music

Hector Berlioz and the Symphonie Fantastique

Hector Berlioz and the Symphonie Fantastique

On December 11, 1803, French romantic composer Hector Berlioz was born. He is best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works, and conducted several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. Hector Berlioz was born among five siblings in France at La Côte-Saint-André in the…
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Mozart’s Don Giovanni

Mozart’s Don Giovanni

On October 29, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Opera Don Giovanni with the libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte premiered in Prague. Being one of the most perfomed operas worldwide, it proved a fruitful subject for writers and philosophers based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. Besides the beautiful Requiem, this is my personal favorite in the works of Mozart. I’ve seen it performed many times live on stage,…
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The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

On October 20, 1973, the Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It is identified as one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in a modern expressionist design, it features a series of large precast concrete roof “shells”, each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres radius. Planning for the opera house started in the 1940s when the director of…
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Jacopo Peri and the early Opera

Jacopo Peri and the early Opera

On October 6, 1600, Jacopo Peri’s opera Euridice was performed for the first time, being created for the marriage of King Henry IV of France and Maria de Medici. The composition is typically considered to be the second work of modern opera, and the first such musical drama to survive to the present day. In creating the music for Euridice, Peri envisioned a vocal style that is half sung and half spoken.The…
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Emanuel Schikaneder and his famous Librettos

Emanuel Schikaneder and his famous Librettos

On September 1, 1751, German impresario, dramatist, actor, singer and composer Emanuel Schikaneder was born. So you have never heard of Schikaneder? Oh, but for sure you have heard of Mozart [1], and Schikaneder wrote the libretto of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s popular opera The Magic Flute [2]. Moreover, he was often referred to as “one of the most talented theater men of his era” and was the builder of the Theater an der…
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Parsifal – Richard Wagner’s Last Opera

Parsifal – Richard Wagner’s Last Opera

On July 26, 1882, Richard Wagner‘s last opera ‘Parsifal‘ premiered in the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth. Wagner described Parsifal not as an opera, but as “ein Bühnenweihfestspiel” (“A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage“). Initially, according to Wagner‘s will, Parsifal should only be allowed to be played at Bayreuth, because he wanted to prevent it from degenerating into ‘mere amusement‘ for an opera-going public. Wagner‘s compositions, particularly those of his later…
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Edward William Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstances

Edward William Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstances

On June 2, 1857, English composer Sir Edward William Elgar was born. Many of his works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire.  Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. “My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take…
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Henry Steinway and the Grand Pianos

Henry Steinway and the Grand Pianos

On February 15, 1797, German-born American inventor and entrepreneur Henry Steinway was born. He invented the overstrung iron-frame grand piano (1859) and is founder of the piano company Steinway & Sons. Steinway was born Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg in Wolfshagen im Harz, Duchy of Brunswick in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (modern Germany). His childhood was marked by many tragedies and twists of fate. He attended the common schools of…
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Probably the best known composer of the world – Ludwig van Beethoven

Probably the best known composer of the world – Ludwig van Beethoven

On December 17, 1770, German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven was born. He is considered a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. Born as the eldest of three children in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical…
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Adolphe Sax and the Saxophone

Adolphe Sax and the Saxophone

Adolphe Sax (1814–1894)   On November 6, 1814, Belgian musical instrument designer and musician Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax was born. Besides playing flute and clarinet, he is well known for having invented the saxophone. Sax became something of a footnote in history after his creation was almost forgotten after his death, until it was revived by jazz musicians who barely remembered his name.[2] Back in the time when I was a student, I remember one fellow student who ‘polluted’…
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