Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Considered by nearly all musical authorities to be one of, if not the greatest composers of all time, Mozart was born in
His father was Leopold Mozart, a composer of some note, an excellent violinist, court musician and chamber composer to the court of the Prince-Archbishop of
Realizing that the gifts Nannerl and especially Wolfgang were exhibiting could take them far beyond the confines of
Initially, the family traveled to
Aside from keyboard antics and showpieces such as playing without mistakes on a cloth-covered keyboard, Wolfgang had expanded his instrumental skills by being able to play music at first sight on the piano, harpsichord, clavichord and organ. He was proficient on the violin and viola as well. He could improvise to great praise on any given theme, copy the style of other composers as needed and compose works that were equal to most of the other music masters of the time. If Leopold misled slightly by advertising the children?s ages as a year or younger than they really were, well, it only made the miracle that much more enticing a show.
The family was home only nine months before Leopold received permission to travel once again to
Upon returning to
In Rome, Wolfgang performed his famous feat of writing out complete a "Miserere" for double chorus after only one hearing, perhaps making a few corrections after hearing one other performance. This work was forbidden to be published or in manuscript outside of the
Everywhere they went, Wolfgang was honored for his playing and compositions. However, no posts were offered by the ruling Habsburg Archdukes of the Italian provinces. The Empress Maria Teresa advised one of her sons on engaging Wolfgang at his court: "what I say is intended only to prevent your burdening yourself with useless people and giving titles to people of that sort
Wolfgang immediately sat at his desk and began to produce compositions of even greater skill than before, turning out symphonies, quartets and a Mass according to the tastes of the Archbishop. Both Wolfgang and Leopold appeared to be settling into the routine of
From 1774 to the middle of 1777 saw a greater outpouring of work by Wolfgang. He wrote a set of string quartets (K.168, K.169, K.170, K.171, K.172 and K.173) while in Vienna and, when back home, wrote a series of
By 1777, the family came again to the conclusion that with the limited opportunities in
Meanwhile, Leopold had spoken to many people
The years 1779-80 back home saw three more symphonies, various church works, 2 concertos and many serenades produced. But still it was opera that Mozart longed to succeed at and
While desiring a post, Mozart was initially content to undertake freelance work, as
Mozart?s approach to composition changed as well through the vehicle of the piano concerto. In all of his music he had striven to insure that every work was accessible, in the best sense of the term, but not at the expense of compromising his standards and philosophy on music. He rarely sacrificed or conceded on these points. With those concertos he rarely "played up" to an audience, rather his intentions overall were to compel his listeners to follow him. Whether by beguiling themes or dramatic interplay (or both), Mozart was able to initially secure a concert base that provided him with a steady income. While pleasing to any ear, these works were marvels of composition to attentive listeners. The unfortunate part of Mozart?s life in
The brilliance and exquisiteness that are such striking features of Mozart?s piano concerti have often been compared to great, sublime poetry. The message inherent within them, coupled with a nicely refined lyrical approach caused several of these works to have an unprecedented emotional impact on those
As a result, Mozart instilled real symphonic developments in terms of depth and breadth into these concertos. Previously, the development area within concertos had been short, being essentially a stringing together of virtuosic passages. The entire structure of the concerto, with its contrasting comparison of movements as well as the contrast between the sonority of soloist and orchestra, now became fused as well with an encompassing strength of emotional depth. As with the best of Mozart?s works, the music all seems so simple and clear on the surface, but surprisingly great depths are encountered in the passage through them. Significantly, during the period of these works (15 piano concertos total from 1782-1786), Mozart composed only two symphonies (K.385 and K.425, both for other than Viennese venues), hence it was here in the concerto form that saw this blossoming occur. However, any true romantic content in classical era works was regarded with suspicion by many in the audiences of
During this period, Mozart married Constanze Weber, younger sister of Aloysia, a move that Leopold opposed as well. Leopold and Nannerl seemingly never forgave his final "abandonment" of them by him. The surviving correspondence between Wolfgang and Leopold (and between Leopold and Nannerl; with nothing between Wolfgang and Nannerl once she married and moved from Salzburg as though the father wanted to stay the sole contact point between the family members to insure he could shape their opinions of one another) during the Vienna years reveals little remaining warmth (provided by love), but instead evolves into complaints and sour-tinged commentary by Leopold, politely answered by Wolfgang. Even in 1785, when visiting Wolfgang in
Despite these family tribulations, the surviving letters we have show that Mozart loved his wife very much and she appears to have returned that affection, despite rumors over the years of infidelities on both their parts. Strangely enough, we have many surviving letters from Wolfgang to his wife, but not a single confirmed one from Constanze to him. (This may be due to the simple fact that Mozart needed to read them but once to remember them, and tossed them out once he did read them). Certain passages sited within these letters have led some to promote major problems between husband and wife at times, but only the rumors mentioned earlier, appearing to date from the early 1800?s, can be cited as "evidence." Rumored scandal and character assassination were not uncommon in
However, a notable lack of affection between Mozart and Court Composer Antonio Salieri has been brought down through the years via letters, report, plays and operas (let alone movies). Salieri was a well known, respected and well paid Court Composer on staff to the
With opera being one of Mozart?s true passions, and as mentioned, the opera stage being the most lucrative path to fame and fortune for a musician, it?s no surprise that he returned to this art form once on his own. Thus, he ended up composing a string of some of the greatest works of that genre. Starting in 1782 with the German opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio K.384), Mozart composed a highly popular work that played all over
Other works of great depth and beauty were constantly being produced by Mozart during his
However, it is no legend but fact that he was able to compose complete works within his mind and transfer it all to paper, and in a very short time as well; see the "
Mozart was always busy at either composing, teaching, organizing concerts or trying to close sales of his works. With no solid post and attached salary, he had to depend on his own efforts to pay his way through the world. With no copyright, he received a single payment when he sold a work. Once that work was sold, the new owner might make large sums of money from it, none of which saw its way into Mozart?s pockets. (The idea of copyright did not become a reality in
Speaking of teaching, in the 1786-88 timeframe we see two future musical giants make their first appearances in connection with Mozart. In the early months of 1786, the eight-year old Johann Nepomuk Hummel was brought to
On April 7 1787, the young Ludwig van Beethoven arrived in
As well, 1786-87 saw a stroke of luck materialize for Mozart. The great composer Christoph Willibald Gluck, honorary Imperial Court Composer to Joseph II, died in November of 1786, shocking the Court and people of
For all his industry and appointment, it appears that starting in 1787, Mozart and Constanze fell on harder times. He appears to have given fewer concerts, overall his income fell and commissions for works seem to have fallen off. Many reasons have been given for this, but the true facts remain partially hidden. Three reasons can, however be noted. First, reviews suggest that his popularity was on the wane as the public considered other composers superior, or at least their music was more accessible (Also, one can?t be sure the Viennese weren?t out looking for another composer to get "enthused" over). Second, a war with the Ottoman Empire sent the nobles out from
The final capstone was the death of Leopold. Wolfgang?s last letter to him, upon hearing that his father was very sick, was one of love and respect. Whether or not there was a reply to this is lost to us, but the closing of this chapter in the lives of the Mozarts was not a happy one. His father had warned Wolfgang that if he married Constanze, they could expect to be left out of any will. Despite a small thaw in their relationship since the stormy early days, Leopold kept his word in this regard. Though the will is lost, we know that Wolfgang in fact got nothing bequeathed to him. All he received was part of the proceeds from the sale of Leopold?s personal effects at his death (after Nannerl selected various items to keep for her own family). Meanwhile, a savings total of three times that amount went solely to his sister ($125,000 approximately in a 2000 A.D. conversion), without Wolfgang?s knowledge (at least initially). Considering the fortune Wolfgang?s tours made for the family and all the gifts given and kept over the years, the strong speculation is that Mozart was angered by this final "rejection" engineered by his father and supported by his sister. Certainly, with Leopold?s death, the flow of correspondence between the two remaining households ceased. Neither Wolfgang or Nannerl appear to have made any efforts to keep in touch thereafter, thus completing the breech Mozart?s move to
The end result of these factors was that Mozart was forced to borrow money to keep up appearances (highly important in
We have program notes from some concerts Mozart gave that state that a new, grand symphony is to be performed at them, with unfortunately no description of the work meant by the notes. However, there is evidence from one specific concert that would indicate that one of the last three was played; specifically K.550. Looking ahead about three years here, the Tonkünstler-Societät (the Society of Musicians) held two pairs of annual concerts to collect money to aid the widows and orphans of member musicians. In 1791, at the Lenten concerts, which took place on 16 and 17 April, the opening work was ?Eine neue grosse Simphonie von Herrn Mozart.? It is hardly likely that Mozart could or would try to palm off an older work on such an informed group of musicians. This description could, realistically, be any of the last four symphonies, if we include the "
However, each one of the last four symphonic works has a different wind arrangement devised by Mozart. As it turns out, we have the manuscript list of the Society?s performers for these two concerts in question. The orchestra included flutes, oboes and clarinets, the latter played by the Stadler brothers, both good friends of Mozart. Of the last four symphonies, only K.550 in its revised form utilizes all three of these instruments. He had originally composed this work without clarinets, but subsequently added them into the score, modifying the oboe parts in places to do so. While it is possible for Mozart to have offered any one of the last four symphonies for use here and hence leave out the unneeded woodwind players, would he have let his friends the Stadlers be the ones to sit this one out?
Therefore, it seems highly likely that an elegant and large Viennese audience, made up from the best well-heeled members of the upper crust, heard K.550 performed on these two dates, directed by?of all people?Antonio Salieri, one of the major directors of the Society. In fact, it may have been the last occasion at which Mozart heard such a large and professional orchestra perform any of his music. The Society?s concerts commanded an orchestra of around 100 musicians; triple that of the standard orchestras of the time. Further, since these were charity events, everyone contributed their time, efforts and music gratis, meaning that Mozart could only reap praise and gratitude for his work.
The final irony here was that Mozart was not a member of this Society, and hence his widow and children did not receive aid from the members after his death. Mozart had indeed applied for membership. Among the requirements for acceptance was that of supplying a copy of one?s birth certificate for review. Wolfgang had written his father asking for this document, but it appears that it never was sent, for whatever reason. If it was sent, this copy certainly never turned up in his effects after his death. In any case, a birth certificate was not presented, and so Mozart never became a member of the Tonkünstler-Societät; a loss to all parties concerned.
