A change of orchestration

Welcome to a slightly different set up. For the next ten weeks the main content of this blog will be, not (as previously) mostly in written text, but in the spoken word and contained in a sound file (first example below!) In addition, at the bottom of the post, there will be a ‘concert’ of […]

DSCH 10 – Monster (maybe): the Lover: the Winner

Josef Stalin died in March 1953; Shostakovich′s 10th Symphony was first performed in December of that year. The composer had been labouring under official (i.e. Stalin’s) censure for his ‘insanely sombre and neurotic’ music  since 1948 … The audio file below deals with the final three movements of the work (remember to adjust the volume, […]

Of men & mountains

Strauss’s last tone-poem, An Alpine Symphony, wasn’t written until 1915 (the composer’s previous essay in the genre, the Symphonia Domestica, was completed back in 1903). There was a reason for this long gestation period (up until the Domestic Symphony the largest gap between symphonic poems had been six years). From 1903 onwards the composer’s focus […]

In domestic harmony

Strauss’s autobiographical turn of mind continued with the work that followed Ein Heldenleben. Only this time the critic-slaying hero of The Hero’s Life (i.e. Strauss himself) is transformed into a rather cuddly paterfamilias (Richard) replete with fond/nagging wife (Pauline) and yelling/gurgling baby (Franz) plus a few extras in the form of a troupe of aunts […]

El Caballero de la Triste Figura

Don Quixote, the Knight of the Doleful Countenance, here seen in Daumier’s famous painting (though it seems to me that the star of that particular show is the clapped-out horse, Rocinante – the Don’s doleful countenance just isn’t in evidence and poor old, long suffering Sancho Panza’s reduced to an amorphous blob on the horizon). […]