Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: Let’s end this cycle on a high note!
Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: Look to the stars!
A few weeks after writing the text to this final opera in his epic sage, the composer was persuaded that his draft assumed too much background knowledge to the story, so he added a prologue to bring the audience up to speed on the plot. Ultimately, everything is destroyed, and the listener ends up where they started nearly 16 hours before.
Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: A tricky gambling game
Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: Marching to a totally different beat
When this comic play was translated for an operatic audiences and the Austrian stage, the location was from a cafe to something more familiar to Viennese audiences, a splendid ball!
This selection and its companions were written when the composer returned to his hometown after a few years away. Accompanying this work is a group of corresponding sonnets, likely written by composer. The words that complement this selection describe biting snow, stinging winds and ice, and the music evokes these frosty characteristics.
He premiered the original four-hand version of this work at a private gathering of friends, with the wife of his mentor performing the other part. Famously, they formed a deep emotional involvement after his mentor’s death, and many have speculated that his four-hand music might have purposefully included numerous “romantic” hand-crossings…
During the Enlightenment numerous groups popped up all over Europe where intelligent men could meet and discuss the ups and downs of society. The composer of this selection was a member of one such group. For one of his last works, he got together with his friend and fellow secret society member to create a "fantasy opera" for the stage.
This concerto was begun on one side of the Atlantic and finished on the other. The composer’s trip began when he accepted a teaching position at an American conservatory. He was hired to encourage composers to draw from their own folk music. Eventually homesickness, writers’ block, and his employers’ inability to pay him forced him to return home.
When this composer was a little boy, he and his friends had themselves an adventure by hiking up one of Europe’s most famous mountain range. He worked for eleven years on a work that would reflect his love of nature, resulting in a musical portrait of a hiker who describes what he experiences on own his incredible mountain journey.
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This composer was commissioned to write a piece for the graduation ceremonies at a local German university that had given him an honorary doctorate degree the previous year. In this selection, he not only includes academic tunes, but also several student drinking songs. The composer conducted this piece at the university’s graduation ceremony.
This symphonic poem depicts creepy nocturnal happenings and referred to the eve of a traditional religious holiday. When his colleagues disapproved of the work, the composer withdrew it, eventually working parts of it into a comic opera! Appearing in Walt Disney’s “Fantasia,” it has become one of the iconic examples of “scary” classical music.
In 1873, a theater in Moscow was closed for renovations, and so the resident company made the Bolshoi Theater its temporary home. While there, they commissioned one of Russia’s most well-known composers to create the work re-telling of a popular Russian fairy tale about a princess with “wintry” magical powers.
The piece was composed to commemorate victory over the forces of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s older brother. This composer then arranged it for a full orchestra with two on-stage wind bands and full percussion to represent the two battling armies. The fully-orchestrated work was a huge crowd-pleaser at is premiere in 1813.
In this work, two prostitutes petition a biblical king in a child custody dispute, and the wise king saves the day with a crafty solution. This oratorio was the first of two written for the same London theatrical season. While the one we are hearing celebrates the virtue of wisdom, the other, with cuckoldry, is more like a biblical comic opera…
While this composer wrote for the concert hall, he also scored many films because the government wanted composers to work in media relevant to the masses. The original movie ending showed a school-teacher’s isolation from her community bringing about a tragic end. But this was ultimately changed to a happy (and more socially edifying) conclusion…
The composer and librettist went through plenty of trials and tribulations before this work's premiere. Among other problems, the censors demanded that a dance scene be removed. The premiere was delayed as the work was revised to appease the authorities, but it didn’t change too much: the boy gets the girl, and the royalty plays the fool.
The composer went through many rewrites of this symphony. Fond of using allusions in his music, the composer uses a cheerful folk song, but shifts it into the minor key. One theme is a self-quotation from the composer’s own early song cycle, and an inscription in the score references a famous illustration used in many Austrian children’s books…
This famous story of gifts gone wild was not easy to compose: the composer suffered from severe writer’s block. He also had to take a transatlantic trip at the same time! The reason for his visit was to celebrate the opening of a famous American concert hall. When he finally got back home he got “cracking” on this work and finished the next year.
This stage work was a modernized version of an old-fashioned social satire. The composer went on to write both for the concert hall and the Broadway stage. Intended as a flagrant assault on middle-class morals, the work backfired and turned into a pop culture hit with the very same audience it was attempting to ridicule!
As a young man, this composer possessed a great ability at cricket, which helped him escaped much bullying. The same cannot be said of the title character of this opera. The audience is often left wondering whether it was a series of unfortunate events or the doing of a sociopath!
This arrangement of a popular folk song demonstrates the composer’s unconventional approach to music. He looked at folk music as a more genuine style, free from the traditions and strictures of “art music.” And because of this freedom, he was able to freely experiment with many innovative ideas years before they were approached by other composers.
This music is used to celebrate one of the happiest occasions in many people’s lives, but it was intended to depict comes about after some fairy trickery, a little shape-shifting, and a lot of laughs. The composer found inspiration in an overture he had written on the same subject when he was just 17.
Ether Game asks, "can you name this tune? He’s just an ordinary man…"
The performers of this composer’s operas often didn’t even see the final version of their music until hours before the curtain went up. This chorus has such a memorable melody that it has frequently been suggested as a national anthem for one Mediterranean country.
This piece, along with a performance at a famous exhibition, made the name of its composer. It also helped establish him has one of the masters of this musical style. We used to think that he had been born in November of a certain year, but records show that he was actually born at some point in the six months prior to January of that same year...
The story behind this virtuoso composer and his auspicious beginnings has been the source of fact AND rumor since his own time. It was one of history’s first “stage parent” situations. With a little encouragement from his father, this little tyke started his performing and writing before many of his peers where speaking in complete sentences.
This composer was a staunch pacifist who had moved to the USA in frustration as Europe moved inevitably towards the Second World War. While his discovery of an old poem by a long-dead countryman provided the basic plot, his personal and political convictions also came into the picture.
The composer of this selection was fortunate enough to establish a name for herself as a concert pianist long before she one of history’s great composers.
The whistled motive from this film has become nearly synonymous with climactic Old West showdowns, even though the film that it graces was made well after the golden age of Hollywood Westerns. The composer scored countless Westerns in this peculiar international style, making his reputation abroad…
Legend says that this composer dreamed the Devil appeared to him and played the violin with such virtuosity that the composer felt his breath taken away. When the composer awoke he desperately tried to recapture what he had heard in the dream. He always felt that it came nowhere close to capturing the demonic music he had heard in his vision.