MUSIC OF NOTE ♫
HISTORY AND APPRECIATION OF MUSIC LECTURES, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
II SINGLE LECTURES
A. COMPOSER ANNIVERSARY LECTURES
(1- or 2-hours, with musical illustrations and PowerPoint slide presentations)
- CHOPIN – POET OF THE PIANO – Celebrating 200 years: 1810 – 2010
In this presentation we learn about the music and short, turbulent life of one of the most popular composer-pianists in Western musical history. His life was fraught with illness, and personal and political turmoil – the latter resulting in his heart-breaking departure from his native Poland. This homesickness became the very wellspring of his inspiration.
Illustrated with some of the best-loved music by this quintessential Romantic, we also learn about his subsequent success in Paris, and the impact of his mistress – writer-activist “George Sand”. Discover how Chopin revolutionised piano technique, his influence as a teacher on succeeding generations of pianists, and his contribution to the repertoire of the Queen of musical instruments – the pianoforte.
- FRANZ LISZT – TITAN OF THE KEYBOARD – Celebrating 200 years: 1811 – 2011
In this lecture the work of this astonishingly gifted musician, as both composer and pianist, is explored. We learn about the multifaceted life of this Hungarian virtuoso who was also a philanthropist, author, teacher and conductor, and marvel at his astounding command of the keyboard. Included are some aspects of his notoriously colourful romantic life.
Franz Liszt was extremely prolific, and left behind a wealth of brilliant compositions in every genre of his time, as well as new ones that he invented, such as the symphonic poem. He was progressive and audacious in his work, exerting a powerful influence on the next generation of composers. We shall see how his adventurous approach to harmony and orchestration anticipated trends and styles in the ensuing “contemporary” period of the early 20th century.
- VERDI – OPERA MAGNIFICO – Celebrating 200 years: 1813 – 2013
This lecture explores the life and work of one of the most significant composers in the history of Western musical stage drama. We trace Verdi’s trajectory, from relatively humble beginnings and early failures, following in the footsteps of the early Italian Romantics, Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, up to his dominant position on the international stage.
We follow the upsurge of Nationalism in Europe in the wake of the Napoleonic Era, and Verdi’s political involvement in the Risorgimento. We hear of its eventual success in achieving the unification of Italy, hitherto a patchwork of independent, competitive states – all a prime example of the powerful combination of music and politics.
The lecture is richly illustrated with musical examples from Verdi’s all-time tragic favourites, Aida, La Traviata, Rigoletto and Otello, the comedies of his later years, including Falstaff, the incomparable Requiem, and many other delightful works.
- JEAN SIBELIUS (1865- 1957) – A FINNISH NATIONALIST – Celebrating 150 YEARS: 1865 – 2015
This lecture celebrates the life and work of the composer who, during the period of Russian domination, put Finnish music on the international stage, and his important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity.
In looking at Nationalism in post-Napoleonic Europe, we examine how many areas which had previously been under the political domination of foreign powers such as the Habsburgs, or under the cultural domination of the predominating German, French and Italian schools, began to express their independence and individuality through the arts. Through the vivid use of folk material, Sibelius, like many composers in previously (or currently) dominated states, used music as a particularly subtle and effective way in which to express their nationalist sentiments.
We hear excerpts from some of his seven mighty symphonies, and experience the considerable influence that Sibelius exerted on symphonic composers and musical life, especially in the English-speaking and Nordic countries, during the late Romantic and early modern periods.
- DEBUSSY AND IMPRESSIONISM – THE TRIUMPH OF LIGHT – Celebrating 100 years: 1918 – 2018
This lecture celebrates the anniversary of the significant French composer who initiated Impressionism in music, and who died 100 years ago this year. We examine the meaning and origins of “Impressionism”, and with the use of many visual illustrations, see how these painters revolutionised art, and how their influence extended beyond the canvas to poetry and music.
We explore the manner in which Impressionism in music found its most complete expression in Debussy’s music, which continued to influence composers well into the 20th Century.
While listening to excerpts from his works, we hear Debussy’s innovations in form, rhythm, and especially timbre, and his major role in the development of many of the idioms – and “isms” – of “contemporary music” in ensuing periods.
Apart from activities in France, we also experience the work of Impressionist composers outside France – in Italy and England.
- LEONARD BERNSTEIN – CONDUCTOR, COMPOSER AND PIANIST – Celebrating 100 years – 1918 – 2018
We all know Leonard – “Lenny” – Bernstein as the composer of much popular and captivating music – as we remember his association with the New York Phil. But his was a multi-faceted talent.
In this centenary lecture we discover that he was also an author, a lecturer, a teacher and an accomplished pianist, and how his versatility as a composer encompassed many different styles: symphonic and orchestral music, ballet, opera, film and theatre music, choral works – including a Mass, chamber music and piano pieces. His was a turbulent private life, torn between homosexuality and bisexuality, as was his choice of career commitment – between conducting or composing. He was also the first conductor to give a series of television lectures about classical music, beginning in 1954 and continuing until his death in 1990.
In short, there is much more to Bernstein than the Shakespearean tragedy and joie de vivre of West Side Story!