Saturday, April 08, 2006


This week I listened to piano music of Copland, Creston, and Zucker with pianist Peter Vinograde. Copland works included: Passacaglia (which I am playing on my proficiency) and Piano Fantasy. Creston works included: Seven Theses, Op. 3 and Metamorphoses, Op. 84. The only Zuckerman piece was On the Edges.
I mainly listened to the two Copland pieces. Both pieces have MANY tempo changes throughout the entire piece. The Piano Fantasy seemed much more atonal than the Passacaglia. It is about a half an hour long and has very harsh, dissonant harmonies with very little melody at all. Many times through the piece the tempo is very free. All of the piece is based on the ten tone row that you hear easily at the beginning of the piece. This piece and the Passacaglia are obvoiusly very virtuostic and very difficult to play. The Piano Fantasy alike the Passacaglia is very contrasting in rhythm, dynamics and the overall mood of sections. Copland wrote The Piano Fantasy between 1955 and 1957 which was much later than the Passacaglia (1921-22).
The Passacaglia was dedicated to Mlle Boulanger during his first two years of study with her. The main theme of the Passacaglia is introduced in the beginning in the bass as expected, with no other harmonies, only played in octaves with both hands. Then the left hand plays the theme about 3 or 4 more times, but with the right hand doing other things. After that there are about three lines of simple descending arpeggios that move right back into the same theme in the left hand, but this time the right hand has two different melodies or voices going on at the same time. After this there is a great tempo change and a new melody/theme played. After this section the main theme is altered very much, but definately brought back, switching between hands. The end (or last 2 1/2 pages) is constantly building, with bigger chords and the tempo constantly increasing. In this ending section the melody is still going on but in an amazing way. For the last page and a half it goes into 3 staves, with the left hang playing both the bottom two. The main theme is still going on in the middle staff, with big chords and octaves going on in the right hand and the other part of the left hand. This is my favorite part and also the hardest part to play of the entire piece. The very end of the piece is a constant build up of octaves going all the way up the piano with an accelerando all the way to the last 3 big G# minor chords.
The Passacaglia is an amazing piano piece and is one piece that has really changed my mind about 20th century music.
I felt that Peter Vinograde did an excellent job with all of these pieces, however, I disagreed with a few things that he did in the Passacaglia (only because I have been working on this piece constantly with May Phang).

Monday, April 03, 2006

No idea if we need to do this, but daylight savings/storm messing up my computer screwed me over

So after I get back from the craziness that was tornado-city in Greencastle, my internet on my laptop no longer works. Hoorah... So I had to find a computer to do this on, even though I'm not sure if we need to do it.

Anyway, my cd for this week is Rage Against the Machine - Battle of Los Angeles.

I love Rage, it's too bad that the lead singer was an arrogant jerk and left the band to form his own (they have yet to release something either) This was their third album release and the trend that was set with the first two still follows. The lyrics are very politcally charged and are very radical towards the government. My favorite songs are Testify and Sleep Now in the Fire. There's really no differentiation in the lyrics, but the music is different. A lot of their songs tend to sound the same, but the variety of musical styles is fairly broad. Voice of the Voiceless and Born of Broken Man are two such examples. Their styles are very simple but exhibit many different qualities of alternative music. Since there were only three other posts but mine I'm going to assume we didn't have to blog, but just in case there's mine. My mind is shot... Loathing juries... I want summer to be here. Yarg....

Sunday, April 02, 2006

so I took a road trip...

...and one of the cities I hit was New York.

While in NY I got the chance to see Fidelio at the Metropolitan Opera. Now you have to understand that im not a huge opera fan, but it was awesome. I bought a $20 standing room only seat and sat in the 5th row. (in my jeans and sweatshirt) The cast was awesome, the scenery was awesome, and the pit was awesome. Everything about the show was flawless. I don't think that I have ever come out of a performance of any kind without hearing flaws or other mistakes, but the show was perfect. The soloists were never out of tune, character, or time and I was sitting on the edge of my $175 seat. The pit was the same: complete perfection. Again, coming from and instrumentalists who didn't find value/appreciation in classical music until the last year and a half, I'm amazed 1) that I went to see it to begin with, but 2) because I really, thoroughly enjoyed myself. I could sit and talk about the music and how each piece was unique, but I could go on for ever and you still wouldn't get the same understanding until you go.

with that said,

Go to the Met.

Im not really sure if we were supposed to do this this week......

But here I go....

So while I was home I went through my parents cd collection, not a whole lot worth taking there...but there were a few things. During the drive back to school I ended up listening to a John Williams cd with all his stuff from 1969-1999. I never really think much about John Williams and his compositions. After you spend your whole day getting your head stuffed full of everything from Bach to creepy Harry Partch, you really don't want to think about the music thats written for the movie you're watching.

Although we may not learn about him in 20th century lit, he really is an important composer of our time. I know people who still use the Jaws theme to help them remember a minor second. His music is great because it makes you feel something. Most of hte movies that he writes for are fantastical, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Hook,... and when you hear the music it really catches you up in the story and for the 2 hours or whatever that youre watching the movie you forget that it's not real.

I have unpacking to do. but I really think we overlook film music in general sometimes and I think John Williams is probably the best composer of film music that we have today.