Hans Zimmer ‘The Battle’ From Gladiator: A Bold Ending

Hello readers! It’s the last day of my August Alphabet Challenge *sobs* – I’ve done it! 26 brand-spanking new blogs written daily throughout August coinciding with the alphabet! That’s 26 NEW composers spanning from 1713 all the way to 2015 – what a journey it has been! I do hope you have enjoyed this challenge – watch this space as come September 1st I’ve got a new challenge for the blog. Until September 1st I will try to write blogs daily based on requests and works that didn’t quite make it into my AAC list. So to end this highly successful challenge (which I’m making an annual event now), I knew I needed to pick something triumphant and spectacular for Day Z. Of course, Z is a tricky letter, but I’m going to be writing about one of the most famous film composers of our time – Hans Zimmer! To end this challenge I will be looking into his orchestra score ‘The Battle’ from the fantastic film, Gladiator. So get ready for this adventurous journey – thanks for reading!

Hans Zimmer was born in Frankfurt, 1957, however in his early teens he moved to London. His mother was a musician, so he received piano lessons from a young age. Zimmer began his career in music by playing keyboard and synthesizer with the band Krakatoa. He is also known for working with, The Buggles. Zimmer, is most certainly best-known for his film scores however. From the 1980s onwards he began to collaborate with film directors and other film composers, most notably Stanley Myers. Whilst in the UK he also composed the theme song for the TV gameshow, Going for Gold. In 1988, Zimmer collaborated with director Barry Levinson, and he subsequently composed the music for the film, Rain Man. From the success of Rain Man, Zimmer was approached by a wealth of other directors to start writing film scores for their films. Perhaps most famously, Walt Disney Animation Studios approached Zimmer in 1993 to compose the score for the classic Disney movie, The Lion King. Zimmer won a plethora of awards for this score, including an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

From the mid-1990s Zimmer has composed scores for an incredibly long list of Hollywood blockbuster films, to name but a few:

Crimson Tide (1995)

Gladiator (2000)

Hannibal (2001)

The Last Samurai (2003)

Madagascar (2005)

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Inception (2010)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Whilst composing these scores, Zimmer has worked with a handful of brilliant film composers such as Harry Gregson-Williams (perhaps best-known for his score for The Chronicles of Narnia), Steve Jablonsky (composer for the Transformers saga) and John Powell (composer of the score for How To Train Your Dragon). Most recently, Zimmer has composed the scores for the films, The Dark Knight Rises, 12 Years a Slave, Interstellar and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Zimmer has won an outstanding amount of awards for his film scores including two Golden Globe Awards, four Grammy’s, four Satellite Awards and three Saturn Awards. Zimmer’s music is well-known and he has become a household name, especially when it comes to motion pictures.

Zimmer composed the music for Ridley Scott’s 2000 film, Gladiator, and it has become one of the staple scores within Zimmer’s career. The film stars Russell Crowe, Derek Jacobi and Connie Nielsen. The film centres around the character Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) and follows his journey through being a slave and seeking revenge on the corrupted Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). The film received mostly positive reviews. If you haven’t seen this film you absolutely must, it’s fantastic and a staple in my family home!

The track that I will be looking into is entitled ‘The Battle’ and as the title suggests, it is the background score for the first battle scene in the film. Like with a lot of Zimmer’s work, the music for Gladiator is very bold, strong and powerful. The score perfectly accompanies what is happening on-screen, and I feel that ‘The Battle’ is the best part of the score in the film. It is triumphant and tenacious and that is why it’s such a fantastic piece of music. If you’ve never seen Gladiator before, or you’ve not taken much notice of the score, I am sure you’ll love how dramatic the music really is!

The score begins with the horns playing the initial triumphant theme. The percussion section utilise the bass drums here to create a war-esque atmosphere. The strings are playing in their upper registers here also. The spanish guitar then plays a small interlude, which leads to a male voice, who sings an atonal line (with no lyrics). The guitar returns with the next breakdown theme. The orchestra play an aggressive stab, and the music begins to build up in texture. Interestingly, this piece has been compared to Holst’s Mars from the suite The Planets. The music starts building to a climax, which leads us into a variation of the breakdown theme. The trumpets lead this section, with a triumphant variation. The lower strings are particularly strong in this section and they build an unbreakable foundation for the horns above. The trumpets and horns then play an interlude section, which shadows previous themes. The texture here has dispersed dramatically, which adds tension. The general buzz and atmosphere then explodes into a lower brass theme. The very stable theme is emphasised here. The strings begin to play a march-like theme, which reflects the idea of war and the battle.

The use of extreme dynamics and textures is what makes this piece so very exciting! The march theme returns underneath the initial theme played by the horns and strings. The next section bursts out and we hear the next theme. Again, Zimmer has written for the horns to lead here, which gives such a pronounced character to the music. The stabs on various beats give the idea of people fighting. Soon after the texture and orchestration fluctuates somewhat, however the tenacious nature of the orchestra return in full power. The orchestra take a complete shift in feeling. We are left with just a string ensemble, which accompany a female soprano voice (in this case it is Lisa Gerrard). She sings a solemn melody, which give us a sense of the devastation left behind by the battle. It is a very poignant way to end such an exciting, yet vigorous piece of music.

Zimmer’s music is triumphant in so many ways, not least his ability to interweave music and film. I thought ‘The Battle’ was the perfect piece to end on for my August Alphabet Challenge as it is symbolises triumph, unity and excitement – all of which I’d to associate with this challenge. I would like to thank every single person who has read either 1, 6 or all 26 blogs within the challenge – without your constant support this site wouldn’t be half as successful as it is. Due to the success of the AAC, I am going to make it an annual event – every August the Alphabet Challenge shall return! In the meantime I shall be taking requests and writing blogs daily until September 1st, which is when I will start my BRAND SPANKING NEW CHALLENGE! That’s right you’ve read that correctly – I shall be undergoing a new challenge! It is not quite on the scale of this one, but it will run for the first two weeks of September and it is going to be called:

FEMALE FORTNIGHT 

That’s right, a whole two weeks dedicated to female composers, with blogs written daily to celebrate the female contribution to classical music! Exciting, right? Remember if you want me to write about a certain piece, let me know – you can contact me via the comments section on this blog, on my facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/classicalexburns/ OR on twitter @classicalexb OR even on my instagram page @classicalexburns 🙂

I’d like to dedicate my final Alphabet Challenge blog to my mum who is by far my biggest fan – I think she’s even kept up with these blogs daily! I hope you have enjoyed this challenge as much as me – thank you for always reading my blogs!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recordings:

This is the recording on the soundtrack.

This is the track used within the film.

 

 

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Takashi Yoshimatsu ‘White Landscapes Op. 47a’: A Tranquil State of Mind

Good afternoon readers, here we are at the penultimate day of my August Alphabet Challenge – never fear though, a new challenge will be announced TOMORROW! But before that point, I must share with you my Y composer, who is Takashi Yoshimatsu. This blog will be on one of the cutest little suites of music ever – White Landscapes. It is a complete change from yesterday’s tempestuous work from Xenakis, so today you really can sit back and relax!

Takashi Yoshimatsu was born in 1953 in Tokyo, Japan where he is known as one of Japan’s greatest Western classical composers. Interestingly, he did not learn music from a young age, in fact it wasn’t until his teens that he became interested in music at all. The symphonies of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven appealed a lot to Yoshimatsu in his mid-teens, which spurred him on to learn the keyboard and start to compose his own works. What I really like about Yoshimatsu is that he is a self-taught composer, and he helped himself by joining jazz and rock ensembles to further and better his style. He studied in the department of technology at Keio University, although he always kept music near the forefront of his life. His first work, Threnody to Toki was premiered in 1981 and received very positive reviews (it’s a fantastic work, check it out!). Since then he has written 6 symphonies, 10 concertos and a wealth of other orchestral and chamber works. His style is described in a free neo-romantic style, which centres around atonality. Yoshimatsu draws a lot of influences from jazz, rock and Japanese classical music. Yoshimatsu is also known for his writings on music and musicology essays. He is also a keen artist, which definitely explains some of his music. I find his style incredibly simple, yet very effective at the same time.

White Landscapes was composed in 1991, and sadly there is barely any information on it at all. So I will try my best to analyse this. The piece is scored for flute, cello, harp and string orchestra. The work is in three movements:

I. Divination by Snow (Adagio)

II. Stillness in Snow (Moderato)

III. Disappearance of Snow (Largo)

Just by the titles of these movements there are some interesting facts we can decipher. Firstly, the title gives this away a bit, but these titles emphasise the idea of snow and weather being a crucial theme within the work. This means that nature is also at the heart of piece, which can be heard in the music (I will discuss this in the analysis section). Secondly, the three tempo markings for the movements are all slow, which means there is no conventional fast-slow-fast framework. It’s essentially slow-slightly faster but still slow-very slow. Now I am a sucker for a good adagio or largo movement in a large-scale work, so when I came across this work and realised it was all slow I was incredibly interested. The calmness of the atmosphere is certainly emphasised by the slow tempos that are directed by Yoshimatsu.

