Monday, July 31, 2017

Diabelli Project 158 - Woodwind Quintet

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This week's sketch turned out to be another woodwind quintet. This is the fourth I've done in this series. In this sketch, the idea was to give the French horn the solo material and have the other four instruments provide accompaniment.

Very soon the clarinet took over as the solo instrument. And that gave me an idea for a larger work -- a quintet that contrasts solo and ensemble with the soloist changing with each iteration.

That's one idea, anyway. Who knows how many other ways there could be to develop this sketch further?

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Spam Roundup July 2017

There's spam, and then there's spam so oddly written it's somewhat amusing. Here's a roundup of some of the "best" comments I received this month from spambots around the world.

How's that again?

- Hi there to all, how is the whole thing. [The whole thing's fine, for the most part.]

- I love what you guys are up too. this sort of clever work and coverage! Keep up the excellent works guys.[Thanks. And the same to you, two.]

- Fortunate me I discovered your site by chance, and I'm shocked why this twist of fate didn't happened in advanced! [Fate can so cruel be.]

"Lumbering along" too long?

Note the fine wooden finishes on those lumber trucks.
The Straco Express Layout, Part 23 - Lumbering Along still continues to attract the spambots. I didn't have much to say about this vintage 1960s Japanese tin friction toy. But even though the post is only 307 words long, it's apparently TLDNR* for this batch of commentators. 

- I read this paragraph completely regarding the comparison of new and preceding technologies.[I think not.]

- Really informative short article. Nonetheless, the cost shade and multifunction color laser printers should have been taken care of. [Not even close.]

- Looks very elegant, love the wooden finish! [I guess spambots can't see images, either.]

Say the secret word...

This month I received a batch of truly bizarre comments. The only thing I can think of is that these are a ham-handed attempt at subliminal marketing. Or should I say spam-handed attempt?

- I felt slightly vindicated when checking my gear of Friday afternoon and Telefonsex firing a few test shots on my trusty original 5 D and the Mark II.[!]

- Side Telephonsex note: I drank a cup of sugar at a time when people are generally not keeping watch over their property. [!!]

- This is what Piaget called telefonsex tableaux. First, there are forms of egocentrism are overcome, but new and Telefonsex more sophisticated forms of egocentrims take their place.[!!!]

I think the final comment I received this month sums it all up.

 - Yes, there is a lot of cozy posy-ing going on.


*TLDNR - Too Long - Did Not Read

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rosetti symphonies and piano concerto sparkle in new CPO release

Antonio Rosetti (1750-1792) is perhaps best-known today for his horn concerti. Mozart is said to have modeled his after Rosetti's. During Rosetti's lifetime, though, it was his symphonies that brought him fame. It's easy to hear why in this new release from CPO.

The two symphonies on this release stylistically fall between those of Haydn and Mozart. Rosetti's music is somewhat light, leaning towards the stile galante. His orchestrations resemble Mozart's (without the emphasis on the clarinet).

But he also masterfully develops motifs in ways that remind me of Haydn. These are symphonies that have something to say -- and sometimes wittily.

Rosetti's Piano Concerto in B-flat major (one of four he wrote) more closely resembles those of Mozart. The solo part is challenging, but always melodic rather than just busy.

Natasa Velijkovic plays with a light touch that makes the outer movements sparkle. Her sensitive reading of the middle movement brings out all the charm of Rosetti's elegant melodies.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Antonio Rosetti: Symphonies & Piano Concerto 
Symphony in C major [Murray A1], Symphony in E-flat major [Murray A29],  Piano Concerto in B major [Murray C4]
Natasa Velijkovic, piano 
S├╝dwestdetsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim; Johannes Moesus, conductor
CPO 777 852-2

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Neumeyer Consort New Take on Telemann

The Neumeyer Consort perform some of Telemann's most colorful ouverture-suites -- and sound like they had a lot of fun in the process.

Percussion is heard extensively in the Ouverture-Suite "La Bizarre" -- as it is in all the suites. It's not something one normally hears in baroque music, and I found it quite refreshing.

Spanish passion seems to crackle through Courante (aided by maracas and tabor). The deep drum in the gavotte and branle give them an almost Renaissance sound. And let's not forget the birdcalls and triangle in the Rossignol. Bizarre, I'm sure for 18th-century ears.

