Wednesday Music: Boccherini’s Cello Concerto in G Major

I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember when the last Wednesday Music post was. I would look back in my archives, but that would probably be demoralizing, so let’s just say it’s been a while. Today’s piece is Luigi Boccherini’s Cello Concerto No. 7 in G Major, G. 480. Now, the numbering of Boccherini’s cello concertos always confuses me—I swear I’ve also seen this one referred to as Concerto No. 3—but I know I have the G. 480 correct, so if you find this piece with a different concerto number but still listed as G. 480, I’m assuming it’s the same one. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Boccherini didn’t list this piece in his own catalog of works, but it was published in Paris in 1770, and most scholars seem to assume it was written slightly before then. Boccherini himself probably performed it in Paris.
  • During the time the composer wrote this concerto, he was at a high point in his life. He was very popular and he was working as a chamber composer for the Infante Don Luis in Spain, so he had financial stability as well.
  • The accompanying orchestra for this concerto is composed of strings only—no woodwinds. This was more common in the pre-classical era than the classical era.

Enjoy!

Or click here to see on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Arensky’s ‘Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky’

You guys, it’s been ages since I put up a Wednesday Music post! I kept forgetting, even though I’ve had this piece on my mind for a little while now. It’s composer Anton Arensky’s Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky, Op. 35a. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Arensky, a composer I’ve never heard of, wrote this piece to Tchaikovsky in 1894, the year after Tchaikovsky died.
  • It’s based on a theme Tchaikovsky wrote in a piece called “Legend: Christ in His Garden,” which is part of Sixteen Children’s Songs.
  • The theme from Arensky’s piece was actually the slow movement of a string quartet he wrote. When the quartet was performed, everyone loved the slow movement so much that Arensky arranged it as a separate piece for string orchestra, which is what you’ll hear if you play the video below.

Enjoy!

Or click here to see on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3

I almost didn’t write a post in time for Wednesday Music this week because I had trouble choosing something. I knew I wanted to have Mozart because last Friday, January 27 was his birthday (so I should have had Mozart last week, but I didn’t realize it was his birthday until the day of), but I couldn’t decide what Mozart piece to post. Then I remembered his horn concerti. I love them all but strangely enough, I haven’t posted any of them. So today’s piece is his Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major, K. 447. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Mozart completed it between 1784 and 1787 when he was living in Vienna.
  • He wrote it for his friend Joseph Leutgeb, an accomplished hornist and friend. The score is currently stored at the British Library in London.
  • The work is in three movements and is scored for two clarinets, two bassoons, solo horn, and strings.

Enjoy! The second movement is a particular favorite of mine, so be sure to listen to that (it starts at 7:06). This is an old recording, so the quality isn’t the best, but it’s hard to find a decent one on YouTube!

Or click here to listen on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Beethoven’s Wind Octet in E-Flat Major

I found this delightful piece—Beethoven’s Wind Octet in E-flat major, Op. 103—while looking for study music on YouTube. (Hey, I had to have something to listen to while going over all those study units for my recent exam.) I passed the exam, so maybe that means this piece is good luck? Who knows. 😀 Anyway, this piece is very beautiful and we haven’t had Beethoven in a while, so here’s a bit about it.

  • The piece is written for two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns. It has four movements.
  • Beethoven wrote it in 1792 while he was living in Bonn, prior to moving to Vienna. He later reworked and expanded it as his first String Quintet, Op. 4.
  • However, the Wind Octet wasn’t published until about ten years after his death (it was published in either 1834 or 1837; I found both dates while researching), hence its high opus number.

Enjoy!

Or click here to listen on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Felix Godin’s ‘Valse Septembre’

Today’s piece is a bit different than what I usually post. It’s Felix Godin’s Valse Septembre. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Felix Godin is actually the pseudonym of an English composer named Henry Albert Brown. He wrote a lot of light music, which is like classical but less, you know, intense.
  • This piece was written in 1909 and is the one Godin/Brown is best known for writing. It is a light waltz in four movements and was quite popular at the beginning of the twentieth century.
  • The piece had a resurgence in popularity because it was featured in the 1997 film Titanic. (As an aside, I think there’s a lot of good music in that movie. Don’t laugh—it’s true!) If you’ve seen the movie, you may recognize the piece since snippets of it are playing in the movie.

Enjoy! And if you don’t like twentieth century music, never fear. I’ll return to my usual eighteenth and nineteenth century pieces in coming weeks.

Or click here to see on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Clementi’s Sonata in B-Flat Major

Welcome to the first Wednesday Music post of 2017! Today’s piece is a piano sonata in B-Flat major, Op. 24, No. 2 by the composer Muzio Clementi. Here’s a bit about the piece (and the composer, since he isn’t that well-known today).

  • Clementi was born in Italy but moved to England and lived there for most of his life, aside from some trips overseas. In his day, he was a very famous composer, but after he died he was forgotten for a while.
  • He wrote many compositions for piano and influenced many pianists, including Beethoven.
  • The beginning of this piece sounds a bit like the overture to Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. Considering it was written prior to Mozart’s opera, it seems likely Mozart borrowed it for his purposes later on after hearing it.

Enjoy!

Or click here to see on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Overture to Bizet’s ‘Carmen’

Dear readers, friends, fellow classical music aficionados: I have exciting news. Wednesday Music is back! I meant to take a short break from it (like one or two weeks), but then that stretched into… quite a long time. Never fear, the best music-related weekly feature in the blogosphere is here again. This week’s piece is the Overture from composer Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Bizet never visited Spain, but he wanted the opera to have a Spanish flavor. He put elements of Spanish folk music into the work, but some scholars say that it is essentially a French opera. (Bizet was French, so that does make sense.
  • The overture has three themes that occur later in the opera. One is the entry of the bullfighters (act 4), another is the Toreador Song (act 2), and the third is a motif that represents Carmen.
  • Since this is the overture, it’s instrumental-only. If you don’t like opera, you can listen anyway without fear of hearing singing!

Enjoy!

Or click here to see on YouTube.