Classical KUSC


Beethoven Photo Essay

Posted By: Dennis Bartel · 4/8/2014 1:12:00 PM

The thirteen year old Ludwig Beethoven (sans "van" which he added later once he moved to Vienna). Beethoven was assistant harpsichordist in the Electoral Kapelle, in Bonn. He also composed three keyboard sonatas at this time, posthumously published as WoO47. A notice in the Almanach likened his first published works to those of "a third or fourth-form student."


This is Beethoven at age twenty, still living in Bonn. He had been granted half his father's salary in order to act as the head of the family. He was playing viola in an opera orchestra. Joseph Haydn came through Bonn during that year on his way to London. On his way back two years later he was shown one of Beethoven's cantatas and he agreed to take him as a pupil in Vienna, a decision that would lead to Beethoven moving to the Imperial City.


This is Beethoven in ...

The Magic Flute Without Myths

Posted By: Dennis Bartel · 3/23/2014 1:44:00 PM

These things we know for certain. It is the spring of 1791 and Mozart is in desperate debt. He owes at least twelve of his brothers at the Benevolence Masonic Lodge, including thirty-thousand (in today's dollars) to one member, while his annual income has dwindled by half to about forty-thousand. His wife of nine years, Constanze, is pregnant again, for the sixth time, and ill; gone with their only child Karl to the spa at Baden for convalescence.

Faced with such straits, Mozart agrees to collaborate on a Singspiel (a German musical with comic patter) with an old acquaintance, Emanuel Schikaneder (pictured right), a longtime singer, actor and all-around theater hack, five years older than Mozart. Schikaneder recently became manager of the Freihaus Theater on the city's outskirts, so called because it is a free theater, as opposed to a court theater, and caters to the lower brow tastes of ...

Classical Dogs

Posted By: Dennis Bartel · 3/5/2014 6:35:00 PM

Listen closely and soon you will hear, coming from out back of the timpani, the sound of dogs in classical music. Many of the Great Composers kept dogs. Some put dogs into their music.

The Mozart family dog, a fox terrier, was named Bimbes, though the prodigy Wolfy changed her name to the southern German diminutive Bimperl. So pleased was he with this clever dog-eared ornamentation that he similarly re-christened his sister Anna to Nannerl.

Correspondence by the Mozart family is tracked with mentions of Bimberl. Whenever traveling, Wolfy seldom failed to send "a thousand kisses to Bimberl."

At twenty-one, Mozart went with his mother to Paris where the young genius hoped to land a job. But his was a long, dark stay in the City of Lights, and turned tragic when Frau Mozart died.

Back in Salzburg, Nannerl kept her brother informed as to his dear Bimberl, describing how ...

Your Brain on Music

Posted By: Dennis Bartel · 2/19/2014 11:32:00 PM

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a cool way for us to understand the psychology of music, how dozens of receptors in the brain respond to rhythm, tempo, tone, and other aspects of music. Take a look and see how your brain responds to music, the benefits of listening to music, and what your brain may derive from a music education.

Music Genes

Posted By: Dennis Bartel · 2/5/2014 6:31:00 PM

Are you like me when it comes to music? I think I hear music well, its intricacies and subtleties. I believe that music plays an essential role in my inner life, but anyone who has heard me try to sing, or witnessed my fumbling attempts to play an instrument of any kind no matter how elementary – from drum to tambourine, never mind piano or clarinet – would never mistake me for someone musical.

Yet music strikes an innate chord in me, and I feel musical. I also feel that I do certain things musically. Somewhere there is music in me, even if it does not come out of me in song.

If this sounds familiar, you may be interested in findings from research conducted at Ohio State University regarding a “music gene.” Scientists and musicologists have proposed that the musicality of humans has evolved right along with our ability ...

Achille-Claude Debussy: Photo Essay

Posted By: Dennis Bartel · 1/26/2014 11:45:00 AM

Of all the Great Composers, Debussy's personal life was among the most turbulent, that is, he scores among the highest in life-stress tests. One such episode involved Mme Emma Bardac, the wife of a wealthy banker and an amateur singer. Having just reached forty, and married four years, Debussy had a love affair with Emma Bardac.

    With Lily Lilo, a few months before
    his affair with Emma Bardac

His wife Rosalie Texier, whom Debussy called "Lily-Lilo," attempted suicide by shooting herself with a revolver, inflicting a wound near her heart. She was in the hospital when Debussy came to see her only once. He left as soon as he learned she would survive the gunshot wound. His friends were brutal in their criticism, and some became estranged from Debussy. He described this time as "strange and bizarre."

Debussy and Emma Bardac

Soon, Debussy moved into an apartment ...

Franck’s Fling-Woo F-Minor Quintet

Posted By: Bartel's Blog · 1/17/2014 12:05:00 AM

Why did Madame Franck "emphatically dislike" the Piano Quintet by her husband Cesar? She refused to attend performances of the work, the first of which took place on this date in 1880, and heard it only when he played it on the piano at their Boulevard St. Michel apartment. She told friends, "His organ pieces are everything that is admirable, but that Quintet! Ugh!"

Did she object to its densely packed texture, or the unnerving tonal curve early in the first movement – a theme centered on a B natural in the key of F-Minor? Did the aesthetically cautious Madame Franck consider her husband's radical use of cyclical form a small scandale musique?

No. What so perturbated Felicite Franck about the F-Minor Quintet was its inspiration: Franck's beautiful young student Augusta Holmès (pictured above.)

Many friends viewed Franck as an organist-mystic, wearing pants too short and box coat too long, ...

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