and finally…

Any listing of Mendelssohn’s most popular works, would have his violin concerto somewhere near the top. His rethinking of the concerto form – started with his two piano concertos – here reaches its apogee; and the success of this remodelling can be measured by the plethora of famous near-imitations that followed it — the violin […]


Incidental music n. music played as an accompaniment or ‘background’ to a play or film, or to a radio or other performance or entertainment. Oxford English Dictionary w   Our logo/featured image for this term – based on an early Augener edition of Mendelssohn’s 42 Songs Without Words for piano – comes to us courtesy of the […]

Open my heart and you will see/Grav’d inside of it, “Italy.”

What did holidaymakers do in the halcyon days before the internet, Wi-Fi, smartphones and tablets? They sent one another postcards, of course! And before the postcard?? In the 18th/19th century affluent young gentlemen and (rarely) ladies were packed off to do the Grand Tour; sent traipsing around Europe in the fond hope that – rather […]


… or, to give him his full name, Ignacy Jan Paderewski was a truly astonishing man: virtuoso pianist, composer, patriot, statesman, philanthropist, orator, film star, Hang on! Film star??? Well, after a fashion. In 1937 Paderewski appeared as himself in the British made film Moonlight Sonata. Here’s a clip from it; it’s a bit(!) mawkish for […]

Sonata in b-flat

Perhaps the most famous of Chopin’s piano sonatas is his second in b-flat minor. Most people, however, only know a bit of one of the movements of the work, and they may not even know the name of the composer! The funeral march which forms the slow, third movement of the sonata has been used […]

Cztery tańce polskie [four Polish dances]

While Chopin’s lifetime predates the rise of ethnomusicology  (he wasn’t a Cecil Sharp or Béla Bartók) there’s certainly no denying the profound influence that the music, and particularly the dance music, of his native Poland had on his work. Many dances – polonaises, mazurkas − are explicitly acknowledged in titles; but even elsewhere (the two piano concertos […]


We heard last week how Mussorgsky used the Lydian mode to ‘flavour’ the Polish dance in Boris Godunov. Chopin, particularly in the mazurkas, is full of such modal flavourings. Here (at a slowish tempo) are two versions of the central section of his mazurka Op. 68 No. 3. The first example is what Chopin actually wrote: […]