Mozart traveled to
Mozart?s final year of 1791 saw many great works premiered. His music had been changing again over time and works from this last period are noted for their darker-hued tones, a simplicity without losing directness of purpose and their autumnal "feel", which has been described as portraying that everything in Mozart?s life was somehow winding down. He performed the last piano concerto # 27 (K.595) in B-flat as the third item on another performer?s concert bill. Mozart was writing music for playing on mechanical organs at a memorial to a dead war hero. His final wind concerto, the great Clarinet Concerto In A K.622, was written for a friend who owed him about $25,000 (2000 A. D. conversion) and never repaid that debt, despite Mozart?s pressing need for money throughout this time. For his friend Emmanuel Schikaneder, owner of a suburban theater in a lower middle class part of
By this time, after years of poor monetary luck, it seemed that things began to turn around for Mozart and his family (now with two sons). Mozart was appointed unpaid deputy Kapellmeister to St. Stephen?s cathedral in
Mozart?s last major composition was a Requiem in d minor K.626, commissioned and prepaid by an unnamed messenger acting on behalf of an anonymous amateur composer named Count Franz Walsegg. The Count intended to pass off the work as his own, to honor his dead wife. Mozart had taken the work on despite these strange circumstances in the spring of 1791, believing he needed about six or eight weeks to complete it. It was due by the anniversary of the death of the Count?s wife, which would mean that Mozart had until January 1792 to complete the work. But, with other compositions such as the two operas crowding his schedule, Mozart worked intermittently at best on the Requiem. Finally, after the premier of The Magic Flute in September, he went back to work in earnest. He had a prepayment in hand, a delivery date set and could not afford to be late. By the middle of November, he had about 30% of it on paper when he fell sick.
Despite treatments by some of the best doctors in
Wolfgang Amadé Mozart was buried in a suburban churchyard in an unmarked grave with little ceremony, as was the custom at the time. Because the family and/or admirers did not immediately seek out the grave site, its location became lost. Today, the monument to Mozart in that graveyard is located at the approximate site where perhaps the greatest composer the world has yet seen rests.
Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Joseph Hayden (1732-1809) was born in Rohrau, a tiny Austrian village. Until he was six, his musical background consisted of folk songs and peasant dances (which later had an influence on his style); but then his eager response to music was recognized and he was given training. At eight, he went to
"When his voice changed, he was dismissed, penniless, from St. Stephen's. To live, he gave music lessons to children, and took odd jobs (including playing violin in street bands).
During this period he struggled to teach himself composition, and gradually aristocratic patrons of music began to notice his talent. In 1761 he entered the service of the Esterhazys, the richest and most powerful of the Hungarian noble families. For nearly thirty years thereafter most of his music was composed for performances in the palaces of the family, especially Esterhaza--which contained an opera house, a theatre, two concert halls, and 126 guest rooms.
As a highly skilled servant Hayden was to compose all the music requested by his patron; conduct the orchestra, coach singers, and oversee the instruments and the music library. This entailed a staggering amount of work, for there were usually two concerts and two opera performances weekly, as well as daily chamber music. Though today this sort of patronage seems degrading, it was taken for granted in Haydn?s time and had definite advantages for composers, for they received a steady income and their works were performed. Haydn was conscientious about his professional duties and concerned about his musicians' interests, and, despite an unhappy marriage, known to be good-humoured and unselfish.
Word spread about the Esterhazys' composer, and Haydn's music became immensely popular all over
Haydn was a pathfinder for the classical style; a pioneer in the development of the symphony and the string quartet. Both Mozart and Beethoven studied composition with him, and were influenced by his style. His music, like his personality, is robust and direct; it radiates a healthy optimism. Many of his works have a folk flavour, and The Creation and The Seasons reflect his love of nature. He was a master at developing themes; he could build a whole movement out of a single main theme, creation contrasts of mood through changes in texture, rhythm, dynamics, and orchestration.
The contagious joy that springs from his lively rhythms and vivid contrasts makes it clear why
Some scholars believe that Haydn invented the string quartet form. He began writing the first of his lifelong series of string quartets for good reason--only three other musicians (two violinists and a cellist, in addition to Haydn as violist) were on hand during the summer of 1757, when he was invited to take part in chamber music performances at a castle.
The variety in his works is astounding. He was a great innovator and experimenter who hated arbitrary "rules" of composition. 'Art is free,' he said. 'The educated ear is the sole authority, and I think I have as much right to lay down the law as anyone.'
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Although his name is a household word, myths and misconceptions about the personality and life of Ludwig van Beethoven are prevalent today. Beethoven was not the neurotic genius-lunatic portrayed in some novels and movies in recent years. But he was instead an offspring of a truly dysfunctional family. It is true that his mother died during his late teenage years and that his father, an accomplished violinist and tenor singer, had become an intolerable and abusive alcoholic long before his wife's death.
The circumstances of his family life may have had an effect on Beethoven's genuinely eccentric personal nature, but it is more likely that the demands he placed upon himself as a musical perfectionist were transferred to and expected from those around him. As an adult, Beethoven's moodiness, his brooding, his famous fits of temper were often due to the early deterioration of his hearing which made him shun crowds and seek peace in nature. His sensitivity to the beauties of the countryside led him to take long, solitary walks in the surroundings of
When one realizes that life itself to Beethoven was a search for perfection, personified in his music, then his personality becomes more easily understood. For most people, life is about compromise and accepting less-than-perfect results in negotiations. But in his music and largely in his life as well, Beethoven viewed things from an "all or nothing" perspective, refusing to accept anything other than absolute perfection, reworking his compositions for years on end, and finally accepting his own creations as the nearest thing to perfection that he could achieve.
Taking this perspective into account, it is no small wonder that Beethoven was viewed by his patrons, colleagues, and his students as a person difficult to know, communicate with, and understand. In the history of music, he is unique as a composer and as a person. His nine symphonies and thirty-two piano sonatas are essential study pieces for any serious student of music anywhere in the world today. These and other masterworks clearly place Beethoven's music as the culmination of Viennese Classical style. Today, Beethoven is regarded as the dominant musical figure during the first half of the Nineteenth Century, and scarcely any significant composer since his time has escaped his influence in some way.
Ludwig van Beethoven came from a family of musicians. His father and grandfather worked for the Electors of Cologne, whose residence was in
In November 1767, Johann married Maria Magdalena Leym, a twenty-one-year-old widow. On December 17, 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was born. Only two of his five younger brothers and sisters survived infancy, Caspar Anton Carl (1774-1815) and Nikolaus Johann (1776-1848). They were very close to the composer throughout his life.
Ludwig's father discovered the outstanding talent of his son at an early age. He gave him piano and violin lessons and attempted to popularize the boy as a child prodigy after Mozart's example. On March 26, 1778, he presented his six-year-old son to the public. (But Ludwig was already seven years old.) In some of his early debut recitals, the advertisements stated his age as two years younger than he truly was. These "Mozartian" prodigy recitals were only marginally successful, and Johann eventually gave up trying to "market" his son as a child wonder.
In 1779, the composer and organist, Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798), came to
Through the work for Sunday Masses and holy days and the taking part in concerts and at the theater, the young Beethoven came into contact with the music of Haydn and Mozart as well as the works of other composers from Vienna and Paris. Neefe acquainted him with the strict counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach. And through his compositions and his virtuoso piano playing, Beethoven attracted much attention at court. In addition to the flourishing musical life at court, Beethoven took part in much informal music-making. In the home of the von Breuning family, Beethoven found a personal warmth that was sadly lacking in his own home, and here he met educated people from all walks of life. His friendship with Count Waldstein, who did so much for the young composer, in all likelihood also began in the von Breuning home. But it was his employer, The Elector Maximilian Franz (1756-1801), whose interest in Beethoven's musical progress was to bring about a new atmosphere for the young composer.
In 1787, the Elector granted the seventeen-year-old a leave of absence for a trip to
In December 1790, Joseph Haydn stopped in
Following his instruction with Haydn and Albrechtsberger, Beethoven took Italian vocal and opera style lessons with the court conductor, Antonio Salieri (1750-1825). Later, Beethoven had no more significant relations with the highly esteemed opera composer, and it seems that Salieri was rather prepossessed against him. Perhaps this was due to the simple reason that Beethoven was of German birth, whereas the Imperial Austrian court was directed and dominated by Italian musicians at the time.
In March 1794, Elector Maximilian of Bonn stopped payments of Beethoven's salary, since the composer had long overstayed his leave of absence. At that time, Beethoven no longer depended upon the allowances from
During his early years in
After intensive work on the String Quartets, Opus 18, Beethoven ventured for the first time into the composition of a symphony in 1799. In April 1800, his Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 21 was performed as part of a public concert at the Burgtheater. The symphony was dedicated to Baron van Swieten, the arbiter of musical taste in
As so often in Beethoven's career, the reviews of this concert were decidedly cool. Only his ballet music Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, Op. 43, (The Creatures of Prometheus) achieved a breakthrough for him as a composer. It was a commissioned work of the famous dancer, choreographer and composer Salvatore Vigano (1769-1821). The première in March 1801 was very successful. The ballet was performed thirteen times that year and nine times the next year.
From 1800-1802, Beethoven composed the Piano Sonatas, Op. 27 and Op. 28, the Piano Quintet, Op. 29, and the violin Romance, Op. 40. In February 1802, he finished the composition of Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36, which was performed for the first time just one year later. The work is scored for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, with strings, the kind of forces that the Vienna Court Opera had for some years been able to provide. It was first performed privately in April 1803, under the composer's direction and is dedicated to Prince Karl Lichnowsky, to whose patience and generosity Beethoven continued to be indebted.
