“Music is the universal language of mankind.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone about their area of expertise? It’s very interesting: be it architect, teacher, engineer, computer tech, physician, dentist, printer, seamstress, the list is endless. Each one has their own language that they use naturally. As they try to make the information understandable to the layman they’re talking to, it can’t always be done. Every subject in the world has it’s own vocabulary. Music is no different. A number of times, my husband has asked me questions after a performance. I begin to explain using terms that come naturally to any musician, then I realize from his blank stare that I need to back up and explain in more “layman’s” terms, especially when he’ll say “I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
So this post is a little Valentine’s gift to you of musical terms which you may not have heard of or if so, might not remember what they mean. Most of the following are taken from The Naxos Website: The World’s Leading Classical Music Group:
aubade: a morning song. A well known example of the Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner
cassation: of disputed origin and used principally in the 18th century in Southern Germany to describe a piece of music akin to a divertimento or serenade
giocoso: Italian for jocular, cheerful; sometimes found as part of a tempo instruction as in allegro giocoso, fast and cheerful
heldentenor: a tenor with a quality of voice suited to the heroic roles of 19th century French Grand Opera and of the music-dramas of Wagner, as in the part of Tannhauser, Wagner’s opera of that name
jota: a traditional Spanish dance, as in the Russian composer, Glinka’s, orchestral piece, Jota aragonesa
loure: a French dance of the 17th and 18th centuries, the name derived from a bagpipe used in Normandy. The dance is usually in 6/4 time and has been described as a slow gigue, as in Bach’s E major Partita for unaccompanied violin and in the fifth of his French Suites
If you enjoy learning less well known musical terms like these, please let me know by commenting on the blog and we’ll continue with more in my next post.
With all the cold snowy days we have had recently, you might like to add some exciting concert dates to look forward to on your spring calendar. The Library is hosting an exciting flute recital on March 22, 2015, Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. You will hear winners of the annual Long Island Flute Club Competition perform. Come and be amazed at the young talent that’s out there! On Friday, May 8, 2015, at 8 p.m., at the Northport High School, the Northport Symphony Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 (this recording is by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra) as well as other classical favorites. Angela Wee, a high school senior, will be the featured soloist on violin. Both concerts are free of course.
Be on the look out for a new book that the Library has on order: The History of Music in Fifty Instruments, by Philip Wilkinson. This guide includes very interesting information for the full range of orchestral instruments, including the synthesizer, the instrument-makers, the composers who wrote for the instruments and the virtuoso musicians who played them. My only complaint with it is that a person who plays the flute (as in Moi!), is referred to as a “Flautist”. People who know me, know I, as well as better known flutists, such as James Galway, much prefer “Flutist” be used. It is in fact, more generally acceptable by most. After all, we play the FLUTE not the FLAUTE!!
Many well known composers were born in February: Fritz Kreisler, 2/2/1875; Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, 2/3/1809; Alban Berg, 2/9/1885; Michael Praetorius, 2/15/1571, Arcangelo Corelli, 2/17/1653, Luigi Boccherini, 2/19/1742; Andres Segovia, 2/21/1893; George Frideric Handel, 2/23/1685; and Anton Reicha, 2/26/1770, to name just a few.
So our Do You Know? is about birthday boy Felix Mendelssohn (-Bartholdy) (1809-1847), born into the Jewish faith. The parenthesis around Bartholdy are intentional: in 1816, Mendelssohn and his siblings were secretly baptized as Protestants and his parents converted to Christianity in 1822, adding “Bartholdy” to the family name. This, most likely, was due to renewed anti-Semitism in Germany at the time, as German nationalism was spreading. Mendelssohn’s grandfather was the famous philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn. A child prodigy, Mendelssohn performed as a pianist, organist, and conductor, giving his first public performance at the age of 9. Robert Schumann called Mendelssohn “The Mozart of the Nineteenth Century”. For those of us who love his symphonies, I found it interesting to learn that his five symphonies are numbered by their order of publication, not composition. The real order is: Symphony in C Minor, 1824 (No. 1), “Reformation” Symphony, 1830 (No. 5), “Italian” Symphony, 1833 (No. 4), “Lobgesang” (Hymn of Praise), 1840 (No. 2) and “Scottish”, 1842 (No. 3). His music melds influences from both the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy his Complete String Quartets, performed in this recording by the Emerson String Quartet or his well known Octet op. 20 for Strings performed by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Actually, the Octet may be found on both recordings I just listed. Why not treat yourself to checking them both out and compare the performances of both of these very acclaimed groups? One more suggestion especially during these winter months: snuggle up with a musical fiction book: Mendelssohn Is On the Roof by Jiri Weill (translated from the Czech by Marie Winn). It’s considered a ‘Holocaust novel’.
Hope you have a warm, happy and above all, musical, Valentine’s Day!
“Stay tuned to the Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life!”