So if we pick apart these titles, the first: Divination by Snow, perhaps is foreseeing what is coming, maybe a cold winter? Or, the way I’d like to imagine it, is that Yoshimatsu is looking out of his window as he tries to compose, snow is falling and he himself is thinking about what is going to happen to the natural land. The second, Stillness in Snow, is more contemplative and retrospective perhaps. I think Yoshimatsu is actually appreciating the snow here, seeing it as less of a nuisance and more of a blessing. Finally the third, Disappearance of Snow, is more self-explanatory, as the snow melts away, Yoshimatsu thinks about how its affected the natural world around him. I find the connectives interesting, going through ‘by’, ‘in’ and ‘of’ snow, making it a multi-dimensional thing. Of course this is just my interpretation of the titles as there is nowhere that says otherwise. Interpretation is good for your creative mind, so I would love to know what you think of the titles! Lets move on to the main event: the music!

I. Divination by Snow 

The first movement is around 4 minutes in length, and is absolutely stunning. It begins with the flute playing very quietly and growing into the F# it is playing. In the second bar the harp enters with a counter-melody, which the flute answers with a sextuplet which leads to a note bend. I see this note bend as a sign of wind, or a change in direction in which the snow is falling. The string orchestra act as an accompaniment underneath. The texture is very sparse and the next section sees the cello double with the flute with a beautiful counter-melody. Fast sextuplets are used to create texture in and around the more sparse sections. If you imagine snow falling to this music you’ll completely get what Yoshimatsu is doing here. The metre changes from 3/4 to 5/8, which gives it a rocking compound time feel. If any kind of quaint dissonance is heard, it is soon resolved. The adagio section (C), is in 6/8 and the harp plays a wonderful scalic pattern, with the flute and cello playing different simple melodies, that just seem to fit together. This section is the fastest of this movement. The 5/8 motif returns again, though this time on harp alone. The harp is usually used to modulate back to the tonic chords and release any tension. A wonderful 6/4 section begins, with the cello playing a variation of the main melody. The flute then shadows this and the motif is passed between the two ‘soloists’. The string orchestra and harp play long chords, which feel quite static, like Yoshimatsu is looking around at the natural land. The 5/8 sections returns, and is repeated first loudly, and the second time very quietly. The movement ends on the resolved chord played by the whole ensemble.

II. Stillness in Snow 

The second movement is the fastest of all three sections, however the tempo is still very slow. The strings ensemble play a static chord progression, with the harp playing the moving part within the accompaniment. On top of this, the cello is playing the very simple, but very pretty solo. I feel this movement is about the enjoyment of the snow now that it has fallen. The metre changes a lot between different compound times, although this is not always obvious. The flute then plays a variation of the solo, which leads us back into the cello solo and a reprise of the introduction. The metre goes back into a simple 3/4 and the flute has the moving part now. The texture becomes thicker and the whole ensemble have a moving part and the two soloist double each other with the main theme and variations are also heard. The 3/4 section returns, with the cello now playing the moving part. The flute then plays in its lower register on chord changes. The movement ends with a magical glissando by the harp.

III. Disappearance of Snow

The third and final movement of this mini suite is perhaps my favourite of them all. Marked Largo, this movement is definitely the slowest. It begins with the harp on its own, playing a simple melody based around an arpeggiated motif. The snow is melting and leaving the world at this point. The nervous and quiet nature is ever so beautiful here. I feel a certain sadness within this movement, like Yoshimatsu does not want this snow to leave now. After this, the string ensemble and cello enter, with the harp repeating the introductory pattern. The flute enters with a semiquaver and triplet pattern, which perfectly embellishes the rest of the ensemble. The work ends with every instrument holding a tied note except for the harp, which then plays one more quaver arpeggio before ending the piece.

The simple repeated motifs and quiet nature of Yoshimatsu’s music makes it just the easiest thing to listen to. I think his music is very touching and an absolute joy to the ears. It’s calm, yet it bears deeper messages of hope and sadness. White Landscapes is a wonderful work which I urge you to listen to – it’s only about 9 minutes long! It is so very pretty and pushes you to make you own creative interpretations. I often sit and listen to Yoshimatsu when I feel stressed or even sad, and his music always makes me feel better within myself. A fantastic Japanese gem of a composer – enjoy! Sadly, this is the penultimate day of my August Alphabet Challenge, so tomorrow is of course…day Z! Make sure you look out for the Z blog as it’ll be a corker! Some more exciting announcements will be shared with you all soon too, so watch this space!

I would like to dedicate this blog to someone who I love and admire very much – Olivia Doust. She has a beautiful soul, just like this work. I hope you love this work just as much as I do Liv – much love chica x

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

 

 

 

 

 

Iannis Xenakis ‘Jonchaies’: An Orchestral Cacophony

Good day, classical music lovers! Welcome back and thank you for joining me on Day X of the August Alphabet Challenge! Today’s letter was notoriously difficult to choose, and I have decided to look into the 20th Century work Jonchaies by Greek-French composer, Iannis Xenakis. Now I would tell you to sit back and relax, but I’ll be honest with you – this piece will have you on the edge of your seat! So prepare yourself for this adventurous journey!

Iannis Xenakis was born in Romania in 1922. His family was Greek in heritage and both his mother and father were interested in music. His mother especially helped Xenakis learn to appreciate traditional music, so when she died when he was 5 he was left incredibly traumatized. After this he continued his studies at a boarding school in Greece. He sung in the boys choir and was also taught Greek traditional and sacred music here. In 1938 he graduated and subsequently moved to Athens to prepare for his entrance exams to study at the National Technical University of Athens. He successfully passed the exams in 1940 (albeit to study architecture and engineering), however he still took lessons in harmony and counterpoint. His studies were cut short though due to the Greco-Italian War, which broke out in the latter half of 1940. Xenakis joined the National Liberation Front at the start of the war, where he acted in protests and demonstrations. In 1944, Xenakis was involved in street fighting against British tanks and was seriously wounded when a shell hit his face. In all honesty it was a complete miracle that he even survived the hit as it left him permanently scarred, and with only one eye.

The university that Xenakis attended was open intermittently during the war, so by 1947, Xenakis was able to graduate with a degree in civil engineering. However, in 1947 the Greek government began arresting those who were a part of the resistance (which included Xenakis). Fearing for his place in society, he fled the country and went into hiding in Italy and the France. Although an illegal immigrant in Paris, Xenakis was able to get a job in an architectural studio. He worked on many important large-scale projects whilst there. In his spare time, Xenakis would be learning more about harmony and composition, and some of his earliest works started to surface. He often used architectural concepts to help inspire him to compose, with works such as Metastaseis B being based on architecture. It has been researched that Xenakis worked through the night to improve on his style and he approached a menagerie of different teachers to help him, although most turned him away due to his ‘unenthusiastic’ music. Things were looking down for Xenakis, until he met Olivier Messiaen, who took him on as a student. Xenakis was inspired by Greek folk melodies, as well as composers such as Ravel. He then began showing interest in serialism whilst studying with Messiaen, which allowed him to explore contemporary music in more detail. It can be seen, and most certainly heard, that Xenakis’ music is largely based on mathematic formulas and complex rhythmic structures.

By 1959, Xenakis had made a name for himself within the music circle, and was starting to be seen as an important figure. Xenakis was also a top researcher in the field of computer-assisted composition, and he became a visiting lecturer at many different universities around the world. He taught composition throughout his lifetime, whilst still composing and developing his own contemporary style. By the late 1990s however, his health began to worsen and by 1997, he was unable to work. In 1999 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize “for a long succession of forceful works, charged with sensitivity, commitment and passion, through which he has come to rank among the most central composers of our century in the realm of art music.” In 2001, Xenakis lapsed into a coma and died four days later on 4th February, aged 78.

Xenakis’ music is based a lot on the outcome of sound through algorithms and other formulaic means. Thus a lot of his compositions can be analysed through successions of sonorities. Due to his education, Xenakis has been known to be a ‘sound sculptor’ which means he composes and builds on different sounds.

Jonchaies was composed in 1977, alongside another one of Xenakis’ compositions, La Légende D’eer. The latter is a composition which is  comprised of 7 tracks of electroacoustic tapes, and Jonchaies is scored for a large orchestra (specifically 109 musicians). The work is huge and lasts for about 15 minutes when played through. The work is loosely based around a single scale, which can be attributed to the likes of the Indonesian pelog scale (which is used extensively in gamelan music). The work uses a wealth of different extended techniques and unconventional rhythmic patterns, which makes it resonate that of it serialism influences. I will try my very best to give you a walk-through of the work, but it is an incredibly complex and difficult work to completely understand!

The work begins with a glissando from the strings, which slowly dies away. This leads into a very Psycho-esque hammering of the upper register in the strings. A whirling feel is then heard and the piercing strings begin play a long, monolithic evolution of sound. This is where the scale comes in, as it is used for colour, rather than pitch. Nearly every entry is irregular and the strings start moving apart until there are around 18 different string parts. It has been suggested that these kind of sounds are what it sounds like in hell (how lovely!). The pitch becomes lower and lower, with the timpani enhancing and emphasising the shift. There is a clear inner progressive evolution of sound, and throughout the whole work it unravels and becomes a single sound. The sounds you will hear are not melodic, but rhythmic (yes really) and they have all been placed there purposefully, following a graph that Xenakis created. This scale is used on the graph and then transferred onto the instruments, which makes pitch an unnecessary factor. Instead the scale is maintained as a colour and is explored in a linear manner (with the use of irregular lines etc).

