Posts Tagged 'composer'

A Short Foray into Beethoven’s Variations

Guest post by Dr. Dominik Rahmer, editor at G. Henle Verlag.

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The formal technique of “variations” played an important role in Beethoven’s work throughout his entire life. Critic Paul Bekker wrote in 1911, “Beethoven begins with variations,” and indeed this is true not only of the character of his oeuvre, but also of its chronological progression: Beethoven’s very first published work was his 9 Variations on a March by Dressler, WoO 63, which appeared in 1782.

DresslerTheme

Dressler Variations, WoO 63: Beginning of the Theme

Similarly, we could add that Beethoven also ends with variations. The Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, which are amongst his last piano works, not only crown his creativity, but also, in the history of piano variations, are probably equaled only by Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

The panoply of variations within his multi-movement works also indicates how fundamental this technique is in Beethoven’s musical thinking. Consider, for example, the profound closing movement of the last piano sonata, Op. 111, or the grand finale of the 3rd Symphony.

Though the themes of these movements were usually Beethoven’s own inventions, here we will focus on the pieces composed as independent variation sets on popular melodies. This vantage point reveals some interesting finds. Continue reading ‘A Short Foray into Beethoven’s Variations’

Sky Macklay: The Process & Joy of Subversive Humor

ManyManyCadencesOver the summer we found some time to connect over Skype with composer, oboist, installation artist and professor Sky Macklay, who was in the middle of what sounded like a truly magnificent residency at Civitella Ranieri in Umbertide, Italy. Macklay’s work, especially her chamber music and intermedia pieces, has been receiving more and more attention recently, especially in light of her 2017 Grammy nomination for “Many Many Cadences,” a chamber piece written for Spektral Quartet and appearing on their 2016 album, Serious Business.

The measured but sincerely eager thoughtfulness that Macklay employs in conversation about her art is also a key component of her work, which simultaneously revels in playfulness and freedom. The themes and concepts covered by her oeuvre, whether sociopolitical or linguistic or purely sonic, are almost as expansive as the tools she employs to explore them and convey her perspective on them. Her curiosity seems to be matched only by her omnivorous gravitational pull on the world around her: everything is on the table to explore via every means she can get her hands on. And the results are surprising, head-turning, eye-opening — and continuously exciting.

Continue reading ‘Sky Macklay: The Process & Joy of Subversive Humor’

A Chat with Lloyd Larson

Guest post from Jubilate Music Group

Lloyd Larson has become one of today’s most published and performed church music writers. A frequently called-upon clinic and conference resource, Larson has been a singer, keyboard player, and arranger.

Having earned his B.A. from Anderson University, Anderson, IN, Lloyd next completed his M.C.M. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Louisville, KY, and undertook additional graduate work at SBTS and Ohio State University.

Larson’s extensive background in arranging and composing includes arranging music for an internationally broadcast radio program. Also, in 1989, he completed an editorial assignment for a new hymnal, Worship the Lord, for the Church of God, and co-edited the accompanying Hymnal Companion. In addition, Larson contributed to the Complete Library of Christian Worship, edited by Dr. Robert Webber. He has served as a church music director for decades (a role he continues to this day), which has inevitably informed his artful and well-crafted yet practical original compositions and arrangements.

Recently, Larson sat down with Mark Cabaniss, President and CEO of Jubilate Music Group, to discuss his work and to help us all get to know him a bit better. Continue reading ‘A Chat with Lloyd Larson’

Discovering Mårten Jansson & Bärenreiter’s Jansson Choral Competition

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Mårten Jansson

Every time we listen to Swedish composer Mårten Jansson we can’t help but get swept up in the whirlwind of emotions he creates. His music is full of all of the compositional elements that choristers love to sing: sweeping melodic lines, open chords and expressive dissonance.

Ultimately, though, performers and audiences alike fall in love with his music because they are drawn to the fundamental honesty at its core. Jansson approaches traditional sacred texts with humility, and he openly shares his experience of it through his music in a way that amplifies the text without pretense or contradiction.

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This honesty should not be confused with simplicity or naïveté. Jansson’s stunning Missa Popularis, for instance, manages to connect us to a profound range of emotions, while uniting many layers of thought and tradition into the microcosm of a single piece of music. In addition to all of Jansson’s neoromantic tendencies, the Missa sits atop a foundation of Swedish folk dances and also sounds strikingly Medieval. Though perhaps most obvious in the opening of the “Kyrie” and the “Agnus Dei,” the feeling of the chant is present throughout the entire Mass. Continue reading ‘Discovering Mårten Jansson & Bärenreiter’s Jansson Choral Competition’

Composer Spotlight: Interview with Ola Gjeilo

Biography

Composer and pianist Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he currently resides.

Ola’s recordings include the Decca Classics albums Ola Gjeilo (2016) and Winter Songs (2017), featuring Tenebrae, Voces8, and the Choir of Royal Holloway. His choral and piano works are published by Walton Music and include titles such as the Sunrise Mass, Northern Lights, Ubi Caritas, Tundra, and Ave Generosa. His wind band works are published by Boosey & Hawkes.

For more information, please visit olagjeilo.com or find Ola on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When did you start composing?

