Thursday, March 31, 2022

Auber Overtures Volume 5 goes beyond overtures

One thing I like about Dario Salvi's Auber series is the variety. Yes, This release's title is "Overtures 5." But, like the previous volumes, it's more than just a collection of overtures. This time the focus is on two Auber operas: Zanetta, and Zerline

Zanetta premiered in 1840. The opera's heroine is the innocent daughter of the royal gardener. She's caught up in a romantic scheme among the nobles that ends happily. 

Auber's overture conveys that youthful innocence. It opens with a simple theme, lightly scored. And even at its climax, the music is spritely and animated. 

Salvi includes a quadrille on the opera's themes. The selection by a contemporary of Auber, Philippe Musard. It's fun hearing how Musard tweaks the themes to fit the dance forms. And the work itself is a testament to Zanetta's popularity at the time. 

Orchestral excerpts from Zerline make up the bulk of the release. The opera tells the story of Zerline's search for her long-lost daughter. And also her efforts to ensure the daughter's well-being by wedding well. 

The story is set in Palmero, which seemed to inspire Auber. The music has an Italiante character to it that works rather well. Several passages reminded me of Rossini. 

The program includes the overture and entr'acte music for the second and third acts. The show-stopper, though, is the third act's Airs de Ballet. 

This is a set piece featuring eight different dances. The airs include a Chinese dance, a children's dance, a folk dance, and a quadrille. Auber gives each dance a very distinct character. I'd love to see this performed on stage.

For conductor Dario Salvi, this series is a labor of love. Not only has made a study of Auber's music but he's also edited it for publication. That knowledge shows in his performances. 

Zanetta and Zerline, though both opera comiques, tell different stories from different perspectives. Salvi brings out those differences. It makes for an engaging program if you listen straight through (as I did). 

Can't wait for volume 6.

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber: Overtures 5
Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra; Dario Salvi, conductor

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Paul Lansky Angles -- great chamber music

This is volume 17 of Bridge's Paul Lansky series. It presents four recent compositions by Lansky. And it's an album I really like. The works vary in forces and show this composer at the top of his game. 

"Four's Company" (2018) was composed for David Starobin's guitar class. The work takes four very simple concepts and creates an engaging -- and complex -- movement out of each. The interplay of the lines and development of those simple concepts makes this an engaging listen

The Weis, Kaplan, Stumpf Trio perform Lansky's "Angles." They commissioned the work, and play it with authority and energy. Lansky once again uses simple concepts to build his music. The work is mostly tonal. When the hard-driving rhythms kick in, it almost sounds minimalist. But it isn't. Lansky's ideas develop too quickly and dramatically.

"Springs," for percussion quartet was composed for the artists who perform it here -- the So Quartet. According to Lansky, the music builds up kinetic energy before springing into action. So Percussion is one of the best percussion ensembles in the world. This is a first-rate performance. And speaking as a percussionist, I think the music is first-rate, too.

For the "Color Codas" Lansky presents three works that can be performed individually or as a group. Red, purple, and blue are the inspirations. Lansky composed the work for the Quattro Mani, who perform it here. To me, it sounded like the piano duo was having fun. And why not? 

Lanksy wrote these works in his seventies. But there's nothing old-fashioned about them. To me, they sounded fresh, and in a way, timeless. This volume was a pleasure to explore.

Paul Lansky: Angles
Various Artists
Bridge Records

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

HyeJin Kim beautifully performs early Clementi

Consider this the origin story. Muzio Clementi had a long and (mostly) successful musical career. He was a pianist, composer, publisher, and piano manufacturer. His popularity at times rivaled that of Haydn and Beethoven, both as a performer and composer. 

There is no shortage of Clementi piano sonata recordings. Most focus on his mid-to-late period works. I've always been curious about what his earliest sonatas sounded like. Where did he start from as a composer?

This release presents some of Clementi's Opus 1 sonatas, published in 1771. They might not be the very first pieces he wrote, but they were the first published. Close enough for this origin story.

