…how strange the change from major to minor

Apart from it being a rather useful (trite but it works?) internal rhyme, Cole Porter wasn’t exactly wrong about the deep emotional effect of the juxtaposition of majors and minors; it’s just that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Have a listen… recognise them? The simple act of flattening one note in a chord, like […]

The posthumous papers of a peripatetic horn player

The trouble with alliteration is that once you start in on it, it’s not so simple to stop. Anyway, it’s not the title of Wilhelm Müller’s pithily named collection of poems (Gedichte aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines reisenden Waldhornisten) – the source of the Winterreise texts –that concerns us here but more the wandering horn player himself. […]

Good artists copy, great artists steal!

Schubert’s Octet dates from 1824, it was commissioned by the clarinettist Ferdinand Troyer as – so the story goes – a companion work to Beethoven’s (then) extremely popular Septet (still is!). Apart from adding a second violin to make the numbers up to eight, Schubert seems to have used the Beethoven piece as the template for his […]

Winterreise — The Winter Journey

The last five years of Schubert’s life. Just five years? Doesn’t seem that long, does it? But, in a life span of a mere thirty-one — once you take away ten or so years for childhood — those five years come to represent a quarter of the composer’s mature life and, in terms of composition, the […]

What’s so important about the string quartet?

It was Haydn who started it all. You can quibble about Boccherinis or Albrechtsbergers, Dittersdorfs or Vanhals, but in the end, when it comes to the crunch, you’ll be forced to admit that it was Haydn who was fons et origo of the strings quartet. And after? Mozart and Beethoven: Mozart dedicated six glorious quartets […]