• Obscure Music Monday: Schumann's Piano Trio

    Clara Schumann (Sept. 13, 1819 - May 20, 1896) was a German composer and pianist, born to musical parents in Leipzig. Her father was well-known throughout Leipzig, where he sold and repaired pianos, and gave piano lessons. She took lessons from him, and he also made sure she was educated in music theory, counterpoint, harmony, and composition. She had her first recital at age 10, and had a wildly successful career as a pianist from that point onward, receiving praise from audiences and critics alike. The day before she turned 21 she married composer Robert Schumann. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Zemlinsky's Clarinet Trio

    Alexander von Zemlinsky (Oct. 14, 1871 - March 15, 1942) was born in Vienna, Austria, and played the piano from a young age. Admitted to the Vienna Conservatory in 1884, and won the school's piano prize in 1890. He began writing in 1892, when he started studying theory with Robert Fuchs, and composition with Johann Nepomuk Fuchs and Anton Bruckner. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Bantock's Hamabdil

    Sir Granville Ransome Bantock (Aug. 7, 1868 - Oct. 16, 1946) was a British composer and conductor, born in London. His parents hoped he would enter the Indian Civil Service, but poor health would prevent him from that. He turned to chemical engineering, but around 20 years old, he started looking at musical manuscripts. His first teacher was at Trinity College of Music, and in 1888 he entered the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Frederick Corder. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Amalia's Divertimento

    Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Oct. 24, 1739 - April 10, 1807) was a German princess and composer. As a patron of art and literature, she transformed her court in to an influential cultural center in Germany.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Fibich's Quintet

    Zdeněk Fibich (Dec. 21, 1850 - Oct. 15, 1900) was a Czech composer and pianist. Having a Czech father and German Viennese mother, Fibich grew up bilingual. Because of his father's work (a forestry official), he spent a lot of time moving around and living on various wooded estates, and the woods would become a source of inspiration for some of his compositions.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Melartin's String Trio

    Erkki Melartin (Feb. 7, 1875 - Feb. 14, 1937) was a Finnish composer, conductor, and teacher. He studied in Helsinki fro 1893 to 1899 with Martin Wegelius, and with Robert Fuchs,in Vienna, from 1899 to 1901 Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Glière's 8 Pieces for Violin and Cello

    Reinhold Moritzevich Glière (Jan. 11, 1875 - June 23, 1956) was a Russian/Soviet composer and violinist born in Kiev, of German-Polish descent. Son of a wind instrument maker, Glière's father noticed his son's talent, and enrolled him in the Kiev School of Music, where he played violin. In 1894 he entered the Moscow Conservatory, and graduated in 1900, after composing a one act opera entitled "Earth and Heaven", and winning a compositional prize for it. Glière would later go on to teach in many conservatories, including those of Kiev and Moscow, where he had several prominent students, including Serge Prokofiev.

    Glière wrote for many genres; operas, symphonies, and various instrumental combinations for chamber music, such as his 8 Pieces for Violin and Cello. Other instruments like to borrow this work as well, as it transfers easily, and one of the most common combinations is for viola and double bass, or violin and bass. Often a double bassist will pick just four or five of the movements, and play those as a suite (the video below includes movements one, two, three, and five). The movements are labeled Prelude, Gavotte and Musette, Cradle Song, Canzonetta, Intermezzo, Impromptu, Scherzo, and Etude, and none last more than three minutes. The Prelude starts off mysteriously; the violin (or viola) part comes in on pulsating eighth notes while the cello (or double bass) plays a hauntingly melody which the violin repeats as well. The Gavotte and Musette are prim and proper sounding, as if right out of the Baroque or Classical eras. The Lullaby is tender, with the cello (double bass) part playing an ostinato of sorts while the violin (viola) plays a sweet, peaceful melody above. The Canzonetta is similar to the previous movement, and the violin (viola) part is deeply passionate, and intense. The Intermezzo is a short waltz,  followed by the Impromptu, in an intense, somber work, as if in memoriam. The Scherzo is lively and filled with syncopations which give it an interesting drive, and the final movement Etude is a wild ride. Both instruments play incredibly fast sixteenth notes throughout the piece before ending of a quiet and cheeky set of pizzicatos.

    Here is a recording of this wonderful piece for you to enjoy!

    Glière: Complete Duets with Cello


  • Obscure Music Monday: Parker's Suite for Piano Trio in A

    Horatio William Parker (Sept. 15, 1863 - December 18, 1919 )was an American composer, teacher, and organist, who came to be a part of the Second New England School, also commonly known as the Boston Six, along with Amy Beach, George Whitefield Chadwick, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, and John Knowles Paine. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Bridge's Cello Sonata

    Frank Bridge (Feb. 26, 1879 - Jan. 10, 1941) was an English composer, violist and conductor. Born in Brighton, he attended the Royal College of Music in London from 1899 to 1903, and was active as a violist in several string quartets. He also did a bit of conducting for awhile before devoting himself to composition, with one of his most famous students being Benjamin Britten. Bridge was prolific in his output, but his music is still comparatively little known, and nowhere near as programmed as you'd think. It's especially vexing as what is written about him is glowing; he's nowhere near the household name one would think he'd be. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Lacombe's Dialogue Sentimental

    Paul Lacombe (July 11, 1837 - June 4, 1927) was a French composer and pianist. He was born in to a wealthy family, and his first music lessons were with his mother, on piano. Later on his studied harmony and counterpoint with Francois Teysseyre, who graduated from the Conservatoire de Paris. Lacombe was a great admirer of George Bizet, and began a correspondence with him, asking for compositional advice, which Bizet gave, from 1866 to 1868. They would eventually become good friends, and Bizet promoted much of Lacombe's works. Lacombe music sadly never gained widespread popularity, as he was unwilling to leave his hometown of Carcassonne for Paris. Continue reading

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