Despite his frequent changes of residence, Beethoven's daily routine did not vary particularly. Usually, he spent the morning writing down his compositions and went for long walks in the afternoon. He always carried a notebook with him to write down new musical ideas. Either he spent the evenings with friends, or he stayed at home to read. During the summer months, the composer left
In the early Nineteenth Century, it was not unusual for composers to tour, giving performances in different cities. But Beethoven undertook only three concert tours: in the spring of 1796 to
In a letter, dated June 1801, to a friend from
Obviously, Beethoven had seriously considered suicide as a way of solving his problem, because he requested that his brothers publish the letter after his death. But in writing it down, he seems to have gathered fresh hope, because he left Heiligenstadt not much later and returned to
From a personal perspective, his affliction with deafness and his undeniable inability to enter into happy personal relationships caused him to create a more inward music of an increasingly individual style, and at the end of his life he wrote his most sublime and profound works. From his success at combining tradition, exploration, and personal expression, he came to be regarded as the dominant musical figure of the first half of the Nineteenth Century, and scarcely any significant composer since his time has escaped his influence or failed to acknowledge it. For the respect his works have commanded of musicians, and the popularity they have enjoyed among wider audiences, he is perhaps the most admired composer in the history of Western art music.
After his return from Heiligenstadt, Beethoven's music deepened. He began creating a new musical world. In the summer of 1803 he began work on his Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 (The Eroica). It was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, and like its subject, it was revolutionary. It broke the symphonic mold, yet established new, logical and cogent forms. This was the miracle Beethoven was to work many times. Symphony No. 3 has several original features, including the substitution of a funeral march for the slow movement, a Scherzo for the Minuet, as in the D major symphony, and a set of variations for the finale. It is scored for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets and drums, with three French horns and the customary strings.
Stephan von Breuning with whom Beethoven shared rooms reported a thunderous episode in connection with the Eroica Symphony. In December 1804, the news arrived that Napoleon, that champion for the rights of the common people, had proclaimed himself Emperor. In a fury, Beethoven strode over to his copy of the Symphony, which bore a dedication to Napoleon, and crossed out the Bonaparte name in such violence that the pen tore in the paper. "Is he, too, nothing more than human?" he raged. "Now he will crush the rights of man. He will become a tyrant!"
For the next few years in
Beethoven was neither good-looking nor equipped with more than a very rudimentary education; it was by the force of his character that he produced such a powerful effect on those around him. This, notoriously, had its thorny side. As a young man he was already known to be difficult, impatient and mistrustful, an "unlocked bear." What his capricious and, at times, outrageous behavior could not dim was the enormous appeal of his personality. He fascinated and endeared himself to men and women of many sorts, who continued to value his friendship no matter how rough a ride he gave them. Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Opus 60, was completed by September 1806, when it was offered to the
Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies were completed by the summer of 1808. Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 is perhaps his most famous work, and it indeed takes fate by the throat. This work is dedicated to Count Razumovsky, Prince Lichnowsky's brother- in-law, the Tzar's representative in
Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (The Pastoral) is a portrait of the countryside around Heiligenstadt. It was first performed at a concert in
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Opus 92 was completed in the spring of 1812, but sketches for some of the material occur as early as 1809. Surmounting his deafness, Beethoven, in his forties, was at the height of his powers, but the new symphony was greeted by some contemporary critics as "the work of a drunkard." At the first performance in December 1813, the work was received with considerable enthusiasm. The occasion was a patriotic one, a concert organized by Maelzel, inventor of the new metronome, to raise money for the wounded at the battle of
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Opus 93 is scored for the usual orchestra of strings, with pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and timpani. Of its four movements three are in sonata form, while the third movement is a traditional Minuet. Beethoven made his first sketches for his eighth symphony in 1811 and completed the work in October the following year, during the course of a visit to
Beethoven's brother Casper Carl died in November 1815. The consequences brought about something that neither the tragedy of deafness nor Napoleon's guns could achieve: they almost stopped Beethoven from composing. Beethoven was appointed guardian of his brother's nine-year-old son, Karl, a guardianship he shared with the boy's mother Johanna. Beethoven took the appointment most seriously and was certain that Johanna did not. He immediately began legal proceedings to get sole guardianship of his nephew. The lawsuit was painful and protracted and frequently abusive, with Johanna asserting, "How can a deaf, madman bachelor guard the boy's welfare?" Beethoven repeatedly fell ill because of the strain. He did not finally secure custody of Karl until 1822 when the boy was sixteen years old.
His final work in the symphonic genre, Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (The Choral), was completed in 1823, by which time Beethoven has been completely deaf for years. The idea of introducing voices into a symphony was one that had been in Beethoven's mind for some time. He had written his Choral Fantasia, a kind of piano concerto with voices, in 1808, and Beethoven had always shown a considerable interest in the composition of songs, an element in his work that is often underestimated. By 1818 he was planning a choral symphony making use of what he described as a pious song in the ancient modes as an introduction to a fugue, a celebration of the feast of Bacchus. In the 1820's this was to become the recitative and the stirring setting of An die Freude in the last movement of the Choral Symphony. There was a poignant scene at the first performance of Symphony No. 9. Despite his deafness, Beethoven insisted on conducting, but unknown to him the real conductor sat out of his sight beating time. As the last movement ended, Beethoven, unaware even that the music had ceased, was also unaware of the tremendous burst of applause that greeted it. One of the singers took him by the arm and turned him around so that he might actually see the ovation.
The constant worries about his nephew overshadowed the last years of Beethoven's life. Diseases, too, plagued him increasingly. In 1826, he accepted an invitation of his brother Johann Nikolaus and spent a few weeks with his nephew at his brother's country estate near Krems. On December 1, he traveled back to
On March 29, he was buried at the
Whole books have been devoted to single aspects of Beethoven's posthumous reputation. The most striking fact about his legendary status is the great and enduring popularity of his music. During the last years of his life and the period after his death, the musical audience was changing, as a new bourgeois element replaced the typical Eighteenth Century aristocratic circles for which Beethoven himself had composed. Large public concert halls became the primary venues for musical performances, rather than the royal courts and aristocratic salons of earlier times.
To this new audience, Beethoven's music appealed with particular (and almost uncanny) force. His symphonies, overtures, and the more famous of his piano sonatas at once became central to the musical culture of the Nineteenth Century. And his music has remained so to the present. Beethoven remains a musician's musician. His influence on composers in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries has been immense, and his works are among the most popular available on recorded media today. His piano concerti and sonatas are the hallmarks by which performers are judged in our conservatories and universities. Beethoven is still very much with us today, and we can only hope that we may someday see his like again. Today, Beethoven is considered the man that changed the form of the symphony forever. He took the construction and form of the symphonyfrom the days of Mozart and Haydn to new heights, setting the template for the future. If only Mozart and Haydn had lived long enough to hear the whole circle of nine Beethoven symphonies, they would have been extremely proud of him as a Composer, friend, and the undisputed master of the symphony.
(More about Ludwig at: http://www.lvbeethoven.com/ )
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1697)
Giuseppe Verdi was born in e Roncole, near Busseto, Parma, in 1813. The son of an innkeeper, he was taught by local organist, Antonio Barezzi, a wholesale grocer and merchant, who liked music, and recognized Giuseppe's musical ability and offered to pay for him to go to The Milan Conservatory of Music. However, the Conservatory authorities would not admit him, partly because of his poor piano playing skills. Undaunted, Verdi then studied composition in Milan privately for 2 years, then returned to Busseto, where he continued his studies. He also took it upon himself to take over the direction of the town's music activities, no doubt to hone his composing skills. During this period he courted, and then married Barezzi's daughter.
Verdi completed his (first?)opera Rocester (now lost) in 1836, but Oberto was produced at La Scala in1839 with some success, followed by his comic opera, Un giorno di regno (1840), which unfortunately turned out to be a failure. Between 1838 and 1840, Verdi's wife and 2 children died. Prostrate with grief, he vowed to abandon composition, but was persuaded to compose Nabucco (1841) and its triumphant success made him the most prominent amongst young Italian composers.
He then wrote a series of operas; some more successful than others at their premières, but each were eagerly sought by impresarios. In 1847 he composed I masnadieri for Her Majesty's Theatre in London, England, with two bright opera stars of the day, Jenny Lind and Lablache, heading the cast.
In 1849 he bought a farming estate at Sant? Agata, near Busseto, to which he returned whenever possible. In the sensitive political climate of the 19th-century in Italy, Verdi's liberatos (e.g. for Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera, etc.) frequently caused trouble with the censors, especially when they dealt with historical events, which could be interpreted as referring to contemporary political events. Verdi's feelings that Italy should have independence from Austria were well known. In 1860, after the Italian war of independence, he was elected a Deputy in the first Italian National parliament, serving in the post for five years.
His next 3 operas were written for performance outside of Italy. La forza del destino for St Petersburg, 1862, Don Carlos for Paris, 1867, and Aida for Cairo, 1871. 16 years were to pass before the next opera, but in 1874 the great Requiem, composed in memory of the poet Manzoni was performed in Milan. It was an immediate success. Verdi himself conducted 15 performances in Paris in 1874 and 1875, 4 in Vienna, and 3 in London. In 1879, his publisher Ricordi, suggested Shakespeare's Othello as an operatic subject, and Boito, with whom Verdi's relations had hitherto been cool, submitted a draft liberato. The work (Otello) was first perfomed in Milan in 1887, and was acclaimed as the supreme achievement, not only for the composer, but of all Italian opera.
In 1889 Boito suggested a further collaboration, on Falstaff. Its production was in Milan in 1893, though a personal triumph, was not such a success as that of Otello, and it has taken until recent times for this masterpiece of comic opera to become a popular favourite. In 1859 Verdi had married the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, with whom he had lived for a decade before that. Her death in 1897 marked the end of Verdi's composing career, and he died at the Hotel Milano, a short distance from La Scala, leaving most of his money to a home for elderly musicians, that he had founded in Milan.
