Saturday, 25 June 2011
Friday, 24 June 2011
The Planets, Op. 32, is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gustav Holst, written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst. With the exception of Earth, which is not observed in astrological practice, all the planets are represented.
From its premiere to the present day, the suite has been enduringly popular, influential, widely performed and the subject of numerous recordings. However, it had a protracted birth. There were four performances between September 1918 and October 1920, but they were all either private (the first performance, inLondon) or incomplete (two others in London and one in Birmingham). The premiere was at the Queen's Hall on 29 September 1918, conducted by Holst's friend Adrian Boult to an invited audience of about 250 people. The first complete public performance was given in London on 15 November 1920, with theLondon Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates.
Thursday, 16 June 2011
"O Fortuna" is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the thirteenth century, part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about fate, and Fortuna, a goddess in Roman mythology and personification of luck.
In 1935/36, O Fortuna was set to music by the German composer Carl Orff for his cantata Carmina Burana where it is used as the opening and closing number. It opens on a slower pace with thumping drums and choir that drops quickly into a whisper building slowly into a steady crescendo of drums and short string and horn notes peaking on one last long powerful note and ending abruptly. A performance takes a little over two and a half minutes.
Orff's setting of the poem has become immensely popular and has been performed by countless classical music ensembles and popular artists. It can be heard in numerous movies and television commercials and has become a staple in popular culture, setting the mood for dramatic or cataclysmic situations. "O Fortuna" topped a list of the most-played classical music of the past 75 years in the United Kingdom.
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (Thus Spoke Zarathustra or Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed during 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical treatise of the same name. The composer conducted its first performance on 27 November 1896 in Frankfurt. A typical performance lasts half an hour.
The work has been part of the classical repertoire since its first performance during 1896. The initial fanfare – entitled "Sunrise" in the composer's program notes – became particularly well known to the general public due to its use in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The fanfare has also been used in numerous other media productions.
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
The Four Seasons (Italian: Le quattro stagioni) is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. For example, "Winter" is peppered with silvery pizzicato notes from the high strings, calling to mind icy rain, whereas "Summer" evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement, which is why the movement is often dubbed "Storm."
The concertos were first published in 1725 as part of a set of twelve concerti, Vivaldi's Op. 8, entitled Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione (The Contest between Harmony and Invention). The first four concertos were designated Le quattro stagioni, each being named after a season. Each one is in three movements, with a slow movement between two faster ones. At the time of writing The Four Seasons, the modern solo form of the concerto had not yet been defined (typically a solo instrument and accompanying orchestra). Vivaldi's original arrangement for solo violin with string quartetand basso continuo helped to define the form.
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
A broadside ballad by this name was registered at the London Stationer's Company in September 1580 as "A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves". It then appears in the surviving A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) as "A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves. To the new tune of Green sleeves."
The tune is found in several late 16th century and early 17th century sources, such as Ballet's MS Lute Book and Het Luitboek van Thysius, as well as various manuscripts preserved in the Cambridge University libraries.