Lili Kraus (1905-1986)
Lili Kraus was born in Budapest Hungary in 1903. She studied at the Franz Liszt Academy. At 17 years of age she studied at the Budapest Conservatory under Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók. She later studied piano with the famous pianist Artur Schnabel.
During the 1930s, Lili toured Europe, Japan, Australia, and South Africa. Lili and her family were captured by the Japanese and interned in separate concentration camps from June 1943 until August 1945. After the war Lili moved to New Zealand where she played, performed, and taught piano. She became a citizen of New Zealand and toured a lot and taught many students. From 1967-1983 Lili taught piano at the Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She then moved to Asheville, North Carolina and died in 1986.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer, pianist, and violinist. He is known today for his famous ‘Trout’ Quintet, Unfinished Symphony, piano sonatas, and his more than 600 lieder, or German Art Songs. Schubert was an extremely prolific composer during his short life (he lived to be 31 years old and died from Syphilis). Schubert was one of the pallbearers at Beethoven’s funeral in 1827. He died the following year.
Here are selections from Franz Schubert’s Valses Sentimentales op. 50 played by Lili Kraus. I hope that you enjoy this beautiful music.
Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang were pioneers in violin/guitar jazz in the 1920s and 1930s. They went to school together and played violin together in an orchestra. Eddie Lang later switched from violin to guitar and Joe Venuti stayed with the violin. They teamed up and formed a duo and made their first recording together in 1926. They quickly became popular and were in great demand. They were part of various jazz ensembles including Jean Goldkette’s Orchestra, and Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. They played with many of the major jazz musicians of their day incuding: Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers, and Bix Beiderbecke.
Here are two recordings featuring Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. The First recording is a piece called “Freeze and Melt.” It is played by Ed Lang and his orchestra: Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang · Bix Beiderbecke, Red McKenzie, Frankie Trumbauer, Louis Armstrong, and Tommy Dorsey. The second recording is a piece called “Pink Elephants” and it is played by Joe Venuti and his Orchestra and features Joe VEnuti and Eddie Lang. I hope that you enjoy these tunes.
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer and violinist. He is said to be the greatest Finnish composer. Sibelius is credited with helping Finland develop its own national identity. He is best known for his seven symphonies. Other well known works include: Finlandia, Valse triste, his Violin Concerto, and Swan of Tuonela.
Sibelius loved the violin but didn’t like the piano. He composed several collections of piano pieces for money. The pieces vary in quality. His piano music is beginning to get some recognition from amateur pianists as well as professional pianists.
Sibelius was known to drink excessively, eat excessively, smoke cigars, and party hard. Despite living a wild lifestyle, Sibelius lived to the ripe old age of 92.
Havard Gimse – pianist (1966 – )
Havard Gimse is a Norwegian classical pianist who has an affinity for the Scandinavian piano repertoire, in particular Norwegian music. He has performed on many of the world’s great concert stages including: Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Here are a couple of piano pieces by Sibelius played by Havard Gimse: his Romance op.24, no.9 in D Flat Major, and his Impromptu op.5, no.5 in b minor. Enjoy!
The Wanamaker Pipe Organ is located in Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia. It is one of the largest instruments in the world with 6 manuals (keyboards) and 28,750 pipes. Here is a short video about the history of this massive instrument. Enjoy!
On September 13, 1889 violinist Herr Krahmer and pianist Herr Schmalfuss recorded Beethoven’s Romance in F Major, op.50. Here is that recording.) First you will hear an extract from the piece played by Louise Chisson (recorded in 2010). Then you will hear the 1889 recording which will be followed by a recording of the whole piece played by Jascha Heifetz with the RCA Victor Orchestra.
The 1889 recording is in very bad shape and it is hard to make out the violin and piano. If you listen carefully you can hear the instruments. In December of 1889 Johannes Brahms was recorded playing the piano. A historic year indeed! Enjoy.
Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Louis Vierne was a French organist and teacher. He was born nearly blind due to congenital cataracts. Vierne’s music was idiomatic for his instrument and the harmonies in his music were rich. He was an inspiration to the many Parisian organist-composers that came after him. Vierne was also a great improviser on the organ. He gave many recitals during his life and toured widely. In 1937 while giving his 1750th recital at Notre Dame in Paris Vierne died at the organ console.
Here are two rare recordings froom 1929 of Louis Vierne playing the organ at Notre Dame in Paris. 1929 was the first year that sound was recorded electronically. The first recording is a soft improvisation that Vierne made up on the spot. The second recording is a Bach Prelude and Fugue. The second recording is a piece by Vierne.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like carrying all that heavy recording equipment up the narrow stairway to Notre Dame’s balcony to record the organ.
An organ with more than 7000 pipes! Enjoy.
Here is a recording of the earliest surviving wax cylinder of Thomas Edison. This performance of G.F. Handel’s “Moses and the Children of Israel” was recorded on June 29, 1888 at the Crystal Palace in London, England. There were 500 musicians in the orchestra, around 4000 voices in the choir, and 23,722 people in the audience. You can just make out some of the choir singing. After the 1888 recording is played, you can hear a modern recording done in 2014 of the same chorus by G.F. Handel.
Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the choir and orchestra in the 1888 recording. I also don’t know who was performing in the 2014 recording. The amazing thing about the 1888 recording is that it exists. That was recorded at a time before airplanes and there were few cars at the time. Life was a lot more primitive then it is now. I hope that you enjoy this very old recording.