Dedicated website; www.naxos.com/composer/verdi.htm
Sir Thomas Beecham (1879 -1961)
Sir Thomas Beecham was a British conductor and impresario. From the early twentieth century until his death, Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of
Beecham was born in St. Helens, Lancashire,
Sir Thomas first conducted in public in
Beecham quickly concluded that to compete with the existing
In 1908 Beecham and the New Symphony Orchestra parted company, disagreeing about artistic control, and in particular the deputy system. Under this system, orchestral players, if offered a more lucrative engagement, could send a substitute to a rehearsal or a concert. The treasurer of the Royal Philharmonic Society described it thus: "A, whom you want, signs to play for your concert. He sends B (whom you don't mind) to the first rehearsal. B, without your knowledge or consent, sends C to the second rehearsal. Not being able to play at the concert, C sends D, whom you would have paid five shillings to stay away." Henry Wood had already banned the deputy system in the Queen's Hall Orchestra (provoking rebel players to found the London Symphony Orchestra), and Beecham followed suit. The New Symphony Orchestra survived without him and subsequently became the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra. In 1909, Beecham founded the Beecham Symphony Orchestra. He did not poach from established symphony orchestras, but instead he recruited from theatre bandrooms, local symphony societies, the palm courts of hotels and music colleges. The result was a youthful team ? the typical age of his players was twenty-five. They included names that would become celebrated in their fields, such as Albert Sammons, Lionel Tertis, Eric Coates, and Eugene Cruft.
Because he persistently programmed works that did not attract the public, Beecham's musical activities at this time consistently lost money. From 1899 to 1909 he was estranged from his father, and his access to the Beecham family fortune was strictly limited. In 1899 Joseph had secretly committed his wife to an asylum. Thomas and his elder sister Emily took legal action to secure her release and to obtain her annual £4,500 alimony. For this, Joseph Beecham disinherited them. From 1907 Beecham had an annuity of £700 left to him in his grandfather's will, and his mother subsidised some of his loss-making concerts, but it was not until father and son were reconciled in 1909 that Beecham was able to draw on the family fortune to promote opera. From 1910, subsidised by his father, Beecham realized his ambition to mount opera seasons at Covent Garden and other houses. In the Edwardian opera house, the star singers were regarded as all-important, and conductors were seen as ancillary. Between 1910 and 1939 Beecham did much to change the balance of power.
In 1910 Beecham either conducted or was responsible as impresario for 190 performances at
In 1911 and 1912 the Beecham Symphony Orchestra played for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, both at Covent Garden and at the Krolloper in Berlin, under the batons of Beecham and Pierre Monteux, Diaghilev's chief conductor. Beecham was much admired for conducting the complicated new score of Stravinsky's Petrushka at two days' notice and without rehearsal when Monteux was unavailable. While in
Beecham's 1913 seasons included the British première of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at
After the war, there were joint
Beecham and his brother Henry had to sell enough of their father's estate to discharge this mortgage. For over three years Beecham was absent from the musical scene, working to sell property worth over £1 million. By 1923 enough money had been raised, and in 1924 the Covent Garden property and the pill-making business at
In 1931 Beecham was approached by the rising young conductor, Malcolm Sargent, with a proposal to set up a permanent, salaried orchestra with a subsidy guaranteed by Sargent's patrons the Courtauld family. Originally Sargent and Beecham envisaged a reshuffled version of the London Symphony Orchestra, but the LSO, a self-governing co-operative, baulked at weedings-out and replacements of underperforming players, and in 1932 Beecham lost patience and agreed with Sargent to set up a new orchestra from scratch. The London Philharmonic Orchestra, as it was named, consisted of 106 players, including a few young players straight from
By the early 1930s, Beecham had again secured a substantial control of the
Beecham took the London Philharmonic on a controversial tour of
As his sixtieth birthday approached, Beecham had planned a year's complete rest from music, intending to go abroad for sun-warmed leisure. The outbreak of World War II on 3 September 1939 obliged him to shelve his plans, instead fighting to secure the future of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, whose financial guarantees had been withdrawn by their backers when war was declared. In 1946, Beecham founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, obtaining an agreement with the Royal Philharmonic Society that the new orchestra should replace the LPO at all the Society's concerts. As in 1909 and in 1932, Beecham's assistants went to work in the freelance pool and elsewhere. Beecham later agreed with the Glyndebourne Festival that the RPO should be the resident orchestra at Glyndebourne each summer. He secured backing, including from record companies in the
By 1950 the RPO was able to undertake a strenuous tour through the
Between 1951 and 1960, Beecham conducted at the Royal Festival Hall no fewer than 92 times. Characteristic Beecham programmes of the RPO years included symphonies by Bizet, César Franck, Haydn, Schubert and Tchaikovsky; Strauss's Ein Heldenleben; concertos by Mozart and Camille Saint-Saëns; a Delius/Sibelius programme; and many of his favoured shorter pieces. Though in his seventies, Beecham did not stick uncompromisingly to his familiar repertoire. After the sudden death of the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, Beecham in tribute conducted the two programmes his younger colleague had been due to present at the Festival Hall; these included Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3, Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole, Brahms's Symphony No 1, and Samuel Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra. In the summer of 1958, Beecham conducted a season at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, Argentina, consisting of Verdi's Otello, Bizet's Carmen, Beethoven's Fidelio, Saint-Saëns's Samson and Delilah and Mozart's Magic Flute. These were his last operatic performances. His last illness prevented his operatic debut at Glyndebourne in a planned Magic Flute and a final appearance at
Sixty-six years after his first visit to
Thomas Beecham died of a coronary thrombosis at his
Herbert von Karajan was the son of an upper-bourgeois
Karajan was born in Salzburg,
Karajan joined the Nazi Party in
In addition, although he did open a
Commentators such as Osborne and the British journalist Mark Lawson have suggested that music, and access to making music, over-rode everything for Karajan, and that may have led to him making amoral decisions such as Nazi membership in order to get what he wanted with regard to music. Lawson in particular has suggested that the lack of conclusive evidence about Karajan's personal political ideology, and apparently contradictory episodes in his life (such as his marriage), at least suggests that his membership was more a means to an end than the expression of an ideological standpoint. Adolf Hitler did not appreciate Karajan's performance of Die Meistersinger on 2 June 1939, according to Winifred Wagner, because Karajan, who was conducting without a score, lost his way, the singers halted and the curtain was rung down in confusion. According to Winifred Wagner, Hitler decided that Karajan was not ever to conduct at the annual Bayreuth festival. However, as a favourite of Hermann Göring he would continue his work as conductor of the Staatskapelle (1941-1945), the orchestra of the Berlin State Opera, where he would accompany about 150 opera performances in total. On 22 October 1942, at the height of the war, Karajan married his second wife, Anna Maria "Anita" Sauest, née Gütermann, the daughter of a well-known sewing machine magnate, and who, having a Jewish grandfather, was considered Vierteljüdin (one-quarter Jewish). By 1944, Karajan was, by his own account, losing favor with the Nazi leaders, but he still conducted concerts in wartime
In 1946, Karajan gave his first post-war concert, in
In 1955, he was appointed music director for life of the Berlin Philharmonic as successor to Wilhelm Furtwängler. From 1957 to 1964, he was artistic director of the Vienna State Opera. He was closely involved with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Salzburg Festival, where he initiated the Easter Festival, which would remain tied to the Berlin Philharmonic's Music Director after his tenure. On 22 October 1958, he married his third wife, model Eliette Mouret; they became parents of two daughters, Isabel and Arabel. He continued to perform, conduct and record prolifically until his death in Anif in 1989, mainly with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Karajan played an important role in the development of the original compact disc digital audio format. He championed this new consumer playback technology, lent his prestige to it, and appeared at the first press conference announcing the format. The maximum playing time of CD prototypes was sixty minutes, but the final specification enlarged the disc size and extended the capacity to seventy-four minutes. There is a story that this was due to Karajan's insistence that the format have sufficient capacity to contain Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on a single disc. Snopes says the truth of the story is undetermined. Kees Schouhamer Immink, a Philips research engineer and fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, denies the Beethoven connection.
There is widespread agreement that Herbert von Karajan had a special gift for extracting beautiful sounds from an orchestra. Opinion varies concerning the greater aesthetic ends to which The Karajan Sound was applied. The American critic Harvey Sachs criticized the Karajan approach as follows: Karajan seemed to have opted instead for an all-purpose, highly refined, lacquered, calculatedly voluptuous sound that could be applied, with the stylistic modifications he deemed appropriate, to Bach and Puccini, Mozart and Mahler, Beethoven and Wagner, Schumann and Stravinsky... many of his performances had a prefabricated, artificial quality that those of Toscanini, Furtwängler, and others never had... most of Karajan's records are exaggeratedly polished, a sort of sonic counterpart to the films and photographs of Leni Riefenstahl. However, it has been argued by commentator Jim Svejda and others that Karajan's pre-1970 manner did not sound polished as it is later alleged to have become.
Some critics, particularly British critic Norman Lebrecht, charged Karajan with initiating a devastating inflationary spiral in performance fees. During his tenure as director of publicly-funded performing organizations such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Salzburg Festival, he started paying guest stars exorbitantly, as well as ratcheting up his own remuneration. Once he possessed orchestras he could have them produce discs, taking the vulture's share of royalties for himself and rerecording favorite pieces for every new technology: digital LPs, CD, videotape, laserdisc. In addition to making it difficult for other conductors to record with his orchestras, von Karajan also drove up the prices that he would be paid and thus other conductors wanted. During a recording session of the Beethoven Triple Concerto with David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich, pianist Richter demanded an extra take, to which Karajan replied "No, no, we haven't got time, we've still got to do the photographs." This did not prevent violinist Oistrakh from saying, when Karajan turned 65, that he was "the greatest living conductor, a master in every style."
Karajan was the recipient of many honours and awards. On 21 June 1978, he received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from
Georg Solti (1912 - 1997)
Georg Solti studied as a pianist at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in
Soon a fascist regime was in place in
As a result of this enforced delay to the continuation of his chosen career, by the end of the war Solti was sufficiently desperate to conduct as to be prepared to travel to Munich on the off-chance that a fellow ex-pupil from the Franz Liszt Academy, Edward Kilenyi, now a major in the American army, might be able to find him a conducting position. Because of the de-Nazification procedures, there were no German conductors of note able to work in this part of the country; so Solti, following a successful debut in Stuttgart, was immediately offered the job of music director of the Bavarian State Opera: thus in one bound finding himself in a position which normally would be awarded only to a conductor with an extensive pedigree.
