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.





New Year’s Day, 2015

Happy New Year from Google!

Happy New Year, everyone! May you all make some great days in 2015..

As you can see, I admire Google’s New Year’s Google Doodle. Here’s a celebratory jigsaw puzzle as well.

Here’s a list of popular songs for New Year’s 2015.

And if you’re not in the mood for rock or pop, here’s something from the world of classical music. Andre Rieu’s New Tear’s in Vienna:




Music to Wake By

Thank goodness for the daily online playlists at Classical WETA 90.9 FM! Yesterday I woke up to Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C, K. 545.

The tune is very familiar, and it always struck me as very bright and cheery. I’m glad to finally know the title. Here it is:


While I was browsing this evening, I discovered this other Mozart piece, which Classical Music Only  refers to as Mozart’s greatest violin work:






A Happy Little Violin Tune

Admittedly, I stay up way too late. But on Wednesday, March 16, if I had gone to bed early, I would not have heard Anne-Sophie Mutter’s interpretation of Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole with the French National Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, conductor, at 1:18 a.m. The whole piece is gorgeous, but this YouTube clip does not have the dancing, laughing rapid melody that I heard that morning. It always makes me smile each time I hear it:

Apparently, it is called the “Rondo.” Here’s Joshua Bell’s version:

It’s taken me until now to get the correct title! Another I hope to listen to in full one day….

Music and Art: A Great Pairing

As I listened to tonight’s “Front Row Washington” on Classical WETA 90.9, I was happy to hear The Vivaldi Project concert  in connection with the National Gallery of Art exhibit “Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals,” which runs through May 30, 2011.  I did not know about the February 20th concert in time to go see it, so I am glad I didn’t miss this. I hope to see the exhibit soon. I also got on the National Gallery of Art’s concert list. I hope I can see at least one, with the rest on podcast.

I am happy to learn that The Vivaldi Project is based in Northern Virginia, so they are not too far away. I will ask the director when the next concert is.

And because I can’t get enough of Vivaldi, here is Cleveland’s Apollo’s Fire performing Vivaldi’s “La Folia, the Trio Sonata in D Minor, RV 63″ from a January 15, 2009 performance. I found them through a Web search.”La Folia” was the last selection on tonight’s program, but I forgot who the musicians were here.

Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A Minor

The first time I heard Dvorak’s “Violin Concerto in A Minor, Opus 53,” it was March 19, 2009. I loved it so much I played it twice in one day. Since then, I always keep an ear out for it. One day, I hope to own my own copy. It starts out very grand, and then somewhere in the middle it has this very cheerful-sounding section that I always recognize, whatever I happen to be doing with music as a background. It seems I’m always at the computer.

Many performers pick different sections to highlight. I prefer the complete version of all three movements. Here is a recording of the second and third movements:

Love’s Joy

This morning I woke up to Fritz Kreisler’s “Love’s Joy.” It’s just a happy, hopeful melody, and I love hearing it when it comes on the radio. What more can I say? Enjoy!

Here’s his performance of “Meditation on Thais,” from 1928. He died in 1962.

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor

Today I listened to Minnesota Public Radio’s “New Classical Tracks.” James Ehnes’  CD was featured. He performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, which I might eventually buy when times are better.

Here is a 2007 video of Sarah Chang performing it at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic:

Cinema Paradiso Reflections

Cinema Paradiso (1988) is my favorite foreign film, and one of my favorite films ever. It’s about a young Sicilian boy, Salvatore, and his lifelong love of the movies. He eventually grows up to be a famous film director. It’s also his coming-of-age story.

One of my former bosses told me about it, describing how much the film had moved him. I was skeptical. The few foreign films I had seen up to that point I didn’t like at all. One day he came back to the office after a meeting, handed me a free movie pass and said, “Here. I want you to see Cinema Paradiso. You never take a break, so take the afternoon off and enjoy.” I went the next afternoon, and loved it! I thanked him profusely for the movie pass, and it was the latest of many lessons in always taking time to smell the roses. Eventually I bought the video, and I still watch it whenever the mood strikes me. In 2005 or thereabouts, my aunt and I went to a Washington, DC theater to see the director’s extended cut. That version left an even bigger lump in my throat, but it was an even more satisfying story. Ennio Morricone wrote the music for the film. It is by turns, happy, wistful, joyous, sad, haunting, and everything in between.

