Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian piano virtuoso, composer, and conductor. He started piano when he was four years old. In 1892, Rachmaninoff graduated from the Moscow Conservatory. By the time of his graduation from the conservatory, Rachmaninoff had already composed several piano and orchestral pieces. Rachmaninoff and his family left Russia in 1918 after the Russian Revolution and came to the United States. He didn’t do much composing between 1918-1943 because of a demanding touring schedule. Rachmaninoff had planned to make a career of only being a composer, but he had to provide for his family so he started touring as a pianist.
The two songs, Siren (Lilacs) and Zdes’ khorosho (How Peaceful it is here) are from Rachmaninoff’s Twelve Romances op.21. Siren (or Lilacs) was originally a song for soprano with piano accompaniment that Rachmaninoff later arranged as a solo piano piece. He recorded the solo piano version of the song on a piano roll.
Aida Garifullina (1987-)
Aida Garifullina is a Russian operatic soprano. In 2013 she won the 2013 Operalia competition. She has performed in several operatic productions at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, and Wiener Staatsoper (the Vienna State Opera). Aida is a rising star in the operatic world.
Iain Burnside (pianist, broadcaster)
Iain Burnside is a Scottish pianist and BBC braodcaster. He specializes in song repertoire. Iain has collaborated with many singers.
Here is a clip from a Rosenblatt recital in 2014 of Aida Garifullina (soprano) and Iain Burnside (piano) performing Sirens (Lilacs) and Zdes’ khorosho (How peaceful it is here) in London, England. Rosenblatt recitals are world class recitals of opera and song presented every year in London, England.
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Dieterich Buxtehude was a Danish-German baroque composer and organist. His organ music is a major part of the organ repertoire and is frequently performed at organ recitals and church services. His keyboard music represents the height of the 17th century North German School of organ composition. Buxtehude wrote over 100 beautiful and very expressive vocal compositions. Today Buxtehude is often thought of as a predecessor to J.S. Bach. In 1705, 20-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach walked over 200 miles to hear Buxtehude perform his music.
Bernarda Fink (1955 -) mezzo-soprano
Bernarda Fink is an Argentine mezzo-soprano. She has sung with many of the world’s top orchestras and ensembles including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, and the English Baroque Soloists. She has worked with many of the top conductors in the world including Sir Neville Mariner, Sir John Elliot Gardiner, Riccardo Muti, Sir Colin Davis, and Valery Gergiev.
Bernard Foccroulle (1953-) organist, composer
Bernard Foccroulle is one of the top organists in the world. He is also a composer, conductor, and opera director. Bernard Foccroulle plays a wide repertoire of organ music from the Renaissance to contemporary music. As well as playing many world premieres of music by living composers, Bernard Foccroulle has performed and made many recordings of organ masterworks by composers such as Scheidemann, Weckmann, Buxtehude, and J.S. Bach.
Here is a recording of an aria by Buxtehude called the Klag-Lied: “Muss der Tod denn auch entbinden” (Must death then also break those chains). The aria was one part of a two part work written in homage to Buxtehude’s father who passed away in 1674. It is performed by Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano, and Bernard Foccroulle on the organ.
Stephane Grappelli (1908-1997) was a French-Italian jazz violinist and jazz pianist. He is most well known for his collaboration with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Grappelli also played with many other great musicians including jazz pianist Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, and violinists Eddie South, Stuff Smith, Svend Asmussen, Yehudi Menuhin, and Joe Venuti. Throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, Grappelli was constantly re-inventing his playing style to stay relevant. It wasn’t until 1970 that his performing career took off again. He began touring the world. Grappelli continued to perform and record until his death at age 89 in 1997.
Joe Venuti (1903-1978) was an Italian jazz violinist. He and jazz guitarist Eddie Lang are credited with being the first musicians to play violin guitar jazz. After Lang’s early death in 1933 Venuti played with various groups. In the 1940s and 1950s Joe Venuti’s star began to fade and he suffered from alcoholism. He was “re-discovered” in 1967 and resumed regular performances and made many recordings until his death in 1978 from lung cancer.
Here are two pieces from a recording that Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti made together in 1969 called “Venupelli Blues.” The first piece is called “Venupelli Blues” (a word that combines the last names of both violinists) and the second is a jazz standard called “After You’ve Gone.” I hope that you enjoy this music. The other musicians playing with Grappelli and Venuti on the recording are Barney Kessel on guitar and George Wein on piano. They are part of a supporting four-piece rhythm section.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Claude Debussy was a French impressionist composer and pianist. His style of composition was greatly influenced by Javanese music he heard in Paris in 1889. To Debussy each piece of music was its own sound world.
Here is an interesting arrangement of a piece called “Reverie” (Dreaming) by Debussy which was originally composed for the piano. Jonathan Scott (harmonium) and his brother Tom Scott (piano) perform Jonathan’s arrangement of “Reverie” for harmonium and piano. I hope that you enjoy this arrangement.
Jonathan Scott was born in Manchester, England. He has a varied performing career as an organist doing solo recitals and performing with orchestras such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic. Jonathan also performs with his brother Tom Scott in a piano duo called the Scott Brothers Duo. With his brother Tom Scott, Jonathan Scott has released many recordings to critical acclaim on their own label entitled the Scott Brothers Duo label.
Here is a recording of an arrangement for organ solo by Jonathan Scott of Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila overture recorded at the organ of Lancaster Priory, and another recording of an arrangement by Jonathan Scott for organ solo of Mozart’s overture to the Marriage of Figaro recorded on the Marcussen Concert Organ of Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK. I hope that you enjoy these performances.
Lyudmila Zykina (1929-2009)
Lyudmila Zykina was a national folk singer of Russia. In 1947 Lyudmila joined the Pyatnitsky Choir (a choir that sang traditional Russian folk songs). In 1960 she started her solo singing career. Lyudmila was a favourite singer of Leonid Brezhnev and Kim Il-Song and Kim Jong-Il. During her long singing career she won many honors including the Lenin Prize, Order of Lenin,the People’s Artist of the U.S.S.R.,and the Order of St. Andrew. Her most popular songs included Techot Volga and Orenburgskii platok. An asteroid is named after her. It is the asteroid 4879 Zykina.
Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997)
Stéphane Grappelli was a French-Italian jazz violinist and jazz pianist. Today he is most well known for his work with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France which he founded together with gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Throughout his long career Grappelli collaborated with several violinists (Ray Nance, Stuff Smith, Svende Asmussen, Jean-Luc Ponty, Svend Asmussen, Yehudi Menuhin, Joe Venuti) and other musicians including Marc Fosset, Joe Pass, and Oscar Peterson. He is best known for his jazz violin playing. Grappelli also played jazz piano at a very high level. Here is a clip of Stéphane Grappelli playing the piano. I hope that you enjoy it.