Johns Creek’s Angelica Hale in ‘AGT’ finals: ‘she’s almost freakishly talented’



AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Results 5” Episode 1222 — Pictured: Angelica Hale — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

This was posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Angelica Hale of Johns Creek is a pixie sweet 10-year-old girl who is super excited about her new baby sister Abigail, who is all of three weeks old.

She is also in the running this week to win $1 million on the most popular summer TV show, “America’s Got Talent” on NBC, thanks to a soaring voice that is almost unworldly coming from such a tiny package.

“She’s almost freakishly talented,” said her piano teacher Warren Woodruff of Buckhead, who describes himself as a musicologist and fantasy author. “The joy she has that you see on the television, I see it every week. It’s so real. It’s not staged.”

Angelica did not get her vocal gifts from her parents James and Eva.

“We definitely did not have to push her,” James said. “This is her passion. If she didn’t enjoy doing this, then she wouldn’t be where she is today.”

He said at age two, she became obsessed with the Lady Antebellum song “Need You Now,” though he had to modify some of the lyrics about drinking to suit her.

Two years later, she almost died. At age four, Angelica got double pneumonia and her kidneys shut down. She had to be on dialysis for 18 months before her mom was matched and donated her kidney to save her daughter.

Woodruff said that near-death experience has shaped her appreciation for life in general. “She can really teach the adult generation a thing or two,” he said. “To her, life is precious. She grasps things people take for granted. I have never met anyone like her before. She’s warm, adorable and funny as heck.”

James, her father, frequently reminds her not to let the fame and attention get to her head, that he tries to keep her grounded. “She wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth,” he said. “She’s had to earn everything she’s got today.”

Indeed, she has performed all over the country, singing the National Anthem at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, the U.S. Open before Roger Federer in New York City and the third Atlanta Braves game this year at SunTrust Park.

Woodruff said Angelica sees musical powers as transferable. “She can use the power that she knows music has to bring inspiration to other people,” he said. “She really has a mission with her music, not just something she does to show off.”

Indeed, her song pick last week to get her in the finals was indicative of that: David Guetta‘s “Without You.” (She said she listened more to the “Glee” version.)

“The song has such a great message,” Angelica said in an interview Friday from Los Angeles. “I couldn’t do this without America. It was dedicated to everyone who voted for me. It had such amazing notes. I loved it!”

Woodruff considered her last performance her best to date. “She knew how to keep the cohesiveness of the entire piece from first note to last note,” he said. “She turned it into a narrative. She doesn’t just do the big diva stuff. Every note means something to her.”



So far, Angelica has sung four times on “America’s Got Talent,” receiving raves almost across the board. During her first audition taped earlier this year, the audience immediately reacted positively with the first few notes of her heartfelt Audra Day’s “Rise Up” and before the chorus, the crowd had risen to its feet en masse.

Angelica was in tears by the end as judge Howie Mandel said, “OMG!” Fellow judge Simon Cowell said: “You’re tiny. Your voice is huge. We may be looking at a star in the future.”



During round two, her self-assured take on Alicia Keys‘ “Girl on Fire” inspired guest judge Chris Hardwick to give her the “Golden Buzzer,” guaranteeing her a spot in the live rounds.

In the quarterfinal round, she crooned Zedd’s “Clarity” with real clarity and cruised into the top 22. Now she’s in the final 10 and she said she’s ready for the spotlight on Tuesday.

“It’s amazing just to be here,” she said. “No matter what, win or lose, I’m still a winner.”

If Angelica pockets the top prize money, she plans to donate some to Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds for children’s hospitals and related medical research.  (They helped save her life six years ago.) And she’d love to see Paris.

“I want to make songs and create albums and that’d be super awesome!” she added.

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5 Cartoons That Had Some Serious Fun With Classical Music



Remember those Warner Bros. and MGM classics featuring characters like Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Tom and Jerry. And what’s the one thing that threads a lot of these toons together? The music. Specifically, music you might hear on any given evening at a major concert hall in the country.

So what’s up with the preponderance of classical music in these animated film shorts? That’s just the question Houston Public Media’s Dacia Clay and director of the National Orchestral Institute and Festival Richard Scerbo investigated in an episode of HPM’s Classical Classroom. In short, here are three factors that made these pieces ripe for these cartoons:

During the 1930s and 1940s, a lot of the practices from the days of silent film organ scoring found their way into cartoon scene.

Using this music was economical. For some studios, like Disney, these recordings were royalty free. For others, like Warner Bros., the studio actually had the artists or arrangers on the roster, so they could also profit off of the use of their recordings.

Having “serious” music in a violently silly context made the joke that much better.

Be sure to listen to the full episode. But before that, check out these examples to remind yourself how much music enhanced those cartoons.

“Music Land” (1935)

Can a cartoon be “enhanced” by music if that’s really what its all about? This Silly Symphonies short from Disney is about a young forbidden love between a violin* from the Land of Classical and a saxophone from the Isle of Jazz. Their interactions drive the two nations to war, but then they step back and chill out after they learn to respect all kinds of music. Classical pieces of note include Beethoven’s Eroica and “Flight of the Valkyries” from the second opera in Wagner's’ Der Ring des Nibelungen.



“Rabbit of Seville” (1950)

In which Bugs Bunny escapes the obsessed Elmer Fudd by escaping into a production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia at (presumably) the Hollywood Bowl. Obligatory antics ensue, and this cartoon goes all in on a creatively animated scalp massage.




Rabbit Of Seville from Wet The Face on Vimeo.


“Rhapsody In Rivets” (1941)

Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is used as the soundtrack for the construction of a skyscraper. In a display of peak romantic old-timey aesthetic, a foreman “directs” the construction workers, as the Rhapsody provides many a musical cue. As Scerbo pointed out, Rivets is a prime example of studio composers creatively rearranging these tunes to match the action on screen. This short was directed by Friz Freleng, who also used the Liszt piece in a follow-up cartoon, Rhapsody Rabbit.