Percussion also features in the "La changeante" ouverture-suite. I particularly liked the Hornpipe played at a break-neck pace, and the Canarsie with castanets flailing away. Muy caliente!

Also delightful is the  Suite in A minor for recorder and orchestra, especially with the Air l'Italiaenne and the Rjouissance. Soloist Kerstin Fahr seems to hop from note to note like a bird, never blurring the attacks, no matter how rapid the passages. And there seemed to be an air of good-humor in his playing.

The countries depicted in "Les nations anciennes et modernes" may have been obvious to Telemann's audiences, but today -- not so much. Included in the suite are movements referencing ancient and modern Germans, Swedes, and Danes. No matter -- every movement's a succinctly organized delight.

In the wrong hands, Telemann can sound somewhat generic. These overtures are in the right hands here. Telemann's cosmopolitan personality comes through in every work. The use of percussion provides added spice and helps cue the listener to the source of each movement's inspiration.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Ouverture-Suites
Ouverture-Suite in G major, TWV 55:G2 "La Bizarre"
Ouverture-Suite in G minor TWV 55:g2 "La Chagemante"
Ouverture-Suite in A minor TWV 55:a2 for recorder, strings and basso continuo
Ouverture-Suite in G minor TWV 55:G4 "Des Nations anceinnes et modernes"
Kerstin Fahr, recorder
Neumeyer Consort; Felix Koch, conductor

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mooning the Comics

I'm always interested in how different cartoonists deliver the same concept. In this case, the gags turn on the reinterpretation of an image. Is that crescent shape depicting the moon, or is it outlining a mouth?

The first example comes from Jim Davis' Garfield Sunday sequence of 7/23/17.

The second is much older. It's from Mark Tatulli's Lio, 11/15/16.

Of the two, I think I prefer Tatulli's take. First, it's shorter. I feel that Davis is almost mansplaining the joke. Do we really need all that setup? How about this:

Plus, I like Tatulli's tone better. Lio gets the raspberry from the moon behind his back. The joke turns on the transformation from moon to mouth to moon again, with Lio at the receiving end of the moon's derision.

Odie not only gets the moon to smile back, but he turns and mugs to the reader. Look! We changed your point of reference! Just like we carefully explained we were going to do! Ta-da!

Two different treatments for two different audiences.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Diabelli Project 157 - Piano Piece

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This week's sketch started with the bass. Once the dotted eighth-sixteen/eighth-eighth pattern popped into my head, I was ready to go. If I were to work on this further, I would probably change the interval leaps in the left hand.

All of these flash compositions are done with just pen and paper -- no piano or other musical instrument allowed to check pitches or harmonies. Part of the challenge is to accurately write down what I hear in my head unfiltered.

In this case, what I heard wasn't quite as it turned out when I checked it at the piano later. The bass seems a little too close to movie cowboy music for my taste.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 059 - Timber Swing

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

059. Timber Swing

I today we might call this a see-saw. In any event, the illustrator took a lot of artistic license with this instruction drawing -- and it should have been revoked.

The biggest problem was with the dowel rods. The building kit has two lengths of dowels. Neither length matched those depicted for the pillars. The shorter rods didn't even touch the bottom of the open compartment. The longer ones did secure the pillars to the base, but were anything but flush with the top.

The other problem was in the fulcrum. I couldn't use a long dowel -- the two dowels in the pillars didn't allow enough room. The short dowel worked, but just barely. There was at most only 1/16" of the dowel inside each pillar to support the assembly.

And inside the fulcrum was another issue. The fiberboard collars were too weak to fully support the dowels with the (relatively) heavy seats at the ends. If I could have joined them inside the fulcrum with a wooden collar, they might have been more stable. But I couldn't do that and have a dowel for the fulcrum to pivot on -- they both occupied the same space.

So below is as close as I could get to the original instruction illustration. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Boris Papandopulo Concertos Reintroduced to the World

Boris Papandopulo's Piano Concerto No. 3 is one of the best-known works by this relatively unknown composer.