At this time Solti also made a key contact, through the Swiss tenor Max Lichtegg, with Maurice Rosengarten, who was responsible for classical music at Decca Records. By convincing Rosengarten that he was a conductor to watch ? and aided by the
An unusual characteristic of Solti?s conducting career, which was based very much on relationships, was his longevity in formal ?command? positions. Between 1946 and 1991, when he ended his tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he held only four appointments, all as music director of the following musical institutions: Bavarian State Opera, Munich (1946?1952), Frankfurt Opera (1952?1961), Covent Garden (later Royal) Opera Company, London (1961?1971); Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1969?1991). These posts covered a period of forty-five years, and they formed the bedrock upon which a highly active programme of recordings and international guest engagements was built.
Another key factor in the development of Solti?s recording career was his relationship with the record producer John Culshaw. Culshaw first heard Solti conduct in 1949, at a performance of Der Rosenkavalier in
The Decca connection enabled Solti and Culshaw to keep their relationship in play, while the 1957 recordings of Arabella (with Solti substituting for Böhm) and of Act III of Die Walküre demonstrated Solti to be a conductor of consequence in both Strauss and Wagner. Decca?s 1958 decision to record Das Rheingold, the springboard to the later recording of the entire Ring cycle, gave Solti the platform from which to leap into the international musical firmament, a rise which the success of these recordings certainly facilitated. By 1959, the year of his
Solti built the Covent Garden Opera, later renamed during his music directorship as the Royal Opera Company, into a company of the highest international quality. He introduced for the first time an uncompromising drive towards the best possible standards, replacing the repertoire with the stagione system, whilst also developing an ensemble of mainly British singers, most of whom went on to enjoy international careers. He expanded the repertoire by introducing works such as Schoenberg?s Moses und Aron, and engaged outstanding theatrical directors such as Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn to deliver productions of high quality.
Throughout the 1960s Decca sustained and developed this reputation by recording Solti in three key repertoire strands: Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mahler. By the time he came to take over the music directorship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1969 Solti was firmly established internationally as a conductor to be mentioned in the same breath as Herbert von Karajan. By bringing together Decca and the
Solti?s years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra may now be seen as a direct continuation of the musical standards and expectations created by his formidable predecessor, Fritz Reiner. The virtuosity achieved by Solti and this orchestra has rarely been equalled and never exceeded. During his time in Chicago Solti also accepted appointments as chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris (1972?1975) and as principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1979?1981) and conducted a new production of the Ring at the Bayreuth Festival in 1983. Knighted in 1971, Sir Georg maintained a programme of guest-conducting engagements throughout the world in both the opera house and the concert hall from 1991 to his death in 1997. His last public appearance was conducting at the Gala performance that marked the closure of the Royal Opera House,
Solti was a most energetic conductor in both rehearsal and performance, with a frequently sharp and stabbing conducting style. At the same time he was also capable of producing the most beautiful legato playing. He insisted upon great rhythmic precision and tight ensemble, allied to the acute observation of dynamics and of course the highest technical standards of execution. The result in the works of the ?two Richards?, Wagner and Strauss, was to present their music with a discipline which had rarely been encountered previously. His emphasis upon line and phrasing also paid great dividends in the music of Mozart and Verdi, whose works he conducted with complete mastery. His most enduring legacy is the vast catalogue of operatic and symphonic recordings which he made for Decca, in which pride of place must certainly go to his account of Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Other outstanding operatic recordings include, by Richard Strauss, Arabella, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra and Salome; by Richard Wagner, Tannhäuser and Parsifal; by Verdi, Don Carlos, Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera; and by Mozart the three da Ponte operas as well as Die Zauberflöte. Solti?s drive and precision are extremely well displayed in his account of Gluck?s Orfeo ed Eurydice. Of his orchestral recordings, particularly memorable are his accounts of works by his teachers Bartók and Kodály, together with the symphonies of Mahler and most notably those of Elgar. No Solti recording is without some point of interest: his stature as one of the most outstanding conductors of the twentieth century is fully confirmed through this legacy.
Zubin Metha (1936 -)
Zubin Mehta was born into a Parsi family in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, the son of Mehli and Tehmina Mehta. His father Mehli Mehta was a violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. Zubin is an alumnus of St. Mary's (ISC) High School, Mazagoan, Mumbai and St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. Zubin initially intended to study medicine, but eventually became a music student in
In 1958, Mehta made his conducting debut in Vienna. The same year he won the International Conducting Competition in Liverpool and was appointed assistant conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Mehta soon rose to the rank of chief conductor when he was made Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1960, a post he held until 1967. In 1961, he was named assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; however, the orchestra's music director designate, Georg Solti, was not consulted on the appointment, and Solti subsequently resigned in protest; soon after, Mehta himself was named Music Director of the orchestra, and held the post from 1962 to 1978.
In 1978 Mehta became the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and remained there until his resignation in 1991, becoming the longest holder of the post. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Mehta its Music Advisor in 1969, Music Director in 1977, and made him its Music Director for Life in 1981. Since 1985, Mehta has been chief conductor of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in
Zubin Mehta received praise early in his career for dynamic interpretations of the large scale symphonic music of Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Franz Schmidt. He has also made a recording of Indian instrumentalist, Ravi Shankar's Sitar Concerto No. 2, with Shankar and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. His conducting is also renowned as being flamboyant and forceful in performance. Mehta has conducted the Vienna New Year's Concert in the years 1990, 1995, 1998 and 2007. As a double bassist, one of his most memorable performances was in a collaboration with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim in a performance of Schubert's Trout Quintet in the summer of 1969.
In 1990, he conducted the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in the first ever Three Tenors concert in Rome, joining the tenors again in 1994 at the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. In June 1994, Mehta performed the Mozart Requiem, along with the members of the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the ruins of Sarajevo's National Library, in a fund raising concert for the victims of armed conflict and remembrance of the thousands of people killed in the Yugoslav wars. On August 29, 1999, he conducted Mahler Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), at the vicinity of Buchenwald concentration camp in the German city of Weimar, with both the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, sitting alongside each other. He toured his native country India and home city Mumbai (Bombay) in 1984, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and again in November-December 1994, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, along with soloists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham. In 1997 and 1998, Mehta worked in collaboration with Chinese film director Zhang Yimou on a production of the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini which they took to Florence, Italy and then to Beijing, China where it was staged, in its actual surroundings, in the Forbidden City with over 300 extras and 300 soldiers. for eight historic performances. The making of this production was chronicled in a documentary called The Turandot Project which Mehta narrated.
On 26 December 2005, the first anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Zubin Mehta along with the Bavarian State Orchestra performed for the first time in Chennai (formerly called Madras) at the world famous "Madras Music Academy". This special Tsunami memorial concert was organised by the Madras German consulate along with the Max-Mueller Bhavan/Goethe institute. The team performed to a packed hall of select invitees. Nearly 3000 people turned up including eminent personalities such as Amartya Sen (Nobel Laureate in economics) and the Tamil Nadu governor, Surjit Singh Barnala. He also performed in Delhi on December 28 at the Indira Gandhi Stadium. 2006 will be his last year with the Bavarian State Orchestra. He conducted in Andrea Bocelli's Verdi Album in 2000, as well as in two of his seven complete recorded operas la Boheme and Tosca in 2000 and 2003.
In 1999 Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations. In 2001, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan,
On February 3, 2007, Zubin Mehta was the recipient of the Second Annual Bridgebuilder Award at Loyola Marymount University Conductor Karl Böhm awarded Mehta the Nikisch Ring ? the Vienna Philharmonic Ring of Honor. Mehta is an honorary citizen of both
Mehta's first marriage was from 1958-1964 to Canadian soprano Carmen Lasky. They have a son Mervon (1960) and a daughter Zarina (1958). The divorce was amicable. "We grew apart. It just happened. I never did anything nasty to him, and he never did anything nasty to me," Carmen said in 1968. Mehta married Nancy Kovack, a former American film and television actress, on 20 July 1969. Two years after divorcing Zubin, Carmen married Zubin's brother Zarin Mehta. Carmen and Zarin have daughter Rohanna (1967) and son Rustom (1969). In 2000 his brother, Zarin Mehta, was appointed executive director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mehta's life has been documented in Terry Sanders' film Portrait of Zubin Mehta and in a book by Martin Bookspan and Ross Yockey entitled Zubin: The Zubin Mehta Story. His autobiography, written with Renate von Matuschka is "Die Partitur meines Lebens".
The Muppet, Zubin Beckmesser, is named after him. The second part of the name (Beckmesser) being a character from Richard Wagner's opera, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. The Frank Zappa song Billy the Mountain includes a character of whom it is said "some folks say he looked like Zubin Mehta." This is a reference to a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1970, in the UCLA basketball arena, of a series of Zappa's orchestral pieces. The performance was prefaced by a short speech from Zappa, who then turned to Mehta and said, "Hit it, Zubin!"
Arturo Toscanini was born in the city of
On his return to
Daniel Barenboim November 1942 -
Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Russian Jewish descent. He started piano lessons at the age of five with his mother, continuing to study with his father, who remained his only teacher. On 19 August 1950, at the age of seven, he gave his first formal concert in his hometown, Buenos Aires.
In 1952 Barenboim moved to Israel with his family. Two years later, in the summer of 1954, his parents took him to Salzburg to take part in Igor Markevitch's conducting classes. During that summer he also met and played for Wilhelm Furtwängler, who has remained a central musical influence and ideal for Barenboim.
Furtwängler declared the young Barenboim a "phenomenon" and invited him to perform the Beethoven First Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, but Barenboim's father considered it too soon after the Second World War for a child of Jewish parents to be performing in Berlin. In 1955 Barenboim studied harmony and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
On 15 June 1967, Barenboim and the talented British cellist Jacqueline Du Pré were married in Israel at a Western Wall ceremony, Du Pré having converted to Judaism. Acting as one of the witnesses was the conductor Zubin Mehta, a long-time friend of Barenboim. Zubin related; ?Since I was not Jewish, I had to temporarily be renamed Moshe Cohen, which made me a 'kosher witness.'"
In 1973 tragedy struck when Jacqueline Du Pré was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and had to retire from music. Their marriage lasted until Jacqueline died in 1987. In the early 1980s, Barenboim began a relationship with the Russian pianist Elena Bashkirova, with whom he has two sons born in Paris prior to Du Pré's death: David Arthur, born 1983, and Michael, born 1985. Barenboim tried to keep his relationship with Bashkirova hidden from Jacqueline, and believed he had succeeded. He and Bashkirova married in 1988. Their son David is a manager-writer for the German hip-hop band Level 8, and Michael is a classical violinist. Barenboim holds citizenship of Argentina, Israel, Palestine, and Spain. He lives in Berlin.
