Fantasizing over Belligerent Norse Kings

Scotland Bruch-1
Norseland. © Charles Thibo

Welcome to Westray, a remote island in the North Sea, part of the Orkneys. I have unforgettable memories of a holiday when I was like 25 years old. Few people live there, the climate is harsh usually, but I was lucky and enjoyed several sunny days that made me discover the singular and rough beauty of this part of Scotland. I also enjoyed teaming up with other backpackers to visit the remarkable graveyard of Pierowall, to observe the myriads of sea birds nesting in the cliffs or to try to live for one day of food picked, bartered or worked for on the neighbouring island Papa Westray. That day we got plenty of mushrooms, sea snails, potatoes and a lobster too small to be sold by the fishermen.

Continue reading!

Connecting to Mozart and Beethoven with a Trio

Mendelssohn Piano Trio2-1
© Charles Thibo

In the first movement I hear an excited young man. At first I thought at an angry young man because of the restless violin part, but no, the cello gives those specific parts something comforting. No anger, but a lot of expectation. Was it what Felix Mendelssohn intended to say with the first movement of his Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, op. 66? After all he was a young man at the culmination point of his career as a composer, pianist and conductor. What more did he look for? Felix composed it in 1845, dedicated it to Louis Spohr, whom we have met in an earlier post, and offered it to his sister Fanny as a birthday present.

Continue reading!

The Spirits of Autumn Wear a Misty Veil

Leaves. © Charles Thibo

I don’t know how you feel about it, but I am looking forward to autumn each and every year. Each and every year I enjoy the trees changing their colour, the fresh, misty mornings with glorious sunrises, the still mild evenings with their no less glorious sunsets. And then there is so much lovely music to listen to in fall. Music like Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat Major, op. 20.

Continue reading!

Spirited Ideas in the Tradition of Beethoven

Emilie Mayer post
A lady’s work. © Charles Thibo

The day I received Almut Runge-Woll’s PhD thesis on the composer Emilie Mayer was a wonderful day. Besides Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, Mayer is one of the few female composers of the Romantic era that wrote a substantial number of works and received at least some official recognition during their lifetime. Runge-Woll’s research on Mayer’s life and the evolution of her musical language would finally unlock the doors to her music and her personality. I had found recordings of some of her works and immediately became fascinated by those works, last but no least her Symphony No. 4 in B Minor.

Continue reading!