Croatian composer Papandopulo was a powerhouse of creativity, producing over 460 works, plus writing volumes as a music writer, journalist, and reviewer. And he also regularly performed as a concert pianist and accompanist.

The Piano Concerto No. 3 is a work of a composer who's in full command of his talents. Folk elements, classical post-romanticism, and jazz are thrown together in a heady mix. Rather than being a stylistic mess, the concerto's a high-energy work that's just plain fun to listen to.

Pianist Oliver Triendl performs admirably, effectively conveying the exuberance of the music. Although the work is a good half-hour long, it seems to fly by in half that time.

Papandopulo's Violin Concerto is a more substantial work, staying more within the strictly classical realm. It was composed during the Second World War, which may explain its relatively darker tone.

Still, Papandopulo's essentially joyful spirit can't remain suppressed. The melodies fairly sparkle at times, especially in the first movement.

Violin soloist Dan Zhu plays with a rich, warm tone. He also captures the "sobbing" sound of a gypsy violin, an important folk element in this concerto. There's plenty of technical challenges here, as well as some beautifully crafted melodies.

Thanks to CPO for bringing these extraordinary concertos back to the world stage.

Boris Papandopulo: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.3; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 125
Oliver Triendl, piano; Dan Zhu, violin; Rijeka Opera Symphony Orchestra; Ville Matvejeff, conductor 
CPO 55 100-2

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Straco Express Layout, Part 56 - Trucking transition?

Read all the installments of the Straco Express layout project here.

Vintage Japanese tin toys from the early postwar era continue to surprise and delight. Just when I think I have a handle on the subject, I discover something new.

In this case, it was another variation.

One of the first additions to the Straco layout was my cattle truck (which had seen better days). Two years ago I found a variant -- an Express van. Recently I saw a third version for sale -- a covered flatbed.

All three friction toys were made by the same company. Though the colors of the cab and chassis detail are reversed, they're identical for all three vehicles.

At first, I thought that might be the only difference. A careful comparison of the three trucks yielded other differences. The bottom of the Express van is flat. The other two are rounded (perhaps for greater structural strength?).

Note how flat the bottom of the Express van is (left), compared to that of
the newer covered flatbed truck (right).

The hubcaps for the Express van are secured with rivet heads. The other two have solid hubcaps the cover the rivet heads.

The beds of the Express van and covered flat bed trucks are secured to their chassis with six tabs. My cattle truck only has four.

From flat chassis (left) to rounded (middle); and
from six securing tabs (left and middle) to four (right).
To me, this suggests an evolution of design.

  • First generation: Rivet head hubcaps, flat chassis bottom, six securing tabs.
  • Second generation: Solid hubcaps (cheaper to make and install), rounded chassis bottom
  • Third generation: Four securing tabs -- two less tabs means less labor. That's not insignificant for large volumes of toys assembled by hand

That would my new acquisition a transition piece between the Express van and the cattle truck.

Whether it is or not, this covered flatbed makes a great addition to the Straco Express display layout.

Layout construction:
  • Pegboard: $4.95
  • Flathead Screws: $0.40
  • Molding: $2.49
  • SilClear: borrowed from a friend
  • Green Paint: leftover  from another project
  • Wood Screws: $3.60
  • Felt Pads: $1.99
Power Pack: $5.90
Small Houses: $3.00
Testor's Gray Paint for road: $1.29

Bandai Areo Station: $8.99
2 tinplate signs: $1.00
4 tinplate signs (with train) $5.99
Cragstan HO Light Tower $20.49
4 nesting houses $4.99
Tinplate gas station: $5.00

  • Two Japanese toy cars: $2.00
  • A.W. Livestock truck: $4.99
  • Taxi: $2.99
  • Ambulance: $2.99
  • Two Japanese patriotic cars: $6.99
  • Haji three-wheel sedan $3.00
  • Haji three-wheel tanker $5.00
  • 1950's sedan $2.99
  • LineMar Police Car $9.00
  • LineMar Pepco Truck $8.50
  • LineMar Bond Bread Van $8.00
  • LineMar Fire Engine $4.95
  • LineMar Dump Truck $12.99
  • LineMar GE Courier Car $10.98
  • LineMar County School Bus $9.99
  • Nomura Red Sedan $5.00
  • Nomura Police Car $2.52
  • Nomura lumber truck $3.48
  • 6 Nomura vehicles $16.99
  • Shioji Express Truck $10.00
  • Shioji Covered Truck $12.50
  • Orange Sedan $10.99
  • King Sedan $9.95
  • Indian Head logo sedan $4.99
  • Indian Head (?) convertible $18.00
  • Yellow/red Express truck $9.99
  • Red limousine FREE
Total Project Cost: $260.85

