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Obscure Music Mondays

  • Obscure Music Monday: Langgaard's Sphinx

    Rued Langgaard (July 28, 1893 - July 10, 1952) was a Danish composer and organist, born to musical parents. He began piano lessons at five years old, with his parents as his first teachers, and was playing Chopin Mazurkas at age seven. He started composing not long after for the piano, and began taking organ and violin lessons. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Szymanowska's Nocturne in A-flat Major for Piano 3 Hands

    Maria Szymanowska (Dec. 14, 1789 - July 25, 1831) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. Born in Warsaw, the history of her musical studies is largely unknown, but we know that she gave her first public recitals in Paris and Warsaw in 1810. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Tcherepnin's Six Quartets for Four Horns in F

    Nikolai Nikolayevich Tcherepnin was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Born to important wealthy parents, his father insisted he study law, which he did at the University of St. Petersburg, and received his degree in 1895. He composed during this time as well however, and earned a degree in composition in 1898 under Rimsky-Korsakov, and a degree in piano with K.K. Fan-Arkh. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Menter's Romance

    Sophie Menter (July 29, 1846 - Feb. 23, 1918) was a German pianist and composer, born to musical parents. At the age of fifteen she soloed with an orchestra, and her concertizing after that took her all around Germany and Switzerland. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Hannikainen's Ilta

    Toivo Ilmari Hannikainen (Oct. 19, 1892 - July 25, 1955) was a Finnish composer, born in to a musical family. His father Pekka Junani Hannikainen was a composer, as was his  brother Väinö Hannikainen; his other brother Tauno Hannikainen was a conductor. Ilmari studied music at the University of Helsinki, and went on to study in Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Paris. He taught piano at the Helsinki Conservatory, and was later a professor at the Sibelius Academy.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Bauer's Night in the Woods

    Marion Bauer (Aug. 15, 1882 - Aug. 9, 1955) was an American composer, music critic, teacher, and writer. Born in Walla Walla, Washington, she was the youngest of seven children. Her father noticed her musical inclinations and she began studying piano  with her elder sister Emilie, who was 17 years older than her.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Gade's Hamlet Overture

    Niels Wilhelm Gade (Feb. 22, 1817 - Dec. 21, 1890) born in Copenhagen, was the son of an instrument maker. Gade, a violinist, composer, and conductor, started his career with the Royal Danish Orchestra as a violinist, and was able to see compositions of his played by the orchestra. Felix Mendelssohn was an early champion of Gade's work, and they became close associates. Robert Schumann was a good friend as well, and the influence of the significant composers of the German Romantic style (Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn) can be heard in his works. Gade went on to influence other composers himself, such as Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen. Despite being considered one of the most important Danish composers, Gade's works are not programmed very often.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Farrenc's Mélodie pour le Piano

    Louise Farrenc (May 31, 1804 - Sept. 15, 1875) was a French pianist, teacher, and composer. Born in Paris, she started the piano at an early age, and later on also showed a knack for composition. At the age of fifteen, her parents let her study composition with Anton Reicha at the Paris Conservatory. Later on she embarked upon a successful concert career, started a publishing house with her husband, and eventually became a Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatory.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Bottesini's Elegy

    Giovanni Bottesini (Dec. 22, 1821 - July 7, 1889) was an Italian conductor, composer, and double bass virtuoso, born in to a musical family. He's celebrated in the world of the double bass, but sadly not as well known outside it, despite his many orchestral and operatic compositions.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Boulanger's Vieille Prière Bouddhique

    Marie-Juliette Olga "Lili" Boulanger (Aug. 21, 1893 - March 15, 1918) was a French composer, and  the younger sister of the famed composition teacher/composer Nadia Boulanger. Born in Paris, Lili Boulanger was a child prodigy; at the age of two, it was discovered that she had perfect pitch. Her parents, both musicians, encouraged her musical education, and she would accompany her sister Nadia to classes at the Paris Conservatory, studying music theory and organ. Her sister Nadia was one of her teachers, and later on studied with Paul Vidal, George Caussade, and Gabriel Faure, who was particularly impressed by her abilities. Lili would go on to win the Prix de Rome at the age of 19; she was the first woman to ever win the composition prize. Tragically, she died at the young age of 24. Continue reading

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