About 3:45 into the work, the lower strings play a small passage which is based on a minor 2nd. The percussion add to the ever-building tension and begin playing a very irregular rhythmic cell, with the bass drum, cymbals and timpani being at the forefront. The tempo fluctuates which leaves no drive or steady tempo. The upper strings continue their suspended lines above, whilst the percussion and piccolo flute play syncopated stabs on irregular beats. Someone said to me once this section feels a little “like the music from Jaws” and you can certainly hear that kind of sound here. The music begins to tense up even more, with the strings spreading out into their higher register, leaving the percussion, brass and flutes to play the more colourful notes. My favourite description of this music is “giant sound aura” which I think successfully depicts the mad sound that is happening. The percussion begin a rhythm pattern that is much more conventional, which gives the drive back to the music. Offbeats are also utilised a lot within this section of the piece.

Dynamics are also used in abundance to create different emotions throughout the work. From extreme loudness to extreme quietness, this piece absolutely knows how to make someone feel on edge! The brass then take over and play another irregular rhythm (see a pattern forming?). It sounds nearly like to and fro offbeats, although this is not completely accurate. The temporal evolution of the sound is highlighted again, when the strings return in abundance and with determination. You can hear the brass start going absolutely mental, with pitch bending and over-blowing being a main technique. It genuinely sounds like elephants! The trumpets also use the shake to create these sounds, which they soon do when they quickly put their straight mutes in (same with the horns too). Looking at this from a conventional point of view, this next section is kind of fugue-like, although this is probably disputed! However, the layering of the brass here is very fugue-like and the rings from the tam-tam creates a very loud and destructive tone to the music. This is carried on by the lower drums such as the tom-tom.

The strings make their way up the scale slowly again, with the percussion playing in the background. The dynamic goes to extremely quiet and then fluctuates a little, creating a buzzing sound within the strings. The horns play another ‘ripping’ statement, which brings the tam-tam, brass and winds together into an amalgamation of noise. The piccolo and tuned percussion play a twinkly line, which is rather disturbing (like something from a horror movie!). At the end you just have the two piccolo flutes playing in dissonance, until they blend out. It has been suggested that the Jonchaies has exploded by this point, and the top register of the piccolo flutes is all that remains – its energy has been compressed into a single piercing screech.

Jonchaies is a single continuous movement, however you can hear a set of miniatures inside of it which explore oscillating orchestral timbres. Each textural idea that Xenakis uses is there to intensify the sound sculpture that he is creating. So from the aggressive strings to the drunken brass glissandos, this work is incredibly physical and exaggerated. Jonchaies is jammed packed full of drama, which propels it past the idea of it just being a mathematical concept of sound. The opposing sections within the orchestra clash and have thunderous consequences throughout the piece. From the stoicism of the strings, to the crashing of the percussion, the piece is completely enthralling. This tempestuous piece will not be for everyone – its only by doing this blog I have come to properly appreciate this work. Good luck with it I say! It is the penultimate day of the August Alphabet Challenge tomorrow *cries* so come back and see what Day Y has in store for us!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

 

Judith Weir ‘Stars, Night, Music and Light’: A Modest Opening

Happy Tuesday readers – welcome back! We have come to day W in the August Alphabet Challenge, and what a treat I have for you today – Judith Weir’s wonderful work for chorus and orchestra: Stars, Night, Music and Light. I’ve picked this particular piece today because looking back at my musical alphabet thus far, I have only done one other piece that features voice, so I think it’s high time that this changes. Judith Weir is a fantastic composer, whose work is innovative, yet somehow familiar in various ways. So I do hope you can revel in the treasures that Judith Weir can offer us!

Judith Weir was born in 1954 in Cambridge, and at a young age she began learning the oboe. Weir in her youth performed regularly with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. She studied composition whilst at school with none other than John Tavener. From here she then earned her place at Cambridge University, where she continued her composition studies. After she graduated she became heavily involved in music education in both the south of England and then Scotland. During this period she still composed, and it was mainly operas that allowed her to make a name for herself within the classical music world. During the 1990s she became the resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and it was at this time she wrote much more orchestral-based pieces. She also experimented by combining chorus and orchestra in many of her works.

During her lifetime thus far, Weir has been commissioned to write for some of the most professional orchestras and chorus’ in the world. She has also worked with notable conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle. Weir has travelled to the USA to work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1995 she received her CBE and then in 2007 the Queen’s Medal for Music. 2014 saw Weir appointed as Master of The Queen’s Music (after the wonderful, Peter Maxwell Davies). She now lives in London and is a visiting professor at Princeton, Harvard and Cardiff universities. She was also appointed as Associate Composer to the BBC singers in 2015 (so in short, Judith Weir is an absolute boss).

Stars, Night, Music and Light was commissioned for BBC Radio 3 in 2011 and was the opening work for the 2011 BBC Proms ceremony. The piece is for chorus and orchestra, and is absolutely sublime in my opinion. The text is taken from George Herbert’s evocative poem, Man. Weir takes 3 lines from the sixth stanza of the poem, and bases the work on those particular words. Below the full poem, the bold text represents what Weir has used within the work.

My God, I heard this day

That none doth build a stately habitation

But he that means to dwell therein.

What house more stately hath there been,

Or can be, than is man, to whose creation

All things are in decay?

For man is ev’ry thing,

And more: he is a tree, yet bears more fruit;

A beast, yet is, or should be, more;

Reason and speech we only bring;

Parrots may thank us if they are not mute,

They go upon the score.

Man is all symmetry,

Full of proportions, one limb to another,

And all to all the world besides;

Each part may call the furthest brother,

For head with foot hath private amity,

And both with moons and tides.

Nothing hath got so far

But man hath caught and kept it as his prey;

His eyes dismount the highest star;

He is in little all the sphere;

Herbs gladly cure our flesh, because that they

Find their acquaintance there.

For us the winds do blow,

The earth doth rest, heav’n move, and fountains flow.

Nothing we see but means our good,

As our delight, or as our treasure;

The whole is either our cupboard of food,

Or cabinet of pleasure.

The stars have us to bed;

Night draws the curtain, which the sun withdraws;

Music and light attend our head;

All things unto our flesh are kind

In their descent and being; to our mind

In their ascent and cause.

Each thing is full of duty;

Waters united are our navigation;

Distinguished, our habitation;

Below, our drink; above our meat;

Both are our cleanliness. Hath one such beauty?

Then how are all things neat!

More servants wait on man

Than he’ll take notice of; in ev’ry path

He treads down that which doth befriend him,

When sickness makes him pale and wan.

Oh mighty love! Man is one world, and hath

Another to attend him.

Since then, my God, thou hast

So brave a palace built, O dwell in it,

That it may dwell with thee at last!

Till then, afford us so much wit,

That, as the world serves us, we may serve thee,

And both thy servants be.

I personally feel that the poem shows us, through philosophic thoughts, that humans are the supreme purpose of the creation of the universe. The poem uses traditional Christian perspectives on the relationships between humankind, nature and the God who created both of these things. It has been suggested that the poem echoes the sentiments from Psalm 8. Weir has picked three very simple lines, but she has most certainly composed for the occasion!

The piece begins with a bold timpani roll, which leads us into a textural layering of the whole brass section. This amounts to a brilliant fanfare-like proclamation, before everything begins to die away, ready for the chorus to enter. The long and smooth lines from the chorus is interjected at times by the trumpet, however this sentimental feel from the chorus never falters. There is also an interlude from the organ, which gives a really lovely timbre within the orchestra. The chorus and orchestra then play a phrase all together, which creates unity and a really strong single voice (no pun intended). The line “music and light” is repeated, which gives a sense of importance. The timpani plays a roll again, which leads to a swelling of the brass and this quite bizarre organ phrase, which is made up of a two-note phrase. The brass and organ are in musical dialogue underneath the singers. The constant repetition of ‘Music and Light’ really gives it a sense of direction and like the chorus are heading towards a light. An orchestral interlude is heard, before a slow build-up to the climax of the piece, which is led by the brass. The piece ends with the organ playing a strong tonic chord. Weir’s extensive use of trumpet, timpani, organ and chorus makes this work a perfect fit for the opening ceremony of the BBC Proms. Its simple, yet completely effective in its message. Weir’s style here is modest, and does lean more towards the traditional side of classical music.

This work is not the most energetic, but I think that’s why it’s incredibly effective. It seems that at times the orchestra try to gain some momentum, but because the chorus sing these repeating lines, which are naturally very smooth, the pace is held back somewhat. I very much like Weir’s compositional style, she is certainly a force to be reckoned with! I hope you have enjoyed today’s choice – I find this piece so very refreshing and beautiful! Tomorrow is day X (dear lord) so make sure you look out for what it might be!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

This is the 2011 premiere – skip to about 2 minutes in to hear the piece!

Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘The Lark Ascending’: A Dreamy Songbird

Good day, dearest readers! I cannot believe we are in the home stretch now of my August Alphabet challenge – only 5 blogs left to go! It’s day V and there’s a composer who I’ve wanted to look into for a while now and that’s the undeniable force of – Vaughan Williams! I’ve been asked now on multiple occasions to look into one of his most loved works – The Lark Ascending. So here we go readers, I hope you enjoy this work!

Ralph Vaughan Williams on October 12th, 1872 in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. His father, Arthys Vaughan Williams, died suddenly in 1875, and Ralph and his siblings were taken care of by his widow and their nurse. When Vaughan Williams turned 5, he started receiving piano lessons from his aunt. His talent for music was spotted very quickly – in the same year he composed his first piece called, “The Robin’s Nest” which was four bars long and for solo piano. Interestingly, he didn’t like the piano, so the coming year he began taking violin lessons. Amazingly, he completed the correspondence music course at Edinburgh University in 1880 (when he was 8) and passed. Vaughan Williams went to both a prep school in Rottingdean and a public school in his younger years. While there his musical abilities were challenged and encouraged to develop. While at public school, Vaughan Williams realised that religion actually didn’t mean anything to him, and he became an atheist (although he continued to attend church to avoid upsetting his family).

In 1890, Vaughan Williams enrolled at the Royal College of Music, where he studied composition with Hubert Parry. This was not the route his family wanted for him though, as they did not believe he was talented enough to make it as a composer. They ideally wanted him to stay at Charterhouse for another two years so that he could enrol at Cambridge University and gain a ‘proper education.’ So in 1892, he temporarily left RCM and entered Trinity College, Cambridge and studied history and music for three years. Vaughan Williams still received composition lessons from Parry during this time. However, when he returned to RCM in 1894, Parry had left the college, and Charles Villiers Stanford became his new composition tutor. The relationship between Vaughan Williams and Standford was turbulent – they had very different ideas of what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music. Whilst at RCM, Vaughan Williams met Gustav Holst, and they became the best of friends for the rest of their days.

In his early career, Vaughan Williams worked with various choirs as an organist, and also worked with famous teachers to excel his violin technique, such as with Max Bruch. In 1899, he passed the exam for the degree of Doctor of Music at Cambridge and he was conferred in 1901. Vaughan Williams was very involved in music journalism as well as composition, and many of his writings were published. The works that were composed in this time were not his most popular, however his Norfolk Rhapsody No.1 is pretty great! After not being happy with his compositional techniques, he sought to be taught by Sir Edward Elgar, though was unsuccessful. Instead he began working alongside Maurice Ravel. Whilst working in Paris with Ravel, his style changed somewhat and his textures became lighter and his music more poignant. It was this time when he wrote his wonderful orchestral work – A Sea Symphony. When World War I broke out, Vaughan Williams was on the rise in Britain as a household name within classical music. Between 1910 and 1915 he composed some of his most famous works such as – Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910), A London Symphony (1914) and The Lark Ascending (1914).

In 1914, despite him being an older man (42), he volunteered for military service on the outbreak of WW1. He drove ambulance wagons in France and Greece during his service. The war left an emotional stain on Vaughan Williams, as he lost a lot of his comrades, including the young composer, George Butterworth. In 1917 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. Tragically, the continual loud sounds and gun shots slowly destroyed his hearing, leaving him deaf in his later years. After the war, Vaughan Williams took some time to adjust back to civilian life before composing again. During the 1920s, Vaughan Williams’ wife became immobilised by arthritis, so they moved from London to Dorking. Here, Vaughan Williams composed more music, such as his opera Sir John in Love. During the 1930s Vaughan Williams was regarded as a leading figure in British music. In 1934, Holst died, which was a significant blow for Vaughan Williams, as they were such good friends. This decade saw some of the composer’s most aggressive works, which may have come as a direct result from his depression due to the loss of Holst. His Fourth Symphony is a prime example of this.

A distinctive aspect of Vaughan Williams’ catalogue of compositions is the wide variety of different kinds of music. He composed operas, symphonies, songs, film scores and choral works to name but a few genres. Vaughan Williams composed throughout the rest of his life until his sudden death in 1958. His influences within British classical music are still prevalent today and his techniques and style in his lifetime were seen as revolutionary.

The Lark Ascending is based on George Meredith’s poem by the same name. It is written in rhyming tetrameter and is in two long continuous sections. The poem is about a skylark and his song, and it has a very pastoral feeling about it. The poem is rather long, but I feel its important to include it within the blog so you can see where the music is originating from, so the poem is going to be situated at the bottom of this blog, below the recommended recordings.

The Lark Ascending was originally composed for solo violin and piano, however, Vaughan Williams was not happy with the outcome, and soon he orchestrated for solo violin and orchestra (which received its premiere in 1921). The work is largely based on both Vaughan Williams’ reading of Meredith’s poem and English folk song. It was first a Romance for Violin and Piano. The Lark Ascending is a prime example of English landscape painting within music. With Vaughan Williams’ smooth pastoral writing, this work exploits the joy of nature and the life of the lark.

The piece begins with warm modal chords by the ensemble (without the soloist), I think, by looking at the score that they’re based around Dorian on E, as the E pedal below is very pertinent. This is a very impressionist thing to do, which shows Ravel’s input on Vaughan Williams’ compositional style. These chords lead into a solo cadence segment, which is based around a fast trill-like figure from the solo violin. Opening the piece with this is very interesting and at the time it was very unique. This solo segment represents the lark its song. There are fast passages consisting of scalic runs, which creates intensity. The pedal plays throughout from the lower strings. The violin plays in an incredibly high register, which is when the pedal drops out and you are literally being held on by the wonderful luscious sound of the soloist. The orchestra return after some time, with their modal progressions below the soloist, who is playing a wealth of small variations based on the initial ‘song theme.’ The sound is very warm and this opening section is perhaps the most famous of the whole work. The musical dialogue between the soloist and orchestra interesting as it seems that the lark (the soloist) is talking to the world (the orchestra) about the joys of nature. The orchestra play a more climactic section, which leads to some neat double stopping by the soloist. Vaughan Williams has a wonderful stylistic feature of highlighting different instruments within an ensemble, for me the cor anglais, horn, bassoon and cellos are highlighted and emphasised brilliantly in this work.

The opening solo cadence returns once more, which acts as a transition into the next section of the work. The next section is slightly more upbeat in tempo – with it bearing obvious ties with folk song. It is introduced by a bouncy theme by the orchestra, and then is answered by the soloist. This new theme is taken and passed around the ensemble, which creates a sense of unity and harmony (no pun intended!) within the orchestra. The soloist then plays a set of trills, which is accompanied by the triangle. Certain instruments then enter one by one, creating a fugue-like section based around the soloist. This new texture is very light and the variation of this theme leads to a climax section which dies away very quickly. The atmosphere is still very friendly and the music is incredibly easy to listen to. The solo violin and clarinet have a musical conversation, which leads into another developmental section. The woody timbre of the clarinet serves as a nice foundation for the brighter sound that is made on the violin.

The solo cadence section is repeated, although this time slightly varied. The use of double stopping in the solo part creates a much more exciting texture within the ensemble. All of the previous themes heard all return and are developed to their full potential in this section. This music can so easily take you away to another realm, and before you know it you’ve listened to this work for 11:30 minutes! Carrying on, the solo violin uses a lot of vibrato, which creates dimension and density within the timbre. The orchestra die away slowly to a quaint pp dynamic, which leads to the solo cadence returning for the final time. The orchestra drop out and it is just the soloist now. The lark is singing its final song of the day, what a delight. The use of modes and the pentatonic scale within these cadences are just mesmerizing to hear. A variation of the theme can be heard, and you are literally being held on with anticipation by this dainty solo violin. The piece ends with the soloist in its top range, slowly dying away. I find this ending absolutely magnificent and incredibly beautiful.