By 1771, the fortepiano had almost supplanted the harpsichord. The Galante style was all the rage. And Clementi's Opus 1 sonatas fill the bill. His melodies are simple and tuneful -- like Johann Christian Bach's. The voicing is light, often just two notes at a time -- like Franz Joseph Haydn's.

HyeJin Kim plays these sonatas with a light touch. Her phrasing shapes the music beautifully. Simple scales and arpeggiated chords become meaningful. Subtle changes in volume and attacks add depth.

Also included are sonatas from Clementi's Opus 10 and Opus 12 sets, published in 1783 and 1784. The Classical Era by well underway by this time. Mozart had published his 12th piano sonata. 

Clementi's sonatas acknowledge the bar Mozart raised. These are much more complex pieces, with more fully-developed themes. 

Clementi was still composing with the amateur market in mind. But these works require a higher degree of skill than the beginner. 

Kim shines in these later works. With more substantial material to work with, her innate musicality takes wing. Clementi isn't Beethoven. Even at their most dramatic, these sonatas require a little restraint. Kim manages that, without blunting the impact of double-forte crescendos. 

A nice addition to Naxos' library of Clementi sonatas.  

Muzio Clementi: Keyboard Sonatas
Op. 1, Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5; Op. 10, Nos. 20 and 3; Op. 12, Nos. 2 and 3
HyeJin Kim, piano
Naxos 8.574171

Friday, March 25, 2022

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 4 2022

The Classics a Day team chose Women's History Month as the theme for March. Actually, it's been the March theme for the past five years. And there are still many composers to explore.

As always, I try to shore works I haven't posted before. And as always for this month, I'm posting works by composers I've just discovered (both past and present). Here are my #ClassicsaDay posts for the fourth week of #WomensHistoryMonth.

03/21/22 Ina Boyle (1889-1967) - The Magic Harp

Circumstances forced Boyle to remain home-bound for most of her life. Nevertheless, she composed every day and continually corresponded with conductors and orchestras for performances. This orchestral rhapsody is one of the few works published during her lifetime.

03/22/22/ Dora Pejacevic (1885-1923) - Symphony in F sharp minor, Op. 41

This work was the first modern symphony by a Croatian composer. Pejacevic is considered not just an important female composer in Croatia, but one ot he country's most important composers, full stop.

08/23/22 Maddalena Casulana (c.1540–c.1590) - O notte o ciel o mar

Casulana holds the distinction of being the first femal to have an entire book of her music published (in western classical music history). In fact, she published two collections of her music.

03/24/22 Julie Pinel (fl.1710-1737) - Printemps

Not much is known about this French composer and harpsicordist. She was part of the Pinel family of court musicians, and published one collection of songs in 1737.

03/25/22 Tekla Badarzewska-Baranowska (1834–1861) - L'Espérance

This Polish composer studied at the Warsaw Institute of Music in 1875. She wrote 35 compositions, all of them for solo piano.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Amy Beach Works for Piano Duo Twice as Nice

Everything is relative. This release features music by a relatively obscure composer. Further, it features a relatively obscure part of her catalog. The result is a program of exceptionally well-crafted music. Music that reveals new depths with repeated listening. 

I wish Amy Cheney Beach was as familiar with audiences as other 20th Century composers. Her revival has been underway for some time now. But she's still not as well-known as her music merits (in my opinion). 

Beach was a concert pianist as well as a composer. So it's no surprise that some of her strongest compositions are for piano. Here the Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo presents some of her least-performed piano works.

The Variations on Balkan Themes, Op. 60 was first published in 1904 for solo piano. It's challenging work. And so is the two-piano version, written in 1942. Beach takes advantage of the second piano to add depth to the music. The harmonies sound fuller, and some of the passages seem weightier. 

Beach maintains the characteristics of the Balkan folk melodies. But they're filtered through late-Romantic sensibilities. It's a blend that works quite effectively. 

Her Suite for Two Pianos Founded on Old Irish Melodies, Op. 104 does the same. The source material provides inspiration, which Beach develops in a free, rhapsodic manner. I wouldn't program it for St. Patrick's Day, but it's fine music for the rest of the year. 

