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.

Wednesday Music: Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns [Repost]

Note: I posted this music around Halloween last year. It’s too perfect not to post again, so here’s a repost of it. Enjoy!

As I was trying to come up with what piece to share with you this week, I remembered Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre, Op. 40, which is just perfect for the week of Halloween. I played this piece back when I was in an orchestra (yes, our concert was right around Halloween) and enjoyed it a lot. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Saint-Saëns wrote this piece in 1874. It’s based on a French superstition that every Halloween, Death calls the dead from their graves to dance for him.
  • The piece originally had a vocal part, but Saint-Saëns reworked it and replaced the vocal line with a solo violin.
  • The piece was not well-received initially. In fact, one critic mentioned the “horrible screeching from solo violin.” Just to let you know, the solo violin part is not screechy at all.

Enjoy! It’s a bit quiet at the beginning, so you may not hear the music if your volume is too low. It does get louder later, though.

Or click here to see on YouTube.

Wednesday Music: Mussorgsky’s ‘Night on Bald Mountain’

I know, it’s been a while since I posted Wednesday Music… but it is back, dear readers. Today’s piece is kind of frightening, which is appropriate for the month of October (even though the theme is technically summer-related, oddly enough). It’s scary to listen to—and to play. I played an arrangement of this back in my youth orchestra days. We played it in the summer, I think, so I guess someone was familiar with the inspiration for it. Anyway, here’s a bit about the piece.

  • Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky wrote this piece on June 23, 1867 on the theme of a Witches’ Sabbath occurring on St. John’s Eve, which (probably not coincidentally) is on June 23 in the Julian calendar. The holiday relates to the Summer Solstice.
  • However, other composers, especially Mussorgsky’s mentor Balakirev, didn’t like the piece and refused to perform it. In fact, the piece was never performed during Mussorgsky’s lifetime.
  • It’s only because of another Russian composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, that this piece wasn’t completely consigned to oblivion. He copied some of it into his own work and eventually Mussorgsky was finally given credit and his version was performed.

Enjoy… if you dare to listen…

Or click here to see on YouTube.