Merrie Melodies - Rhapsody In Rivets by Necopodalex
 

Merrie Melodies - Rhapsody In Rivets by Necopodalex
 “A Corny Concerto” (1943)

Fantasia is “serious.” “A Corny Concerto” is not. It’s a parody of the Disney favorite, featuring music by Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 1) and Strauss (Tales from the Vienna Woods and The Blue Danube). And a few Bugs Bunny hunting escapes, too.

 



“Pink, Plunk, Plink” (1966)

This one is a bit outside of the classical-cartoon heyday, but still hits the sweet spot of finding a humor in subverting a well-known piece while poking fun at the perceived stiffness of classical politics. The work in question? Beethoven’s Fifth. The Pink Panther strolls onto the stage and, after multiple attempts, replaces the conductor to lead the ensemble in the performance of Henry Mancini’s iconic theme.





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Debussy Play Debussy: A Vintage Recording from 1913

The selection is "La soirée dans Grenade" ("Grenada in the evening"), from Debussy's 1903 trio of compositions titled Estampes, or "Prints." Debussy was inspired by the Symbolist poets and Impressionist painters who strove to go beyond the surface of a subject to evoke the feeling it gave off.


A century ago, the great French composer Claude Debussy sat down at a contraption called a Welte-Mignon reproducing piano and recorded a series of performances for posterity.  The machine was designed to encode the nuances of a pianist's playing, including pedaling and dynamics, onto piano rolls for later reproduction, like the one above.

Debussy recorded 14 pieces onto six rolls in Paris on or before November 1, 1913. According to Debussy enthusiast Steve Bryson's Web site, the composer was delighted with the reproduction quality, saying in a letter to Edwin Welte: "It is impossible to attain a greater perfection of reproduction than that of the Welte apparatus. I am happy to assure you in these lines of my astonishment and admiration of what I heard. I am, Dear Sir, Yours Faithfully, Claude Debussy."

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Rhapsody In Blue: Gershwin At His Greatest



On June 23rd, 1959, Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony took their places at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y. and made a landmark recording of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue.'

Rhapsody In Blue, the first "serious" composition by George Gershwin (1898-1937), is likely to remain his most popular work in any form, more for its prodigious melodic richness rather than for any deeper expressiveness or structural brilliance. 

 In the hands of another composer, Rhapsody In Blue could easily have turned into a disjointed exercise in symphonically dressed up jazz rhythms, melodic figures and quasi-improvisatory instrumental licks. Instead, Gershwin's uncanny sense of timing, and a gift for memorable melody unparalleled in the 20th century, turned the Rhapsody into an embodiment of the Jazz Age's upbeat lyricism and dance-driven vitality. The roaring Twenties had a soul, and this was it. 

The piece was composed in considerable haste, for a concert on February 12th, 1924, organized by jazz bandleader Paul Whiteman. It took place at New York's Aeolian Hall, billed as an "Experiment In Modern Music." The piece was scored for jazz band by Whiteman's arranger, the multitalented Ferde Grofé, and Gershwin himself played the piano solo — though at the time of the premiere he had not yet written it out. Grofé also scored the work's orchestral version.

Listen to the entire Rhaspsody in Blue

The Composer and his Muse: Franz Schubert and Therese Grob


Therese Grob was the first love of the composer Franz Schubert.




Nothing stokes the fire of adolescence and the enormous physical and psychological changes that occur during the teenage years quite like the teenage girl and/or boy next door. Franz Schubert spent his formative years in Lichtental, the ninth district in Vienna, and the girl next door was Therese Grob. She was 18 and Schubert only a year older. Her parents owned a small silk factory not far from the Schubert household, and young Franz was a frequent visitor to the house. Therese was described by one of the first Schubert biographers as “by no means a beauty, but well-built, rather plump and with a fresh, childlike round face and a lovely soprano voice.” There can be no doubt that Schubert was infatuated with Therese, and the composer’s friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner recalled a conversation in which Schubert had said, “I loved someone very dearly and she loved me too. For three years she hoped I would marry her; but I could not find a position which would have provided for us both.”

Therese  had a beautiful soprano voice. Schubert’s first complete Mass setting was composed entirely with Therese in mind, and she sang the soprano solo at the premiere of the Mass in F, D. 105 at the Lichtental parish church, while Schubert conducted the performance.





In addition, Schubert compiled 17 songs at various times during 1816, which subsequently became known as the “Therese Grob Album.” The term “album” is somewhat misleading, as the collection does not describe the chronological order of composition. Therese later told Schubert’s first biographer, that “Süsse, heilige Natur,” (An die Natur), which appears as the third song in the collection, was the first song she ever saw.





Three of the songs were expressly written for Therese, as no other manuscript copies exist. The remaining 14 are copies that Schubert made for Therese; however, he also made copies for his other friends.

Therese later suggested that she had no idea that Schubert was in love with her, and she married the master baker Johann Bergmann at the Lichtental church in 1820. Schubert also composed music for Therese’s brother Heinrich, two years his junior. Heinrich was a talented pianist and violinist, and the violin sonatas op. 137, published posthumously, were almost certainly composed for Heinrich Grob.








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Dr. Warren Woodruff & Angelica Hale featured on ATl & Co.'s Proud Parent Show!

Dr. Warren Woodruff with a performance from singing America's Got Talent sensation 9-year-old Angelica Hale on Proud Parent with Christine Pullara Newton!

Angelica sang "The Hills are Alive" from the Sound of Music to the piano accompaniment by Dr. Warren Woodruff.




Performance produced and directed by Lynn Stallings Of the Atlanta Workshop Players and Dr. Warren Woodruff, inspired by Dr. Fuddle and The Gold Baton.


Maria Callas, The Divine Voice Of Classical Music

Maria Callas: vocal chameleon, gossip-column staple and influential opera icon.
Weston/Getty Images

No opera star has shone brighter in the public consciousness of the last half-century than soprano Maria Callas. Born in New York in 1923 to a couple of struggling immigrants who had just arrived from Greece a few months before her birth, Callas — who throughout her life bore an undeniable feeling for music, a pronounced taste for luxury, and an iron will — climbed to the pinnacle of international fame.