Monday, July 17, 2017

Diabelli Project 156 - Wind Trio

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This is not the first flash composition I've done in this series for wind trio. In fact, I have five other wind trio sketches posted. What makes this different is the instrumentation. The other sketches were for flute, Bb clarinet, and bassoon. It's a nice combination with all kinds of timbral possibilities.

This one, for oboe, Bb clarinet, and bassoon, has a different character. The two double reeds plus single reed give the ensemble a warmer tone than the flute, clarinet and bassoon combination. In the latter, the flute has a metallic quality to it. For that type of trio, I think of blending three different primary colors.

For this trio, I think more of combining two different shades of the same color (the double reeds), with a separate contrasting but near-related hue (the single reed). The resulting sketch revels in those color combinations with long unisons that gradually break apart.

This combination of instruments has a lot of possibilities, too. I suspect this won't be the last time I'll be using it in this series.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 058 - Tetter-Totter

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

058. Tetter-Totter

No typo -- that's how what the Japanese toymakers labeled this thing. I think they meant teeter-totter. 

The build was a little tricky. The fiberboard collars couldn't support the weight of the seats. 

On the plus side, the teeter-totter actually worked. At least, it did for short while before one of the arms fell off. But still...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rachmaninoff: Complete Works and Transcriptions for Violin and Piano

Rachmaninoff wrote very little for violin and piano, but that didn't stop others from transcribing his music for those instruments. This recording collects Rachmaninoff's three violin and piano works, plus 17 transcriptions.

The earliest transcriptions by Konstantin Mostras and Mikhail Press are fairly straight-forward. Fritz Kreisler's transcriptions provide plenty of opportunity for expressive phrasing and long, lingering sweet tones - the hallmark of his style.

The transcriptions of Jasha Heifitz seem to encourage more robust performances by comparison. As with Kreisler, Heifetz arranged the music to suit his own style. There are portamento glides from one note to the next, and more than a few fast passages demanding a light and agile touch.

Though the transcriptions may favor a certain style over another, Annelle K. Gregory brings them all together in her performances. Gregory plays with a warm, rounded tone that nevertheless brings the notes into sharp focus.

Initially, I was hesitant to listen to what I considered to be an entire album of encore pieces. But the sheer musicality of Annelle K. Gregory and her accompanist Alexander Sinchuk won me over. Each work is presented not as a showpiece, but as an exquisite miniature to be savored. And so I did.

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Complete Works and Transcriptions for Violin and Piano
Annelle K. Gregory, violin; Alexander Sinchuk, piano
Bridge Records

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Martin Perry plays Hugo Weisgall and Paul Hindemith

Martin Perry couples two works that complement each other.  One's very well-known, the other deserves to be.

The well-known work is Paul Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis. This 1942 masterwork is a summation of Hindemith's mature style. Its frequent comparisons to Bach's "Art of the Fugue" are valid.

Counterpoint is at the heart of both works.  The Praeludium of the Ludus Tonalis returns as the Postludium at the end -- turned upside down and played backward.

The Ludus Tonalis a major work for piano, as well as being an important part of Hindemith's catalog.

The not-so-familiar work is Hugo Weisgall's piano sonata.

Hugo Weisgall is best known for his vocal music and operas. His piano sonata, completed in 1982 is also a summation of a composer's style. In this case, the 70-year old Weisgall faithfully followed the classical sonata form.

Weisgall's work is post-tonal, but not atonal. There are clear destinations to the lines, despite their highly chromatic inflections. Weisgall also keeps his rhythmic pulse fluid, mixing even and odd-metered bars. And yet, the end result is a work that doesn't really sound all that radical -- just like Hindemith's.

Martin Perry plays with a sure confident tone. His use of legato is especially effective in Weisgall's Sonata. It effectively brings out the structure of the work. His playing of Hindemith is also first-rate. Each line of counterpoint is clearly delineated, making it easy to follow.

Excellent performances.

Martin Perry: Weisgall/Hindemith
Hugo Weisgall: Piano Sonata
Paul Hindemith: Ludus Tonalis
Martin Perry, piano
Bridge Records 9487

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Comical deconstruction

I always enjoy comic strips that step outside their allotted spaces to make fun of comic conventions. In this case, two very different comic strips offered humor based on comic strip pacing.

The first comes from a sequence of Barney & Clyde originally published 4/18/17.  This smartly-written (and drawn) strip by Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten, and David Clark has a long history of playing with comic strip conventions.

The second comes from the 2/5/17 Sunday edition of Beetle Bailey. From the outset, Mort Walker's strip was always a simple gag-a-day comic. Over the years, the strip has grown a little, though still within comfortable boundaries.

In both cases, the punchline arrives in the last panel -- which is also an integral part of the joke. It's interesting to me to see how the two creative teams handled the same concept. In Barney & Clyde, the punchline "you'll never know when you're in life's fourth panel" is humorous because, well, that's where it is.

At the same time, it's left unclear as to whether Cynthia and her teacher are aware that they're in a comic strip. That ambiguity also gives the line a little more weight.

I felt differently about Beetle Baily's take. There's nothing wrong with the joke itself, and it's certainly true. Comic strip (and animated characters) often hang in the air for an unrealistically long time for comic effect.

And yet, to me, this sequence just seems lazy. I suspect that if there had been an additional panel or two to fill, we would have seen Sarge and Beetle hang in the air even longer. I guess the difference is that Barney & Clyde use the observation to base the punchline one, while Beetle Bailey lets the observation be the punchline.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Diabelli Project 155 - Piano Piece

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This week's flash composition is more of an experiment than a "real" piece of music. I had an idea for an upwards-ascending pattern. Once I had sketched out the pattern, I simply played it against itself. Because the piece is set in an odd meter, I had lots of opportunities to have the motif enter at different times without repeating the pattern too soon.

Because it's more of an experiment, I left the stems oriented to their original lines. If I were to make this a piano piece, I would rework the figures so to be more easily readable (like the fifth measure, for example).

Also, for some reason, my music-copyist game was off. I should have gone with three bars per system. It would have avoided that crunched fourth measure, and the empty space at the end of the second system. I promise to do better next time.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 057 - Wash Machine

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

057. Wash Machine

Yes, "Wash Machine." Remember, this toy was made in Japan for Marx. The instruction sheet had to be in English. In this case, apparently from a Japanese/English dictionary (used by a non-English speaker).  

This build was extremely difficult. It's easy to draw those four rods perfectly parallel. It's quite another matter to make them stay in position with just fiberboard washers. 

The extended crankshaft was a major challenge. The wooden collar didn't fit tight enough to hold the two dowels securely. Plus, the support struts could barely hold the weight of the assembly. 

You may notice that the yellow matchbook cover is absent in this photo. I always include it for scale but forgot to place it before taking the photo. After I had moved on to the next toy, I realized my error and tried to rebuild the wash machine. 

After an hour or so, I gave up. I now know how lucky I was to get the thing assembled and shot in the first place!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Vivaldi Alla Moda - Bravura solo cantatas

Vivaldi holds nothing back in these chamber cantatas for soprano and basso continuo. The works were meant to show off the abilities of the soloist. Soprano Camilla de Falleiro is more than up to the challenges. And there are many in these cantatas.

The scores are full of wide leaps, sustained tones in the high register, and rapid melismatic passages. De Falleiro seems to take it all in stride. Her accuracy of pitch never wavers. Long figural scalar descents are clearly articulated.

Most importantly, these are musical performances. There's more going on here than just impressive vocal fireworks.

De Falleiro illuminates the inherent drama of the text. Her voice falls to a hushed silence one moment, then bursts forth with an impassioned plea, as the libretto demands.

The Accademia Apollinea provides admiral support. Their playing in synch with De Camilla's dramatic gestures, such as the throbbing of the heart in "Fonti del pianto." Just a little emphasis on the main notes of the passage was all it took to convey the quickening of the pulse.

