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.
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.
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.
Paul Halley (1952-) is an English organist, pianist, singer, composer, and choral conductor. He is well known for being a member and composer of the Paul Winter Consort.
From 1977-1989 Paul Halley was the organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. In 1982 Paul Halley recorded a series of organ improvisations on the organ at St. John the Divine on an album entitled Nightwatch. Here is one of those improvisations entitled Dusk/Sunset. The improvisation is based on the hymn tune Picardy. I hope that you enjoy it.
The Flight of the Bumblebee is a piece composed by Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov.
Here is a performance of the Flight of the Bumblebee performed by Jenö Lisztes (cimbalom solo) & the Roby Lakatos ensemble.
Jenö Lisztes is one of the world’s cimbalom virtuosos. The cimbalom is a type of hammered dulcimer. I hope that you enjoy this performance.
Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
Nathaniel Dett was a Canadian composer, pianist, organist, and music professor who was born in Drummondville, Ontario. He spent most of his musical career working in the United States. During his lifetime he was a leading black composer who was known for his spirituals and African-American folk songs which he used as a basis for choral and piano compositions written in a 19th century romantic style. Nathaniel Dett performed as a pianist and choral director at Carnegie Hall.
The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is a Canadian choral group that specializes in African-American classical, spiritual, gospel, jazz, folk, and blues. It is named after the black composer Nathaniel Dett. The Nathaniel Dett Choral has performed in the Maritimes, Quebec, Manitoba, Western Canada, the U.S., and France.
Here is a recording of Nathaniel Dett’s Ave Maria performed by the Nathaniel Dett Chorale. I hope that you enjoy this music.
Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937-)
Vladimir Ashkenazy made his debut as a concert pianist in Moscow in 1945. In 1955 he won second prize in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Poland. In 1956 Ashkenazy won first prize in the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium. in 1962 Vladimir Ashkenazy and John Ogdon both won first prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Ashkenazy is noted for his interpretations of Rachmaninov’s music. He is also known for his warm and sincere playing of the Romantic piano repertoire and sensitive and clear playing of the music of W.A. Mozart. In the middle of his career as a concert pianist he took up orchestral conducting. He still makes solo piano recordings and performs on the piano but he is busy conducting orchestras.
Here are three preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy. The first is the Prelude in f sharp minor op.23, no.1. The second is the prelude op.23, no.4 in D Major, and the third is the Prelude op.23, no.10 in G Flat Major. I hope that you enjoy this beautiful music as much as I do.