Alfred Schnittke: Waltz of Farewell

Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998)

Alfred Schnittke was a Soviet composer, music teacher, and theoretician. He composed several really beautiful works and many works written in the avant-garde style. One of his beautiful melodies is a waltz tune that he wrote as part of a film score for the film “Story of an Unknown Actor.” In the original film score, the waltz was not written as a complete piece, but instead was featured in various fragments in the score.

Conductor Frank Strobel took the various fragments and put them together into an orchestral arrangement of the Waltz (which is known as the Waltz of Farewell.) This is the only complete arrangement of this piece that I have come across. The composer to my knowledge never bothered to put the musical fragments together into a complete piece of music. Here is the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Frank Strobel performing Strobel’s arrangement of the Waltz of Farewell by Alfred Schnittke. I hope that you enjoy this music.

Scott Joplin on the Pedal Harpsichord (played by E. Power Biggs)

Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. He was famous for his piano rags during his lifetime and was known as the “King of Ragtime.” Scott Joplin composed over 100 rags but is well known today for only a few such as the Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, The Strenous Life, and the Ragtime Dance. Joplin also composed two operas and a ragtime ballet. He died in 1917 on the day that the US entered World War I.

E Power Biggs (1907-1977)

E Power Biggs was a celebrated organist who was one of the leaders in an organ reform movement in the US that advocated playing historical organs and using original registrations. He travelled to Europe in the 1950s and played many historical organs. He liked the clear crisp sound of the early instruments. Upon his return to the US, Biggs met with well known organ builders and many new organs were built based on the European Baroque organ sound. E. Power Biggs is particularly well known for his recordings of J.S. Bach’s organ music on historical organs.

E. Power Biggs also made recordings on an instrument called the pedal harpsichord. Pedal harpsichords were used during the baroque period. A harpsichord can have multiple manuals (keyboards) just like a pipe organ. The pedal harpsichord has multiple manuals as well as a pedalboard for the feet just like an organ.

In 1973, E. Power Biggs recorded two albums of Scott Joplin Rags on the pedal harpsichord. During the time of Biggs’ recording, Scott Joplin’s music was having a revival of popularity. Biggs also arranged several Scott Joplin Rags for the organ around the same time. Here is a Scott Joplin rag called the Paragon Rag and a waltz by Scott Joplin called Binks’ Waltz played by E. Power Biggs on the pedal harpsichord. Notice how different the music sounds on the pedal harpsichord compared to a piano.

Tamezō Narita: Hamabe no Uta (Song of the Beach)

Tamezō Narita(1893-1945) was a Japanese composer of classical music. Today he is best known for his song Hamabe no Uta (Song of the Beach) which he composed in 1916. The song became popular among flute players in the West because of a recording that James Galway made in 1979. In 2007 the song was named one of the 100 best songs of Japan. It is still very popular today. Tamezō Narita was born in Akita, Japan and died in Tokyo, Japan.

Here is an arrangement of Hamabe no Uta for cello and piano played by cellist Masatoshi Hirano and pianist Maria Mikulić Śtimac. This is a very beautiful little piece. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.