(Magyar) Vasárnapi kvíz Chopinről

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Ladies in classical music

800px-Louise_FarrencLouise Farrenc (1804-1875): piano virtuoso received piano lessons from masters such as Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Following her marriage, she interrupted her studies to play concerts with her husband, the flautist Aristide Farrenc. Despite her popularity and brilliance as a performer and composer, she was paid less than her male counterparts for nearly a decade. Only after the triumphant premiere of her Nonet for wind and strings – in which the violinist Joseph Joachim took part -did she demand and receive equal pay.


800px-Amy_Beach_01Amy Beach (1867-1944): America’s first successful woman composer was an accomplished pianist who agreed, after her marriage, to limit her piano performances to one charity recital a year. After her husband died, she toured Europe as a pianist, playing her own compositions to great acclaim. Her music is mainly Romantic, although in her later works she experimented with more exotic harmonies and techniques. Her most famous works include the Mass in E-flat major and the Gaelic Symphony.


Music gets faster?

BachClassical music performances are taken at a greater lick than they were 50 years ago, according to the findings of a new study by Universal Music Group. The study, which examined recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s work, has found some pieces are now performed almost 30 per cent quicker than half a century ago. Recordings of the same piece of music from more recent decades were played more quickly, making the performances shorter. In the new study, researchers from Universal Music Group labels Deutsche Grammophon and Decca investigated three recordings of Bach’s famous Double Violin Concerto. The earliest recording, by David Oistrakh and Igor Oistrakh, is from 1961 and lasts 17 minutes. A later recording from 1978 is just over 15 minutes, while the most recent recording from 2016 lasts around 12 minutes. That’s nearly five minutes quicker overall (a minute per decade) – and an almost 30 per cent reduction. Music scholar Sir Nicholas Kenyon said: “We seem to prefer transparent, light, bright sound and it works with the work of many composers including Bach, Händel and Mozart. 


(Magyar) Kvíz a zeneszerzőkről

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(Magyar) Húsvéti zenei kvíz

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Tips to practise

piano-1655558_19201. Create atmosphere: Get the right set-up for you.

2. Warm up.

3. Have a goal.

4. Be realistic : It’s about quality, not quantity.

5. Identify and overcome the problems: Not every problem should be approached in the same way.

6. Being a musician is so much more than just playing the notes: It’s also important to understand your instrument, its repertoire, the history of the period and why the music is written a certain way.

7. Write on your music: Don’t be afraid to scribble on your scores.

8. Record yourself.

9. Be in the right frame of mind.

10. Reward yourself.

20th Century and music

vinyl-1595847_640The history and politics of the 20th Century provided inspiration for the diverse range of musical styles developed between 1900 and 1999, pioneered by composers ranging from Bartók and Stravinsky to Elgar and Britten, Gershwin, and John Williams. Advancing technology enabled the recording of classical music and jazz, which in turn lead to the rise of globe-straddling artists like Pavarotti and Callas. Music in the 20th Century changed dramatically, due to the hostile political climate, advances in technology, and huge shifts in style. Many composers, struggling to build any further on the music of generations gone by, reacted against established musical trends, creating exciting new forms and styles. Music was greatly influenced by the enormous political events which shook Europe in the middle of the 20th Century. Shostakovich, in particular, was persecuted by the Soviet regime when his music was thought to be too ‘modern’ or élitist, meaning he was forced to write in two styles – symphonies for the authorities, and smaller works such as string quartets which were true to his own voice. The Holocaust, Hiroshima and World War II convinced many post-war composers that they needed to put the past behind them and find ever more progressive methods: see Pierre Boulez’s Structures, Schoenberg’s experiment with tonality and John Cage. American composers like George Gershwin and Duke Ellington began to draw on their own native music – jazz. Stravinsky and Ravel responded with music that also embraced jazz styles. Folk music was also a great source of inspiration for composers like Vaughan Williams, Bartók and Messiaen.  

(Magyar) Kvíz – Sergej Rachmaninov

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The art of conducting

Kép_karmesterSince the mid-19th century, most conductors have not played an instrument when conducting, although in earlier periods of classical music history, leading an ensemble while playing an instrument was common. In Baroque music from the 1600s to the 1750s, the group would typically be led by the harpsichordist or first violinist, an approach that is modern times has been revived by several music directors for music from this period. Conducting while playing a piano may also be done with musical theatre pit orchestras. Communication is typically non-verbal, during a performance. This is strictly the case in art music, but in jazz big bands or pop ensembles, there may be accasional spoken instructions, such as a “count in”. However, in rehearsals, frequent interruptions allow the conductor to give verbal directions as to how the music should be played or sung. Conductors act as a guides to the orchestras and/or choirs they conduct. They choose the works to be performed and study their scores, to which they may make certain adjustments regarding tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections, work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the performers.  

C. P. E. Bach

Adolph_Menzel_-_Flötenkonzert_Friedrichs_des_Großen_in_Sanssouci_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe second surviving son of the mighty J.S. Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach became an influential composer in his own right, bridging the Baroque and Classical eras. He was born in Weimar in 1714. He was one of four Bach children to become professional musicians, all of them trained by their father. His compositions include about 30 sonatas and pieces for harpsichord and clavichord. The composers who most influenced Bach were his father, Telemann, Handel and Haydn. His first job was with Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia. Upon Frederick’s accession, Emanuel became a member of the royal orchestra. In 1768 Bach succeeded Telemann as director of music at Hamburg. He began to turn more of his energies to choral music in his new position. His compositions went on to influence the music of, among others, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Mozart said of C.P.E. Bach: “He is the father, we are the children.” Bach’s music fell into neglect during the 19th century but Brahms held him in high regard. Bach’s big innovation was to allow – and even encourage – the use of the thumbs when playing keyboard music.

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