Daniel Barenboim is considered one of the World?s foremost musical experts on Beethoven?s music as well as a distinguished Concert Pianist and Conductor, and has served as music director to several world famous Symphony and Operatic Orchestras. He has also made hundreds of recordings as both as a Concert Pianist. Currently he is general music director of La Scala in Milan, the Berlin State Orchestra, and Staatskapelle Berlin. Past appointments have been as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony and the Orchestra de Paris. He is also famous for his work with the West-East Divan Orchestra; a Seville based gathering of young Israeli and A brought together and trained by Barenboim to cement good relations. Over the past three years this orchestra became famous for touring the World with Barenboim at the helm as Musical Director, performing all nine symphonies by Beethoven.
Daniel Barenboim has received many awards and prizes, including an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, The Legion d? honneur from France, and several other awards from Germany and with the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said, along with Spain?s Prince of Asturias Concord award. In addition, he has won seven Grammy Awards for his work and recordings.
Great Tenor Voices
Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)
Pavarotti was born in
His debut came on April 29, 1961, as Rodolfo in La Boheme, at the opera house in Reggio Emilia. That success led to engagements throughout
Debuts in La Boheme, at La Scala,
Long associated with London/Decca Records, his recordings are consistent best sellers, and include collections of arias and recital programs, a live concert from Carnegie Hall, and anthologies of Neapolitan and other Italian songs. The most recent is Verdi's Il Trovatore. His frequent television appearances in performance as well as in documentaries and on talk shows continue to add to his musical renown. His performance as Rodolfo thrilled
He consistently draws record-breaking audiences to sold-out arena concerts in many countries and shares his music with huge audiences in the great public parks of the world. His televised concert in
In June 1993, more than 500,000 fans gathered to enjoy his performance on the Great Lawn of New York's
In 1982, he initiated an ongoing international vocal competition culminating with prestigious final performances in
PLACIDO DOMINGO 1941 -
moved to Mexico at age 8 with his family, who ran a zarzuela company. In Mexico City he studied music at the National Conservatory. He provided backup vocals for Los Black Jeans in 1958, a rock-and-roll band lead by César Costa. He learned piano and conducting, but made his stage debut acting in a minor role in 1959 (May 12) at the Teatro Degollado in
On September 19, 1985, the biggest earthquake in Mexico's history devastated the whole Mexican capital. Domingo's aunt, uncle, his nephew and his nephew?s young son were killed in the collapse of the Nuevo León apartment block in the Tlatelolco housing complex. Domingo himself labored to rescue survivors. During the next year, he did benefit concerts for the victims and released an album of one of the events.
In what has been called his 'final career move', Placido Domingo announced on January 25, 2007 that in 2009 he would switch ranges to baritone by taking on one of Verdi's most demanding baritone roles, as the Doge of Genoa, Simon Boccanegra, in the opera of the same name.
JOSE CARRERAS 1946-
Josep Carreras i Coll (born December 5, 1946), better known as José Carreras, is an operatic tenor. One of the most prominent singers of his generation, and particularly eminent in the operas of Verdi and Puccini, his operatic career has encompassed over 60 roles on stage and in the recording studio. He gained fame with a wider audience as one of The Three Tenors along with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti in a series of mass concerts that began in 1990 and continued until 2003. Carreras is also known for his humanitarian work as the president of the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation (La Fundació Internacional Josep Carreras per a la Lluita contra la Leucèmia), which he established following his own recovery from the disease in 1988. Definately one of the top opera tenors in the world renowned for his magnificent voice.
MARIO LANZA 1921 -1959
Mario Lanza's life, sadly, has all the markings of an epic Shakespearean tragedy. The story is truly incredible: a wild, incendiary Philadelphia kid who can sing better than Caruso, sets out to become the greatest dramatic opera singer who ever lived, is detoured by Louis B. Mayer and vixen Hollywood, is remade into a fiercely handsome box office champ with 50 inch chest, his own national radio show, 1951 TIME Magazine cover idol, and king of the pop record world.
He was besieged on cross-country concert tours and appearances years before Elvis and the Beatles, a true 'superstar' before the word was invented and the first singer to ever earn Gold Records with million sellers in both classical and popular categories.
His MGM masterpiece - 'The Great Caruso' - was the top-grossing film in the world in 1951. The Lanza voice was so incredible, so powerful, so golden, so dazzling that an awestruck Maestro Toscanini called it, simply and correctly, the 'voice of the century'. Among the multitudes of stunned admirers worldwide included the likes of: Koussevitsky, Sinatra, Presley, Schipa, Tebaldi, Tucker, Kirsten, Albanese, and countless others. Lanza's voice has been called the 'Northern Lights in a throat' and passed through a heart of peerless sensitivity, passion. and vulnerability .
Fired by MGM during production of 'The Student Prince' in 1952 after the German director Curtis Bernhardt assailed him over the 'excess' passion of one song in his stunning recording of the soundtrack, his career began a downturn that would never be reversed. Lanza never fully recovered from the emotional catastrophe of 'The Student Prince' fiasco and losing his MGM contract, and declined slowly in a pattern of near-alcoholism, food-binging, huge weight gains and losses, and professional tempestuousness.
Fed up with not being able to get film roles - save 'Serenade' for Warners in 1956 - and a savage press, Lanza quit
Lanza's seven films and scores of astonishing recordings continue to stun and inspire singers and the public 40 years after his death. He is celebrated and honored with film festivals, a steady flow of new CDs, and constant worldwide musical tributes, most notably by Domingo-Carreras-Pavarotti, and a multitude of lesser vocal lights. People Magazine, in 1998, summed up the Lanza voice as 'Magnificent'. Simply put, there will never be another Mario Lanza.
Beniamino Gigli 1890-1957
The self-declared 'people's singer', Gigli was more than ready to add popular tunes and love songs to his concert repertoire. The sentimentality these added to his interpretations notwithstanding, Gigli still had no trouble whatsoever pleasing audiences: his voice was simply that beautiful.
At the tender age of 24, he already had the judges of the Parma International Competition declaring, 'At last we have found the tenor!' This triumph marked the meteoric rise of the shoemaker's son to the pinnacle of the opera world in a few short years. By the time Gatti-Casazza engaged Gigli in 1919, the justly deified Caruso's health had begun its downward spiral. Gigli was destined to be the next rising star, and in spite of the ever-present shadow of Caruso he established his own artistry.
With his more youthful and lyrical sound, he became known for the sheer beauty of tone, as well as the dramatic intensity of his interpretations. Too bad he left the Met over a salary dispute; Gatti-Casazza evidently did not value Gigli's contribution to the operatic world enough to retain him. But then, Met General Managers have had a penchant for minimizing the importance of tenors. After all, it was Rudolph Bing who was quoted as saying, 'The reason tenors demand so much money is because the timbre of their voice is a sexual stimulant.' No other reason, Sir Rudolph?
Died aged 67 from Asian flu and diabetic problems.
ENRICO CARUSO 1873-191
One might say that 1921 was a red-letter one for tenors, being the year of the birth of Di Stefano, Corelli and Valletti. (What did they put in the Pellegrino that year?) It was as if they had been born with a karmic debt to Caruso, who died that same year - although it was actually Gigli who took up Caruso's legacy. To me it is simply amazing that Caruso could have been the 18th child out of 21 - and the first to live past infancy because of a cholera outbreak - and still made it to the top of the operatic ladder.
Though born to a family of singers, he still managed to capture the attention of some of the musical luminaries of the time. In spite of his father's demands that he work at the local mechanic factory, and the three years of military service required by Italian law, young Enrico's talent prevailed; and he was able to hone his initially baritone-like quality into one of the greatest tenor vocal instruments of all time.
A Baron heard Caruso entertaining his fellow soldiers with song and helped train Enrico for the performance of Fedora that launched his career at
Gatti-Casazza, the Met's General Manager at the time, wrote, "We may have now and later tenors possessing some of his qualitiesâ?¦ a beautiful voice, â?¦good singers or artistsâ?¦ but â?¦ it will almost be impossible to have the fortune to find again another personality who possesses in himself all the artistic and moral gifts that distinguished our poor and illustrious friend."
Editor Note: There were many other great Opera tenors - too many to list here, but you can research a few of them on the Internet by entering their names and 'biography' in Google Search engine.
Here are just a few......New Stars are coming along every year in Opera.
MARIO DEL MANACO (1915-1982) FRANCO CORELLI (1921-2003) GIUSEPPE DI STEFANO (1921 -) CESARE VALLETTI (1921-2000) GIACOMO LAURI-VOLPI (1894-1979) Most of these great singers were of italian birth and sang in the major Opera House of the World.
One of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century, she was dubbed La Stupenda by a La Fenice audience in 1960 after an Alcina performance. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction. Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the "Voice of the Century", while Montserrat Caballé described the Australian's voice as being like "heaven".
Joan Sutherland was born in Sydney, Australia, where she attended St Catherine's School. As a child, she listened to and copied the singing exercises of her mother, a mezzo-soprano who had studied but never considered making a career. Sutherland was 18 when she started studying voice seriously with John and Aida Dickens. She made her concert debut in
During her early career, she was training to be a Wagnerian dramatic soprano, following the steps of Kirsten Flagstad, whom she greatly admired. In December 1952, she sang her first leading role at the Royal Opera House, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera. Other roles included Agathe in Der Freischütz, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Desdemona in Otello, Gilda in Rigoletto, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Pamina in The Magic Flute. In 1953, she sang in the world premiere of Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, and created the role of Jennifer in Michael Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage, on 27 January 1955.
Sutherland married Australian conductor and pianist, Richard Bonynge, on 16 October 1954. They had a son, Adam, born in 1956. Bonynge gradually convinced her that Wagner may not be her Fach after all, since she had such great ease with high notes and coloratura, and that she should perhaps explore the bel canto repertory.