The Lark Ascending is set out in a complex triparte system – A-B-A*-Coda. However, the use of the returning solo cadence section makes it quite easy to hear when the next section starts. The Lark Ascending is such a wonderful piece of music, and is a favourite with a lot of people! An expressive work which embodies the idea of nature and the lark itself. The impressionist nature of the solo part gives the violin a pathway away from a strong tonal centre, which is why it sounds so dreamy. I hope you have enjoyed this blog and the equally as wonderful piece – I am glad to have finally written about it! Watch this space to see what day W has in store for us tomorrow!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,
All intervolv’d and spreading wide,         5
Like water-dimples down a tide
Where ripple ripple overcurls
And eddy into eddy whirls;
A press of hurried notes that run
So fleet they scarce are more than one,         10
Yet changingly the trills repeat
And linger ringing while they fleet,
Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear
To her beyond the handmaid ear,
Who sits beside our inner springs,         15
Too often dry for this he brings,
Which seems the very jet of earth
At sight of sun, her musci’s mirth,
As up he wings the spiral stair,
A song of light, and pierces air         20
With fountain ardor, fountain play,
To reach the shining tops of day,
And drink in everything discern’d
An ecstasy to music turn’d,
Impell’d by what his happy bill         25
Disperses; drinking, showering still,
Unthinking save that he may give
His voice the outlet, there to live
Renew’d in endless notes of glee,
So thirsty of his voice is he,         30
For all to hear and all to know
That he is joy, awake, aglow,
The tumult of the heart to hear
Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,
And know the pleasure sprinkled bright         35
By simple singing of delight,
Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,
Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d
Without a break, without a fall,
Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,         40
Perennial, quavering up the chord
Like myriad dews of sunny sward
That trembling into fulness shine,
And sparkle dropping argentine;
Such wooing as the ear receives         45
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
And such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,         50
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spreads,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,         55
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
Puts on the light of children prais’d,
So rich our human pleasure ripes
When sweetness on sincereness pipes,         60
Though nought be promis’d from the seas,
But only a soft-ruffling breeze
Sweep glittering on a still content,
Serenity in ravishment.
For singing till his heaven fills,         65
’T is love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:         70
The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine
He is, the hills, the human line,
The meadows green, the fallows brown,
The dreams of labor in the town;
He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;         75
The wedding song of sun and rains
He is, the dance of children, thanks
Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,
And eye of violets while they breathe;
All these the circling song will wreathe,         80
And you shall hear the herb and tree,
The better heart of men shall see,
Shall feel celestially, as long
As you crave nothing save the song.
Was never voice of ours could say         85
Our inmost in the sweetest way,
Like yonder voice aloft, and link
All hearers in the song they drink:
Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,
Our passion is too full in flood,         90
We want the key of his wild note
Of truthful in a tuneful throat,
The song seraphically free
Of taint of personality,
So pure that it salutes the suns         95
The voice of one for millions,
In whom the millions rejoice
For giving their one spirit voice.
Yet men have we, whom we revere,
Now names, and men still housing here,         100
Whose lives, by many a battle-dint
Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,
Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet
For song our highest heaven to greet:
Whom heavenly singing gives us new,         105
Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,
From firmest base to farthest leap,
Because their love of Earth is deep,
And they are warriors in accord
With life to serve and pass reward,         110
So touching purest and so heard
In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;
Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,         115
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,         120
Till lost on his aërial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

 

 

Jay Ungar ‘Ashokan Farewell’: For the Most Precious Girl

Hello readers, welcome to day U of the August Alphabet Challenge. Today’s blog is going differ from all the others as this is a tribute post for someone who taken from us far too soon – our Bryony. One year today since this beautiful girl was tragically killed by a driver on both drink and drugs. I thought it very apt that today’s post lands on U, where I can talk about Jay Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell. Life is incredibly precious, and it’s important to remember how fragile we really are. So I hope some of you can find comfort in this piece if you’re also remembering Bry today, and if not I hope you can also enjoy this wonderful piece of music.

Jay Ungar was born in 1946 in the Bronx. He is primarily known as a folk musician and composer and he is certainly best-known for his lament, Ashokan Farewell. Ungar married fellow folk musician, Molly Mason in 1991, where they continue to still write and perform together. They perform with their band, Swingology and popular folk-rock band, The Mammals.

Ashokan Farewell was named after a town under the same name. The purpose was also for a camp named after the town, which is up in the Catskill Mountains, New York. There both Ungar and Mason have run their Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps for families, which began in 1980. Ungar has written that he composed Ashokan Farewell in 1982, when the Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps had come to an end for the season. Ungar say this about the composition process of the work:

“I was feeling a great sense of loss and longing for the music, the dancing and the community of peopple that had developed at Ashokan that summer. I was having trouble making the transition from a secluded woodland camp with a small group of people who needed little excuse to celebrate the joy of living, back to life as usual, with traffic, newscasts, telephones and impersonal relationships. By the time the tune took form, I was in tears, I kept it to myself for months, unable to fully understand the emotions that welled up whenever I played it. I had no idea that this simple tune could affect others in the same way.”

The piece now serves as a goodnight or a ‘farewell’ at the end of the seasonal camps. The work is also famous for its appearance in the television series, The Civil War. Due to this Ashokan Farewell is also sometimes thought of as a Civil War tune. The work is most-famously known as an instrumental (which is what this blog will be discussing), however there is a version with lyrics and below are the words which give a sense of what this music is all about:

The sun is sinking low in the sky above Ashokan.

The pines and the willows know soon we will part.

There’s a whisper in the wind of promises unspoken,

And a love that will always remain in my heart.

 

My thoughts will return to the sound of your laughter,

The magic of moving as one,

And a time we’ll remember long ever after

The moonlight and music and dancing are done.

 

Will we climb the hills once more?

Will we walk the woods together?

Will I feel you holding me close once again?

Will every song we’ve sung stay with us forever?

Will you dance in my dreams or my arms until then?

 

Under the moon the mountains lie sleeping

Over the lake the stars shine.

They wonder if you and I will be keeping

The magic and music, or leave them behind.

 

There are two famous instrumental versions of Ashokan Farewell. The first is with a solo fiddle, guitar and double bass, with the solo fiddle beginning the piece alone. The second features Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family band, which uses a solo fiddle, a second fiddle, guitar and banjo (the piece still has the same layout structurally).

The piece begins with the solo fiddle playing a slow waltz around the key of D major, which is in the style of a Scottish lament (and this stylistic feature carries through the whole piece). Now because this is folk music, not one recording is the same due to interpretation, so I am going to talk musically about the family band version which I will link at the bottom of the blog. I find that this opening statement from the solo fiddle gives us vivid images of what Ashokan is like as a place, the weather that graces that land and the kind of people who go there. I find the melody incredibly kind and sorrowful, yet still full of hope. After this solo, the guitar joins the solo fiddle with a chordal accompaniment, which shadows the basic harmonic progression of the soloist. Once this is established, the banjo and second fiddle join, which creates a warm atmosphere. The solo fiddle soars over the top with the introductory melody. This then drops out to let the guitar take a solo which is based on the Ashokan melody. There is a moment when the guitar and solo fiddle come together and play the melody together, which creates unity and peace within the work (which is exactly the point of the composition!). Both fiddles then play the melody together, with the guitar and banjo acting as accompanying instruments. There is a beautiful section that slows down slightly, where the instruments of the band come together on a tonic chord and the piece ends quietly.

Although short, this piece is incredibly powerful and I could honestly listen to that one melody all day. Ashokan Farewell has become one of the most famous folk tunes to play, and has been arranged for a wealth of different ensembles, however my favourite is definitely by the Family Band.

Whilst writing this blog I found one stanza from the lyrics incredibly poignant considering what today means to a lot of people:

My thoughts will return to the sound of your laughter,

The magic of moving as one,

And a time we’ll remember long ever after

The moonlight and music and dancing are done.

 

Bry was loved by everyone, bringing laughter, happiness and vibrancy to whatever she put her mind to. She was an incredible horn player (though she never believed that!) and she absolutely adored music and the joy it can bring. So this is why this is for her, because she loved music, and found comfort in playing/listening/learning about music. I cannot believe it has already been a year, because not one day goes by where I don’t think about her and the times we spent together. She inspires me to keep going everyday, and reminds me how important it is that life must keep going. I love you fiercely and forever, Bryony – I’m sure our paths will cross again, and when they do I will make sure I have my trumpet with me so we can have a play! This farewell is only temporary.

 

Recommended Recording:

Giuseppe Tartini ‘Devil’s Trill Violin Sonata’: A Dare Devil of a Composer!

Good day readers, I hope you are all well and are enjoying the weekend! We’ve come to day T in the August Alphabet Challenge, and I think it’s high time we go back in time considerably and place ourselves in the 18th Century. Today’s blog is on Giuseppe Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Violin Sonata, which is a fantastically complex work for solo violin and continuo, which I am sure you will find just as stimulating and thrilling as I do.

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) was a Venetian violinist and composer. Born in Piran, Tartini was a part of an old aristocratic family. His parent’s had intended him to become a friar, which is why he received the musical training that he did from a young age. However, Tartini studied law at the University of Padua. Whilst he was in Assisi, he went to the monastery of St. Francis, where he took up the violin. Tartini took his violin playing very seriously, and supposedly he locked himself away to study the bow and the instrument so he could understand the capabilities of the instrument. Tartini worked as Maestro di Cappella at the Basilica di Sant’Antonio in Paruda, which allowed him to travel to different institutions and work with various composers and ensembles. Tartini is the first known owner of a violin made by Antonio Stradivari (c.1715). After perfecting his technique and knowledge, Tartini started his own violin school, which was successful around Europe. Tartini died in 1770, and there is a statue of him in his home town of Piran.

Nearly all of Tartini’s work is for violin (c.135 works!) and these include concertos and sonatas. By far his most famous in the modern-day is his Devil’s Trill Sonata, which is what this blog is based on. According to Tartini, Devil’s Trill Sonata was composed in 1713, however, it was not published until the very-late 1790’s – more than 30 years after Tartini’s death. Tartini claims that the reason behind this work was that he had a dream that the Devil appeared to him and asked to be Tartini’s servant. He explains the story in full:

“One night, in the year 1713 I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to keep, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the “Devil’s Trill”, but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me.”

