Johann Christian Bach, the youngest of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons, was an 18th Century German composer. He worked for a while in Italy and then moved to London, England in 1762. He became known as the “London Bach,” and also the “English Bach.” Bach composed cantatas, chamber music, keyboard music, symphonies, and operas. He had a great musical career first as a composer, and then as a performing musician. Johann often performed with Carl Friedrich Abel who was a viola da gamba virtuoso. The viola da gamba was a bowed stringed instrument (held between the legs while played) that was popular in Europe from the 16th to the 18th Centuries.
Here is a sonata by J.C. Bach for Keyboard with Gamba accompaniment. The keyboard instrument is a fortepiano (a copy of an early piano). The sonata is played by Michael Jarvis (Fortepiano) and Sam Stadlen (Gamba). This performance was recorded just before Sam Stadlen’s tour across Canada was cut short by the coronavirus.
Michael Jarvis (1958-2020)
Michael Jarvis was one of Canada’s finest harpsichordists, fortepianists, and organists. He performed with many of Canada’s leading orchestras and chamber ensembles all over Canada. Michael had a knack for finding rare but beautiful music and did many performances and recordings with colleagues that featured lesser known composers and their music.
Sam Stadlen is a viol player, cellist, lecturer, and musicologist from the U.K. He has performed all over Europe, the United States, Canada, and South America. In 2015 Sam became a member of the internationally known early music stringed instrument ensemble Fretwork.
J.S. Bach was a German baroque composer, organist, harpsichordist, clavichordist, and violinist. Bach’s music represents the height of the baroque period. Many composers have imitated Bach’s style of composition, but no one (not even today) has matched the complexity of Bach’s music. Bach is well known today among the general public for his Air on the G String, his Brandenburg Concertos, Violin concertos, his unaccompanied cello suites, his fugues, organ music, and unaccompanied works for violin. Not as well known but very beautiful are his sonatas for violin and harpsichord which were probably composed between 1720 and 1723.
Giuliano Carmignola (1951 – ) – violinist
Giuliano Carmignola is an Italian violinist that specializes in early music. He has made many recordings and has played with top early music ensembles including the Venice Baroque Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, and Il Giardino Armonico.
Andrea Marcon (1963 -) – harpsichord
Andrea Marcon is an Italian harpsichordist, conductor, organist, and scholar of early music. He is the founder of the Venice Baroque Orchestra.
Here is a recording of Carmignola and Marcon playing the Bach Sonata in b minor for violin and harpsichord. I hope that you enjoy this music.
Mauro Giuliani was an Italian composer, guitar virtuoso, cellist, and singer. He was one of the leading guitar virtuosos of the 19th century.
Giuliani taught guitar, performed on the guitar, and composed a rich and varied repertoire for the guitar. His compositions include three guitar concertos, sonatas, studies, variations, duos for guitar with flute of violin, quartets, and songs.
Here is a recording of a Sonata for Violin, Cello, and Guitar in A Major by Mauro Giuliani. It is played by Leonid Kogan (violin), Alexander Ivanov-Kramskoy (guitar), and Fyodor Lusanov (cello). Enjoy!
Jan Ladislav Dussek was a Bohemian pianist and composer. He composed over 40 piano sonatas, 12 piano concertos, some lighter piano pieces, harp music, and chamber music (most chamber music works of his include the piano). Dussek also wrote a keyboard method. His early compositions are written in a classical style. Dussek’s later compositions after 1790 are romantic in style and anticipate Schubert, Chopin, and other composers. His later works are especially virtuosic.
Here is a recording of Dussek’s Piano Sonata no.24, op.61 in f sharp minor. The piece is in three movements. It is played on a fortepiano (an early piano). This piece is written in a romantic style. Notice all of the emotional turmoil (sudden loud outbursts, surprising modulations, and the use of distant keys). The key of the piece is f sharp minor which was not used much in Dussek’s time. The second movement of the piece is in G Flat Major which is a key not used much back in Dussek’s time. In the final movement the piece modulates from f sharp minor to F Sharp Major which is unusual. Enjoy!
