Avant-garde. Ahead of his time. Anticipating Ligeti’s sound shapes and clouds. His compositions are extra-ordinary just like his name and his origin. Eugène Ysaÿe. Belgium. Born in 1858, he became one of the best known violinists of his time. And he composed six violin sonatas that keep intriguing me. Food for the soul? May be. Food for thought? Certainly.
A horn? A French Horn? Well yes, Camille de Saint-Saëns opens his Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 17 on the sound of a horn. Not the ordinary introduction, but then again the French composer wasn’t an ordinary man, oh no! You will like this concerto from the first moment on. The triumphant trumpets are followed quite quickly by the piano – relief, there is a piano! – and finally by the strings to move through the piece on a brilliant melody that reminds me of the soundtracks of some Disney children movies. Optimistic, lighthearted. The horn is later echoed by the flutes, then the strings play the main theme of the first movement – ten minutes of joy set to music.
One of the defining moments of the City of Vienna and may be of Christian Europe was the siege of Vienna in 1529 by the Ottoman troops under Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. Vienna did not fall, but it went through rough time. The Ottomans fired their canons at the city, blew up parts of the city walls, thousands fell on both sides, among these many civilians who tried to flee the city but failed to make it through the enemy’s lines.
Today Christians all over the world celebrate Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his painful death on the cross. Jesus has left a powerful legacy – the command of charity. So has Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In 1847, the year of his death, he was working on an oratorio initially named “Erde, Himmel und Hölle” (Earth, Heavens and Hell). It later became known under the name “Christus” and was posthumously attributed opus number 97. The fragment was published in 1852 and first performed in Birmingham the same year.