I started playing piano and improvising when I was about five years old. As a child, I had a pretty good ear and was fairly quickly able to hear which notes worked together and which ones didn’t. I didn’t read music until later on because I just wanted to do keep improvising and creating things. I never had a moment in which I decided to become a composer though; it was something I had been so passionate about from a young age, and I never thought of doing anything else. Continue reading ‘Composer Spotlight: Interview with Ola Gjeilo’

John Cage’s In a Landscape and more than a score…

By Jacy Burroughs

John Cage’s In a Landscape from more than the score… series

When I learned about John Cage for the first time as an undergraduate music major, I was only instructed in his most avant-garde concepts: the infamous 4’33”, his prepared piano pieces, and his chance compositions, some of which he composed using the I Ching (an ancient Chinese divination text, also known as the Book of Changes.) I recently heard a recording of Adam Tendler performing Cage’s piano solo In a Landscape. If I had not read on the score that the music was by Cage, I would not have believed it. It was so beautiful, and honestly, that’s not an adjective I would associate with Cage’s music.

I was sure there are others who share similar misconceptions about Cage’s music with me, so when I had the opportunity to meet Adam Tendler, I jumped at the chance.  Adam Tendler works closely with the John Cage Trust and has performed Cage’s music internationally. He has also recorded video masterclasses and performances of Cage’s music for Tido Music, a groundbreaking web resource and iPad app. The videos were produced by Edition Peters, John Cage’s sole publisher, and are housed in the app’s Piano Masterworks collection.

And now Peters has just released a new sheet music print series, more than the score…, which can be used alongside the video masterclasses and digital editions in Tido Music. The series includes In a Landscape, presented by Tendler. As a leading interpreter of Cage’s works, I knew Adam would have encountered the whole spectrum of opinions of Cage. Here is an excerpt of my interview with him.

Continue reading ‘John Cage’s In a Landscape and more than a score…’

Top 10 Facts About Claude Debussy

Written by: Austin Hennen Vigil

Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris

Claude Debussy was a famous French composer that was born on August 22nd, 1862, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. The town is located near Paris and he was the oldest of five children.

He was a prominent musician who was known as the founder of Impressionist music and was one of the most influential/highly regarded composers in the world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. March 25, 2018 was the 100th anniversary of his death, so in his honor here are 10 facts about the legendary French composer of which you may not have been aware:

Continue reading ‘Top 10 Facts About Claude Debussy’

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Frédéric Chopin

By Austin Hennen Vigil 

Frédéric Chopin was a Polish music composer and pianist of the Romantic era who wrote mainly for the solo piano. He was born on March 1st, 1810 and grew up in Warsaw, Poland, and then lived in Paris for his adult life. His life unfortunately ended early, and will be discussed in this article. Here are 10 facts you may not know about the legendary Chopin:

Continue reading ‘Top 10 Interesting Facts About Frédéric Chopin’

Gustav Mahler: The Conductors’ Interviews

Gustav Mahler was considered one of the greatest opera conductors of his time; he could even be called the first intercontinental star conductor. But that was not the case with his music; until the 1960s, his compositions were only performed by specialists, the pieces nowhere near belonging to the standard repertoire.

Today, however, performances of Mahler’s music rival those of Beethoven’s in frequency, thus counting Mahler among the most successful symphonists. What happened to cause that change? Continue reading ‘Gustav Mahler: The Conductors’ Interviews’

Music Career Options: What’s Right for You?

Guest post by Kate Samano, Content Editor from University of Florida School of Music

After identifying and distinguishing the different types of music degrees, it is important to take a look at the various career options that music degrees can offer. Each type of music degree offers a graduate a different set of skills, so it is important to determine which degrees and careers correspond with each other.

Associate of Arts in Music

Apprentice Instrument Repair

Many holders of an associate’s degree in music begin their careers as an apprentice in instrument repair and restoration. This is an entry level position that typically works with more experienced repair and restoration technicians in an instrument shop. Their typical day-to-day tasks include repairing and refurbishing instruments, ordering parts, and fielding customer questions and phone calls. Once an apprentice has gained experience, they can move up to a full time specialist or open their own repair shop.

Music Venue Manager

An interesting career with an associate’s in music is becoming a music venue manager. This job is responsible for managing a venue or a group of venues. These managers handle the daily operations of the venue. Their daily tasks might include booking music acts, checking music and bar equipment, managing the needs of performers, and scheduling staff members.

Music Promoter

Music promoters work for both music venues and the musicians themselves. Their goal is to promote the artist or venue in order to generate revenue. Their duties include selling concert tickets, recordings, and merchandise. Another big part of their job is to help manage live music events. Having a background in marketing can be a plus in this role.

Bachelor of Arts in Music

Music Therapist

One of the most rewarding career choices for holders of the Bachelor of Arts in Music is a music therapist. A music therapist uses musical exercises to work with a variety of individuals in a rehabilitating setting. These individuals usually work in mental health centers, hospitals, retirement homes, or rehabilitation centers. Their responsibilities usually consist of working in a team to assess a patient’s mental or physical condition and developing a therapeutic treatment plan. Continue reading ‘Music Career Options: What’s Right for You?’


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