Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Clara Schumann was a German pianist, composer, and the wife of the famous composer Robert Schumann. She took piano lessons from her father Friedrich Wieck. Soon she was having great success touring as a virtuoso pianist. As a pianist Clara was praised for her performances of Chopin, her husband’s music, and Brahms. She was known for her thoughtful interpretations and singing tone. Clara premiered many of Robert Schumann’s compositions and prepared a complete edition of his music.
Clara’s music was imaginative and her method of composing was very controlled. Notable among her many compositions are the Piano Trio op.17 (considered to be her masterpiece) and her op.23 songs.
Here is a recording of Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio op.17 performed by Micaela Gelius, Sreten Krstic, and Stephan Haack. I could not find the first movement played by the same musicians because the person who posted the trio posted the fourth movement twice. Here is the second movement, third movement, and fourth movement.
Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli’s collaboration began in 1970. A few years before that Yehudi Menuhin heard Stephane Grappelli’s jazz violin for the first time after a friend gave him some Grappelli recordings. He liked what he heard and a meeting was arranged between Grappelli and Menuhin. In the beginning Menuhin (a classically trained violinist) worried that Grapelli (a jazz violinist) would be critical of his playing because he couldn’t improvise and Grappelli worried that Menuhin would be critical of his technical abilities on the violin. That discomfort soon went away when they began playing together. Menuhin was amazed how Grappelli could improvise with such ease, and Grappelli respected Menuhin’s playing and even had some solos written out for Menuhin so that they could play together. Their collaboration was so successful that they recorded 6 LPs together. Here are a couple of recordings of Grappelli and Menuhin. The first piece is called Crazy Rhythm and the second is a jazz standard called Sweet Georgia Brown. I hope that you enjoy this music.
Joe Venuti (c.1903-1978)
Joe Venuti was an American jazz violinist. He is considered to be the father of jazz violin. Together with his friend Eddie Lang (the first great jazz guitarist) they recorded as a duo and played with many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century. They played with Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Franckie Trumbauer, the Paul Whiteman orchestra and many more. Here are a couple of recordings done in 1933 by Joe Venuti and his Blue Six. The tunes are called “In de Ruff” and “Doin the Uptown Lowdown.” Enjoy!
Swing Gitan (Gypsy swing) is a popular “gypsy jazz” tune. Here is a recording of Swing Gitan played by Angelo Debarre (a French Romani “gypsy jazz” guitarist) and Florin Niculescu (a Romanian gypsy “gypsy jazz” violinist).
Angelo Debarre is one of the top “gypsy jazz” guitarists in the world. In 1984 Angelo founded the Angelo Debarre Quintet. In 1985 the group was hired to play in a Parisian cafe and Angelo was discovered by a record producer and guitar player Jon Larsen.
Florin Niculescu is a Romanian gypsy “gypsy jazz” violinist. He is one of the top “gypsy jazz” violinists. Many musicians consider him to be the successor to Stephane Grappelli (another great “gypsy jazz” violinist who played with Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France). In 2001, Florin Niculescu teamed up with Birelli Lagrene (a great “gypsy jazz” guitarist). He has played with many big names including Angelo Debarre, Tchavolo Schmidt, Oscar Peterson, Regina Carter, and Wynton Marsalis.
Here Is “I’ll See You in my Dreams,” a jazz standard played by the gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France, “Embraceable You,” another jazz standard played by Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, and the Hot Club of France, and another jazz standard “Rose Room” played by the Hot Club of France.
J.C. Bach (1735-1782)
J.C. Bach was a German composer, and the youngest son of J.S. Bach. His music is a blend of German technique with the fluency and grace of the Italian composers. He wrote symphonies, chamber music for stringed instruments and wind instruments, keyboard music, dramatic music, and sacred and secular music. W.A. Mozart was influenced by J.C. Bach’s music early in his music career and borrowed several melodies by J.C. Bach and used them in a few of his early piano concertos.
Here is an aria, “Cara la dolce fiamma,” from the opera Adriano in Siria by J.C. Bach. The aria is sung by the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. It was originally sung by a castrato. Castrati had very powerful voices (much more powerful than a countertenor). To get the effect of how powerful a castrato’s voice might have been, imagine what it would be like blending a soprano and countertenor voice together. For the movie Farinelli about a castrato, a soprano voice and a countertenor voice were simultaneously blended together into one voice. Philippe Jaroussky sang as the countertenor. I’m not sure who the soprano was.
Gerald Moore (1899-1987)
Gerald Moore was an English pianist who worked as an accompanist for many of the great musicians and singers of the 20th century. He accompanied such great musicians as Yehudi Menuhin, Pablo Casals, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Elizabeth Schwartzkopf. Moore recorded most of the lieder of Franz Schubert, Hugo Wolf, and Richard Strauss, and is responsible for bringing the art of piano accompaniment to the highest level. He is the author of “The Unashamed Accompanist,” “Am I too Loud,” and “Furthermoore.”
Here is an LP recording of “The Unashamed Accompanist” with Gerald Moore. He describes how important the piano accompaniment is in a song, how it paints pictures, helps to set the mood, and the challenges the accompanist faces such as balance with the singer, and transposition (playing in a key other than what is written). The recording is in two parts. Gerald Moore describes everything in a way that people can understand (whether they are musicians or not) and he has a good sense of humor.