In 1957, she appeared in Handel's Alcina with the Handel Opera Society, and in Donizetti's Emilia di Liverpool, in which performances her bel canto potential was clearly demonstrated, vindicating her husband's judgement. The following year she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in
In 1959, she was invited to sing Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House in a production conducted by Tullio Serafin and staged by Franco Zeffirelli. The role of Edgardo was sung by her fellow Australian Kenneth Neate, who had replaced the scheduled tenor at short notice. It was a breakthrough for Sutherland's career, and, upon the completion of the famous Mad Scene, she had become a star. In 1960, she recorded the album The Art of the Prima Donna, which remains today one of the most recommended opera albums ever recorded: the double LP set won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance - Vocal Soloist in 1962. The album, a collection consisting mainly of coloratura arias, provides an opportunity to listen to the young Sutherland at the beginning of her international career. It displays her seemingly effortless coloratura ability, high notes and opulent tones, as well as her exemplary trill, which she is identified by and for which she is widely admired.
By the beginning of the 1960s, Sutherland had already established a reputation as a diva with a voice out of the ordinary. She sang Lucia to great acclaim in Paris in 1960 and, in 1961, at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. Also in 1960, she sang a superb Alcina at La Fenice, Venice, where she was nicknamed La Stupenda ("The Stupendous One"). Sutherland would soon be praised as La Stupenda in newspapers around the world. Later that year (1960), Sutherland sang Alcina at the Dallas Opera, with which she made her US debut.
Her Metropolitan Opera debut took place on 26 November 1961, when she sang Lucia. After a total of 217 performances in a number of different operas, her last appearance there was on 19 December 1987, when she sang in Il trovatore. During the 1978?? period, her relationship with the Met severely deteriorated when Sutherland had to decline the role of Constanze in Mozart's "Die Entführung aus dem Serail", more than a year before the rehearsals were scheduled to start. The opera house management then declined to stage the operetta The Merry Widow especially for her, as requested; subsequently, she did not perform at the Met during that time at all, even though a production of Rossini's "Semiramide" had also been planned, but later she returned there to sing in other operas, triumphally.
During the 1960s, Sutherland had added the greatest heroines of bel canto ("beautiful singing") to her repertoire: Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, Amina in Bellini's La Sonnambula and Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani in 1960; Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda in 1961; Marguerite de Valois in Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots and Semiramide in Rossini's Semiramide in 1962; Norma in Bellini's Norma and Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare in 1963. In 1966 she added Marie in Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment, which became one of her most adored roles, because of her perfect coloratura and lively, funny interpretation.
In 1965, Sutherland toured
During the 1970s, Sutherland strove to improve her diction, which had often been critizised, and increase the expressiveness of her interpretations. She continued to add dramatic bel canto roles to her repertoire, such as Donizetti's Maria Stuarda and Lucrezia Borgia, as well as Massenet's extremely difficult Esclarmonde, a role that few sopranos attempt. She even recorded a successful Turandot in 1972 under the baton of Zubin Mehta, though she wisely never performed that taxing, heroic role on stage.
Sutherland's early recordings show her to be possessed of a crystal-clear voice and excellent diction. However, by the early 1960s her voice lost some of this clarity in the middle register, and she often came under fire for having extremely poor diction. Some have attributed this to sinus surgery; however, her major sinus surgery was done in 1959, immediately after her breakthrough Lucia at
In the late 1970s, Sutherland's voice started to decline and her vibrato loosened to an intrusive extent. However, thanks to her vocal agility and solid technique, she continued singing the most difficult roles amazingly well. During the 1980s, she added Anna Bolena, Amalia in I masnadieri and Adriana Lecouvreur to her repertoire, and repeated Esclarmonde at The Royal Opera House performances in November and December 1983. Her last performance was as Marguerite de Valois (Les Huguenots) at the Sydney Opera House in 1990, at the age of 63. Her last public appearance, however, took place in a gala performance of Die Fledermaus on New Year's Eve, 1990, at
According to her own words, given in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2002, her biggest achievement was to sing the title role in Esclarmonde. She considers those performances and recordings made as her best, being particularly fond of the love lavished by fans upon her.
Since her retirement, she has made relatively few public appearances, preferring a quiet life at her home in Switzerland. One exception was her 1994 address at a lunch organised by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. In that address, she complained at having to be interviewed by a clerk of Chinese or Indian background when applying to renew her Australian passport. Her comments caused considerable controversy at the time, and she has since publicly apologized for the remarks.
In 1997 she published an autobiography A Prima Donna's Progress. While it received generally scathing reviews for its literary merits, it does contain a complete list of all her performances, with full cast lists.
technique in young opera singers, and the dearth of good teachers. She no longer gives
master classes herself and when asked why by Italian journalists in May 2007, she replied: "Because I'm 80 years old and I really don't want to have anything to do with opera anymore, although I do sit on the juries of singing competitions. The competition that Sutherland has been most closely associated with since her retirement is the Cardiff Singer of the World. She began her regular involvement in the competition in 1993, serving on the jury five consecutive times and later, in 2003, became its patron.
On 3 July 2008, she suffered a fall while gardening at her home in
During her career and after, Sutherland received many honours and awards. In 1961, Sutherland was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was named the Australian of the Year in 1961. On 9 June 1975, Dame Joan was made a Companion of the Order of Australia. She was further elevated from Commander to Dame Commander on 30 December 1978. On 18 December 1991, the Queen bestowed on Dame Joan the Order of Merit.
In 2004, she received a Kennedy Center Honor for her outstanding achievement throughout her career. In January of that year she also received the Australia Post Australian Legends Award which honours Australians who have contributed to the Australian identity and culture. Two stamps featuring Joan Sutherland were issued on Australia Day 2004 to mark the award.
Maria Callas (1923-1977)
One of the greatest and most versatile operatic singers in recent history. She sang an incredible variety of roles; from Wagnerian to light coloratura; from high soprano to mezzo. But it is not just the range of roles she was capable of singing, but how she sang them that makes her special. She had a distinctive vocal timbre which she could colour in a seemingly infinite number of manners. She could also act, a rarity with opera singers still today. She was a joy to listen to and watch.
True her voice was flawed, but her artistry was unmatched. Of Callas's artistic pre-eminence there can be no doubt. Among her contemporaries she had the deepest comprehension of the Classical Italian style, the most musical instincts and the most intelligent approach. There was authority in all that she did on the stage and in every phrase that she uttered... [N]umerous recordings, including many complete operas, remain to show that her technical defects were outweighed by her genius.
Maria Callas was born in
There is a usenet group: alt.fan.maria-callas. In April 1996 a contributor to this newsgroup opined that Callas never sang the Wagnerian role of Brünnhilde, which elicited the following reply from [email protected]:
Callas did sing Brünnhilde .. in fact she was singing the role at the time [the Italian conductor] Serafin asked her to sing I Puritani [a Bellini opera] .... Carioso was scheduled to sing Elvira but got sick.... the story is that Serafin's wife heard Callas singing Qui la voce [an aria from I Puritani] and mentioned it to Serafin. He heard her sing it too, but said nothing. Then a few days later he woke her up after one of her Walküres and told her that he wanted her to replace Carioso.. she thought Serafin was crazy but was persuaded to do it ... Callas herself tells the story in an interview which has been recorded (might be available on CD) so she blew everybody's mind by singing Brünnhilde one day and then Elvira a few days later... the story is also mentioned in her biographies...
Great Film Composers
John Williams (1932 - )
The most popular film composer of the modern era, John Williams created music for some of the most successful motion pictures in Hollywood history -- Star Wars, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, and
Williams then went solo to pen a number of TV soundtracks for series including Playhouse 90, Wagon Train, and Bachelor Father; in 1959 he ventured into film with Daddy-O, and spent the majority of the 1960s alternating between the silver screen (The Killers, The Plainsman) and its smaller counterpart (Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space). In 1968 Williams earned his first Academy Award nomination for his work in Valley of the Dolls; in 1970, he garnered nods for both The Reivers and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and two years later finally won for Fiddler on the Roof.
A batch of Oscar nominations followed, for features including The Poseidon Adventure, Images, Tom Sawyer, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974 he first teamed with a young filmmaker named Steven Spielberg on a movie titled The Sugarland Express; the two frequently reteamed over the years to come, with often stunning results -- Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Schindler's List were just a few of the Spielberg/Williams pairings, with Jaws, E.T., and Schindler's List all winning the composer Academy Awards. Williams' other most frequent collaborator was George Lucas; beginning with 1977's Star Wars -- yet another Williams Oscar winner -- they later teamed for 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi, with the composer agreeing to score Lucas' subsequent Star Wars films as they went into production in 1997.
He even celebrated his 30th anniversary of working with Steven Spielberg with 2002's Minority Report soundtrack. Other scores of note included 1979's Superman, 1987's The Witches of Eastwick, 1988's The Accidental Tourist, 1991's JFK, and 1995's Nixon. In 1980, Williams also took over for the late Arthur Fiedler as the conductor of the Boston Pops.
John Barry (1933 -2011 )
John Barry (born in
At this time Barry met Adam Faith and suggested that he sing regularly on the programme. Faith went on to become very successful as a pop star singing numbers like "What do you want?" (This was in the days of Elvis Presley and the young Cliff Richard) while Barry wrote or arranged his songs. The relationship was to continue when Adam Faith starred in some movies like "Beat Girl" and having the same agent it was natural that John Barry be asked to compose the soundtracks to those movies. And "Beat Girl" in fact was the first soundtrack to be released on an LP in the
Nevertheless there were some elements of the Bond film style which were not yet quite right with that first film, but these elements soon fell into place with Barry as the resident composer for the series. Those elements included the big title song which was thereafter to accompany the super-spy on his adventures, and John Barry asked the singer Shirley Bassey to record the theme for "Goldfinger", but equally important was the confident, exciting brassy sound of the incidental music with its references to both the main theme and the theme song.
