Creating a Hype to Sell the Spanish Dances

Imagine dancing girls… © Charles Thibo

Pablo de Sarasate, of course. His dances immediately sprung to my mind when I heard Moritz Moszkowski’s Five Spanish Dances, op. 12. Imagine a Pole from Wroclaw dreaming of Spanish temperament and then composing the corresponding music out of the hat, just like that. The Spanish Dances were originally composed for four-hand piano in 1876 and enjoyed instant popularity. But the version for violin and piano – now that beats it all! Moszkowski’s publisher had to deal with all kind of arrangements. The version for piano and violin, just as popular as the original, is only one of them.

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Anticipating nostalgia with Robert Schumann

The summer is going by. © Charles Thibo

So typically Schumann! The summer hasn’t reached its climax yet, but I am thinking about autumn already. No, Robert Schumann does that, and I am just his eager follower. Never really in the present, always somewhere else, always ahead of the rest of the world and looking back with nostalgic feelings – if there’s a way to inflict suffering upon oneself, Schumann is sure to find it. His Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Minor (op. 105) works exactly this way. How sweet it is to imagine myself remembering in September the warm summer evenings, the lush colours of nature, the particular smell of dry grass, the play of the fireflies.How delicious it is to anticipate the coming melancholia.

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Seven Minutes of Tone Row Meditations

© Charles Thibo

At work. Time suspended. A revelation, once more. Edison Denisov’s music. Three Pieces for Cello and Piano, written in 1967. Clarity. Darkness. The legacy of the Soviet Union, the dogma of Socialist Realism and the intrusion of serialism*. Wrap your arms around me. A water drop is falling. Memories of Birtwistle’s piece … What a fascinating piece! Seven minutes of a musical meditation. How weird it must have sounded in a Moscow concert hall in the 1960s.

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Weird Traits in a Musical Language of Her Own

Franz von Lenbach painted Clara Wieck.

By now the situation has become clear, and the question that I raised in one of my earliest posts about Clara Wieck: She rarely felt an inner voice compelling her to compose. Someone else had to give the impulse, her father Friedrich, her husband Robert. Once she had taken up the challenge, she usually executed the task con brio. Her personal ambition was to be a pianist, to perform, and much less to make history as a composer. Which did not prevent her to write, some lovely, entertaining Romantic piano pieces, such as her op. 15: Vier flüchtige Stücke (Four Fugitive Pieces). How did I come to that conclusion? I read an excellent biography exploring Clara’s character in depth.

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