Arcangelo Corelli was an Italian Baroque violin virtuoso and composer. He was an important musical figure in the development of the sonata and concerto, for his development of a style of violin playing, and bringing together modern tonality and functional harmony. His Concerti Grossi were published in 1714, and had a major impact on the next generation of baroque composers. These works were written for a small group of solo instruments and a string orchestra with basso continuo accompaniment (a harpsichord or organ and another instrument.) Unfortunately Corelli never lived to see these works published.
Voices of Music Ensemble
The Voices of Music Ensemble is an Early Music instrumental ensemble based in San Francisco that performs baroque music on original instruments (instruments from the time that the music was written). Here is a clip of the ensemble playing Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.4 in D Major. On my website robertjandukarm.com I have arranged the first movement of this Concerto Grosso (Adagio-Allegro) for 2 violins and harpsichord. If you are interested you can purchase the complete score with both violin parts or the score only. Enjoy the music.
George Frederick Handel is a famous German baroque composer. He is best known today for his oratorio Messiah (which he composed in 24 days). Handel also wrote many other oratorios, operas, keyboard music, violin sonatas, and concertos for organ and orchestra.
Jonathan Scott is an English organist and arranger. Together with his brother Tom who is a pianist, Jonathan has made a very successful YouTube channel recording many of his own arrangements. Here is Jonathan Scott playing his organ arrangement of Handel’s popular anthem Zadok the Priest. I hope that you enjoy it.
James Sanders is a classically trained violinist who developed an interest in jazz and Latin music after graduating from Yale University with a Masters Degree in violin performance. He has a Latin jazz group called Conjunto which is based in Chicago. The group has been performing for a long time (nearly two decades) in clubs, festivals, and concert halls. They perform a wide variety of music: classic Cuban tunes, Latin arrangements of jazz standards, fusion, the Great American Songbook, and original material by James Sanders and members of his group.
Here is a classic Cuban tune called Tres Palabras performed by James Sanders and Conjunto. It was written by Osvaldo Farres (who wrote several hit tunes including Quizás, Quizás, Quizás (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps). I hope that you enjoy it.
Osvaldo Farrés (1903-1985) was a Cuban composer who is best known for writing songs such as “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás”, “Acércate Más”, “Tres Palabras”, “Toda Una Vida”, and “Madrecita.” His songs have been recorded by famous singers such as Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, and Charlie Haden.
Rubén Gonzaléz (1919-2003)
Rubén Gonzaléz was a Cuban pianist who along with Lili Martinez and Peruchin helped form the modern style of Cuban piano playing in the 1940s. Between the 1940s and 1980s Rubén performed with many of Cuba’s top musicians. He retired in the 1980s. In the 1990s there was a revival of Cuban music, and Rubén came out of retirement to play with the Afro-Cuban All Stars and the Buena Vista Social Club. He recorded some piano solos and performed live until 2002, one year before his death at the age of 84. Here is Rubén Gonzaléz playing Quizás, Quizás, Quizás with a group of musicians (a flute player, guitarist Eliades Ochoa, and percussionists). I don’t know the names of the other musicians. If you are reading this post and listening to the music (and know the names of all of the musicians), I would appreciate it if you could send me a message, or post the names into a comment. Thank you, and enjoy this wonderful music.
Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer during the late Classical and early Romantic periods. Schubert played the piano and violin. He was very prolific during his short life composing about 600 Lieder (Art Songs), 9 Symphonies (one of which was left unfinished), string quartets, String quintets, a octet, a nonet, piano sonatas, violin sonatas, Impromptus for solo piano, and several dances for piano (Ländler, Waltzes, Ecossaises, Galops,). He also composed a piece for violin and orchestra called Konzertstück, and a Polonaise in B Flat Major, D.580 for Violin and Orchestra. This Polonaise is a charming little dance which isn’t very well known. A few big name violinists have recorded the work including Gidon Kremer and Pinchas Zukerman. Here is a recording that Pinchas Zukerman made with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in the late 1980s of the Schubert Polonaise. I hope that you enjoy this delightful music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer, pianist, violinist, violist, and organist. He is recognized as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western Classical music. He was a child prodigy (as a performer and as a composer.) Mozart composed pianos sonatas, piano duos, piano trios, piano quartets, sonatas for piano and violin, symphonies, organ works, and string quartets, among other works. He had great success as a child prodigy, but when he grew up he struggled to find steady work as a musician. Before he died, he was working on a Requiem (some say he was writing it for himself because he knew he was dieing) which he never finished. The first completion of Mozart’s Requiem was undertaken by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr. Mozart died when he was just 35 years old.
Julianne Baird (1952 -)
Julianne Baird is an American soprano that is best known for singing Baroque music (opera and sacred music). She has recorded over 130 CDs, and has performed around the world as a recitalist and soloist with major orchestras. Julianne is also a noted voice teacher.
