Johannes Brahms wax cylinder recording (1889)

Johannes Brahms wax cylinder recording (1889)

On December 2nd 1889, Theo Wangemann (who worked for Thomas Edison) recorded Johannes Brahms performing two segments at the piano in the home of Dr. Fellinger.  The works recorded were a paraphrase of Strauss’ Libelle and part of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance no.1 in g minor.

For a time it was thought that the wax cylinder had been lost.  It was re-discovered in the 1980s.  Unfortunately the recording was almost entirely masked by noise.  Wax cylinders get more and more worn each time they are played.

In the 1990s, Jonathan Berger and Charles Nichols (two PHD students at Stanford University) were able to remove some of the noise masking the music in the recording.  Here is the wax cylinder recording that Brahms made in 1889.  You will need to turn up the volume on your speakers to hear what little  remains of the recorded music on the cylinder and use your imagination to fill in what is missing.  Enjoy!




Paginini’s Thing | Dick Wellstood | Stride Piano Masterpiece

Dick Wellstood (1927-1987)

Dick Wellstood was an American jazz pianist.  He was one of the great stride pianists.  Wellstood had a real knack for taking just about any jazz tune or classical tune and turning it into a really exciting stride piano piece.  Here he takes a well known piece for violin called the Caprice no. 24 in a minor by Niccolo Paganini and turns it into a stride piano piece.  If you aren’t familiar with the original version of the piece on the violin, I suggest that you listen to that before you listen to Dick Wellstood’s version.  If you understand what the original piece sounds like you will appreciate the stride piano version of the piece more.  Enjoy!



Vivaldi – Piccolo Concerto in C major, RV 443 – Il Giardino Armonico

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Vivaldi is known today among music lovers and the general public for his four violin concertos, the ‘Four Seasons.’  He also composed sacred and secular vocal music, about 50 operas, several sonatas for various instruments, and 550 concertos (more than half of them are written for the violin).

The Concerto in C Major, RV 443 is often referred to as a concerto for piccolo because the first edition of the concerto referred to the piece as a piccolo concerto. The concerto has been performed on the piccolo but it is most often performed on a recorder. Vivaldi originally wrote the concerto for the flautino (a small flute that is a baroque cousin of the recorder).

Giovanni Antonini (recorder soloist)

Giovanni Antonini is an Italian conductor, recorder and transverse flute soloist.  He is one of the leading period instrument performers.  In 1985 he founded the early music ensemble Il Giardino Armonico with Luca Pianca, a Swiss lutenist.

Here is a recording of Giovanni Antonini on a sopranino recorder (the highest pitched instrument of the recorder family) performing Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major, RV443 with the early music ensemble, Il Giardino Armonico.  Enjoy!



Leonardo Da Vinci’s Viola Organista

Viola Organista

The Viola Organista is an instrument that was invented (but never built) by Leonardo Da Vinci.  Leonardo Da Vinci first sketched his concept of the instrument in about 1470.  The first person to build the instrument was Hans Heiden from Nuremberg.  The instrument is a keyboard instrument with strings (it looks like a harpsichord) with little wheels inside it.  The instrument also has a pedal.  It sounds like a viol when it is played.  The instrument was around in the Renaissance and Baroque periods and one of Bach’s sons and Liszt were interested in it.  For some unknown reason the instrument vanished from the music scene.  The instrument was re-discovered by a Polish pianist and composer named Sławomir Zubrzycki.

Here is a video of Sławomir Zubrzycki talking about his discovery of Leonardo Da Vinci’s instrument.  He talks about the instrument’s historical background.  Mr.Zubrzycki also plays the instrument.  Enjoy!

Vivaldi Opera Andromeda liberata Aria ”Sovente il sole” by Philippe Jaroussky

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian composer and violin virtuoso.  He is known by music lovers today for his four violin concertos, ‘The Four Seasons.’ Vivaldi composed 550 concertos.  230 of Vivaldi’s concertos are for the violin.  Vivaldi also composed other works for instruments including 40 violin sonatas, 9 cello sonatas, 10 flute sonatas, 27 trio sonatas, and 22 chamber concertos.  He also composed sacred vocal music and secular vocal music including around 50 operas (20 operas survive).

This recording is of an aria “Sovente il sole” from an opera by Vivaldi entitled Andromeda liberata.  It is sung by Philippe Jaroussky (a French countertenor) and Ensemble Matheus under the direction of Jean-Christophe Spinosi.



Dussek- piano sonata no.24 op.61 f sharp minor

Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812)

Jan Ladislav Dussek was a Bohemian pianist and composer.  He composed over 40 piano sonatas, 12 piano concertos, some lighter piano pieces, harp music, and chamber music (most chamber music works of his include the piano).  Dussek also wrote a keyboard method.  His early compositions are written in a classical style.  Dussek’s later compositions after 1790 are romantic in style and anticipate Schubert, Chopin, and other composers.  His later works are especially virtuosic.

Here is a recording of Dussek’s Piano Sonata no.24, op.61 in f sharp minor.  The piece is in three movements.  It is played on a fortepiano (an early piano).  This piece is written in a romantic style.  Notice all of the emotional turmoil (sudden loud outbursts, surprising modulations, and the use of distant keys).  The key of the piece is  f sharp minor which was not used much in Dussek’s time.  The second movement of the piece is in G Flat Major which is a key not used much back in Dussek’s time.  In the final movement the piece modulates from f sharp minor to F Sharp Major which is unusual.  Enjoy!

Dussek: Piano Sonata (first movement)

Dussek: Piano Sonata (end of first movement and 2nd movement)

Dussek: Piano Sonata (third movement)




Caplet: Reverie

Andre Caplet (1878-1925)

Andre Caplet was a French composer and conductor.  He is known today for his orchestrations of Claude Debussy’s works.  Claude Debussy was a friend of Andre Caplet and an important musical influence on him.

Reverie is a french word which means to dream.  This piece is very dreamy with its soft, sweet melody and flowing accompaniment like a cascading waterfall.

The piece is performed by Julie Scolnik on the flute, and Sophie Scolnik-Brower on the piano.  you can buy this recording at: