music

Claude Debussy – More than just the Link between Romanticism and Modernity

Claude Debussy – More than just the Link between Romanticism and Modernity

On August 22, 1862, French composer Claude Debussy was born. Debussy’s music is regarded as a link between romanticism and modernity. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For me, his Claire de Lune is one of the most beautiful pieces for piano I have ever played. “The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.” — Claude…
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Modest Mussorgsky – Innovator of Russian Music

Modest Mussorgsky – Innovator of Russian Music

On March 21, 1831, Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky was born. Mussorgsky was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music. “My music must be an artistic reproduction of human speech in all its finest shades. That is, the sounds of human speech, as the external manifestations of thought and feeling must,…
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Maurice Ravel and Musical Impressionism

Maurice Ravel and Musical Impressionism

On March 7, 1875, French composer, pianist and conductor Maurice Ravel was born. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France‘s greatest living composer. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of development. Maurice Ravel entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1889. There he managed to compose a few of his earliest and best known works including the…
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Ansel Adams and the Beauty of Black and White Photography

Ansel Adams and the Beauty of Black and White Photography

On February 20, 1902, American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Easton Adams was born. He is best known for his black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park. Together with Fred Archer, Adams developed the Zone System as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. Ansel Adams was born into a wealthy family in San Francisco. Despite the fact that the Panic of…
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Robert Hope-Jones and the Theatre Organ

Robert Hope-Jones and the Theatre Organ

On February 9, 1859, British instrument maker Robert Hope-Jones was born. Hope-Jones is considered to be the inventor of the theatre organ in the early 20th century. He thought that a pipe organ should be able to imitate the instruments of an orchestra, and that the console should be detachable from the organ. Robert Hope-Jones learned to play the organ in his early childhood and when he turned 9 years old, Hope-Jones occasionally…
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Gustav Mahler and the Modernism in Music

Gustav Mahler and the Modernism in Music

On July 7, 1860, Austrian late-Romantic composer Gustav Mahler was born. Mahler also was one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. Gustav Mahler was born in Kaliště in Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire, now Czech Republic, as the 2nd of 14 children into a Jewish German-speaking family…
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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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Emanuel Schikaneder – The Most Talented Theatre Man of his Era

Emanuel Schikaneder – The Most Talented Theatre Man of his Era

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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