Colin Tilney (1933 -)
Colin Tilney is an English harpsichordist, fortepianist, and teacher. He began his music career in London, England working as a piano accompanist. In 1979, Tilney moved to Canada. He taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario. In 2002, he moved to Victoria BC where he performed with the Victoria Symphony playing continuo parts on the harpsichord. Colin Tilney has a large discography of recordings to his credit. He teaches part time at the University of Victoria.
Here are a couple of songs by W. A. Mozart from an album recorded by Julianne Baird and Colin Tilney called “Songs of Mozart”. I hope that you enjoy this beautiful music.
The Ashokan Farewell is a waltz in the style of a Scottish lament that was composed by folk musician Jay Unger in 1982. In 1980 Jay Unger and his wife Molly Mason started an annual fiddle and dance camp called the “Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp” at what was then called the Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz (now the Ashokan Center) in Upstate New York. In 1982 after the camp had closed for the season, Jay was feeling a sense of loss. He missed the music, dancing, and the people and the way of life at the camp. He composed a lament (which was unnamed at the time.) His wife Molly suggested the tune be called Ashokan Farewell. It was recorded in 1983 by Jay and Molly’s band Fiddle Fever. Ken Burns (the famous documentary maker) heard it. It was featured in Ken Burn’s series “The Civil War.” After that the piece became a major hit (and the rest as they say is history.) Here is the recording that Jay Unger and Molly Mason and their band Fiddle Fever made for Ken Burn’s Civil War series.
Scott Joplin was an American ragtime pianist and composer. He wrote over 100 piano rags, a ragtime ballet, and two operas. Joplin is famous for rags such as the Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, The Ragtime Dance, Elite Syncopations, and The Easy Winners. When he was 16, Scott Joplin performed in a vocal quartet with other boys in and near Texarkana, played piano, and gave guitar and mandolin lessons. In the late 1880s, Joplin left Texarkana (and a job he had as a railroad labourer) to become a travelling musician. He performed in various red-light districts in the mid-South. He briefly had his own band in which he played the cornet and arranged the music. Throughout his life, Joplin taught and played the piano. Near the end of his life, Scott Joplin tried to compose a ragtime opera but it wasn’t a success. He composed a second ragtime opera, Treemonisha, but that wasn’t a success either. He couldn’t find a publisher, and financed a publication of his opera in a piano/voice form. He invited an audience to a rehearsal in 1915. The opera wasn’t staged properly and only had Scott Joplin accompanying the singers. Joplin had a nervous breakdown. He didn’t have any money. In 1916, Scott Joplin was suffering from neurosyphilis. In January of 1917 he was admitted to Manhattan State Hospital (which was a mental institution). On April 1st, 1917 (the day the United States entered World War I), Scott Joplin died of syphilitic dementia. Because of World War I, Joplin’s death went unnoticed in the press. His opera Treemonisha was largely forgotten and didn’t get a full staged performance until the 1970s.
In 1975 (two years after the movie Sting was released), there was a Scott Joplin revival. Violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist André Previn recorded an album of Itzhak Perlman’s own violin/piano arrangements of some of Scott Joplin’s most famous rags called “The Easy Winners.” Here is Scott Joplin’s RagTIme Dance (arranged by Itzhak Perlman) from Perlman and Previn’s album “The Easy Winners”. Enjoy.
Victor Borge (1909-2000) was a famous Danish comedian, conductor, and pianist. He was well known in Denmark before World War II but had to move because of the Nazis. Victor moved to the United States and became monstrously popular on the radio and television in the United States and Europe. in 1953, Borge started a one man show at the John Golden Theatre called Comedy In Music which became the longest running one man show in history with 849 performances.
In this video (made in 1937), Victor Borge is playing the part of a piano tuner. He starts by testing the pianos. He then does something amazing which has to be seen to be believed. Enjoy.
John Field was an Irish pianist and composer. He wrote many compositions, but it is for his nocturnes that he is best known today. When people think of nocturnes (or night pieces) they often think of the nocturnes for piano written by Frederic Chopin. Many composers wrote nocturnes including: Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Robert Schumann, and John Field. Field has been referred to as the “Father of the Nocturne.”
Not much is known about John Field. He was one of the top piano virtuosos of his day, and visited and played for Ludwig van Beethoven who praised his playing highly. Franz Liszt was another who thought very highly of John Field and published an edition of Field’s nocturnes. These pieces may not reach the great emotional heights of Chopin’s Nocturnes, but they are little gems in their own right. Listen to the beautiful melody of John Field’s Nocturne No. 5 in B Flat Major and the little embellishments that Field adds to it. Field’s compositions had an influence on many composers including: Johannes Brahms, Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. Chopin’s early nocturnes sound like they could have been composed by Field.
John O’ Connor, pianist
John O’ Connor is one of Ireland’s top pianists. In 1973, John won the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna and has since toured around the world giving recitals and playing with major orchestras as soloist. His recordings of the complete Beethoven Sonatas led one reviewer to say that he should “by now be recognized as the world’s premiere Beethoven interpreter.” His album of John Field’s nocturnes is a personal favourite of mine and I would highly recommend it if you enjoy listening to piano music and hearing music by a lesser-known composer.