Much of that notoriety had nothing to do with her artistic life. Her long affair with the world's then-wealthiest man, Aristotle Onassis — and his eventual marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy instead of to her — guaranteed that she was a gossip-column staple. Her epic battles with other singers and opera impresarios made for prime publicity fodder, too, and included a feud with the Metropolitan Opera's then-general manager, Rudolf Bing, that left her barred from the Met, and an episode in which she was served a lawsuit backstage in Chicago that became the catalyst for an iconic photo of a furious Callas.



But all of that was surface noise. Long after the newspaper headlines have faded away, her art remains. None of the high-society chatter, nor her high fashion sense, nor the contours of her deeply unhappy personal life, nor her mercurial personality was what made Callas La Divina, "The Divine One." Onstage, she possessed one of the greatest voices of all time. She was an indelible presence whose artistry made her the icon and envy of performers across many genres. (From its inception, "Turning the Tables" — a readdressing of the pop music canon — was not meant to include classical musicians. But such an accounting is long overdue in its own right, particularly considering the extent to which female classical artists are still so routinely denigrated, slighted, dismissed or rendered invisible.)

Vocally, Callas was a chameleon. At the beginning of her career, her richly textured voice was deemed right for weighty, dark-hued Wagner, but she could also dispatch fizzy, frilly roulades in Rossini's Barber of Seville, and take her listeners to the stratosphere in Verdi's Aida.


Although she never sang the role on stage, her recordings as the coy, sexually irrepressible lead in Bizet's Carmen set a standard — as she also did in another, far different signature role when she played the tormented high priestess and mother of two in Bellini's Norma.




Her dedication to the bel canto operas of composers like Bellini and Donizetti also paved a career path way for singers, including the likes of Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne, to excel in that formerly neglected repertoire. A nickname like "The Divine One" might imply that Callas possessed a voice that was ethereal and sweet, perhaps more like that of a choirboy than of a grown woman, and certainly a technically perfect one. That was not Callas at all. What made Maria Callas La Divina is how she fought, every step of the way.


"Mine is a big destiny," she once told an interviewer. Her divinity was like that of a classical Greek goddess: rife with insecurities, trauma, jealousy and outsized aspirations. And like the deities of myth, she didn't always win her battles. Callas' performances were a high-wire act: Either she thrilled audiences or exasperated them, with little middle ground. She was no stranger to hearing boos, or to having vegetables thrown at her. And she stood on even less sure technical terrain as her voice declined fast and early — while she was still in her forties — before her untimely death at age 53.

But the ultimate goal of Callas' performances was not obtaining plush vocal perfection or a simpering prettiness: it was glory. That singular voice was a penetrating, ferocious weapon that she wielded to extract maximum emotional truth from the roles she played, no matter what the cost. She shaped words and lines with great care, lending dramatic form and heft to even the silliest operatic frippery. She expected her audience to listen with as much intelligence and focus as she put out. Callas was a compelling, magnetic, fiery, impassioned presence — and she gave her characters immortality.

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PLAY ALONG and VOTE for Our Favorite Angelica Hale on America's Got Talent Beginning August 15th!!

The live shows are here for America’s Got Talent 2017, which means that audience and viewer participation is key in keeping your favorite acts in the competition. If you want our favorite Angelica Hale to stay on the show, then you need to vote on line!

OR...

NBC has officially launched its new AGT App, which is available via Google Play and the Apple Store. With the app, you can vote along with the show and even customize your buzzer sounds with voices from the judges. Viewers who use the app can actually see real-time results totaled from the at-home voting activity.

Season 12 premiered to the highest viewership in six years and continues to be the No. 1 show of the summer. Many of this season's acts have already surpassed 100 million views on their audition videos and the numbers continue to grow.

Our favorite, Angelica Hale, is a young singer from Atlanta. At just two years old, Hale started singing along to songs on the radio, and began taking professional vocal lessons at the age of five. When she was four years old, Hale developed a severe bacterial pneumonia that nearly took her life, causing her to go septic and have multiple organ failures, including kidney failure and permanent scarring in her right lung. She remained in kidney failure for more than a year, but in 2013 received a life-saving kidney transplant from her mother. Today Hale performs at events and fundraisers all around the country in support of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, which is the hospital that saved her life.








Possessed or Blessed

Niccolo Paganini, who is considered the greatest violin virtuoso of all time, was probably one of the most erratic figures of all time. Through his numerous performances all over Europe, he enthralled and inspired every audience, including musicians of his era.

Niccolò Paganini (1819), by Ingres


 Listen to Joshua Bell and Sharon Isbin perform Paganini's Cantabile at the White House Evening of Classical Music on 4 November 2009.


Hector Berlioz
Franz Schubert was mystified by him, Rossini was appalled by him, and Meyerbeer followed him from one concert to another not being able to get enough of his playing. Berlioz has described Paganini as "one of those artists of whom it must be said: 'They are because they are and not because others were before them'." In Paris, Liszt came under Paganini's spell and was so stimulated by his fabulous technical virtuosity, determined to accomplish similar miracles with the piano, and pushed his technique to the highest limits.

Paganini was considered a genius, a god, a devil worshiper, anything but that of reality. There was a rumor, for instance, that when Niccolo was only six, his mother made a pact with the Devil and is said to have traded his soul for a career as the greatest violinist in the world.

Paganini was a legend. In fact, he was so amazing no audience could succumb to any type of disturbance during the trance he created through his musical renditions. After borrowing a Guarnerius violin for a single concert, the lender begged him to keep it for fear of coming under Paganini's supernatural powers. He also won a Stradivarius violin in a similar manner by playing a technical piece by sight which was insisted that nobody could perform even after preparation.