The other night, I was listening to a podcast episode of Dr. Mark Malkovich’s program, “My Music,” on Rhode Island’s classical station Classical 95.9 WCRI FM. The program featured the music of pianist John Bayless, who covers many modern songs in a stylish, dignified way. He included the love theme from Cinema Paradiso on one of his CDs. Dr. Malkovich included that version on the program, and I kept playing it over and over. I  hadn’t realized how much I missed the tune. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Grooveshark lists more than 150 recordings of the melody; I listened to a few. Josh Groban sings the Italian version of the song on one of his newer CDs. Yo-Yo Ma has recorded an instrumental version.

I also went to YouTube. The first video is Ennio Morricone conducting, and a pianist playing the well-known melody. The second is a Polish orchestra performing a version for strings. Below these, I also include the English translation of the song. I don’t know which interpretation I like better.

Cinema Paradiso

If you were in my eyes for one day
You could see the full beauty of the joy
I find in your eyes
And it isn’t magic or loyalty

If you were in my heart for a day
You would have an idea
Of what I feel
When you hold me strongly to you
Heart to heart,
Breathing together

Protagonist of your love
I don’t know if it’s magic or loyalty

If you were in my soul for a day
You would know what is inside me
That I fell in love
At that instant, together with you
And what I sense
It’s only love.

As I reflect on the film, I think about how movies connect people, as pastime, entertainment, as a gathering place, as a shared memory. And I think about how nothing ever stays the same. I guess it’s never supposed to. “The only thing we can count on in this life is change,” another boss always told me. The theater where I first saw the film has closed, and much about the area is different now. I’ve gone through my own unpredictable career ride, friends have come and gone, and these two former bosses have since passed away. I miss them a lot.

But still, good things have happened to me in the years since, in spite of the challenges. I will concentrate on those.

Happy Birthday, Joshua Bell!

Today, Thursday, December 9, 2010: Joshua Bell is 43 today! I hope he found an enjoyable way to mark the occasion.

I have his Voice of the Violin CD, and his version of The Four Seasons so far. The Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields joins him on that one. You can’t go wrong with either artist.

I have never seen Joshua Bell in concert–something I would still love to do. Strathmore and the Kennedy Center are so close, and yet so far away, even though I’ve been to both places many times over the years. The tickets sell out so quickly! Classical WETA rebroadcasts his concerts sometimes, and I do keep up with PBS’s Great Performances, just in case he is on. Fritz Kriesler is his favorite composer, so I’ll have to research Kriesler more. Bell recorded Kriesler’s material in 1996.

I recently read parts of Gene Weingarten’s book, The Fiddler on the Subway. Wisely, this essay written for The Washington Post Magazine in April 2007 was last in the book. In it, Joshua Bell pretended to be a street violinist at L’Enfant Plaza Metro. The question was whether anyone would recognize him or his playing. (I don’t think anyone did.) Bell doesn’t like to be remembered only for that, but it must have been a fun thing to do. If I had been there, it would have been fun to listen for a while, and maybe to ask for his autograph if I had seen his face, which was obscured by a baseball cap.

After rereading this essay, I was reminded of all the street musicians I’ve met or enjoyed over the years. There was the flute player at Farragut West every morning when I first started working. I tried to give him something as often as I could. He was always cheerful and never failed to say, “Good morning.” The Andean music ensemble was also very good. I bought one of their tapes once. At Metro Center, a man with an eye patch played a really cool, bouncy, bluesy harmonica (along with singing) every evening. Every once in a while, the guy who liked to play keyboards at the main Metro Center entrance would say hi. Every Christmas he would wear a Santa hat. Sadly, I read where he passed away of pneumonia a few years ago, but I can still see his face. And there were more than a few great guitar players at various places.

Speaking of street music, I thought the Korean woman who sold purses and jewelry had a beautiful voice as she sang folk songs. The Ethiopian food cart vendor would tell me about music from her country. And every Tuesday at noon at the Church of the Epiphany, there were lunchtime concerts–classical, jazz, bluegrass, a cappella gospel, and more. And there were the bells chiming the hour, half hour, and quarter hours. I remember the late rector, Edgar D. Romig, saying in one of his concert intros: “Great music comes in many forms.”

I hope the church still has these free events. I’d love to go back sometime. There’s no need to be in the area now. The church is situated between two large buildings. In the spring and summer I kept an eye out for the roses in their garden. It is a nice little island within Washington, D.C. My only unhappy memory was trying to get there for a Washington Bach Consort performance, and the ramps were blocked. I should have fought harder for people to move their cars, but it doesn’t matter now.

Anyway, here is video from The Washington Post–Joshua Bell’s subway day from April 10, 2007:

And because it’s getting to be Christmas, here’s Joshua playing Ave Maria, backed by the St. Luke’s Orchestra. It’s from December 31, 2007. Enjoy!


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