French piano concertos in the tradition of Franz Liszt

Saint-Saëns' piano concertos are just right for celebrating spring. © Charles Thibo
Saint-Saëns’ piano concertos are just right for celebrating spring. © Charles Thibo

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.

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A Muslim lesson in generosity

 Arab conquerors built the magnificent fortress Alhambra in Spain. © Elisabeth Wohlgenannt
Arab conquerors built the magnificent fortress Alhambra in Spain. © Elisabeth Wohlgenannt

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.

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Ecstasy on Easter Sunday

Easter - the dawn of a new, powerful religion. © Charles Thibo
Easter – the dawn of a new, powerful religion. © Charles Thibo

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.

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Sin and redemption among the ruins of Dresden

After World War II, Dresden lies in ruins. © G. Beyer/Bundesarchiv
After World War II, Dresden lies in ruins. © G. Beyer/Bundesarchiv

Easter is approaching fast, and while – for a number of reasons – I am not a regular church-goer, I haven’t lost faith in the message of the Bible. And music is a field where I can meet God. When I thought about a suited post for the Easter time, I did not hesitate a second. Since I wanted to surprise you, Schütz, Telemann, Bach, Mendelssohn and Händel – the usual suspects – did not make it into the selection. Instead you got Mauersberger, Rudolf Mauersberger. You don’t know him? Alleluja!

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