Don't let the Bond associations lead you to conclude that all Barry's music is loud and bombastic. Far from it, the Bond scores are representative of his work only in so far as they illustrate Barry's unique talent for setting exactly the right mood. Time and time again Barry demonstrates that his insight and hard work can hit on just the right tone to convey the musical heart of a movie. More than other film composers, Barry's music has a readily identifiable style. Harmonically, Barry's music is primarily straightforward major and minor, with occasional use of Chromaticism and unusual scales for effect and colour. His style is partly on the small scale with "mannerisms" that re-appear in several scores such as the repeated phrases with little or no melodic change but sometimes building to a climax with increasingly intense accompaniment, his use of brass chords or even simply the way he will quiescent on a single chord. But mostly his style comes on the large scale, with broad sweeping lyrical themes and a deftly chosen accompaniment and orchestration, pulling on a wide range of influences from Classical to Popular, Jazz and Big Band sounds. These have also combined to give Barry a worthy sideline in song-writing with several examples (and not only the Bond songs) reaching the charts.
Amongst his best scores are the expansive scores for "Born Free" and "Dances with Wolves" depicting majestic Savannahs or prairies respectively, the more claustrophobic themes for Midnight Cowboy and "The Ipcress File", the big love themes for "Out of Africa" and "Somewhere in Time", the jazz influenced "Body Heat" and of course "The Cotton Club" named after that hotbed of early Jazz development, and the historical dramas "The Lion in Winter", "Robin and Marian" and "Mary Queen of Scots". With such an illustrious career it is a little jarring to note that he also did "Howard the Duck"!
In more recent years, Barry has produced a couple of albums of his own music, "Moviola" starting with an unused theme for the film of that title, and "The Beyondness of Things". These albums might be described as soundtracks without the intrusion of film visuals. His latest such album has only recently been released under the title "Eternal Echoes". And needless to say, John Barry's position as the sound of James Bond is still recognizable despite its modernization under the helm of the current Bond tunesmith David Arnold. At the age of 71 in February 2005, Barry received the BAFTA Fellowship Award in recognition of his services to film music.
Lalo Schifrin (1932 - )
Lalo Schifrin was born as Boris Claudio Schifrin in Buenos Aires. His father, Luis Schifrin, led the second violin section of the orchestra at the Teatro Colon for three decades. Lalo Schifrin (born on June 21, 1932) is an Argentinean pianist and composer, most famous for composing the 'burning-fuse' theme tune for the ?Mission: Impossible? television series. At the age of six Schifrin began a six-year course of study on piano with Enrique Barenboim, the father of the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim. At age 16, Schifrin began studying piano with the Russian expatriate Andreas Karalis, former head of the Kiev Conservatory, and harmony with Argentinean composer Juan-Carlos Paz. During this time, Schifrin also became interested in jazz.
Although Schifrin studied sociology and law at the University of Buenos Aires, it was music that captured his attention. At age 20, he successfully applied for a scholarship to the Paris Conservatoire. While there, he attended Olivier Messiaen's classes and formally studied with Charles Koechlin, a disciple of Maurice Ravel. At night he played jazz in the
Whilst in New York in 1960, Schifrin again met Gillespie, who had by this time disbanded his big band for financial reasons. Gillespie invited Schifrin to fill the vacant piano chair in his quintet. Schifrin immediately accepted and moved to
Henry Mancini (1924 -1994)
Mancini was probably the most successful film composer of his time. Between 1958 and 1964, Mancini so dominated the television and film music scene that everything else seemed to be either an attempt to clone his sound or a reaction against it. The secret to his success was simple, though: he wrote catchy tunes. If you set aside Mancini's hit tunes like "Peter Gunn" and "Moon River," you find music that's not dramatically different from, say, Elmer Bernstein's. Nelson Riddle once quipped, though, that he'd take the royalties from one Mancini song over everything he'd ever earned on his own arrangements. Mancini was raised in the mill town of
Drafted into the Army in World War Two, Mancini was able get switched from infantry to band and worked with singer Tony Martin and others. He also made connections with Glenn Miller's Army Air Corps band, although he did not serve with them. After the war, though, he was hired as a pianist and arranger by Tex Beneke, who was leading the Miller band on behalf of Miller's widow. In 1947, Mancini married Ginny O'Connor, a singer with the Miller band, who'd previously worked with Mel Torme's vocal group, the Mellolarks, and the couple settled in
In 1952, Mancini was hired to do fill-in work for an Abbott and Costello movie, and ended up becoming a house arranger for Universal-International films. Much of the work was routine, but it proved an excellent school, as Mancini worked on over 100 films: ?I once referred to the music department at Universal as a salt mine. But it was a good salt mine, and younger composers in film today do not have access to that kind of on-the-job training. Being on staff there I was called upon to do everything. I mean, everything. Whenever they needed a piece of source music, music that comes from a source in the picture, such as a band, a jukebox, or a radio, they would call me in. I would do an arrangement on something that was in the Universal library, or I would write a new piece for a jazz band or a Latin band or whatever. I guess in every business you have to learn the routine--in film scoring, the cliches--before you can begin to find your own way.?
With his big band background, Mancini was tapped to be the lead arranger for the two best-known swing biopics, "The Glenn Miller Story" in 1954 and "The Benny Goodman Story" in 1956. The real breakthrough came, though, on Orson Welles' film noir, "Touch of Evil," in 1958. Welles wanted a gritty, realistic tone for his film and insisted on using nothing but source music for the soundtrack. Although Mancini and Welles had virtually no interaction, the job inspired Mancini, and he convinced Universal to let him bring him some ace jazz performers--Shelley Manne, Conrad Gozzo, and Jack Costanzo--to supplement the studio players. Conflicts between Welles and his producer eventually led to the film being drastically altered from the director's cut, but Mancini always said that, "'Touch of Evil' was one of the best things I did in that period of my life. It's one of the best things I've ever done." It was also his last job for Universal.
A former editor at Universal, Blake Edwards, remembered Mancini's work on this film and asked him to write music for a television series he was now directing: "Peter Gunn." Since he was working on a small budget, Edwards asked Mancini to write for a jazz ensemble of 11 players. Mancini's music--particularly the pounding, menacing theme--proved almost as popular as the series, and RCA rushed out an album featuring the title song and other pieces. Mancini credits Shorty Rogers for this opportunity, since he refused RCA, which first offered the recording job to him, and insisted they use the composer himself. Although television soundtracks had been released on albums before, Music from "Peter Gunn" was a phenomenon. It reached #1 on Billboard's chart, stayed there 10 weeks, and stayed on the list for the next two years. It was so successful, RCA put together a sequel soon after. Mancini received an Emmy nomination for the theme and won two Grammys for the album.
Edwards hired him to repeat the trick for his new series, "Mr. Lucky." Although the series failed, the album sold well, and Mancini won two more Grammys. The title trackm featuring a distinctive organ lead played by Buddy Cole became a popular instrumental. RCA gave him a contract to record under his own name, and his first release, Blues and the Beat, also won a Grammy. With these successes, Mancini was able to operate as a freelancer. Beginning a long and very productive film partnership, Edwards hired him to do the music for his 1961 film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's". He and lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote "
Mancini and Mercer repeated the feat in 1962 with the theme song to Edwards' "The Days of Wine and Roses." Both songs won Oscars. Mancini then provided two memorable instrumental singles for the films "Hatari" ("Baby Elephant Walk") and "The Pink Panther" ("The Pink Panther Theme"). By early 1964, Mancini had become the best known and most successful film composer around. Mancini's knack with songwriting often overshadowed his talents as a composer. He wrote for a wide variety of genres, from western to slapstick comedy, from sensitive dramas to musicals. He often experimented with unusual instrumentation, such as a steam-driven calliope for "Baby Elephant Walk," the cymbalum in "Experiment in Terror," sitars and fuzz guitars in "Arabesque," and aboriginal percussion in his score for the television miniseries, "The Thorn Birds." He continued to concentrate on film scoring until the early 1980s. He scored all of the Pink Panther sequels and most of Blake Edwards' other films. He also became active as a conductor, appearing with a number of symphonies and leading the Fourth of July concert on the Capitol grounds through most of the 1980s. He also recorded over 40 albums for RCA until 1978, winning a total of 20 Grammys, 7 gold records, and 4 Oscars. His cover of the "Theme from 'Romeo and Juliet'" was the #1 single of 1969 and won the Grammy for Best Song for that year.
Henry Mancini's work has inspired many of today's generation of lounge musicians. Over 20 bands collaborated on the 1996 tribute CD, Shots in the Dark, and bands such as Oranj Symphonette, Joey Altruda, and Combustible Edison have covered and paid their own tributes to Mancini's music.
Ron Goodwin (1925 -2003)
Ron Goodwin was born in Devonport,
From 1949 Ron Goodwin conducted for the Polygon company, arranging and conducting recordings of Petula Clark and Jimmy Young, including the latter?s 1951 UK no 1 hit ?Too Young?. He then began an association with George Martin of Parlophone Records, which from 1953 saw him arranging and conducting more than 300 recordings for over fifty artists, including Peter Sellers in the series of three LPs that culminated in 1960 in ?Peter and Sophia? and its hit single ?Goodness, Gracious Me!?. He simultaneously made his own series of recordings and broadcasts as Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra, and in addition began to compose scores for documentary films at Merton Park Studios. In 1958 Ron Goodwin wrote his first feature film score for Whirlpool, with screenplay by Lawrence P. Bachmann. After Bachmann became executive producer at MGM British Studios in 1959, Ron composed and conducted the music for most of its productions, as well as working for other film studios. Especially successful was his music for Murder She Said (1961) and for other films featuring Margaret Rutherford as Agatha Christie?s Miss Marple. However, he really made his name with the wider public with the film 633 Squadron, producing an ingenious main theme featuring six fast beats and three slow beats.
Music for Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) cemented Ron Goodwin?s high public profile, as did that for Battle of Britain (1969), commissioned to replace music composed by Sir William Walton that the studio deemed unsuitable. Others of over sixty feature films to use his music included The Trap (1966), which featured Oliver Reed and had a theme that became widely familiar through television coverage of the
Ron appeared as guest conductor with many symphony orchestras at home and abroad including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of
Ron was a musical perfectionist who had a fine rapport with his fellow artists. He was recognized as a kind, caring man, with a wonderful sense of humour. He was a keen worker with young people, being much involved with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, Worthing Youth Orchestra, City of Leeds College of Music and the City of Birmingham Schools? Concert Orchestra. For many years he conducted a series of light-hearted Christmas shows with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, In December 2002 he completed his 32nd consecutive year of these Christmas concerts in packed venues across the South of England. Ron died peacefully at his home at Brimpton Common,
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