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The greatest Danish composer

Carl_NielsenFin-de-siècle symphonist and dawning modernist. He premiered his Op.1, Suite for Strings, in 1888, at the age of 23. Nielsen is especially noted for his six symphonies, his Wind Quintet and his concertos for violin, flute and clarinet. In Denmark, his opera Maskarade and many of his songs have become an integral part of the national heritage. While his early music was inspired by composers such as Brahms and Grieg, he soon developed his own style, first experimenting with progressive tonality and later diverging even more radically from the standards of composition still common at the time. Nielsen’s sixth and final symphony, Sinfonia semplice, was written in 1924–25.

Charles Gounod born in June

Charles_GounodCharles Gounod (1818-93) was known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette. Gounod studied for the priesthood but ultimately he dedicated himself to composing. Gounod was writing music in Paris at the time when it was a seething hotbed of great Romantic composers. His contemporaries include Chopin, Liszt and Berlioz. Gounod decided he wanted to be a composer at the age of thirteen, after attending a performance of Rossini’s Otello. Gounod borrowed Bach’s Prelude No.1 for his Ave Maria, and put a second tune over the top of it. Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette was used as the theme to the TV series Alfred Hitchcock presents.

Vierne wrote six symphonies for organ

The French composer, Louis Vierne (1870-1937), wrote six symphonies as large-scale concert works for pipe organ. Vierne was born with congenital cataracts, leaving him nearly blind. That did not stop his gift for music though and he was picking out melodies on the piano by the age of two. He studied with French composer-organists César Franck and Charles-Marie Widor. Vierne accepted the organist position at Notre-Dame in 1900 and remained in that post until his death in 1937. The highs and lows of his personal and professional life were expressed in his symphonies. Despite these hardships, he had a deep faith. Many of his vocal works were religious but not all of them. His 1,750th recital took place on June 2, 1937, at Notre-Dame. He was almost finished with the performance when he collapsed from a heart attack and died. The only part of the program that remained was for him to play improvisations based on themes submitted to him. He had read the first theme in Braille and had selected the stops when he suddenly fell off the bench. His wish had come true, that when he died, he wanted it to be at the cathedral’s great organ console.

Musicians suffer from hearing loss

Help Musicians UK, a charity aimed at supporting musicians from all genres with a wide range of issues, has published results of a survey showing increased levels of hearing loss among musicians. It was conducted with 692 musicians and is part of the organisation’s HearForMusicians campaign, which is to be rolled out next year. 40.5 percent of respondents answered yes to the question of whether they had experienced hearing loss, and another 19 percent stated they did not know. Of those confirming they had experienced hearing loss, 62 percent said it was permanent. More than three quarters of respondents believed that the cause of their hearing loss was their profession as a musician. An even larger majority (83 percent of all respondents) said that employers should provide hearing protection for musicians, but only 67 percent said they had ever used it. The survey’s results confirm previous findings. A 2010 study raised concerns about the risk of hearing loss faced by classical musicians, not only during performance in orchestras or smaller groups, but also during rehearsals. It agreed with the Help Musicians UK survey by noting the relatively low use of hearing protectors among musicians, pointing out that they were only more frequently used by those already suffering from hearing damage.

Liszt and Chopin brought innovations

In the 1800s, Liszt and Chopin brought considerable innovations: the former understood that piano could imitate several colouristic and timbral effects and encompass symphonic and vocal works; the latter made the fingers alone no longer sufficient, and introduced the use, in his pieces, of the wrist and the arm and favored a fluid and flatter finger position while also placing a great importance in tone-production, pedalling and voicing. One of the world’s fastest pianists promotes what he calls “continuous music”, a style of playing that creates waves of notes that at some points reaches 19 notes per second. Pianist Lubomyr Melnyk, in fact, invented what he called “continuous music”, which allows him to play, on average, 14 notes per second (occasionally 19.5). Can the human ear even discern them? The technique consists of a free-flowing motion, where the pianist becomes one with the instrument itself and fuses kung-fu techniques to play the piano “In the body of the Continuous Piano Master, the fingers and the hands turn into Water, Air and Stone,” he is quoted saying. “These are the three manifestations of the Continuous Technique. And for the Continuous Pianist, the fingers physically transform the music into one of these three elements.” Melnyk developed the technique and he wrote a treatise on his method titled OPEN TIME: The Art of Continuous Music and his 22 Etudes that teaches the fundaments of his technique.