The album includes two works for piano four-hands. Beach wrote this music for domestic rather than public performances. The music is less demanding for the performers than her piano duo works. But they're no less enjoyable. 

Summer Dreams, Op. 47 is suitably evocative, with light-hearted melodies and some back-and-forth between the players. 

Beach wrote the Three Pieces for Piano Four Hands when she was sixteen. The music shows a composer with a fully-formed sense of style. And a performer with well-developed technique. 

The Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo have been performing together since 1995. Their playing here is what one would expect. Two artists perfectly in synch, creating music with one vision. If you're seeking out music by women, American music, or music for piano duos, check out this release.  You won't be disappointed. I wasn't.

Amy Beach: Complete Works for Piano Duo
Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo
CPO 555 453-2

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Kaveli Aho Double and Triple Concertos - Definitive Performances

Finnish composer Kaveli Aho is a symphonist. His ideas seem best-suited to large-scale works. Among those large-scale works are 36 concertos, including the two on this recording. And within the subset of concertos, these two are also large-scale. One is a double concerto, the other a triple concerto.

Aho composed his double concerto for cor anglais, harp, and orchestra in 2014. The Antwerp Symphony Orchestra commissioned it for two of its players; Dimitri Mestdag (cor anglais) and Anneleen Lenaerts (harp). 

Aho contrasts the characteristics of these instruments effectively. The cor anglais plays long, sustained single-line melodies. And the harp plays plucked melodies nestled in clouds of arpeggios and doubled notes. 

It's a mysterious, atmospheric work. And the performance is superb. Both the soloists and the ensemble are the performers Aho specifically wrote for. This is their music, and it shows.

The 2017 Concerto for Piano Trio and Chamber Orchestra is quite different. As Aho was writing the work, his granddaughter was born. He wrote a lullaby for her and then decided to incorporate it into the concerto. 

It's a simple modal melody, beautiful and soothing. Of course, Aho does far more than just present this tune. As the concerto progresses, the lullaby develops, transforms, and changes character. The work grows in complexity, before returning to the tune at the very end. 

The Storioni Trio commissioned this work, and they're the soloists here. So once again, Aho's music is performed by the artists he had in mind and the ones who best understand his intent. 

These are outstanding works, and real additions to the concerto repertoire.

This is an SACD recording. So the better your playback system, the better this recording will sound. And the more you can appreciate the nuances in the performances. Especially when the soloists enter into conversations with each other.

Kaveli Aho: Double and Triple Concertos
Double Concerto for cor Anglais, harp, and orchestra
Dimitri Mestdag, coranglais; Anneleen Lenaerts, harp
Triple Concerto for violin, cello, piano, and chamber orchestra
Storioni Trio
Antwerp Symphony Orchestra; Olari Elts, conductor

Monday, March 21, 2022

Anne-Marie McDermott brings new insights to Mozart concertos

For volume four, Anne-Marie McDermott presents two contrasting Mozart piano concertos. And the contrast goes beyond just the concertos. The supplied cadenzas also represent two very different interpretations of Mozart's music. 

The Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503 is one of Mozart's longest concertos. And many consider it one of his greatest. For this recording, McDermott performs Chris Rogerson's cadenza. 

Rogerson is a major talent who's composed a piano concerto for Anne-Marie McDermott. His cadenza seems almost like a fantasia of Mozart's first-movement themes. And while Rogerson's voice is present, the cadenza fits quite well into Mozart's music.

For the Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466, McDermott chose the cadenzas written by Ludwig Van Beethoven. This was one of Beethoven's favorite concertos by Mozart. And it was one he performed often. 

When the cadenzas kick in, there's no doubt who wrote them. They have a focussed intensity that is pure Beethoven. Beethoven takes Mozart's motives and relentlessly develops them. And, of course, placing great demands on the soloist all the while. 

There are plenty of recordings of these two concertos available. But McDermott's interpretations provide fresh insights. She manages to balance the voices of the cadenza composers with Mozart's. And makes it all sound logical, coherent, and thrilling. 