This particular sonata seems to be popular due to a myriad of factors: the technical demand of the music, the programmatic background and its musical tenacity. The technical demand needed for particular parts of the sonata are difficult even in today’s violin playing, so at the time it seemed that Tartini was way ahead of his time musically. The work runs for about 15 minutes and is broken down into 4 movements:

I. Larghetto affettuoso 

II. Allegro moderato 

III. Andante 

IV. Allegro assai – Andante – Allegro assai 

The sonata is based around G minor and Bb major, with the major key brightening the melody and the minor darkening it. The difference of shading between the keys colours the music and keeps the pace going. There are no transition sections, but instead the new key is just stated with a reprise of a theme, and then taken from there. Tartini uses lots of intriguing techniques throughout all the movements of this sonata, so by breaking down the music we will be able to understand it in a much clearer way.

I. Larghetto affettuoso 

The first movement is in a slow 12/8, which is accented with Tartini’s use of dotted rhythms. There is a feeling of repressed sorrow within this movement, and Tartini has exploited the melodic expression to fit the slow, mournful nature of this movement. There is a sense of dreaminess too, and the slow tempo of this movement emphasises this. It opens with a phrase in G minor, which essentially is there to introduce the next key of Bb major, which, when it takes over, creates a ray of sunshine within the movement. The range written is around the middle for the violin – so very comfortable. There is a lot of step motion in the melody and there is an abundance of legato phrasing. This movement has become a staple within violin repertoire.

II. Allegro moderato 

The second movement is a type of moto perpetuo, which brings more energy and drama than the previous movement. It’s in duple metre and is very brisk, with fast leaps and a constant drive within the melody. This movement is much more idiomatic than the previous and the technical demand is much more forceful. With difficult string crossings and bowing patterns, this movement is much more ambitious. Tartini uses lots of different embellishments within the work to create colour and a variation on rhythm. His trills are especially prevalent within this movement. He uses short trills to make the music sharp and concise. The excitement within this movement is then broken down by the next movement, which brings a much slower tempo back.

III. Andante

The andante is incredibly brief and lyrical, which sets us up for the fiery Allegro that comes after. The andante acts as part of the fourth movement, and at times it has been suggested that there are actually only three movements of this sonata. This andante is cantabile in style and uses the mid-upper range of the violin. There is some ornamentation used again within this movement, such as grace notes and trills, which overall give the music colour and vibrancy.

IV. Allegro assai – Andante – Allegro assai 

The final movement opens with a staccato theme, which is a complete contrast to the previous andante. G minor is the established key and Tartini begins to write more virtuosic techniques for the soloist. He begins with double stops (two voices), and this is varied and Tartini even uses dissonance to create a certain mood for where the music goes next. By about by 39, the famous ‘Devil’s Trill’ section begins. The ‘trillo del Diavolo’ is a continuous trill over a moving voice. It moves around the keys of G minor, A minor and D minor, which creates some electrifying suspense and excitement within this section. The trill ends on the dominant seventh, which leads into the andante section. This andante section nearly identically shadows and reinforces the previous andante. The allegro that comes after this begins in D minor, however it quickly moves away and starts a development-like section which uses a wealth of different modulations. Again, due to the tempo and virutosic nature of this movement, the excitement and energy levels are very high! This is soon dissolved by the last andante section which is in G minor, and this is nearly identical to the second andante section. There are shortened versions of the trill and the accompanying voice that comes with it. The end of the work is very chromatic and ends in the minor.

This sonata is especially devilish to play, which is the whole point of the work! It is animated and provocative, which makes it a true classic within violin repertoire. Tartini’s use of trills is to depict a musical theme, which was a technique that had not been done extensively. I find this sonata jam-packed full of drama, suspense and vigour – surely the perfect concoction for an exciting solo work?! I hope you have enjoyed today’s instalment – I know I have! We are on the final stretch now of the challenge, so make sure you check my facebook/twitter/instagram accounts to see what the last few blogs are based on!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

Soloist – Joshua Bell

Sheila Silver ‘Nocturne’: A Complex Concoction for Piano

Hello readers! It has come to day S in my August Alphabet Challenge and wow was it difficult to pick from such a wide-range of composers! But I have decided to delve into another modern-day composer – Sheila Silver. She is a wonderful and dynamic composer, and this blog will be on her well-known solo piano work, Nocturne. This truly is a wonderful work, so I do hope you will join me in this exploration of Sheila Silver and her music.

Sheila Silver is an American-born composer, who grew up in Seattle. She began receiving piano lessons from the age of 5 and her love and passion for music grew and grew until she earned her place at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1968. When she graduated she also won a the George Ladd Prix de Paris, which allowed her to study in Europe for the next two years. During her bachelors, Silver started learning composition, so when she went to Europe (namely Stuttgart, Berlin and Hamburg), she was studying chiefly composition. Whilst in Berlin and Hamburg she studied under prolific Hungarian composer, Gyorgy Ligeti. Subsequently, she earned her doctorate from Brandeis University, which, during her course of research, allowed her to travel around the world.

Silver has worked with a wealth of different ensembles, a lot of which are highly acclaimed. For instance she has had commissions from the LA Philharmonic, RAI Orchestra of Rome and the Muir Quartet. One of the wonderful things about Silver is her ability to compose in a plethora of different genres. She has composed large-scale orchestral works, concertos, solo works and choral music. Her compositional style is dynamic and colourful, and she uses her experience from different teachers which make her, for me, a stand-out female composer of the modern-day. She has recently spent an extended period in India, learning the art of Hindustani music. Now, however, Silver lives in New York, with her husband John Feldman and their son. She is a Professor of Music at the State University, New York.

Nocturne is a piece Silver composed in 2015 and was consequently published by Argenta Music. The work is a Co-Commission by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre for Gilbert Kalish. Due to this work being so new, there is only one proper recording of it, and hardly any information on it – so I will try my best! The piece is for solo piano and the New York Classical Review said that “The music has a purely expressive quality, with a rocking bluesy, harmonic motion.” There are a lot of exciting twists and turns within the music, some of it leaves you on edge, but then Silver cleverly brings you back into the heart of the music. The work lasts between 10-11 minutes.

The piece begins with a low pedal note, which is sustained whilst the right hand plays a simple melodic figure, based around a trill. The harmonic language, to me, is bordering on jazz. This small cell of music is then varied until an interlude from the right hand is heard. A fast broken chord passage is heard from both hand, which gives an air of mystery. The initial theme is heard again, except again it is a slight variation. A beautiful chord progression is heard in the upper register of the piano, which leads into a trill in the left hand. An Alberti-esque bass line then begins, with the right hand playing a very blues-inspired melody. This section is incredibly syncopated at times, which gives you the ‘on the edge’ feeling.

A pass-over between the left and right hand occurs, with the general tone being low and quite dark. The use of blue notes and trills seems to be a growing theme within this work for Silver. It gives a sense of familiarity within this work. The next section sounds very atonal, which gives a feeling of uncertainty that we have not heard yet. The next, more climactic section is louder and much more prevalent. Both hand are playing a moving line, so it is a much busier texture. This breaks down into a chord vs scale section between the left and right hand. The occasional use of dissonance is extremely effective as it creates that kind of magical feel within the music. The right hand then starts playing scalic runs into the very top register of the piano, with the left hand still playing a consistent scalic pattern.

A small glissando is heard, and the trill motif is heard once more. The uncertainty hasn’t quite left, and this section reinforces that feeling. The left hand plays a moving line, whilst the right plays a small melody over the top. This leads to a passage in unison, which cuts the texture down a lot. Silver’s use of the whole piano is also incredibly powerful, as it makes the work bold and colour in tone and texture. The texture stays very busy, with each hand going to opposite ends of the piano, and then eventually meeting each other in the middle again. The music still sounds fairly atonal at this point. The left hand plays a very dark passage in the lower end of the piano, with the right playing also in the lower end of the instrument. A tone motif is heard between two notes in the left hand, and this is accompanied by a chord in the right. The piece is at its lowest in pitch here and this motif eerily ends the work.

I personally find this work incredibly expressive and powerful in its complex harmonies and rhythms, but also with the simplicity of some of the sections, most obviously, the introduction and ending of the work. The work is very interesting and I really do admire Silver for her dedication to music and her compositional style, which is enjoyed by so many. I hope you can give this work a chance and can find enjoyment in it too – although this may take a few listens if you are a novice to the genre! A fantastic inspiration for female composers – bravo Sheila Silver! Tomorrow is day T tomorrow, so make sure you come back to what that is!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

Ottorino Respighi ‘Pines of Rome’: Harmonious Horticulture

Happy Thursday, readers! We’ve come to day R in the August Alphabet Challenge, and I must admit I have found it very tricky to pick only one composer out of many I have on my R list! But I have decided to share with you an absolutely wonderful tone poem by the Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi, entitled Pines of Rome. This is a really wonderful work and I hope you will find it as fruitful as I!

Ottorino Respighi was born on July 9th, 1879 in Bologna, Italy. From a young age he was taught piano by his father, as he was a local music teacher in the area. After that he enrolled at the Liceo, where he studied violin, viola and composition with Luigi Torchi and Guiseppi Martucci. His musical talents flourished whilst studying at the Liceo, and Respighi successfully graduated in 1899 with a diploma in both violin and composition. For some years that proceeded, Respighi was unsure whether to pursue a career as a virtuoso violinist, or become a composer. The latter won Respighi’s attention. He believed that to flourish as a composer, the best route would be to leave Italy, and be educated by composers from across different lands. He initially moved to Russia, so that he could study with Rimsky-Korsakov. After this he travelled to Germany, where he met Max Bruch. Throughout his travels he still played his violin in various professional orchestras and opera houses. Respighi returned to Rome in 1913, where took up a place as professor at the Liceo Reale de S. Ceilia. He resigned from this role in 1925 so that he could give more time to his compositions.

