Duparc

Fauré wasn’t the only gifted composer of mélodies of his generation; Henri Duparc (1848 – 1933) is also (justly) famous for his talents as a song composer. Duparc, like his younger Austrian contemporary, Hugo Wolf, only produced a handful of music before – again like Wolf – he succumbed to a mental illness that forced […]

Mélodie Maker

The English language, famed for the expansiveness of its vocabulary, is rather surprisingly coy when it comes to the idea of song. Sure, you can have all sorts of songs, but you generally need some type of qualifier to tell your listeners or readers whether you’re referring to a pop song, art song, folk song […]

The end of days

John Martin’s terrifying vision of the apocalypse has several musical equivalents. Apart from the many settings of the Requiem Mass’s Dies irae (think Berlioz, think Verdi), there are two famous musical Judgement Days that are the work of composers very much associated with Vienna: Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony (Symphony No. 2 in c) and Franz Schmidt’s […]

Latin

Latin America’s rich but bewildering cultural mix of native, Spanish, Portuguese, African and a few other traditions has produced an astonishing variety of musics. From the dance rhythms of the Dominican Republic’s Bachata to the aerobics of the Zumba and from the Bach/Brazilian hommages of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras… w …to the Argentinian, Astor Piazzolla’s  Nuevo Tango… […]

Hungary

  To the folksong collector during the first decade of the twentieth century Hungary afforded immeasurable opportunity. It is true that the isolated mediæval pattern of life of the peasantry had slowly changed… but peasant culture remained as it always had been, although economic and political conditions were completely altered. Nevertheless, when Bartók and Kodály […]

Contraflow

It may seem that the folk song and dance traffic is only one way, with ‘classical’ composers using (mostly) popular dance rhythms and (sometimes) folk tunes as elements in their works. But there are cases where composers have decided – either out of sheer, altruistic fondness or, more grubbily, for pecuniary advantage (or, of course, an element […]

The Skočná and other dances

Near the beginning of Act 3 of Smetana’s Bartered Bride the circus comes to town. And, after a lengthy and tongue-twisting preamble by the ringmaster featuring Esmeralda, an exotic Spanish dancer; a (fake) Red Indian and a very inebriate (and consequently also fake) dancing bear; the performers show off their acrobatic skills in the fast […]