• Obscure Music Monday: Bowen's Viola Sonata No. 1

    Edwin York Bowen (Feb. 22, 1884 - Nov. 23, 1961) was an English composer and conductor who played several instruments, including viola, horn, organ, and piano. He started piano lessons with his mother when he was very young, and his talent was recognized immediately. His musical education continued at the North Metropolitan College of Music, and then Blackheath Conservatoire of Music, and at 14 he attended the Royal Academy of Music, and studied composition with Frederick Corder. He went on to win several composition awards, and was later a Professor at the Royal Academy. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Bantock's Viola Sonata

    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.

    Bantock's conducting took him around the world, and he was known at times for devoting an entire concert to one composer. He was professor at the University of Birmingham (succeeding Sir Edward Elgar) from 1908 - 1934, and elected Chairman of the Corporation of Trinity College of Music in London. He was knighted in 1930. Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Fuch's Piano Trio No. 3

    Robert Fuchs (Feb. 15, 1847 - Feb. 19, 1927) was an Austrian composer and music professor who taught many famous composers.  Fuchs studied at the Vienna Conservatory, with Otto Dessof and Joseph Hellmsberger. He became Professor of Music Theory in 1875, and held it until 1912. He was highly regarded as a composer, and had a great admirer in Johannes Brahms. Fuchs did little to promote his music however; he wouldn't arrange concerts, preferring to live a quiet life. As a professor, he taught many famous composers, such as Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius, Hugo Wolf, and Alexander Zemlinksy.

    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: Dale's Phantasy

    Benjamin James Dale (July 17, 1885 - July 30, 1943)  was a British composer and academic. The youngest of seven children, Dale's parents were supportive of his interest in music; his father was an amateur musician who played organ, and wrote hymns.  Continue reading

  • Obscure Music Monday: Rohozinski's Suite Brêve

    Ladislas de Rohozinski (1886 - Sept. 4, 1938) was a French composer, music critic, and conductor born in Saint Petersburg, of Polish descent.  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: Bauer's Viola Sonata

    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: 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


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