 
1831 bulletin advertising a performance of Paganini
Besides his superb technical ability, his cadaverous appearance led to myths of all sorts. He was tall and thin, had a long nose, a pale and long-drawn face with hollow cheeks, thin lips that seemed to curl into a sardonic smile, and piercing eyes like flaming coals. The rumor was spread that he was the son of the Devil. It was difficult to think much otherwise as Paganini dressed in black, played weaving and flailing, with skinny fingers cavorting over the strings, and contorted shoulders giving him the appearance of a giant flapping bat. Paganini's every movement and every tone emanating from his violin seemed to support the 300-year-old myth that the violin was the "Devil's consort" and that the violinist himself was the Devil. Some people, when in his presence, would actually make the sign of the cross to rid themselves of what they believed were his evil powers. He was once forced to publish letters from his mother to prove he had human parents.

Whenever and wherever he played, he aroused tenor and awe in his audiences. There was the rumor that a satanic figure, a double of Paganini, always appeared in the audience in sombre black with the same long black locks, burning eyes, and sardonic smile. Or else the figure appeared on the stage at Paganini's side dressed in a red cloak and pantaloons, with horns, hooves, and a tail to guide Paganini's bow arm through a performance. It was believed that this figure raised a thunderstorm, during a concert and conducted lightening to the free end of the bow, and at another performance he actually took possession of Paganini's body. In spite of his appearance and the suspicions, however, he was worshiped wherever he went.

All parts of Europe were delighted with his music and women were spellbound at the sound of his hypnotic melodies. There was another rumor that he was the greatest womanizer of all time and that he killed a woman, imprisoned her soul in his violin, and used parts of her intestines as an eternal source of gut for his strings. The unearthly screams of women were sometimes heard coming from his violin as he played on stage.

Paganini was born of a poor family in 1782 at Genoa and showed a natural talent at a very early age. His father wanted his son to be a genius and did everything in his power to make that come true. He stood by him consistently when he practiced disciplining him severely with a rod that was seldom spared. His father was quite successful in his persistence for at the age of eight, he played a Pie yel Concerto in a Genoa church. He so enthralled the audience, that his playing became in great demand for local social gatherings. His teachers at that time were Giovanni Servetto and Giacomo Costa. When he turned nine, he made an official debut in a Genoa concert auditorium playing his own composition, La Carmagnole which is a theme and variations. By age thirteen, he was known throughout the town as the "wonderchild."

He continued with his studies in Leghorn with Ferdinando Paer and in Parma with Alessandro Rolla, which began his first extended concert tour. He succeeded rapidly in the cities of Lombardy playing many of his own electrifying compositions.

At the age of seventeen, he was on his own. He no longer needed financial assistance from his father and broke away assured of his talent. Freed for the first time of his father's strictness, he gave in to his two passions - women and gambling -- to which he was thenceforth to be addicted.

At the turn of the century, he disappeared from the public eye. It is generally believed that he fell in love with a Guscan noble lady and lived with her at her chateau. At this time, he abandoned the violin temporarily because of his mistress' wishes and concentrated his virtuoso and creative gifts on the guitar. He also composed several pieces and chamber works for the guitar. But, after three years, he returned to his native city to study, play, and compose at full intensity.

The most amazing stories were heard about his performances. The most famous is of the concert in Leghorn. When a string of his violin snapped in an intricate passage, the audience began expressing derision. But when Paganini continued to play the piece on three strings instead of four, the derision turned to wonder and awe. From then on Paganini would not hesitate to use this devise on purpose to further entrance his audience. Often he would use worn strings so that he could complete his performance on three or even two strings when they snapped. Later he got the idea to write entire pieces for a single string, such as the Fantasia on the G String.

By 1813, Paganini became the greatest violinist of his day and the most worshiped. He spent the next decade and a half performing numerous concerts throughout Italy. His health, however, was turning bad which limited his touring voyages to his own country. When he finally left his country to perform in other parts of Europe, the concert halls were filled immediately and crowds rushed to see for themselves the creature that was so talked about. In 1828, he was in Vienna where he hypnotized his audience. Everyone was talking about him. Snacks and billiard shots were named after him.

After Vienna, he traveled extensively throughout Germany and in 1831, he arrived in Paris, his ultimate goal. In Paris, there was a study made of him because his unusual appearance created an abnormal "presence" about him. Up until then there was no challenge as to the idea that he was possessed by the devil or was some sort of god himself. Through this study, however, it was found that his physical characteristics were linked to his mental abilities; the same qualities which characterize a genius.

In his tour to England and Scotland, Paganini made the largest sum of money that any performing artist had earned up to that time in a single trip.

He returned to Italy and purchased an estate near Parma where he made several concert appearances despite his suffering from poor health. He lost some of his fortune in a gambling house named after him, thus making him restless and weary. He started coughing and eventually lost his voice completely in 1838. He went to Nice for a rest cure - but neither rested nor was cured. He spent his last hours improvising feverishly on his violin, defying his rapidly waning strength. Finally, he died on May 27, 1840.



Paganini on his death bed

For five years the Church, disturbed as to his orthodoxy, refused his body interment in consecrated ground, and so it was laid to rest in a village graveyard on his own estate. The people in nearby towns use to say that every night they heard the sounds of a ghostly violin emanating from that coffin. The legend of Paganini's life lasted until the very end.

   
Reposted From Guitarra Magazine



The Composer and his Muse: Gabriel Faure, Emma Bardac, Adela Maddison and Marguerite Hasselmans


Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French Romantic composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune", ("Moonlight") Op. 46 No 2, a song composed in 1887 to words by Paul Verlaine. The lyric is from Verlaine's early collection Fêtes galantes (1869). It inspired not only Fauré but Claude Debussy, who set it in 1881 and wrote a well known piano piece inspired by it in 1891.



Though he lived well into the 20th century, he was born when Chopin was still alive and only eighteen years after Beethoven's death. Most of the Romantic era's composers were his contemporaries, he came to know many of them and outlived most of them.




