contemporaries, composer Giovanni Paisiello who had already written an opera based on the same play, its success soon surpassed Paisiello’s opera with performances all across Europe. Its popularity in 1825 made it the first opera to ever be sung in Italian in New York City. The Barber of Seville has withstood the test of time and is a longstanding presence in opera repertoire. It is an ideal opera to introduce to children with its comical characters and situations, mistaken identities, and disguises before it arrives at a happy ending. While children are enjoying the comedy, they are also being introduced to the opera’s style and most famous aria, “Una voce poco fa” sung by the character of Rosina. The Salzburg Festival’s program for children is a positive way to encourage music and theater appreciation at an early age by a young audience as well as providing positive experiences for the young performers. Performances of The Barber of Seville are held in the Great Hall of the University in Salzburg.

(Magyar) Gustav Hols az angol zene kiemelkedő szerzője

Sorry, this entry is only available in Hungarian.

How to celebrate International Bassoon Day

Last month, London’s Royal College of Music held a celebration to mark International Bassoon Day at the Royal Albert Hall. Laurence Perkins, the principal bassoonist with the Manchester Camerata, was the musician who came up with the idea of a day to promote the wind instrument. He chose 11 October, and this is just part of a broader push he is leading to find new bassoon enthusiasts. “It’s the best instrument to play in the orchestra,” Amy Harman, who plays principal bassoon for the Philharmonia Orchestra, said. “You get to be all the different parts. You get to play with the cellos, the wind players, and the horns, and you get all these lovely tunes. I think it’s amazing.” Perkins planned International Bassoon Day as the first stage in a three-part strategy to build interest in the instrument. “Bear-faced bassoonery” is a series of free admission events where Perkins explains the characteristics of the bassoon to those who are unfamiliar with it, while allowing more experienced players to discuss progressing their studies to the next level. With a number of “Bassoon Voyager” concerts, the instrument will feature in a one-hour performance including pieces of music to illustrate the bassoon’s musical capabilities.

Classical Pieces and workout

35545219935_6734bd5fdc_zSo you have been working out but you’re somehow tired of your Beyoncé-Rihanna-Arcade Fire-YouNameIt playlist and have no idea what to listen to next? Whether you’re running on a waterfront, on a treadmill or you are just walking 100 floors on the stair master, we have come up with a selection of ten pieces of Classical music that can motivate you, energize you or, if you really hate doing what you’re doing, make your training session less of an ordeal. Your perfect warm-up track. In fact, like the original Hungarian folk dance, Tchaikovsky’s Czarda starts in a slow tempo (lassú) and ends in a very fast tempo (friss).

Mozart— Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, First Movement


Wagner— Walkürenritt

Strauss—Radetzky Marsch

Bizet— Carmen, Prelude to Act 1

Khachaturian— Sabre Dance

Grieg— In the Hall of the Mountain King

Tchaikovsky— Symphony n.4 , 4th movement