Why Your Voice Sounds Different?

It is strange at first to discover what your voice really and truly sounds like. It’s different, isn’t it, than how you think you sound, or what you think you sound like. Why do you sound one way when you’re just talking and differently if that speech is recorded and played back? Most often, the sound you hear when you talk is a combination of two different sound signatures – the one coming out of your mouth and the one that bounces through your head (coming from the throat upwards). This dynamic of sound structures is heard only by you and not the outside world, which is why you sound one way to yourself and differently to the rest of the world. The flesh and bone inside your skull and even your neck help to create lower­end frequencies that you hear, which can give the impression that your voice is deeper than it actually is.

Researchers studying the impact of sad music on listeners

Researchers studying the impact of sad music on listeners have discovered that one of the most common reactions to it was a feeling of pleasure. Musicologists at Durham University and the University of Jyväskylä examined the emotional responses of 2,436 people from the UK and Finland to sad pieces of music. The majority of those surveyed noted the pleasurable experience of sad music, and that it caused a marked improvement of mood. Others said it had a comforting effect, evoking memories from the past. Less surprisingly, the research also found a significant section of people surveyed who associated painful memories with sad music. The study is expected to impact how music therapists employ different musical styles. Professor Tuomas Eerola explained that such a variety of reactions had previously been identified in relation to tragic art. “The results help us to pinpoint the ways people regulate their mood with the help of music, as well as how music rehabilitation and music therapy might tap into these processes of comfort, relief, and enjoyment,” Eerola added. The three main experiences in response to sad music, pleasure, comfort and pain, were found across all of the groups surveyed.

Beautiful Classical Music Pieces Inspired By Flowers


The relationship between flowers and music is not just limited to celebrations. Many famous composers have used flowers as a focal point for some of their works. Here are a few popular classical pieces inspired by blooms.


Waltz Of The Flowers by Tchaikovsky

The Tale Of The Stone Flower by Prokofiev

Roses From The South by Johann Strauss II

Heidenröslein (Little Rose of the Field) by Schubert

Waltz Of The Cornflowers And Poppies by Aleksander Glazunov

The Rose, The Lily, The Dove, The Sun by Schumann

Jardins Sous La Pluie by Debussy

The Flower Duet from Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly

Daisies by S. Rachmaninoff

Flower Song from Carmen (Opera) by Georges Bizet

Want to be a pianist without a piano with an application?

Or at least without a piano as we know it. A company has reportedly developed technology that would enable you to play the piano on any surface. Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has come up with iNTERPLAY, a new device which makes use of cutting edge technology to offer a number of different applications. One of these is a virtual piano, which enables users to play the instrument almost anywhere. The invention is thanks to technology referred to as ubiquitous computing or ubiquitous display combined with gesture control. Rather than using a mouse or a keyboard, ubiquitous display enables any surface to be used to project information and interact with the device, whether that’s a table, wall, ceiling or a fridge. With gesture control, the computer can be used simply by pointing or moving the hands in certain ways. The combination of these two technologies means that the piano could be projected onto a table and played, with the device picking up the tempo and transforming the gestures into sound. It will also be able to project the score to a piece of music.

The Trial of Dmitrij Shostakovich, the composer

Dmitrij_SosztakovicsBorn on September 25, 1906 in St. Petersburg Dmitri Shostakovich lived in an era of vast and sudden upheavals. Despite this, in the year of his thirtieth birthday, he had every reason to be happy: married with a child on the way, he was also highly in demand as one of the Soviet Union’s most talented and successful composers. Then the phone rang. Shostakovich was summoned to a performance of his wildly popular opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, on January 26, 1936. Stalin and other members of the Politburo were in attendance but left before the final curtain. Two days later, a damning editorial entitled, “Muddle instead of Music” appeared in Pravda. It was a heavy­handed critique of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth, citing its international success as proof of corrupting formalist, bourgeois influence. Shostakovich received news of the many contemporaries and colleagues that turned against him. Reflecting on his position later in life, he said, “What helped me then was my youth and physical strength. Instead of repenting, I wrote my Fourth Symphony”. This new work was scheduled to premiere December 11, 1936. On the morning of the 11th, a statement was released: “Composer Shostakovich appealed to the Leningrad Philharmonic with the request to withdraw his Fourth Symphony from performance on the grounds that it in no way corresponds to his current creative convictions”. The years from 1936­1939 saw approximately seven million arrests in Stalin’s purges.

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