A master of his craft and innovative in his work, his now classic Requiem was performed at the memorial service for singer Bing Crosby at New York's St. Bartholomew's Church (where the young Leopold Stokowski had been the organist). His music, now a staple of his country's literature, ultimately and perhaps even inevitably made him famous and respected by the musical world - and he was quite deaf toward the end of his life. Beethoven, whose deafness manifested itself relatively early, had lamented why he himself should be ". . . lacking in the sense in which I should be more perfect than others." It takes little effort to imagine the same thought in the mind of composer Gabriel Fauré.

In 1883 Fauré married Marie Fremiet, the daughter of a leading sculptor, Emmanuel Fremiet. The marriage was affectionate, but Marie became resentful of Fauré's frequent absences, his dislike of domestic life – "horreur du domicile" – and his love affairs, while she remained at home.

Emma Bardac
According to Grove's Dictionary of Music & Musicians, ". . . Although he always retained a great affection for his wife, her withdrawn, bitter and difficult character, coupled with Fauré's keen sensuality and desire to please, explain his infidelities." Fauré ultimately had significant liaisons with other (considerably younger) women, each of whom played an important role in his life. Among them were Winnaretta Singer (of Singer Sewing Machines), who commissioned works from him and offered practical assistance, and Emma Bardac, who inspired a song cycle.

Gabriel Fauré's liaison with Emma Bardac in Duchen's words, "began for the first time, in his late forties", he experienced a fulfilling, passionate relationship which extended over several years. His principal biographers all agree that this affair inspired burst of creativity and a new originality in his music, exemplified in the song cycle La bonne chanson. Fauré wrote the Dolly Suite for piano duet between 1894 and 1897 and dedicated it to Bardac's daughter Hélène, known as "Dolly". Some people suspected that Fauré was Dolly's father, but biographers including Nectoux and Duchen think it unlikely. Fauré's affair with Emma Bardac is thought to have begun after Dolly was born, though there is no conclusive evidence either way. Emma later divorced her husband in order to marry another composer - Claude Debussy, his second wife.





Adela Maddison in The Sketch, 1910
Adela Maddison, the beautiful brunette Irish wife of an English attorney who directed a small publishing entity, played the piano and even composed. Her relationship with Fauré initially involved the publication and promotion of Fauré's music in England, to which end she translated some of his songs into English.

From around 1894, Maddison and her husband played a major part in encouraging and facilitating Fauré's entry onto the London musical scene. She became Fauré's pupil, and he thought her a gifted composer. She composed a number of mélodies, setting the works of poets such as Sully Prudhomme, Coppée, Verlaine and Samain in 1900 Fauré told the latter that her treatment of his poem Hiver was masterly.

During 1898 – c. 1905, she lived in Paris without her husband; Fauré's biographer Robert Orledge believes there was a romantic liaison with Fauré, who dedicated his Nocturne No. 7, Op. 74, to her in 1898; this piece was expressive of his feelings towards her, according to Orledge.





Eventually she developed a passion for the admiration and advocacy of his music, and perhaps inevitably, for him as well: leaving her husband and two children in England, she moved to Paris to be near Fauré.

Gabriel Fauré and Marguerite Hasselmans
In August 1900 Fauré met the stunning Marguerite Hasselmans, 31 years his junior. He was 55, the same age as her father. She operatively became Fauré's mistress for the remaining 24 years of his life. She read Russian, conversed philosophically, was bold enough to smoke in public and wear makeup, and was a musician. Their union was a kind of second marriage: they were seldom apart. She taught piano at their Paris residence and took part in public performances of his work. Her presence at the inception of Fauré's music during this period gave her a special and perhaps even unique insight into these works and a first-hand perception of how they should be performed.

Fauré met Marguerite Long in 1903, a student pianist to whom he was introduced by her teacher. He was impressed enough with her skill and interpretation of his piano music to have her study with him. She ultimately promoted Fauré's work significantly by frequently playing it in public, but this became a mixed blessing for the composer. Marguerite Long associated herself with Fauré and his reputation with a zealous ambition that eventually irritated him and wore his patience thin. She proclaimed herself as being "the sole heiress to the Fauré tradition," which prompted him to describe her to an intimate as, "a shameless woman who uses my name to get on." It's still very much to her credit that she continued championing Fauré's music as long as she lived.

Gabriel Fauré suffered from poor health in his later years, brought on in part by heavy smoking. Despite this, he remained available to young composers, including members of Les Six, most of whom were devoted to him. Nectoux writes, "In old age he attained a kind of serenity, without losing any of his remarkable spiritual vitality, but rather removed from the sensualism and the passion of the works he wrote between 1875 and 1895."

In his last months, Gabriel Fauré struggled to complete a string quartet. Twenty years earlier he had been the dedicatee of Ravel's String Quartet. Ravel and others urged Fauré to compose one of his own. He refused for many years, on the grounds that it was too difficult. When he finally decided to write it, he did so in trepidation, telling his wife, "I've started a Quartet for strings, without piano. This is a genre which L.v. Beethoven in particular made famous, and causes all those who are not L.v. Beethoven to be terrified of it." He worked on the piece for a year, finishing it on September 11, 1924, less than two months before he died, working long hours towards the end to complete it. The quartet was premiered after his death; he declined an offer to have it performed privately for him in his last days, as his hearing had deteriorated to the point where musical sounds were horribly distorted in his ear.




Gabriel Fauré died in Paris from pneumonia on November 4, 1924 at the age of 79. He was given a state funeral at the Église de la Madeleine and is buried in the Passy Cemetery in Paris.



Sources:
bach-cantatas.com
www.mfiles.co.uk/composers
 https://en.wikipedia.org

The Story Behind Beethoven’s Rage Over A Lost Penny

Beethoven’s rage was as famous as his cantankerous household habits.

He moved dozens of times, often the result of a dispute with the landlord.

Once Beethoven cut a hole in the wall of his RENTAL apartment, because he thought there was a fine view of the Cathedral that he was missing.

His landlord was a little perturbed, having not been told of Beethoven’s whimsical alterations.

Beethoven’s reaction was to get mad at the landlord, and immediately move to another apartment, leaving the huge hole in wall.

Beethoven was also known to play the piano loudly, and many complaints were registered by neighbors about the great composer’s strange hours.

He was famous for his disputes with his housekeepers, and had trouble finding anyone who would work in a household in such constant turmoil.

There were complaints by neighbors of loud crashing noises as Beethoven threw plates and books at the maids he had hired to serve him.

Beethoven often accused the maids of stealing coins from him.

And the Maestro’s dining habits left much to be desired.

One housekeeper would bring him a tray of food only to find that it was untouched weeks later. Uneaten trays of food piled up in the corner, right next to stacks of scores of the great genius’s symphonies.

But Beethoven was more likely to eat at the neighborhood pub than his lonely apartments.

He was a fixture at the local bar and would drink red wine in his private booth.

At one point Beethoven was composing his famed RONDO CAPRICCIO, a booming and boisterous piece that exuded energy and vitality.

One night a neighbor heard a loud dispute.

Beethoven was in a rage, accusing a maid of stealing a gold penny, and he was screaming. The maid ran out, never to be heard from again.

The neighbor then heard furniture crashing, and he could only conclude that the great Maestro was tipping over furniture, madly looking for the lost gold penny.

The story spread through the neighborhood, and became part of the legend of Beethoven’s bad moods and curmudgeonly behavior.

But more remarkable is the fact that the piece Beethoven was composing at the time of this story, the RONDO CAPRICCIO, became nicknamed the RAGE OVER A LOST PENNY for its rollicking, pounding enthusiasm.


It remains one of Beethoven’s most cherished masterpieces.




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The Composer and his Muse: Igor Stravinsky and Coco Chanel

A Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor Stravinsky is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.


Stravinsky first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Serge Diaghilev and first performed in Paris by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.



Written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with choreography by Michel Fokine Firebird has historic significance not only as Stravinsky's breakthrough piece, but also as the beginning of the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky that would also produce Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, Pulcinella and others.

The alleged affair between eminent Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and fashion design-icon Coco Chanel is shrouded in mystery. The relationship is claimed to have taken place while Stravinsky was still married to his second wife Vera, and she adamantly denied the credibility of Chanel’s assertions in her biography (written by Paul Morand) that she and Stravinsky were lovers.

The two definitely met, introduced by Ballet Russes impresario Sergei Diaghilev in 1920. Indeed Chanel invited the whole Stravinsky family to stay with her in Paris for eight months, and it is also claimed that Chanel personally underwrote the 1920 Ballet Russes production of The Rite of Spring with a donation of 300,000 francs.


While the truth of their relationship remains an enigma, it is nonetheless an exciting thought that two such influential and iconic artists may have shared a secret tryst.

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Johanne Strauss The Waltz King


Johann Strauss was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as "The Waltz King", and was largely then responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century. 








Some of Johann Strauss' most famous works include "The Blue Danube", "Kaiser-Walzer" (Emperor Waltz), "Tales from the Vienna Woods", and the "Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka". Among his operettas, Die Fledermaus and Der Zigeunerbaron are the best known.




Johannes Brahms was a personal friend of Strauss; the latter dedicated his waltz "Seid umschlungen, Millionen!" ("Be Embraced, You Millions!"), Op. 443, to him.



A story is told in biographies of both men that Strauss's wife Adele approached Brahms with a customary request that he autograph her fan. It was usual for the composer to inscribe a few measures of his best-known music, and then sign his name. Brahms, however, inscribed a few measures from the "Blue Danube", and then wrote beneath it: "Unfortunately, NOT by Johannes Brahms.


Van Cliburn





Van Cliburn is one of the most celebrated pianist this country has produced. Though he will always be remembered as the winner of the first Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition and remains the only American ever to have won it.

His mother, an accomplished pianist and piano teacher, discovered him playing at age three and mimicking one of her students. She arranged for him to start taking lessons. He developed a rich, round tone and a singing voice-like phrasing, having been taught from the start to sing each piece.





Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1Played by Van Cliburn in Moscow, 1962. He was accompanied by Kirill Kondrashin.
 

Mr. Cliburn, a Texan, was a lanky 23-year-old when he clinched the gold medal in the inaugural year of the Tchaikovsky competition, and the feat, in Moscow, was viewed as an American triumph over the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war. He became a cultural celebrity of pop-star dimensions and brought overdue attention to the musical assets of his native land.

When Mr. Cliburn returned to New York, he was given a ticker-tape parade in Lower Manhattan, which offered the sight of about 100,000 people lining the streets and cheering a classical musician. In a ceremony at City Hall, Mayor Robert F. Wagner proclaimed that Mr. Cliburn’s accomplishment was “a dramatic testimonial to American culture” and that “with his two hands, Van Cliburn struck a chord which has resounded around the world, raising our prestige with artists and music lovers everywhere.”

In his 1999 memoir, “The Times of My Life,” Mr. Frankel recalled his coverage of Mr. Cliburn’s triumph in Moscow: “The Soviet public celebrated Cliburn not only for his artistry but for his nationality; affection for him was a safe expression of affection for America. My account of his rapturous reception landed on the front page of The Times two days before the pianist was crowned the contest winner because I posed the obvious question of whether the Soviet authorities would let an American beat out the finest Russian contestants. We now know that Khrushchev” — Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet premier — “personally approved Cliburn’s victory, making Van a hero at home and a symbol of a new maturity in relations between the two societies.”

Mr. Cliburn was a naturally gifted pianist whose enormous hands spanned 12 notes each. He developed a commanding technique, cultivated an exceptionally warm tone and manifested solid musical instincts. At its best, his playing had a surging Romantic fervor, but leavened by an unsentimental restraint that seemed peculiarly American. The towering Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, a juror for the competition, described Mr. Cliburn as a genius — a word, he added, “I do not use lightly about performers.”

But if the Tchaikovsky competition represented Mr. Cliburn’s breakthrough, it also turned out to be his undoing. Relying inordinately on his keen musical instincts, he was not an especially probing artist, and his growth was stalled by his early success. Audiences everywhere wanted to hear him in his prizewinning pieces, the Tchaikovsky First Concerto and the Rachmaninoff Third. Every American town with a community concert series wanted him to come play a recital.