Though these are carefully composed cadenzas, McDermott makes them sound spontaneous. Genius. 

Another strong addition to this series.

Mozart Piano Concertos, Vol. 4
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
Odense Symfoniorkester; Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor
Bridge 9562

Friday, March 18, 2022

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 3, 2022

The Classics a Day team chose Women's History Month as the theme for March. Actually, it's been the March theme for the past five years. And there are still many composers to explore.

As always, I try to shore works I haven't posted before. And as always for this month, I'm posting works by composers I've just discovered (both past and present). Here are my #ClassicsaDay posts for the third week of #WomensHistoryMonth.

03/14/22 Sophie Menter (1846-1918) - Consolation, Op. 10

Menter holds the distinction of being the only female piano student of Franz Liszt.One critic described her playing "blend of virtuosity and elegance; fiery temperament; a masculine (!) weight on the keys..."

03/15/22 Victoria Poleva - Summer Music

Ukrainian composer Poleva wrote this chamber cantata in 2008. The text is by J. Brodsky, and is composed for children's choir, solo violin, and strings.

03/16/22 Mel Bonis (1859-1937) - Cello Sonata, Op. 67

Bonis studied with Cesar Franck, She wrote over 300 works, mostly chamber pieces, mélodies, and solo piano works. Her cello sonata dates from 1905.

03/17/22 Tera de Marez Oyens (1932-1996) - Contrafactus for string quartet

Dutch composer Oyens wrote over 200 works. This 1982 work also exists in another form. Oyens added a flute part to it, creating the Leaia Quintet.

03/18/22 Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994) - Symphony for Double String Orchestra

Maconchy studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams and came to public notice with her 1930 piano concerto. Her 1953 symphony demonstrates her idea that "the best music is an impassioned argument."

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Robert Trevino upgrades the repertoire with Americascapes

Maestro Robert Trevino is certainly adventurous. It's not enough for him to program an album of four American composers. No, he had to choose four composers who are seldom programmed. And he also goes even further and programs works that are rarely recorded -- even for these composers. Bravo.

La mort de Tintagiles is one of Charles Martin Loeffler's best-known works. Yet it has only been recorded once before. Loeffler was fascinated with the viola d'amore. He wrote several works for it, including this one. 

"La mort" sounds to me like a blend of Wagner and Debussy. And an exceptionally beautiful one at that. Hearing this piece alone is worth the price of admission. 

The only work I had previously heard by Carl Ruggles was Suntreader. It's his signature piece and has been recorded just five times. Evocations is even more obscure. 

This marks its second recorded appearance. The 1942 work straddles the line between tonality and atonality. It has the angry power of "Suntreader," but here it's bubbling under the surface. Evocative, indeed -- and a little unsettling.

Howard Hanson is well-represented in recordings (relatively speaking). His 1920 tone poem Before the Dawn receives its recorded world premiere here. 

Hanson's post-romantic lyricism is in full force. The work flows from one exquisitely beautiful section to another. Why did we have to wait so long to hear this?

Henry Cowell is another American composer still waiting for his due. The Variations for Orchestra has only one previous recording, and that's a shame. Cowell was an early adapter of many avant-garde techniques. And he always adapted them for his own purposes. 

Cowell wrote Variations in 1956.  But they compare favorably to today's post-tonal compositions. 

The Basque National Orchestra has an impressive sound. I especially liked their ensemble balance (as recorded). 

Robert Trevino isn't presenting a set of musical curiosities here. His interpretations bring out the inherent musicality of these works. And his direction shows the beauty of their construction. 

If I had my way, every orchestral conductor in the United States would get a copy of this release. There is so much more to American music than Appalachian Spring.

Americascapes: Loeffler, Ruggles, Hanson, Cowell
Basque National Orchestra; Robert Trevino, conductor
Ondine ODE 1396-2

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Symphonies of the Bach Family span generations

This release presents symphonies by a veritable alphabet of Bachs: WF, CPE, JE, JCF, JL, and (of course) JS. It's an excellent program, comprised of many seldom-heard works. 

