A floating melody of sadness

Chopin's piano music is as delicate as Mozart's piano pieces and yet very different. © Charles Thibo
Chopin’s piano music is as delicate as Mozart’s piano pieces and yet very different. © Charles Thibo

1983 was my second year in highschool. Pop music started to invade my ears, and every week, I would watch – like my class mates – a popular German pop music show on TV. And pop music brought me to Chopin. In 1983, the Italian pop star Gazebo (Paul Mazzolini) released a song with the title “I like Chopin” that stayed at position nb. 1 in the charts in Germany, Switzerland and Austria for weeks. I loved that tune, but one day my father teased me by asking: “Any idea who or what Copin is?” Ooops.

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And the bottle of wine goes to…

For unknown reasons I associate the color purple with Tchaikovsky's suites. © Charles Thibo
For unknown reasons I associate the color purple with Tchaikovsky’s suites. © Charles Thibo

I am challenging you: What is the name of that instrument  sounding like a combination of bells and horns at 2:07, 2:11, 2:16 and 2:18 of the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 2 in C major, Op. 53? If you come up with a sensible answer 1, I will send you a bottle of that excellent white wine we grow in Luxembourg no matter where you live. I have listened countless times to that suite, each time with utmost delight, but for a long time, I had no clue how the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Järvi produced that sound. Looking at the score would have been too easy and no fun, and I am curious to hear your scientifically sound replies, educated guesses, crystal ball reading and oracle mutterings!

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Losing myself with Bach, Beethoven, Boulez

Minutes before the next April shower. © Charles Thibo
Minutes before the next April shower. © Charles Thibo

Sun, rain, snow, sun, snow, hail, rain… In April we have seen our share of crazy weather. Yesterday afternoon I caught this sight of the sun through our trees while I listened to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10. By the time I started to write this post, it was raining again. And it felt good to sit inside in my warm study and to listen to Beethoven. I believe that even in the darkest hour, Beethoven’s sonatas could give me comfort, strength, hope. The music invades my mind and I can’t think of little else. When I let go, I can lose myself, drown, be absorbed, melt in it, fuse with it. The incredible lightness of playing piano… Again and again, I am impressed by the world’s great pianists, in this case Maurizio Pollini, who has recorded Op. 10 with the label Deutsche Grammophon.

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Piano pieces for the Immortal Beloved

Isn't that a lovely little piano? I can take it wherever I go to practice while traveling. © Charles Thibo
Isn’t that a lovely little piano? I can take it wherever I go to practice while traveling. © Charles Thibo

When I first heard of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations Op. 120, I thought they had something to do with the devil! But no, in Italian the devil is called “il diavolo”, and Anton Diabelli is the name of an Austrian publisher and composer who lived between 1781 and 1858. He published several works by Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven, two important personal acquaintances. He also composed a waltz, and Beethoven wrote a set of 33 variations on the waltz’ theme.

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