“When I won the Tchaikovsky I was only 23, and everyone talked about that,” Mr. Cliburn said in 2008. “But I felt like I had been at this thing for 20 years already. It was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure, too.”

His subsequent explorations of wider repertory grew increasingly insecure. During the 1960s he played less and less. By 1978 he had retired from the concert stage; he returned in 1989, but performed rarely. Ultimately, his promise and potential were never fulfilled. But the extent of his talent was apparent early on.

The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition takes place every four years and holds the most extensive audition screening tour by judges of any international contest. The winner of the Cliburn gets three years of professional management, international bookings and publicity. This year's winner is Yekwon Sunwoo of South Korea. Sunwoo, trained at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School.




To promote music-making as a part of everyday life, the Cliburn established the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in 1999. Now a quadrennial forum for non-professional musicians, the competition is open to pianists age 35 and older who do not derive their principal source of income through piano performance or instruction.




Beethoven's touching response to a young fan



In the summer of 1812, a young aspiring pianist named Emilie sent her hero a beautiful hand-embroidered pocketbook to express her admiration for his artistic genius. Touched by the gesture, 41-year-old Beethoven wrote back, offering some simple yet profound words of encouragement and advice on the creative life — an exquisite micro-manifesto for what it means to be an artist and what art demands of those who make it.


This was Beethoven’s response which was included in the Michael Hamburger's documentary book Beethoven: Letters, Journals and Conversations.

    My dear good Emilie, my dear Friend!

    Do not only practice art, but get at the very heart of it; this it deserves, for only art and science raise men to the God-head. If, my dear Emilie, you at any time wish to know something, write without hesitation to me. The true artist is not proud, he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal; and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.

    I would, perhaps, rather come to you and your people, than to many rich folk who display inward poverty. If one day I should come to [your town], I will come to you, to your house; I know no other excellencies in man than those which causes him to rank among better men; where I find this, there is my home.

    If you wish, dear Emilie, to write to me, only address straight here where I shall be still for the next four weeks, or to Vienna; it is all one. Look upon me as your friend, and as the friend of your family.


Beethoven Suffered from Lead Poisoning


New tests confirm that Ludwig van Beethoven suffered from lead poisoning. The legendary composer, who experienced decades of illness that left him in misery for most of his life, died in 1827.

Researchers aren't sure why his lead levels were so high, but they have some ideas. "There are many possibilities," says Bill Walsh, who headed a team that studied Beethoven's hair samples and fragments from his skull at the Department of Energy laboratory in Argonne, Ill.

The composer was a wine lover, and wine at the time was known to contain high lead levels. He also drank out of a goblet made partially of lead and stayed at a spa where he drank mineral water, Walsh says. But Walsh says Beethoven may not have been exposed to higher-than-normal lead levels. The composer may have been hyper-sensitive to lead and his body may not have been able to eliminate it, Walsh says. Walsh says researchers are convinced the hair and bone samples they tested are Beethoven's because they came from two different sources and were matched by DNA tests.

Beethoven's Ear Horns


Beethoven's Last Days

Beethoven wrote a series of quartets, known as the "Late Quartets," the last quartets amidst failing health. In April 1825 he was bedridden, and remained ill for about a month. The illness—or more precisely, his recovery from it—is remembered for having given rise to the deeply felt slow movement of the Fifteenth Quartet, which Beethoven called "Holy song of thanks ('Heiliger Dankgesang') to the divinity, from one made well." He went on to complete the quartets now numbered Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Sixteenth. The last work completed by Beethoven was the substitute final movement of the Thirteenth Quartet.

Of the late quartets, Beethoven's favorite was the Fourteenth Quartet, op. 131 in C♯ minor, which he rated as his most perfect single work. The last musical wish of Schubert was to hear the Op. 131 quartet, which he did on 14 November 1828, five days before his death.



Beethoven was bedridden for most of his remaining months, and many friends came to visit. He died on 26 March 1827 at the age of 56 during a thunderstorm. His friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was present at the time, said that there was a peal of thunder at the moment of death.

The following art works and objects describe Beethoven's final days and the accounts of eye witnesses, including the young man who clipped Beethoven's  lock of hair, Ferdinand Hiller.

Beethoven on his deathbed

Beethoven on his deathbed (Beethoven auf dem Sterbelager)

Reproduction of an engraving by J. Adé, based on a drawing by Wilhelm von Lindenschmit (date unknown)


This original drawing was probably by Lindenschmit the Younger (1829-1895), whose father was also a well-known historical painter. His paintings on musical subjects include Hall of Fame of German Music (1740-1867) [Ruhmeshalle der deutschen Musik (1740-1867)], which depicted the most famous German musicians surrounding a platform on which sat Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, among others. In Beethoven On His Deathbed, the man holding Beethoven's hand appears to be J.N. Hummel, but the young man in the back of the room is likely meant to be Gerhard von Breuning, the son of Beethoven's childhood friend Stephan.


Hummel portrait

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)

Hummel was one of the greatest composers and fortepianists of his time, both friend and rival of Beethoven. A child prodigy, he studied with Mozart and like Beethoven learned composition from Albrechtsberger, Salieri, and Haydn.

In 1804 he left Vienna to serve as Kapellmeister of Prince Esterhazy's court orchestra, but returned in 1811 to focus on composition and performance in Vienna's theaters.

In 1813 he married the singer Elisabeth Röckel (1793-1883), who Beethoven knew and was very fond of. Elisabeth was the sister of Josef August Röckel, the tenor who sang the role of Florestan in the 1806 revival of Beethoven's opera Fidelio. Hummel's relationship with Beethoven was occasionally strained; Beethoven was said to have taken offense to Hummel's criticism of his Mass in C. However, the friendship persevered, and in 1814 Beethoven enlisted Hummel as the percussionist for a performance of hisWellington's Victory, with this delightful letter:

"Most charming Hummel! Please conduct this time too the drum-rolls and cannonades with your excellent Kapellmeister's and Master of the Ordnance's baton-Please do so. If you would like me to cannonade you sometime, I am at your service, both body and soul. Your friend, Beethoven."

