"Luister, Mei 2016"Luister, 06-5-2016
During his own time, Gustav Mahler was considered as one of the major conductors of Europe, but nowadays he is considered to a major composer who bridged the Late Romantic period to the modern age.
Few composers are so connected with the symphonic repertory as Gustav Mahler. Composing symphonies was his "core business": in every aspect he developed the symphony towards, and sometimes even over, its absolute limits. Almost all of Mahler's symphonies are lenghty, demand a large orchestra and are particularly great in their expressive qualities. With rustic and mythical atmospheres (the start of the First Symphony), daunting chaos (the end of his Sixth), grand visions (end of his Second), cheerful melodies (opening Fourth), romantic melancholy (the famous adagio of his Fifth), evocations of nature (his Third), megalomanic eruptions in the orchestra (his Eighth), and the clamant atonality of his unfinished Tenth, Mahler's musical palette seemed inexhaustible.
His symphonies are captivating, but some could find it a bit 'over the top' at times. For those, his orchestral songs could undoubtedly show there is an incredibly subtle and refined side to his compositional style as well.
In the Netherlands, Mahler is particularly popular due to its close bond with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which was already established during his lifetime!
Westminster Abbey is not just the place where British monarchs were crowned, it's also the place where many English great men were burried. Among those was also Henry Purcell. This final resting place had a double meaning for him: firstly, with his status as a composer he deserved a spot in the abbey, but secondly this was also the location where he worked during the reign of Charles II and William & Mary. Most people will recognise the last aria of Purcell's beloved opera Dido and Aeneas: "Remember me, but ah! forget my fate." More abstract, but less trenchant are his brilliant Fantasias (for viola da gamba) which Purcell composed in the early 1680s. These are small, at times daringly expirimental works, which he carefully dated. Yet, Purcell mostly developed himself as a composer of vocal music, with numerous odes, 'welcome songs', motets (anthems), songs for domestic use (both sacred and secular, both monophonic and polyphonic) and music for theatre.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose actual name is Joannes Chrysotomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a composer, pianist, violinist and conductor from the classical period, born in Salzburg. Mozart was a child prodigy. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. Along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart is considered to be one of the most influential composers of all of music's history. Within the classical tradition, he was able to develop new musical concepts which left an everlasting impression on all the composers that came after him. Together with Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven he is part of the First Viennese School. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. From 1763 he traveled with his family through all of Europe for three years and from 1769 he traveled to Italy and France with his father Leopold after which he took residence in Paris. On July 3rd, 1778, his mother passed away and after a short stay in Munich with the Weber family, his father urged him to return to Salzburg, where he was once again hired by the Bishop. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death.
Frédéric Chopin is one of the greatest composers of the Romantic piano tradition. He was a master in making the small form great. His ballades, mazurkas, polonaises, preludes, etudes and nocturnes all belong to the most popular standard works for piano ever written.
As a child prodigy, Chopin grew up in a middle class family, who lived among the literati of Warsaw. When in 1830 the November Uprising broke out in Poland, the twenty year old Chopin stayed in Vienna. He became an exile and never returned to his mother country. He eventually settled in Paris.
He avoided public concerts, but he did like performing in small settings, such as salons and at home for his friends. This way, Chopin built a reputation as an exceptional pianist, teacher and composer.
Chopin brought a unique synthesis between the Viennese bravado and the French/English lyric style. Even though his pieces often are technically very demanding, the focus was always on creating a lyric expression and poetic atmosphere. He invented the instrumental ballade, and brought salongenres to a higher level with his many innovations and refinements.
Gioachino Rossini was born in 1797 in Pesaro, born to a hornist and opera singer. He spent his youth in the opera hall and at the age of 14 he started his studies to become a composer in Bologna, where he was taught to use a strict counterpoint technique. Quite soon, Rossini composing a large number of operas: his famous comic operas (among which his Il Barbiere di Siviglia) in his early twenties, and most of his serious operas in his late twenties. With his compelling, rhythmic music, which was characterised by its orchestral exuberance and coloratura fireworks, Rossini took over the world of music, to the frustration of critics and academics. When he reached the age of 31, he left Italy and traveled to London and Paris. His success made him powerfully rich. Rossini retired early. With almost 40 years still to live, he composed his last opera, Guillaume Tell, in Paris. Some reasons for his unexpected retirement could be his recurring illness, his financial stability and the adverse political and artistic conditions of the time. For 20 years, Rossini struggled with his health. He returned to Paris in 1855, where he recovered to some extent. Together with his wife, he organised special dinner parties for the upper class, and for those occasions he wrote his many chamber music works, which he referred to as his Péchés de Vieillesse. He died in 1868. Rossini's image is characterised by the many humoristic anecdotes about him. Yet, even though his comic operas are masterfully composed, his serious operas have been truly influential and formed the basis for the romantic operas of Donizetti and Bellini.
Luister, Mei 2016