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You know this piece, just not the full form. Skip to 2:20 if its still a mystery. :)
Although in his lifetime Ponchielli was very popular and influential, in introducing an enlarged orchestra and more complex orchestration, the only one of his operas regularly performed today is La Gioconda. It contains the great tenor romanza “Cielo e mar”, a superb duet for tenor and baritone “Enzo Grimaldo”, the soprano set-piece “Suicidio!”, and the ballet music “The Dance of the Hours”, known even to the non-musical from its use in Walt Disney’s Fantasia in 1940, Allan Sherman’s novelty song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, and other popular works.
The four orchestral suites (called ouvertures by their author), BWV 1066–1069 are four suites by Johann Sebastian Bach. The name ouverture refers only in part to the opening movement in the style of the French overture, in which a majestic opening section in relatively slow dotted-note rhythm in duple meter is followed by a fast fugal section, then rounded off with a short recapitulation of the opening music. More broadly, the term was used in Baroque Germany for a suite of dance-pieces in French Baroque style preceded by such an ouverture. This genre was extremely popular in Germany during Bach’s day, and he showed far less interest in it than was usual: Robin Stowell writes that “Telemann‘s 135 surviving examples [represent] only a fraction of those he is known to have written”; Christoph Graupner left 85; and Johann Friedrich Fasch left almost 100. Bach did write several other ouverture (suites) for solo instruments, notably the Cello Suite no. 5, BWV 1011, which also exists in the autograph Lute Suite in G minor, BWV 995, the Keyboard Partita no. 4 in D, BWV 828, and the Overture in the French style, BWV 831 for keyboard. The two keyboard works are among the few Bach published, and he prepared the lute suite for a “Monsieur Schouster,” presumably for a fee, so all three may attest to the form’s popularity.
A slightly more modern take on BWV 1067 –
Night on Bald Mountain (Russian: Ночь на лысой горе, Noch′ na lysoy gore), also known as Night on the Bare Mountain, is a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881). Inspired by Russian literary works and legend, Mussorgsky composed a “musical picture”, St. John’s Eve on Bald Mountain (Russian: Иванова ночь на лысой горе, Ivanova noch′ na lysoy gore) on the theme of a witches’ sabbath occurring on St. John’s Eve, which he completed on that very night, June 23, in 1867. Together with Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov‘s Sadko (1867), it is one of the first tone poems by a Russian composer.
Although Mussorgsky was proud of his youthful effort, his mentor, Miliy Balakirev, refused to perform it. To salvage what he considered worthy material, Mussorgsky attempted to insert his Bald Mountain music, recast for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra, into two subsequent projects—the collaborative opera-ballet Mlada (1872), and the opera The Fair at Sorochyntsi (1880). However, Night on Bald Mountain was never performed in any form during Mussorgsky’s lifetime.
In 1886, five years after Mussorgsky’s death, Rimsky-Korsakov published an arrangement of the work, described as a “fantasy for orchestra.” Some musical scholars consider this version to be an original composition of Rimsky-Korsakov, albeit one based on Mussorgsky’s last version of the music, for The Fair at Sorochyntsi:
I need hardly remind the reader that the orchestral piece universally known as ‘Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain‘ is an orchestral composition by Rimsky-Korsakov based on the later version of the Bare Mountain music which Mussorgsky prepared for Sorochintsy Fair.— Gerald Abraham, musicologist and an authority on Mussorgsky, 1945
Haydn’s chief biographer, H. C. Robbins Landon, has written that this mass “is arguably Haydn’s greatest single composition”. Written in 1798, it is one of the six late masses by Haydn for the Esterhazy family composed after taking a short hiatus, during which elaborate church music was inhibited by the Josephinian reforms of the 1780s. The late sacred works of Haydn are masterworks, influenced by the experience of his London symphonies. They highlight the soloists and chorus while allowing the orchestra to play a prominent role.
Owing to the political and financial instability of this period in European history, Haydn’s patron Nikolaus II dismissed the Feldharmonie, or wind band octet, shortly before Haydn wrote the Missa in Angustiis for the Princess’s name day. Haydn, therefore, was left with a “dark” orchestra composed of strings, trumpets, timpani, and organ. Later editors and arrangers added what they perceived to be missing woodwind parts, but the original scoring has again become the accepted choice for modern performances.
Though Haydn’s reputation was at its peak in 1798, when he wrote this mass, his world was in turmoil. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than a year. The previous year, in early 1797, his armies had crossed the Alps and threatened Vienna itself. In May 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt to destroy Britain’s trade routes to the East.
The summer of 1798 was therefore a terrifying time for Austria, and when Haydn finished this mass, his own title, in the catalogue of his works, was Missa in Angustiis (Mass for troubled times). What Haydn did not know when he wrote the mass, but what he and his audience heard (perhaps on September 15, the day of the very first performance), was that on 1 August, Napoleon had been dealt a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile by British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Because of this coincidence, the mass gradually acquired the nickname Lord Nelson Mass. The title became indelible when, in 1800, Lord Nelson himself visited the Palais Esterházy, accompanied by his British mistress, Lady Hamilton, and may have heard the mass performed.
Haydn’s original title may also have come from illness and exhaustion at this time, which followed his supervision of the first performances of The Creation, completed a few months earlier. More simply, it may have sprung from the challenge of composing without the desired instrumentation. The solo parts for two of the vocal quartet are virtuosic: the bass line was perhaps written for the accomplished Christian Specht, and the soprano line, even more demanding, could have been written for Barbara Pilhofer or Therese Gassmann. The piece was premiered 23 September 1798 at the Stadtpfarr church, a last minute venue change from the Bergkirche in Eisenstadt.
A toast, to Ok Go for rising to the challenge and leavening no stone upturned while baking up such creative music video. :)
Domenico Scarlatti began his compositional career following in the footsteps of his father Alessandro Scarlatti by writing operas, chamber cantatas, and other vocal music, but he is most remembered for his 555 keyboard sonatas, written between approximately 1719 and 1757.
It is believed that Domenico received most of his musical training from family members, but his father was the dominant figure in his life. It was Alessandro who arranged Domenico’s first appointment, as organist and composer for Naples’ Cappella Reale, and wanted him to continue with vocal music despite the enormous talent he had shown for keyboard music. Domenico was sent to Venice in 1705, where he met Handel, and in 1708 to Rome to become maestro di cappella to the exiled queen of Poland, Maria Casimira, and later, head of the Cappella Giulia. In these positions, he composed his operas and serenatas, and some sacred vocal works. It was also in Rome where he developed a friendship with the Portuguese ambassador, the Marquis de Fontes, which eventually led to Scarlatti’s being appointed master of the royal chapel by João V of Portugal in 1719. Scarlatti was also teacher to the royal family, particularly princess Maria Barbara. Scarlatti had already written approximately 50 keyboard pieces before coming to Lisbon, but wrote many more for his students, which also included Carlos de Seixas. When Maria Barbara married Spanish prince Ferdinando, Scarlatti followed her to Spain. His first publication, 30 sonatas called “Essercizi,” was issued in 1738 and sold throughout Europe. Although as King and Queen, Ferdinando and Maria Barbara introduced opera into Spain’s cultural life, Scarlatti did not write any for them. However, he did assist in their private musical soirées, again writing cantatas and working with singers such as Farinelli. Scarlatti also continued to teach, and, in the last six years of his life, concentrated on organizing his sonatas in manuscripts.
Big, boisterous, and makes you want to dance wherever you happen to be. :)