The release opens with a symphony by Wilhelm Friedemann (WF) Bach. And it concludes with a sinfonia by his father, Johann Sebastian (JS) Bach. The two works make effective bookends. WF was Johann's eldest son, and his style most closely resembles his father. 

Carl Philipp Emanuel (CPE) Bach was the second-eldest son. A good part of his career was spent at the court of Frederick the Great. CPE's symphonies are closer to the galant style -- clear melodies supported with clean, simple harmonies.

Johann Ernst (JE) Bach was the son of Johann Bernhard Bach, JS Bach's second cousin. His symphony is a jovial bustling work that leans towards the Baroque.

Johann Christoph Friedrich (JCF) Bach was the fifth son of JS Bach. His employer, the Count Wilhelm of Bückeburg, had a taste for Italian music. JCF obliged. His works, like this symphony, bear a passing resemblance to Vivaldi's.

Johann Ludwig (JL) Bach was JS Bach's third cousin. His "Cantata Symphony" is actually a concerto for two violins. JL was a product of his time. The concerto is solidly Baroque in style. Soloists alternate with the ritornello of the ensemble. JL may not have been THE Bach, but he was a Bach. The work is finely crafted, and quite exciting as performed here. 

The Berliner Barock Solisten has a clean sound. Bach's sons composed during a time of transition. And although the harpsichord is present, it's far back in the mix. 

That's a good choice, I think. For the Baroque composers, JL and JS, the instrument is more prominent. Having that contrast makes it easier to hear the differences between the generations. 

Symphonies of the Bach Family
Berliner Barock Solisten; Reinhard Goebel, conductor
Hanssler Classic HC21029

Monday, March 14, 2022

Boris Papandopulo: Works for Piano and Strings -- Works for Me

Boris Papandopulo was one of Croatia's most important composers. Almost single-handedly he created a national style of classical music. Papandopulo incorporated Croatian folk music into his work. But that was just the starting point. 

He had very eclectic tastes and brought other musical forms into his compositions. Twelve-tone technique, jazz, and even post-war avant-garde concepts were fair game. 

Papandopulo also had a sense of humor. Many of his compositions have a light-hearted or even an ironic feel to them. 

This release collects a sampling of chamber music from this prolific composer. The Concertino in modo antico, Op. 58 is probably the best known. Papandopulo, like Stravinsky and Respighi, recast earlier music forms into neo-classical gems. 

The concertino has the frothiness of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony. And it's just as masterfully composed. Papandopulo shows his skill at fugal writing and melodic lyricism. 

That melodic gift is also apparent in the Fantasy for Violin and Piano. Papandopulo alternates between passages of thrilling intensity and heart-breaking poignancy. The Rapsodia Concertante for Cello and Piano has a similar construction. Here, though, the folk elements are closer to the surface.  

The Lyrical Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano delivers on the title's promise. Papadopulos' development of his themes seems effortless.

The musicians on this release all play with energy and tasteful expression. They also understand Papandopulo's intent. To me, it sounded like they were having a good time as they played. 

A thoroughly enjoyable collection of music!

Boris Papandopulo: Works for Piano and Strings
Oliver Triendl, piano; Amaury Coeytux, Vanessa Szigeti, violin, Andrei Ionita, cello
CPO 555106-2

Friday, March 11, 2022

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 2, 2022

The Classics a Day team chose Women's History Month as the theme for March. Actually, it's been the March theme for the past five years. And there are still many composers to explore.

As always, I try to shore works I haven't posted before. And as always for this month, I'm posting works by composers I've just discovered (both past and present). Here are my #ClassicsaDay posts for the second week of #WomensHistoryMonth.

03/07/22 Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) - Piano Concerto

Tailleferre composed continuously throughout her life, up to her death at age 91. Her piano concerto dates from 1924, when she was part of Les Six.

03/08/22 Maria Teresa Prieto - Symphony No. 2

Spanish composer Prieto emigrated to Mexico during the Spanish Civil War. There she studied with Carlos Chavez. After the war, she remained in Mexico, composing works inspired by folk traditions.