In 1925 he toured both America and Holland, where he premiered new pieces including the piece I’m looking into today, The Pines of Rome. Respighi is known for his interest in Italy’s musical traditions, which makes him a quintessential nationalistic composer. Respighi composed a wealth of different music including operas, orchestral works and vocal poems. His compositions brought him much fame and he was elected to the Royal Academy of Italy in 1932. Respighi also made a trip to Brazil, where he composed the work, Impressioni brasiliane.

As well as a performer and composer, Respighi was also an acclaimed musicologist. He was very interested in the music of Monteverdi and Vivaldi. His work as a musicologist did affect his style in his later compositions, where he based a lot of his tonality and melodies on early Italian music. He claimed his music used a mixture of pre-classical musical forms and late 19th-Century romantic harmonies and textures. Respighi died in 1936 from endocarditis.

Pines of Rome is a symphonic poem that was composed in 1924. It is the second orchestral poem in Respighi’s Roman Triology, which include the works:

Fountains of Rome (1917)

Pines of Rome (1924)

Roman Festivals (1928)

Each of these piece depicts a certain aspect of Italian life, with Pines of Rome depicting pine trees in various locations around Rome at different times of the day. The work is in 4 movements, and each title briefly describes the location of the pine tree. The Roman Triology is perhaps Respighi’s most famous and most-loved work, with Pines of Rome being the most remembered. Listed below are the four movements, with a brief description of what they depict musically:

I. I pini di Villa Borghese: Allegretto vivace (The Pines of the Villa Borghese)

The Villa Borghese is a monument to the patronage of the Borghese family. The music depicts a sunny morning, where children are playing by some pine trees in the garden. They are singing nursery rhymes and playing with toys.

Respighi writes in the programme notes:

“Children are at play in the pine groves of Villa Borghese; they dance around the circle; they play at soldiers; marching and fighting they are wrought up by their own cries like swallows at evening; they come and go in swarms.”

II. I pini del catacomba: Lento (The Pines of the Catacomb)

The second movement depicts an image of a solitary chapel in Campagna. There is a lot of open land, with tree silhouettes dotted around the land. We are taken on a journey to the catacombs and then to priests chanting.

Respighi writes in the programme notes:

“We see the shades of the pine trees fringing the entrance to the catacomb. From the depth there rises the sound of mournful psalm-singing, floating through the air like a solemn hymn, and gradually and mysteriously dispersing.”

III. I pini del Gianicolo: Lento (The Pines of the Janiculum)

The third movement is set on the Janiculum hill. There is a full moon that shines on the pines that grow on the hill. This movement is incredibly innovative because at the end of the movement, Respighi took a recording of a nightingale on a phonograph. This was a technique that had never been done before, so it was a hot-spot for discussion.

Respighi writes in the programme notes:

“A quiver runs through the air; the pine trees of the Janiculum stand distinctly outlined in the clear light of a full moon. A nightingale is singing.”

IV. I pini della Via Appian: Tempo di marcia (The Pines of the Appian Way)

Within the last movement we are taken to Appian Way, where the pine trees stand in a misty atmosphere. It is dawn and the sun is starting to rise. The legion advances along the Appian Way and the tremble of the footsteps from the army are heard. This movement ends with the army rising in triumph to the Capitoline Hill.

Respighi writes in the programme notes:

“Misty dawn on the Appian Way; solitary pine trees guarding the magic landscape; the muffled, ceaseless rhythm of unending footsteps. The poet has a fantastic vision of bygone glories; trumpets sound and, in the brilliance of the newly risen sun, a consular army bursts forth towards the Sacred Way, mounting in triumph to the Capitol.”

Without further ado let’s get to the best bit – the music itself!

I. I pini di Villa Borghese: Allegretto vivace (The Pines of the Villa Borghese)

The first movement starts with a flurry of bright winds and tuned percussion, which is representative of the sun shining into the garden at Villa Borghese. The melodies of this movement are based on folk-songs. There are four principal themes which are thematic in nature, and that give us vivid imagery of the garden. There are two transitional melodies which are shorter and are not as developed. The first melody, led by the cello and bassoon is in Bb major, which is bright and brings a very positive vibe to the movement. The second theme is in F major (dominant of Bb) and is led by the horns, clarinet and cellos. The third is in A major and is built as a canon with the strings and woodwind being at the forefront of this. The fourth is based around F major, but also drives through D major. These major themes are short and they are connected by two transitional sections which are far less conventional. These very short themes are modal, the first in Phrygian on A and the second Mixolydian on G. The mix between tonal and modal harmonies gives the movement lots of depth and colour within the timbre. The most striking thing about this movement is certainly Respghi’s use of short note values. All themes are based on either a quaver length or shorter values. The fast nature of this movement bounces between the duple metres of 2/8, 2/4 and 3/8. The broken-chord figure that is essentially the basis of this movement is carried through the whole movement, until the flourish at the end.

II. I pini del catacomba: Lento (The Pines of the Catacomb)

The second movement is based on Gregorian modes, namely Aeolian and Iolian. The mood and character of this movement is completely different from the previous, with a dark and shadowy atmosphere settling in. Coming up from the depths of the very low and bassy introduction sings a psalm, which depicts the priests chanting. The idea of this movement representing a solitary area and the trees that stand there is very vivid to me. There are two main themes which are varied throughout, the first is from the introductory passage and the second starts when the trumpet plays a leghato melody over the strings. This movement feels very mournful, lonely and in some places rather dark. I feel that Respighi has transported us into a very solitary underground catacomb, and the deep pedal notes that are played are representing the sites that can be seen in this derelicht tomb. A climax occurs with the horns and strings leading this section. I always find that this is leading us towards some sort of light within the deep and sorrowful darkness of this movement. The strings play a memorable motif, which is counteracted by the brass, who play a very noble cell of music. The themes begin to die away and the lower-end of the orchestra start playing in their lower registers, which creates a mysterious atmosphere. The movement ends with a flute and bassoon solo, which slowly dies away.

III. I pini del Gianicolo: Lento (The Pines of the Janiculum)

The third movement is also based on two main themes, which are based on broken chords. The first theme is based on a pentatonic scale, which creates a very magical and mystical atmosphere. The clarinet plays a solo based on wide intervals on the pentatonic scale. The second theme is tonal and is based around going between major and minor, in this case E and G major and minor. I believe that this clarinet solo is trying to depict the moonlight shining through the pine trees that are standing in line on the Janiculum. The lower strings provide a steady pedal note below, which represents the darkness of the night. The strings play a steady motif which is pulsating and gives a rocking feeling below the clarinet. This movement is incredibly nostalgic and introspective and perhaps this memory is something very close to Respighi himself. The oboe and cello both take over solos, which are based on the same theme, but just varied somewhat. The upper strings also do this and they constantly shift the harmonic language. Respighi’s use of extreme ranges on the strings especially is striking and makes this movement very beautiful indeed. The movement ends with tuned percussion and harps playing broken chords which lead into the clarinet returning with a solo completely unaccompanied. The sound of the recorded nightingale can then be heard, with a delicate accompaniment from the first violins. It’s an incredibly innovative way to end the third instalment and is such a joy!

IV. I pini della Via Appian: Tempo di marcia (The Pines of the Appian Way)

The fourth movement is based on one motif which is extended throughout the whole movement. Wide intervalic leaps are again at the centre of this. The beginning sets the tone for the footsteps of the army, and this is heard in the piano and lower strings. It creates a very ‘impending doom’ sort of feel. Respighi uses his Russian influences by making this incredibly chromatic and based around the tonality of F major. Wind instruments take turns in playing a variation of the initial theme. The jaunty nature of this movement creates a very uneasy feel, however, the ‘foot step’ motif keeps the feel regulated and secure. The horns and brass start a conversation based on a fanfare-like theme. This leads to the climax of the movement, where the soldier’s are walking through the Appian Way. There is a strong presence from the brass and lower sections of the orchestra, which makes this a very bold part of the movement. I find the last minute or so of this movement so exciting as the timbral mix of these instruments creates a bold statement which sees Respighi’s style based on baroque and romantic influences. The movement ends with a strong chord on F played by the whole ensemble.

