Johannes Brahms was a German Romantic composer and pianist. He was one of the greatest composers of the 19th Century. Brahms composed music for solo piano, 4 symphonies, chamber music, organ chorale preludes, violin and viola sonatas, and many other works. His first compositions were for the pipe organ. Brahms final compositions were a collection of chorale preludes for the organ. He is most well known for his 21 Hungarian Dances which he originally wrote for orchestra but later arranged for solo piano and four hand duet. Joseph Joachim (a famous violin virtuoso friend of his) later arranged the Hungarian Dances for violin and piano.
Brahms began his music career playing the piano in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany (where he was born.) He had dreams of being an organ virtuoso but discovered early on that the organ is a much harder instrument to master than the piano. Brahms abandoned any dreams of becoming an organ virtuoso and became a piano virtuoso instead.
Here are two very different performances of the Hungarian Dance No. 5 for violin and piano. The first recording of the piece is by classical violinist Aaron Rosand and pianist Hugh Sung. The second recording is a live performance done in a radio station studio by Hungarian Gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos and pianist Frantisek Janoska. Roby and Frantisek play the piece in a fiery Hungarian Gypsy style. I will leave it up to you to decide which performance you prefer more. Enjoy.
Claude Debussy was a French composer and pianist. He developed an original system of harmony and musical structure. Debussy’s music has often been referred to as impressionistic (although the composer disliked the term impressionism.) Debussy’s most famous compositions include: Clair de Lune, La fille aux cheveux de lin, The Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun, La Mer, and his opera Pelléas et Mélisande.
Here are two recordings of Claude Debussy’s piece Clair de Lune. The first recording was made by Claude Debussy himself in 1913 on a piano roll. The sound quality is so good it sounds as if it could have been recorded yesterday. The second recording was from a live performance in 1956 by the celebrated interpreter of Debussy’s piano music, Walter Gieseking. Ironically the sound quality in the second recording done by Gieseking is not as good as the sound quality on the piano roll recording. I won’t say any more about the performances featured in this post as I want people to listen to both performances and come to their own conclusions as to which performance they like best. Enjoy.
Ernesto Nazareth was a Brazilian composer and pianist. He is one of Brazil’s most popular composers. Nazareth composed Brazilian tangos, waltzes, polkas, and choros (a popular type of instrumental music that was invented in Rio de Janiero in the 19th Century.) Nazareth had a gift for composing beautiful melodies. His best dance music has an infectious rhythmic drive that makes you want to get up and dance.
Arthur Moreira Lima (1940 -)
Arthur Moreira Lima is a Brazilian classical pianist. In 1965 Arthur won second prize in the International Chopin Competition. He also won the audience prize and a prize for the best sonata performance. He also won prizes in two other major piano competitions: third prize at the 1969 Leeds International Piano Competition, and third prize in the 1970 International Tchaikovsky Competition. He has recorded the complete piano music of Chopin, Nazareth, and Cunha. In this post, Arthur Moreira Lima plays Ernesto Nazareth’s Brazilian Tango called Carioca.