Monday, August 28, 2017

SLOW PRACTICE - Courante J.S. Bach - Suzuki Violin Book 7

Here is a practice video of the Courante by J.S. Bach in Suzuki Violin Book 7. I love this piece! Originally written for the cello in Bach's Cello Suite in G Major, it is a beautiful piece that challenges you with bowings, phrasing and style. Practice slow, practice often!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Vibrato Exercise Suzuki Book 3

Vibrato is awesome!  Suzuki Book 3 introduces vibrato and has exercises on page 9.  Here are the ways to practice:

1. quarter notes, 2 wobbles/notes to a bow
2. eighth notes, 4 wobbles/notes to a bow
3. triplets, 6 wobbles/notes to a bow
4. sixteenth notes, 8 wobbles/notes to a bow
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Friday, October 9, 2015

Handel's Concerto Grossi

      Handel is known for his oratorios, but they were not at first that popular.  In 1739, to get the public to come to his operas, Handel started having special instrumental pieces in the intermission. This led Handel to start composing Concerti Grossi. Handel was inspired and wished to compose at the level of Corelli's Concerti Grossi and these are a part of the high point of Baroque orchestral literature.

These pieces are very exciting to listen to as Handel has the soloists going back and forth with the orchestra. You can hear great fugues, aria-like, dance, mournful, and vigorous movements keeps the joy coming as you listen.

Here is the Concerto grosso in D major, op. 6, no. 5, HWV 323 performed by Il Giardino Armonico conducted by Giovanni Antonini.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Schumann's 1st Love Song for a Girl

     Schumann wrote the Abegg Variations shortly after his twentieth birthday based on the name of the girl, Meta Abegg, that he met at a ball. Schumann was paying tribute to the French center of piano virtuosity.

The Abegg Variations first appeared in November 1831. Schumann was writing in the Romantic period where it was all about unrequited love and getting all dramatic. It was a period in history where people lost the understanding of love, but people knew what a girl or a boy was.

The entire piece is based out of a five-note motif from the letters ABEGG, unlike the tradition of the time to base the theme on a melody off of another famous composer's work. Schumann develops this motif in the variations from slow and expressive to fast and flashy.

Here is Linnéa Benson playing the "Abegg variations" by Robert Schumann.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Always Seeking Inspiration

     As a professional music artist and teacher I recognize my need to constantly be inspired. Here is Beethoven 9 performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Riccardo Muti.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What are you listening to?

     What do you listen to when you are reading, studying, or writing? This is a great time to listen to music that you are learning or inspires your playing. Always seek to grow, don't put it off, or think you "have arrived." Musicians that stop listening to the great masters stagnate and also are less likely to take criticism from others well. Stay humble and keep on growing!

J.S. Bach always astounds me. The more I listen the more I get out of it. Incredible! Here is J.S. Bach's Partita Nr.  3 in E Dur performed by Gidon Kremer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Robert Schumann, Part 1

Robert Schumann, one of the greatest Romantic composers, was born in Zwickau, a part of South Eastern Germany. However, Schumann did not start out as a composer. Much like other young men and women, he grudgingly followed the advice of his parents in schooling, in his case law school -- a practical pursuit according to many people. If you remember, G.F. Handel first started studied to become a lawyer as his dad asked him. While at law school, Schumann spent most of his time studying not law, but the piano. He was encouraged in his piano pursuits by Friedrich Wieck, Schumann's soon to be father-in-law. Wieck was a well known piano teacher and father of a gifted piano prodigy, Clara. Around this time, Clara, the future wife of Robert Schumann, was just starting her piano career when her father took Robert Schumann on as a student. Unfortunately, his dreams of becoming a concert pianist were shattered when he injured the muscles in his hand. Not to let this get him down, Robert channeled his energy into creating beautiful compositions for the world to enjoy. For Schumann, this was a period of prolific composition in piano pieces, which were published either at once or, in revised forms, later. Among them were the piano cycles Papillons and Carnaval (composed 1833–35) and the Études symphoniques (1834–37; Symphonic Studies), another work consisting of a set of variations.

In 1834, Schumann had become engaged to Ernestine von Fricken, but started falling in love with Clara Wieck. Clara liked him too, but obeyed her father when he ordered not to date Schumann. So for 16 months Schumann could not see Clara, so he composed more music. He wrote the great Fantasy in C Major for piano and edited the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a periodical that he had helped to start in 1834. But Schumann did not stop liking Clara, so he got courageous in 1837 and formally asked Clara’s father for permission to marry her. Clara's dad, Wieck, did not say "no" but he also did not say "yes;" he evaded Schumann's request. Eventually, Robert and Clara were married in 1840.

Schumann spent many years composing many songs and pieces for different instruments, but especially the piano. Schumann wrote many songs to be sung (called Lieder) by one or a few singers, songs for the choir, pieces for the orchestra and concertos, and chamber music. Finally, Schumann became so sick that he stayed in a hospital until he died in 1854.  
By guest author: Matthew F.