Category Archives: Piano music


It’s nearly a year since I wrote my last public post. This long, COVID-19 induced, gap was mostly taken up with my moving courses online and then running them from my study – actually my bedroom, but ‘study’ sounds a bit more dignified – rather than in several venues dotted around the countryside (I’ve made last term’s 20 online sessions public – you can see and access them on the OVERTURES and WATER pages).

Things are – wherever you are in the world, I suspect – still in a state of flux as far as future activities are concerned but I hope to return to regular blogging and face-to-face teaching (or, maybe, a mixture of the two) at some point in the reasonably near future.

Meanwhile, seeing as many of us have been deprived of our annual jaunt to warmer climes (though, at the moment, where I am, it’s positively sub equatorial!) I thought we might take a ‘virtual’ holiday tour with the aid of one or two pieces of music.

(surrogate) HOLIDAY music:

We start in Spain, where, with the help of Enrique Granados, Alicia de Larrocha and the rather exotic young woman on the cover art, we can dance our way around much of the Iberian peninsula – Danzas españolas:

0:00 Galante
2:52 Oriental
7:43 Fandango
11:40 Villanesca
17:11 Andaluza
21:23 Rondella aragonesa
25:04 Valenciana
29:46 Sardana
33:05 Romantica
37:51 Melancolica
41:59 Arabesca
47:24 Bolero

France next: Provence, Aix-en-Provence to be precise, where a native of that city, Darius Milhaud allows us to travel not only in space but also back in time to the epoch of La cheminée du roi René – The Fireplace of King René. If that’s left you wondering who and when Good King René was, click here. And his chimneypiece? It’s the subject of a provençal saying – ‘se chauffer à la cheminée du roi René’ [to warm oneself at the fireplace of King René] meaning simply ‘to stand in the sunshine’.

Cortège (procession)
Aubade (dawnsong)
Jongleurs (jugglers)
Joutes sur l’Arc (jousting on the River Arc)
Chasse à Valabre (hunting at Valabre)
Madrigal nocturne (nocturnal madrigal)

But it’s not just the natives who write music about their homelands, tourists also get in on the act.

Chabrier’s España, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol and Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole, are amongst the many works that demonstrate a general fascination with the music of Spain (maybe it’s that exotic moorish influence).

There are tourist works about Italy, too – Elgar’s Alassio, Strauss’s Aus Italien and this, the Tchaikovsky string sextet which he called Souvenir de Florence.

Admittedly, the music itself doesn’t seem to have much to do with Florence but it’s a fine piece (one of the composer’s best, to my mind); as one commentator on YouTube put it: “Wow, my Souvenir de Florence was just a lousy T-shirt from the airport …”

0:00Allegro con spirito
10:47Adagio cantabile e con moto
21:10Allegretto moderato
27:46Allegro con brio e vivace

And lastly, to Greece, where courtesy of Nikos Skalkottas (who wrote in total 36 of these dances) we can join in the line up for the five of them that he arranged for strings.

1. Epirotikos 00:00​​
2. Kritikos 01:44​​
3. Tsamikos 03:30​​
4. Arkadikos 05:54​​
5. Kleftikos 09:21

… and for those of you who – even if COVID-19 hadn’t happened – would still have preferred not to stray too far from home (well, my home, that is)…

01 – Moderato
02 – Presto
03 – Lento
04 – Allegro

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