This is one release that's worth purchasing on disc as opposed to downloading. Ars Producktion has released it as a multichannel SACD, with hybrid 5.1 multichannel sound. So if you have a high-performance audio system, you'll hear every glorious detail of these performances.

Vivaldi Alla Moda
Solo cantatas for soprano and basso continuo
Camilla de Falleiro, soprano; Accademia Apollinea
Ars Produktion ARS 38226

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

William Boyce Symphonies still entertain

Capriccio originally released this performance of Boyce symphonies in 1995. They return as part of the label's Encore reissue series. Sir Neville Marriner leads the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (ASMF) in performances that may be a little dated, but they can still delight.

Marriner recorded hundreds of baroque and early classical era works, yet never ventured into the field of authentic performance practices -- that is, using instruments of the period. The ASMF plays (as they do here) with modern instruments plus harpsichord.

While historic practices may be the norm today, these mid-1990s performances are perfectly valid readings that hold up well. Marriner brings Boyce's symphonies to life with a light touch. There's a genial nature to these works that charms the listener.

Capriccio's remastering is well done. The ensemble has a transparent sound to it, making it easy to discern the ensemble's inner voices. Although the overall sound is clear and detailed, there's a certain softness around the edges. But that's not uncommon in older recordings.

I'm glad to have these performances back in circulation.

William Boyce: Eight Symphonies
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; Sir Neville Marriner, conductor
Capriccio Encore C8006 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

#ClassicsaDay Month-long music for the 4th of July

American music for an American holiday!

Throughout the years I've offered suggestions for 4th of July classical music. Just going with the 1812 Overture is not only lazy programming but does a disservice to our rich musical heritage. (I get it -- cannons. But do we really want "God Save the Czar" accompanying our fireworks?)

This year, rather than just posting American music worth exploring on the 4th, I'll be doing it all month long via Twitter.

American music on #ClassicsaDay

Classical music lovers on Twitter post music links using #ClassicsaDay in their tweet to share with others. And they know to click on the hashtag in tweets to see what others have found.

For the month of July, some of the participants (including yours truly) will be featuring American music. I’ll personally be tweeting a link to music by a different American composer every weekday in July. Look for #ClassicsaDay and #USclassics.

Don't use Twitter?

Not a problem! Just keep reading this blog. Next month I'll post an annotated list (with embedded videos) of the composers I’ve highlighted. And you can do a Google search for #ClassicsaDay and see the most popular tweets without even going to Twitter.

There’s more to American music than John Philip Sousa and Aaron Copland!

Want to join the month-long celebration of American music from the 1700s to the present? Using the hashtag is simple. In Twitter, type #Classicsaday into the search field to call up the most recent tweets. 

Or if you see #ClassicsaDay in a tweet, just click on it to do the same thing. 

Celebrate the 4th of July with #USclassics

I've written several times about the oddity of celebrating the 4th of July with that most patriotic of classical works -- Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." I get it. The cannons at the end are just part of the fireworks.

But really. Especially after all the controversy involving the recent election, does a Russian piece really belong in our American holiday celebrations?

There's plenty of substantial patriotic music written by Americans that would serve (albeit without cannons written into the score). See any of my previous July 4th posts for musical examples.

This year I'm going a little bit further. For the #ClassicsaDay Twitter feed I'll be posting music exclusively by American composers for the month of July. Each tweet will also have the hashtag #USclassics to make it easier to find.

And you don't even have to be on Twitter. Just do a search for the hashtag and you'll see the posts -- and the links.

I'll be posting music from the colonial period through to the 21st Century.  For the most part, I'll be avoiding the obvious choices, such as Sousa, Copland, Gershwin, and Bernstein. Instead, I'll be focusing on the composers who are just as talented but aren't as well-known (like Randall Thomson, below).

I'll be posting music by composers born in the US, as well as immigrants who became citizens. You'll see links to music by male composers, female composers, and composers of color. Follow the feed the entire month and you'll find that American classical music is as rich and diverse as America itself.

Next month I'll also post an annotated list, as I did for the previous #ClassicsaDay themed month.