03/09/22 Signe Lund (1868–1950) - Legende, from 34 Morceaux, Op. 16

Lunde was a Norwegian composer and pianist. Most of her compositions are for solo piano, including her 4 Morceaux, published in 1896.

03/10/22 Laura Netzel (1839-1927) Romance in A major for Violin and Piano. Op. 40

Born in Finland, Netzel spent most of her life in Sweden. Among her composition teachers was Charles-Marie Widor. Her Op. 40 Romance was published in 1896 with her pseudonym "N. Lago."

03/11/22 Maddalena Laura Lombardini Sirmen (1745–1818) - Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major

Sirmen was more than a brilliant violinist -- she was certified. After studying with Tartini, this Venice-born composer she received a maestro license and was allowed to perform and tour freely outside the city-state.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

David Porcelijn brings fresh excitement to Rontgen symphonies

If you -- like me -- love the music of Julius Rontgen, then this release is a must-have. If you're not familiar with this 20th Century Dutch composer, this release is a good place to start.

Röntgen was a major figure in Dutch musical life. As a pianist, he performed Brahm's second piano concerto -- with the composer conducting. He regularly accompanied Carl Flesch and Pablo Casals. He and his sons formed a piano trio that toured Europe to great acclaim. 

And all the while he composed. 

Röntgen had a natural gift for melody and harmony. His early works emulated those of his friend Brahms. But over time Röntgen adopted other techniques, always reworking them to fit his own style. 

Röntgen wrote 25 symphonies, seven of which appear in this two-disc set. And, if you're counting, it brings CPO's total up to 19 recorded Röntgen symphonies. 

The longest work on this release is Symphony No. 7, the "Edinburgh." Röntgen wrote it in response to receiving an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh. Haydn's "Oxford" symphony was composed for a similar situation, and Röntgen took it as his model. 

I can hear the influence. The symphony has a more transparent texture than most of Röntgen's works. And it has a touch of academia as well. Röntgen shows off his compositional skill with some phenomenal fugal passages. 

Röntgen wrote fast, but always with the highest quality. In 1930 he composed eight symphonies (including nos. 11 and 12 recorded here). And in 1931 he batted out another eight (included Symphony No. 22 presented here). His Symphony No. 11 in G minor was written in just two days.

These 1930s symphonies are short, single-movement works running 10-12 minutes. But they are symphonic in nature. Röntgen presents expansive themes that continually transform. And these are dense works, too. The full scope of Röntgen's music is only revealed by repeated listening. 

David Porcelijn has conducted eleven albums of Röntgen's symphonic music for CPO. He knows Röntgen's music intimately. And that's what makes these performances so thrilling. Röntgen wrote in a post-Romantic style that isn't quite like anybody else's. Porcelijn brings out the unique qualities of Röntgen's music. And that makes these symphonies sound fresh and exciting. 

Only six symphonies to go. I'm ready! 

Julius Röntgen: Symphonies 7, 11,12, 14, 22-24
Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt; Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra; David Porcelijn, conductor
CPO 777-309-2

Monday, March 07, 2022

Ukrainian classical music on WTJU and Charlottesville Classical

Wednesday morning, March 9 from 6 am to 9 am, I’ll be programming exclusively Ukrainian music for “Classical Prelude” and “Classical Sunrise.” Classical music in Ukraine dates back to the era of Haydn and Mozart. And this programming by no means represents every classical Ukrainian composer of the past 300 years. You can listen to the show here:

Ukraine's history as a country is complex. At times, it's been under the control of Poland, Turkey, and Austria. And most especially Russia, both as the Imperial Russia of the Czars, and the Soviet Union. Because of this, Ukraine's best composers are numbered among Russia's composers.

But there is a difference. Many Ukrainian composers were inspired by the music of their country. And Ukrainian folk music is distinctively different from Russia's. Below is a list of some of the composers featured in the broadcast. They're listed here in chronological order, though for the broadcast, Ralph played them in a different sequence, and in many cases, with different compositions.

