Music for the New Year–Happy 2017!!

Once again, I’m better late than never. The year 2017 is just three weeks old. I was searching for some music that reflected the new year to me in a different way. I chose Haydn’s “The Clock Symphony” because it reminded me of the passage of time, and how that isn’t necessarily a sad thing. Besides, I enjoy the melody.

I have not listened to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in a long time. They played it on the radio the other morning. I forgot how beautiful it is.

My Intro to Opera–Bizet’s “Carmen”

In the fall of 2015, I saw my first professional production of Bizet’s opera, Carmen, by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. It was wonderful! I went all-out, buying a video, soundtrack album, and libretto. Sometimes you just have to listen at home as well. I was completely captivated by the costumes, set, the singing, and the lighting. The ending, though expected, left me feeling as though I had been punched in the gut.

It was my very first opera anywhere. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pre-opera presentation. Had I known about the discussion afterward, I would have stayed for that as well. Before the performance, I went over the background material in my opera reference book and listened to the info on the Kennedy Center website

I have known the music since I was a child. Sesame Street long ago featured an animation of one of the famous arias. I’ve encountered it since through music appreciation classes and other recordings. It is, arguably, one of the most performed and accessible operas. The Met is launching a new production of it in January 2017.

Classical WETA 90.9 often plays Sarasate’s  “Carmen Fantasy.” I always enjoy listing to that, Here is Sarah Chang’s interpretation:


Image result for carmen free clipart opera

Enrique Granados–“12 Spanish Dances”



I have spent some time this morning learning about the Catalan composer Enrique Granados and some of his compositions, and his life, and his family. He is from the same region of Spain as Pablo Casals, and was just as famous in his lifetime. One morning, I heard a portion of the “12 Spanish Dances” and was really enjoying them. Afterward, the name of the composer stuck with me.

Here are the “12 Spanish Dances” for piano.  Guitar renditions follow for some, as well as a couple of his other pieces. Enjoy!


spanish dancer: Flamenco. Dancing girl and guitarist. Vector illustration Illustration


Haydn Trumpet Concerto, London Symphony, and Symphony #5

I only know the barest facts about Franz Joseph Haydn: the Esterhazy family, that his students–of which Beethoven was one–called him “Papa,” and so on. I recently learned that Beethoven and Haydn didn’t get along. (But did Beethoven get along with anybody? I sure hope so. I imagine Haydn as having a sense of humor. Perhaps he will be the next musical biography on my list.

As usual, I have Classical WETA 90.9 to thank for playing Haydn fairly often. I have the “Surprise” Symphony and enjoy it. Here are my other favorites so far. First up is his trumpet concerto, performed by Wynton Marsalis:

Next up is the London Symphony. Awesome!

Last is Haydn’s Symphony #5:


As I’m finishing this post, I’m listening to Haydn Concertos: Il Pomo Doro by Riccardo Minasi. Very beautiful so far!

Beethoven’s “Ghost”


Happy Halloween!  I had never heard of Beethoven’s “Ghost” piano trios until this morning. The on-air host thought it was sufficiently creepy and eerie for the day. Enjoy!


Remembering Sir Neville Marriner

I woke up to the sad news that Sir Neville Marriner–violinist, conductor, and founder of the chamber group, the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields–passed away on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at the age of 92. He was one of the first musicians I researched as I started listening to classical music regularly. I never did find a biography or autobiography, so I guess he wasn’t inclined to talk about himself or be interviewed for a book. I’m glad that he had a family and wasn’t alone. I wish that I could have met him; I bet he was an interesting person to talk to. I had forgotten that he had done the music for the film Amadeus.

There was a 50th Anniversary book on the Academy itself, so maybe I’ll get that one day. Marriner started the group when he invited musicians to his home, and it grew.

I absolutely loved the group’s name from the moment I heard it, and I have several of their CDs. I’m glad we saw them a few years ago at GMU. Maybe one day I’ll go back again.

Here’s the group’s statement, with an interview Marriner did.

And the obit from the Guardian.

There were also YouTube tributes.  Rather than choose something sad to include with this entry, I picked these full-length albums.




Vivaldi: Storm at Sea — A Great Theme for a Hectic Monday

I had never heard Vivaldi’s concerto “Storm at Sea” before. Once I did hear it on the radio, I was hooked. I thought it very intense and full of energy.  As I’ve gone through today, it sounds to me like the musical version of a stressful 24 hours–a stormy Monday in particular. And of course , even without the paintings, I’m reminded of the sea.

A Time to Dance

Again, I heard two of these songs this morning on the radio. It’s a late Renaissance/early Baroque dance. I just thought it was pretty.

This next one is “La Giaconda: Dance of the Hours.” It’s great to hear the real one instead of the parody song about the kid away at camp. Enjoy!

I also like Rachmaninoff in general. A favorite is the Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, especially when the orchestra reaches the movements that sound like songs. It’s a composition of many moods. I have heard it several times now, and I recognize it right away.

I like this video in particular because it feels like I’m at an actual performance.

Also, on today’s playlist, they included The Luxembourg Waltz, which I had only heard a part of before turning my radio off. It, too, is lovely, and I also enjoy the scenes from Luxembourg.

On Wings of Song, by Mendelssohn

I have heard a version of On Wings of Song for violin and piano on my classical music station. Sometimes it will be late at night, and other times around seven in the morning. I have no idea who the musicians are, but I think it’s beautiful. Listen! It’s a joy to listen to.

And here’s a piano version, accompanied by an English translation of the German poem. I love the art as well.




Songs without Words–Mendelssohn

I’ve heard only some of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words on the radio. I really like them, so I searched on YouTube for a complete set, below. Here’s a little more background. After a day of listening to rock and gospel, they are very calming.

In a related article, here are six more love songs without words by different composers. I’ll look them up later.

In the meantime, enjoy Mendelssohn.



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