Hummel left Vienna in 1816, and became court conductor in Weimar two years later. His sense of loss at Beethoven's death was strongly felt. When hearing of Beethoven's grave illness, he and his wife rushed to Vienna from Weimar with Ferdinand Hiller in tow to pay their last respects. They kept some mementos of that final meeting, including the last quill Beethoven used and a lock of his hair (now in the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn). Hummel served as a pallbearer at the funeral and he performed at the memorial concert, improvising themes from Beethoven's works on the fortepiano.

Photo of Ferdinand Hiller

Ferdinand Hiller from ca. 1855


Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885) was a German conductor, composer, teacher and a close friend of Felix Mendelssohn. At the age of thirteen he began musical studies with J.N. Hummel in Weimar, and in 1827 he traveled with Hummel to Vienna to visit Beethoven on his deathbed.

An excerpt from his reminiscences of this visit follows:

"On March 13th, Hummel took me to see Beethoven for the second time. We found that his condition had deteriorated considerably. He lay in his bed, seemed to be suffering great pain and at times uttered a deep groan; nevertheless, he spoke freely and vigorously. He seemed to be deeply concerned with his failure to enter the married state. Already during our first visit he joked about this with Hummel, whose wife he had known as a young and beautiful girl. This time he said to him, smiling: 'You are a lucky fellow: you have a wife, she looks after you, she is in love with you-- but I'm a poor bachelor!' -- and he sighed deeply. Also, he begged Hummel to bring his wife, who had been unwilling to face in his present state a man whom she had known at the height of his powers ..."

"When we stood beside his bed once more on the 20th, it was certainly clear from his remarks how greatly this attention had pleased him; but he was extremely weak and spoke only softly, in clipped sentences. 'I rather think I shall soon be setting out on the upward journey,' he whispered after our greeting. Similar exclamations occurred frequently; but, in between, he spoke of his plans and hopes, neither of which, unfortunately, were to be realized. Speaking of the noble conduct of the Philharmonic Society and praising the English, he said that it was his intention to leave for England as soon as his condition had improved. 'I wish to compose a grand overture and a grand symphony for them.' And then, too, he wished to visit Frau Hummel (who had come with her husband) and go to Heaven knows how many different places. It did not occur to us to write down anything for him. His eyes, which during our last visit had still been quite lively, were now drooping and only with difficulty could he sit up from time to time. We could no longer deceive ourselves: the worst was to be feared."



Ferdinand Hiller was not the only visitor who wanted a lock of hair as a remembrance of the composer. Beethoven's young friend Gerhard von Breuning reported that

"On March 29 I went with my father to Beethoven's dwelling and wanted to cut off a lock of his hair. Father had not allowed me to do this before the lying-in-state ended, in order not to spoil his appearance; but now we found that strangers [sic] had already cut off all his hair." (Memories of Beethoven, ed. Maynard Solomon, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992).



Reproduction of Beethoven's death mask

Death mask by Joseph Danhauser (1827)

Reproduction in plaster
The painter Joseph Danhauser (1805-1845) made a plaster mask of Beethoven's face shortly after Beethoven's death.

Danhauser's brother Carl recorded the story:

"On March 26 [1827] early in the morning while we were still asleep, Ranftl knocked on our door and brought in the news that Beethoven had died in the night."

"Since we had a plaster in our firm, my brother Joseph, who in the course of his studies of heads had been prompted to try that sort of work, immediately struck on the idea of taking a death mask of the departed great man. We dressed quickly, had the horses harnessed and since the stucco worker Hofmann had arrived in the meanwhile, we took him along with us in the carriage."

"It was still early in the morning as we arrived at the dead man's house, and we could find no one who could tell us anything. Finally, a woman let us go upstairs, and as we arrived at the landing we found an open entrance hall; the door leading to the next room was ajar, so we lifted the latch and went in. A bed stood against the main wall of this room, and in this bed lay Beethoven's body."

"Since during the dead man's illness his beard had grown very thick, we sent the plasterer to fetch a barber, who shaved him clean. The barber's apprentice said that he could never use the razor again after he had shaved a dead man with it. I bought it from him."

"In the meanwhile we had cut off two locks from the temple where it grew thickly, as a memento of the celebrated head, and then we went to work. My brother, who knew less about this kind of work than the plasterer, was glad to have him help, and so we soon obtained a good cast which we brought home with great care; for my brother, a painter, had conceived the idea of trying his hand at modeling and at producing a bust of Beethoven. He went right away to work and actually succeeded in making a bust of the master ..." [From H.C. Robbins Landon, Beethoven: a documentary study]

The earliest known extant cast of the death mask was given by Danhauser to Franz Liszt in 1840 and is now in Vienna at the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien. Another cast is at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.

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How Classical Music Advanced the Civil Rights Movement

Remembering Marian Anderson's landmark Met performance, 60 years later


Marian Anderson Acting On Stage
Marian Anderson acting on stage during the Metropolitan Opera production of Un Ballo in Maschera, New York City, January 8, 1955. Afro Newspaper—Gado/Getty Images

Anderson, fittingly, had a habit of rhetorically erasing her own significance by referring to herself as “one” — and she didn’t behave like the typical prima donna in her debut at the Met:
“I’m not quite sure it’s happening,” Contralto Anderson told friends and reporters [after the performance]. Apologizing for her jitters, she added: “A serious person, when beginning anything, is usually a little overanxious.” … As for the possibility of other roles at the Met, she said in her modest, impersonal way: “One is so involved in this one, no other has been thought about.”
Meanwhile, out in the packed house, it was the crowd that lifted the singer to hero status: “There were eight curtain calls. ‘Anderson! Anderson!’ chanted the standees,” TIME reported, “and men and women in the audience wept.”


Reposted from Time.com