The Composers

Dmitry Bortnyansky (1751-1825) was born in Glukhov. He sang with the Imperial Chapel choir in St. Petersburg at age 7, and would eventually become its director. Bortnyansky is best remembered for his over 150 sacred choral compositions. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky admired his music and edited these concertos for publication. Bortnyansky was often compared to Palestrina for his contrapuntal skill, and his works directly inspired 19th Century Ukrainian composers.



Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) was born in Kremenchugsky Uyezd. Lysenko is considered the father of Ukrainian classical music. Much like Antonin Dvorak, he seamlessly combined Western classical forms with the folk music of his country. Lysenko studied with Nicolai Rimsky-Koroskov, and founded a Ukrainian School of Music.



Levko "Lev" Revutskyi (1869-1977) was born in Irzhavets. Revutsky taught at the Lysenko Music Institute and edited Lysenko's works for publication. Revutsky made a study of Ukrainian folk songs and arranged over 120 of them.



Reinhold Gliere (1875-1956) was born in Kyiv. Gliere was the director of the Kyiv Conservatory. While there, Boris Lyatoshinsky was one of his pupils. In the 1920s he was at the Moscow Conservatory where he taught Aram Khachaturian. He's claimed as both a Soviet and Ukrainian composer. The Russian Sailor's Dance from his ballet "The Red Poppy" is his best-known work.



Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) was born in Kharkiv. This composer and pianist studied with Alfred Reisenauer and Salomon Jadassohn in Leipzig. Both were pupils of Franz Liszt. Bortkiewicz's own style for keyboard writings shows the influence of Liszt. Bortkiewicz was one of the first composers commissioned by pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost a hand in World War I. Bortkewites's contribution was his Piano Concerto No. 2 for Left Hand and Orchestra.



Boris Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968) was born in Zhytomyr. He's credited as one of the first Ukrainian composers to write a symphony (he would write five). Lyatochinsky continually explored different compositional techniques. His Overture on four Ukrainian Folk themes is one of his most popular compositions.


Ihor Schamo (1925-1982) was born in Kyiv. He graduated from the Boris Lysenko Music School with Boris Lyatoshinsky. His song My Kyiv is considered the unofficial anthem of the Ukrainian capital.



Valentyn Silvestrov (1937 - ) was born in Kyiv. Silvestrov is one of the best-known of the country's composers outside of Ukraine. Silvestrov has strong political convictions. In 1974 walked out of a composer's meeting to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia. His 2014 choral work Dyptiych is dedicated to the first casualty of the Revolution of Dignity. The revolution ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.



Myroslav Skoryk (1938-2020) was born in Lyiv. At the time, the city was part of Poland but is now in Ukraine. As a postgraduate at the Moscow Conservatory, he studied with Dmitri Kabalevsky. Skoryk blended jazz, pop, and European folk traditions.

Friday, March 04, 2022

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 1, 2022

The Classics a Day team chose Women's History Month as the theme for March. Actually, it's been the March theme for the past five years. And there are still many composers to explore.

As always, I try to shore works I haven't posted before. And as always for this month, I'm posting works by composers I've just discovered (both past and present). Here are my #ClassicsaDay posts for the first week of #WomensHistoryMonth.

03/01/22 Kassia (c.810-867) - O Phariseos

Who's the earliest known female composer? It's not Hildegard von Bingen. Kassia checks in two centuries before Hilde's birth. And her music is still performed in Eastern Orthodox churches to this day.

03/02/22 Anna Bon - Flute Sonata Op. 1, No. 1 in C major

Bon published her Opus 1 set of flute sonatas at age 18 in 1756. She would publish two other collections of music before disappearing from history in 1769.

03/03/22 Maria Rosa Coccia (1759-1833) - Hic vir despiciens mundum

Coccia was the only woman to enter the Accademia di Santa Cecelia (at last in the 18th C.). This work was her final exam (which she passed) at age 16.

03/04/22 Maria Teresa Agnesi - La Sofonsiba, overture

Agnesi enjoyed the patronage of Maria Theresa, the Holy Roman Empress. She was an accomplished keyboardist, and many of her surviving works are for the harpsichord. This overture is from one of her six known operas.