Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bach, Johann Sebastian

Johann Sebastian Bach is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. he not only completely mastered every style practiced in his own day, but he also looked toward the future. For this reason, the way in which he composed has inspired the musicians of today. Bach was more famous as an organist than a composer in his day. His major works were not often performed until many years after his death.

Bach Was born at Eisenach in central Germany on March 21, 1685. His family had been musicians for several generations, and his father's cousin, Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) was a prominent composer. Bach's parents died before he was 10 years old, and he went to live with his oldest brother. His brother taught him to play the harpsichord and the clavichord, instruments that preceded the piano. Bach began earning his living at the age of 15. He became a singer and then a violinist in St Michael's church at Luneburg. He went on to be organist at Arnstadt and then at Muhlhausen. His first important position came in 1708, when he became court organist and chamber musician to the Duke of Weimar. There, he wrote his finest music for organ. Bach left Weimar in 1717 to take position as Kapellmeister, or music director, to prince Leopold of Anhalt Kothen. from 1723 until his death, he served as cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig. He also directed music for the churches, the university, and for the civic functions in Leipzig. During this period, he wrote his finest Choral music. Bach was Married twice. His first wife, Maria Barbara, bore him seven children. She died in 1720, and he married Anna Magdalena Wilcken, She bore him 13 children. four of his sons won fame as composers. Bach's works sum up a whole period of music. He brought such musical devices as counterpoint and fugue to their greatest heights. He wrote three great religious works, nearly 300 church cantata, and many cantatas for such occasions as birthdays and weddings. Many of Bach's keyboard music is performed on the piano.

Did you know... Bach went to live with his elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach - also a musician who had been a student of Johann Pachelbel. J. Christoph was the organist at St. Michael's Church in Ohrdruffor, Germany and gave Bach keyboard lessons. Due to Bach’s obvious talent, however, his brother became jealous and locked up all of his music. This led Bach to sneak some of Pachelbel’s original manuscripts to copy and learn from. He secretly studied by moonlight for six months which led to problems with his eyesight throughout his life and eventual blindness. At the age of 15, his elder brother died, leaving Bach to continue his musical education on his own. During his lifetime, Bach would learn to play the keyboard, the organ and the violin.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chopin, Frederic

Born in Zelazowa Wola, a small city near Warsaw, Poland on February 22, 1810. He first studied the piano at the Warsaw School of music. By his early teens, he was quite good. He played his first public convert at age 7. He toured Europe, giving concerts. He never wrote music for orchestra alone, but he composed more than 200 piano pieces that rank him among the worlds leading composers.
Chopin had a great appreciation of the effects that the piano could produce. His sonatas contain some beautiful music, but his finest works are in forms that he himself worked out or perfected. These include four ballades, four large-scale scherzos, about 40 mazurkas in a characteristic Polish 3/4 dance rhythm, more than 25 etudes, more than 20 nocturnes, about 15 polonaises in a stately Polish dance rhythm, some 18 waltzes, a barcarolle, a berceuse, a bolero, a fantaisie, a fantaisie-impromptu, three impromptus, a tarantelle, and rondos. Chopin was the only son of a French father and a Polish mother. In 1836, he proposed to a Polish girl, but her parents disapproved. Later he became friendly with the woman novelist George Sand. He traveled with her to the Mediterranean island of Majorca in the winter of 1838-1839 where his already weak health was undermined. He was gravely ill of tuberculosis by the time his relationship with her ended in a quarrel in 1847. A visit to Scotland during bad weather in 1848 further weakened him. Later that year, the Paris revolution, which overthrew King Louis Philippe, upset his way of life.
Chopin moved away from Poland permanently during the beginning of war between Russia and Poland. His friends gave him a silver goblet filled with Polish soil. He was never able to return again. He wrote many sad musical pieces expressing his grief for "his" Poland. He became very homesick. He found solace in summer visits to the country. Before he died, he requested the polish soil be poured over his grave. During his funeral, one of his own funeral marches was played.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Since Beethoven is my favorite, I will begin with him.

He was born in 1770, Dec. 15 or 16 in Bonn, Germany. He was one of the most famous and influential composers of the 1800's. He was generally regarded as the "emancipator of music", because he established the vocation of composer as a dignified profession. He brought new force and flexibility to music. His creative genius inspires much of todays music. Beethoven held the job of court organist at the age of 14. His father was a drunken singer, and scarcely took care of his family. Therefore, the money young Beethoven earned helped his family. He went to Vienna in 1787, where he met Wolfgang A. Mozart, who immediately recognized his genius. He returned to his hometown however, because of his mothers illness. She died shortly after he returned, and he had to support his brothers.

Beethoven gave music lessons (which he hated doing) for a time in Bonn and played the viola in the theater orchestra. He settled in Vienna in 1792, and studied with Joseph Haydn and other masters. There, in 1795, he appeared as a pianist, and won great success. But at 28, he realized he was loosing his hearing. He soon had to give up concert work and devote his entire time to composing, while he struggled against poverty, ill health, and growing deafness. By 1819, he could only communicate by writing. During this time, he produced some of his greatest works. When he died, he had won recognition from some of the greatest minds of his time. He is buried in the famed central cemetery of Vienna near the tombs of Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Gluck, Schubert, and Hugo Wolf, all famous composers.

He wrote nine symphonies, and had started a tenth when he died. He also wrote 32 piano sonatas. These are just a few of his many works.

Much of the time, Beethoven had a hot tempered personality. He was also neglectful of himself. He spent so much time at the piano composing, he would often forget to eat. This is probably a big contribution to his illness, which caused an early death. He was against God most of his life, but it is reported he had a change of heart not long before his death. Doctors where unable to identify his illness, and even today, it is unsure what it was he suffered, since he burned most of his medical records.

Fun Story

A young composer went to Beethoven, looking for approval on a piece he had written. Beethoven flipped through the score, hardly seeming to glance at the pages. 'He is only being polite, and pretending to look at it', thought the young man. But then, Beethoven turned back to a page and pointed to a measure."That note doesn't go well there", he said.

So much for thinking I can sight read!

favorite pieces

Sonata no.8, Op.13 (Pathetique) all three movements.

Sonata no.17,Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest") 1rst movement.

Sonata no.14, Op.27, No.2 ("Moonlight")

Rondo a Capriccio, Op. 129 ("Rage over a lost penny")

Symphony No.5

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Post!

This is my first post ever on this blog! I hope to get this site going soon, so please be patient. Coming soon, I will have biographies of composers, classical and modern alike. Hopefully, I will have a few of my own compositions put here as well. Dolce Musica!