Dussek: Piano Sonata (first movement)
Dussek: Piano Sonata (end of first movement and 2nd movement)
Felix Mendelssohn is a German 19th century composer. Mendelssohn was a prolific composer. He composed dramatic music, choral music, Vocal music, orchestral music, chamber music, and piano music. Today he is known among music lovers for his Violin Concerto in e minor, oratorio Elijah, Octet, Symphony no 4. ‘Italian’, and Songs without Words for piano solo.
The Violin Sonata in f minor, op.4 is one of three sonatas that Mendelssohn wrote for violin and piano. It was written in 1823 when the composer was in his early teens.
Shlomo Mintz – violinist (1957 -) Shlomo Mintz is one of the 20th century’s greatest violinists. He has performed with many of the great orchestras and great conductors. He also performs quite regularly in chamber music concerts and recitals.
Paul Ostrovsky – pianist
Paul Ostrovsky has performed in many of the world’s great concert halls and has appeared at important music festivals including Tanglewood and the Salzburg Festival.
Carl Maria von Weber was a German composer, music critic, virtuoso pianist, and Kapellmeister at the court in Dresden. He is well known among musicians and music lovers as the composer of the opera Der Freischutz.
Weber only wrote 4 sonatas for solo piano. They are not very well known. The sonata no 2 in A Major is a long and very technically demanding piece. Any virtuosic moments in the music are always written in a musically pleasing manner and not simply to show off the technical skill of the pianist. The piece contains beautiful melodies and the accompanying harmonies are not always what the listener expects (this is what makes certain musical works a delight for both the musician and the listener).
Emil Gilels (1916-1985) is one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. His playing is known for its incredible raw power. Gilels had a large repertoire ranging from Bach to Bartok. Many of his recordings were made live during recitals. This recording of Gilels playing the Sonata no 2 in A Major by Weber was recorded during a live performance in London in 1968. Enjoy!
Teodorico Pedrini was an Italian priest, musician, composer, and missionary. He served as a missionary at the Imperial Court of China for 36 years. Pedrini was the music teacher to three sons of one of China’s emperors. He was the co-author of the first treatise on Western Music theory written in Chinese.
The Sonata no.10 is written for Violin and continuo. Here is a recording of it played by a group called Le Baroque Nomade. It is one of several sonatas written for the Kangxi Emperor. Enjoy!
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was an Austrian composer. He has often been referred to as the the “Father of the Symphony” and the “Father of the String Quartet.” Haydn wrote about 104 symphonies and 80 string quartets. He also wrote music for the church, large scale works for orchestra, soloists, and choruses (such as masses and oratorios), and around 50 piano sonatas. It has been said that when he had an idea for a composition (whatever the instrumentation) he would sit down at the keyboard and improvise and work out musical ideas.
For over 30 years Haydn worked for the Esterhazy family. In 1790, Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy died. Haydn was invited to go to London, England by the impresario J.P. Salomon. It was only once he was out of the Esterhazy court and in London that Haydn received his first real recognition, and gratitude from people for all the fruits of his labour.
Works by Joseph Haydn and his brother Michael Haydn (also a composer) have been unjustly neglected and overshadowed by other composers such as W.A. Mozart.
Some of the music by Joseph Haydn and Michael Haydn is very interesting and in some ways better than some of W.A. Mozart’s music.
Here is a recording of two movements of a Haydn Piano Sonata played by the famous Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz live in Carnegie Hall in 1966.
Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894) Was a Belgian composer. He was born in Heusy, Belgium (a small village in Belgium). It was there that Guillaume took his first music lessons in piano from the conductor of the local conservatory brass band, Alphonse Voss.
Lekeu’s family moved to Poitiers, France in 1879 and he continued to study music with his physics teacher. Under this teacher he learnt about the music of J.S. Bach and Beethoven.
He wrote his first composition when he was 15 years old.
Lekeu studied music composition with Cesar Franck and Vincent d’Indy (two very important composers).
Lekeu composed about 50 compositions. Unfortunately most of his works are incomplete. Among his most important compositions are a violin sonata (commissioned by the great violinist Eugene Ysaye), and an orchestral Fantasy. He also composed several works for piano.
Here is a beautiful recording of Lekeu’s Violin Sonata played by Jonathan Morton on violin, and Carole Presland on the piano. Enjoy!