Pines of Rome is an incredibly interesting work which incorporates a range of different interesting musical techniques. For instance, Respighi’s use of the recording in the third movement creates a very nature-based feel for the movement. I find Respighi’s style so very fulfilling and a joy to listen to, and I hope you can also find some joy in his music too! He was a quintessential nationalistic composer, who drew influences from a range of different places, whilst always staying true to his Italian roots. Tomorrow is day S in the August Alphabet Challenge – who could it be?!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording:

 

 

 

 

 

Roger Quilter ‘A Children’s Overture’: “Old Rhymes with New Dresses”

Happy Wednesday readers – here we are at day Q in my August Alphabet Challenge! After conducting some research I am certain that Q was the most difficult to find a composer for. I am really happy with the outcome for today’s blog however, and it shall be on Roger Quilter’s A Children Overture. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Roger Quilter was born in Hove, Sussex in 1877. In contrast to his older brothers, Roger was the quiet, shy sibling of the group. In the mid-1880s Quilter was sent to a new prep school in Farnborough, where he was able to nurture his love for music, poetry and drama. Throughout his school like he flourished as a singer, pianist and violinist, and by the time he left the school he was very proficient on all three. After this, Quilter enrolled at Eton college in 1892. At the time that Quilter studied at Eton, there was a high acclaim for any one who would be capable in joining the army. Thus, an emphasis on physical tasks and sports were what lots of young men thrived from. However, Quilter’s shy and reserved nature made him stand out somewhat to his peers. Due to this, he was excused from sport, and was allowed to pursue his interests in music. Both his older and younger brothers went to Eton also, and sadly Roger Quilter became overshadowed by Arnie and Percy. It has been documented that Roger did not enjoy his time at Eton, and when he left in 1895, he moved straight back home to Bawdsey.

Quilter had no clear career prospects, unlike his brothers who were going into either the army or business. He was beginning to become quite ‘bogged down’ with both his future and his own physical demeanour. He was 6’3 in height and was very slim, which made him hate photographs of himself (which is why there are none in existence anymore of him when he was younger). He decided that the best pathway for him would probably be music, and so with some advice he decided to apply for a place at the Conservatory at Frankfurt-am-Main. It is intriguing that Quilter did not go to a conservatory in Britain, as the foundations of the Royal Academy and Royal College were one of the best in the continent. However, he felt that going abroad would help his musical training the most, and Germany was the most appealing to him. Quilter then spent the next four and a half years in Frankfurt.

Around the middle of 1897 (within his first semester at the conservatory), he began composing short songs based on poems. He composed a short song based on two verses from Tennyson’s poem Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, which, after being altered, has now become one of Quilter’s most popular songs. Quilter became popular in the conservatory for his songs and cycles of songs. He did, however, write some orchestral music, although most of it is now sadly lost. Quilter studied piano and composition over the four years he attended Frankfurt Conservatory. Whilst there he also met fellow English composers Percy Grainger and Norman O’Neill (to which they all studied composition under Ivan Knorr). The mix between these flamboyant students and Knorr, created a highly-strung atmosphere to work in, although Quilter seemed to quite like that! It has been documented that Knorr was incredibly argumentative and had a vicious sense of humour. Quilter came from an extremely wealthy background and usually used his money to help and support other composers. However, this did not stop him feeling inferior to the bigger characters of the group, such as Percy Grainger. His teacher, Knorr, also did not think he would be that much of a composer, saying his work was charming, yet lacked conviction. This stopped Quilter from composing any large-scale works, and instead he stuck with what he knew. He became part of a group called the ‘Frankfurt Five’ which comprised of, Balfour Gardiner, Percy Grainger, Norman O’Neill, Cyril Scott and Roger Quilter.

From the start of the 1900s, Quilter was perhaps the most unknown of the five students in Frankfurt. He basically just wrote some nice charming songs, instead of pushing boundaries like his peers. He found word setting incredibly important, which meant he reworked his songs a lot more than the average composer. After moving back to England, he became working with chamber groups at the Crystal Palace. It was here that Quilter started to grasp the attention the some of his earliest audiences. His work Four Songs of the Sea became quite popular. He further composed a wealth of other short songs.

Quilter had always struggled with his health, and had been ill for a large part of his life. He never displayed the same amount of energy like his peers, and he was always very quiet. This led to Quilter suffering from depression and this led to a complete flood of self-doubt within him until he died. Thankfully, Quilter pushed himself to compose as much as he could manage, and also attend lots of concerts so that he could see his friends (as his life revolved around his friends). Quilter wrote songs that were dedicated to singers that he would like to perform his work (this was a traditional thing to do), and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Within the next 10 years, Quilter composed some his best-known songs such as Three Shakespeare Songs and To Julia. Sadly, Quilter became seriously ill around 1906, and after suffering from a bad case of the flu, his immune system was not ready for what was to come. The supposed stomach ulcer brought him much physical and emotional distress, which left him bedridden for a long period.

After his illness, Quilter was left in a vulnerable situation, and he soon began composing incidental music for theatre works, such as The Merchant of Venice. He also wrote a lot of light music for orchestra, such as Children’s Overture and Where the Rainbow Ends. Around this time he also came to terms with his homosexuality, which he had struggled with over many years. Quilter also lived through both World Wars, so his mental health was forever on the decline. Music, however, kept him going. He was inspired by the works of Peter Warlock and Ralph Vaughan Williams. In 1953, Quilter fell ill again, although this was for the last time. He became very week and passed on September 21st 1953.

For this blog I’m going to be looking into his 1914 orchestral work, Children’s Overture, which is a light work that combines lots of different nursery rhymes and memories of childhood. I find this an excellent piece, so I hope you do to!

Children’s Overture was composed in 1914 and it depicts the innocence of childhood. Quilter cleverly takes famous nursery rhymes and neatly links them together, creating the ultimate reminiscent piece. The overture is based on a music book by Walter Crane called The Baby’s Opera. The aim of both the book and the overture are the same: to appeal at many levels. On one sense a child would enjoy the novelty of hearing what melody will come next, on another an adult would enjoy hearing familiar tunes. Crane describes it as “old rhymes with new dresses.” Quilter uses generally the same keys for the nursery rhymes that Crane does in his book, however Quilter creates some slight differences with use of pivot notes, modulations and transitions. Out of the 36 songs in Crane’s book, Quilter uses 12 of these to compile his overture, and these are (in order of appearance in the overture):

Baa! Baa! Black Sheep

Girls and Boys (A major)

St. Paul Steeple (D major)

Xmas Day in the Morning (F#minor)

I Saw Three Ships (F# major)

Ye Song of Sixpence (Bb major)

There was a Lady (Eb major)

Over the Hills and Far Away (G major)

The Frog and the Crow (Eb major)

The Frog’s Wooing (C minor, ending in C major)

Baa! Baa! Black Sheep (E major)

The Mulberry Bush (E major)

Oranges and Lemons (A major)

Girls and Boys (A major)

Oranges and Lemons (A major)

The piece begins with a single bar which hints at Baa! Baa! Black Sheep, although this doesn’t go any further until the end of the work. The rest of the ensemble takes over, led by the strings, and the whirling and swirling of the sounds creates a sense of naivety – perfect for the target audience. The time signature changes from 4/4 common time to 6/8, which gives a bouncy feel into Girls and Boys. The strings and upper wind lead us into a lovely melody, which is embellished throughout by the flutes. The constant change in tempos makes this piece very exciting. The bassoons play the initial Girls and Boys melody, which is then passed around the whole orchestra. The trumpet and strings also play this melody, whilst the clarinets play a counter-melody. A dominant modulation to D major takes us into St. Paul Steeple. This section has a grander feel to it, and the mix between the muted upper brass and oboes creates a raw timbre. Different wind instruments take over the main melody in this section.

The next modulation is to F# minor and it’s an obvious one to hear. Xmas Day in the Morning is the next nursery song, and the tempo has slowed down somewhat here. The strings are very melancholy and the sound is warm and friendly. The cellos play a beautiful counter-melody also. A quick change to F# major takes us to a transitional section which then lead us to a variation of the last nursery song. Again, there is such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in this section, its screaming “listen to me!”. I Saw Three Ships is next and its very nautical! First led by the flutes, the brass and strings take over and the snare drum gives us that drive we know from this song. A compositional trait I have seen in Quilter is his use of upper winds to embellish the main melodies.

Ye Song of Sixpence is our next rhyme and it is led by the winds once more. The main theme is spread around the whole orchestra, with the strings acting as an accompaniment. This rhyme is short-lived and we move on to There was a Lady. There is a much heavier bass section here and the piccolo also makes a more prominent approach within the ensemble. This section is very dance-like and the to and fro between the winds, brass and strings is really interesting. Over the Hills and Far Away is next and its played with a luscious tone from the strings, with a wonderful counter-melody from the horns. I absolutely love this section, it’s really nostalgic and a pleasure to hear. A short transition takes us into The Frog and Crow and then quickly into The Frog’s Wooing. The next transitional section extends the themes from I Saw Three Ships and Baa! Baa! Black Sheep. This brings us nicely into The Mulberry Bush, with its elongated melody and charming effect. This is in 3/4 and the bounce of it speeds up to bring us a dance-like effect. From this point we hear Oranges and Lemons twice and a reprise of Girls and Boys. The ending is thick in texture, which is highlighted by the scalic runs and grand ending led by a timpani roll and then a dominant-tonic chord from the ensemble.

This is a wonderfully charming work which takes something familiar and turns it into something new, yet still incredibly nostalgic. I hope you have enjoyed what this work has to offer, I find it very easy to listen to and a joy to research into. Quilter is certainly a quintessential composer, whose work is highly underrated in my opinion! Tomorrow is day R…I wonder what it’ll be?!

Happy Reading!

Recommended Recording: