Beethoven Suffered from Lead Poisoning

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.

The blue rise at the center of the chart shows high levels in Beethoven's bones; the red lines show much lower levels in a bone from a control subject, who lived in the same historical period.

Argonne National Laboratory

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Around 1801, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He suffered a severe form of tinnitus, a "roar" in his ears that made it hard for him to appreciate music and he would avoid conversation. Over time, his hearing loss became acute: there is a well-attested story that, at the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned round to see the tumultuous applause of the audience, hearing nothing. In 1802, he became depressed, and considered committing suicide. He left Vienna for a time for small Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, where he wrote the "Heiligenstadt Testament", in which he resolved to continue living through his
 art.  



As Beethoven's hearing loss worsened, he tried to improve his situation with these "hearing trumpets."  They did not work for him.

Beethoven's Ear Horns

As a result of Beethoven's hearing loss, a unique historical record has been preserved: he kept conversation books discussing music and other issues, and giving an insight into his thought. Even today, the conversation books form the basis for investigation into how he felt his music should be performed, and his relationship to art - which he took very seriously.


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The Man Who Wrote Mozart's words: Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte


Lorenzo Da Ponte Engraving by Michele Pekenino
Lorenzo Da Ponte, was a Venetian priest and poet. Da Ponte wrote the words for 28 operas by 11 composers, including three of Mozart's greatest and most beloved operas — Don Giovanni, and The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte.

At certain creative junctures, even the greatest of artistic minds depend on empathetic collaborators to unlock their true potential.

Mozart, of course, composed numerous operas – a total of 22 musical dramas, to be precise – but more than 225 years after his death, it remains the realm of scholarly critical debate why he enjoyed such a prodigious, prolific run alongside Da Ponte. It cannot be a coincidence – lightning, as they, say, does not strike twice, let alone thrice.

Historically, listeners have tended to overlook Da Ponte’s contributions, characterising the Venetian wordsmith as smartly workmanlike, rather than inspired – the true genius, of course, was Mozart, his librettist a historical footnote.

Yet it remains amusing to remember that, when the pair first met in 1783, it was Mozart who was starstruck by his illustrious elder. Some seven years the composer’s senior, Da Ponte was at that time already shining among Vienna’s brightest lights. As the official poet to the Habsburg’s court theatre, he was ironically best known for composing librettos for Antonio Salieri.

Mindful of Salieri’s success, and eager to establish himself further in the same city, Mozart surmised that the key to fame was penning an Italian “opera buffa” in the same light-hearted, comic mould.

"The best thing is when a good composer, who understands the stage enough to make sound suggestions, meets an able poet, that true phoenix,” Mozart wrote around this time.

He rightly supposed Da Ponte to be his “true phoenix”, yet the librettist repeatedly rejected the advances of the impoverished composer, overworked as he was writing for better-known names. Eventually, Mozart landed on a project he would not resist. A recent audience favourite had been Paisiello’s The Barber of Seville – more famously adapted by Rossini, three decades later, based on the French play of the same name by Pierre Beaumarchais.

Despite the fact the source material was banned, Mozart convinced Da Ponte to write a libretto based on its sequel, The Marriage of Figaro. After the latter succeeded in convincing his employer, Emperor Joseph II, that the play’s “subversive” content had been cut, the pair had themselves a modest hit.

Continuing the plot from Paisiello’s work, the opera told the farcical story of how the lowly barber Figaro eventually succeeds in marrying his beloved Susanna, despite the efforts of their lewd employer Count Almaviva.

Figaro was not quite the Viennese blockbuster Mozart was hankering after, running for only nine nights in total, but it did make history in its own way. Following the opera’s May 1786 premiere, conducted at the Burgtheater by Mozart himself, the stars returned to the stage for five encores, repeating favourite musical moments from the score – leading the impatient Joseph II to issue an official decree ordering that in future no vocal piece should be performed twice at the historic hall on a single evening.


However, Figaro did prove a smash in Prague, then the second city of the Habsburg Empire, early the next year, and Mozart was promptly commissioned to write another opera. This time it was Da Ponte who had the pertinent suggestion of revisiting the centuries-old tale of Don Juan.

The dramatic potential offered by this legendary libertine was to prove an intoxicating inspiration to Mozart, with the monumental Don Giovanni artistically eclipsing even its two chronological neighbours. Blurring the conventional boundaries between comedy and drama, there was a maturity and intensity to the score, and a metaphysical gravity to the theme, which paved the way for the romantic movement to come. The conflict between masked Juan’s roguish vice and Donna Anna’s earthly righteousness, between sensualist pleasure and religious invocation, willingly subverted Mozart’s perceived role as a mere entertainer.

Following its Prague premiere in October 1787, Don Giovanni was to have a rippling effect beyond the world of music – it is said Goethe began work on his masterpiece Faust after sitting down to the opera, while philosopher Kierkegaard was lyrically moved.

“The usefulness of Don Giovanni is that it puts a stake through the heart of the chocolate-box Mozart, the car-radio Mozart, the Mozart-makes-you-smarter Mozart,” once wrote the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. “If the opera were played in bus stations or dentists’ waiting rooms, it would spread fear. It would probably cause perversion in infants.”


The pair’s final collaboration Così Fan Tutte, another opera buffa which premiered 43 months after The Marriage of Figaro. Translated directly as 'Women are Like That', Mozart reluctantly wrote the lead role of Fiordiligi for Da Ponte’s mistress Adriana Ferrarese del Bene.



Recent research has undermined the well-worn legend that Joseph II commissioned the work. Instead, newer research supports the ironic notion that Mozart took on the project after Salieri felt unable to score a libretto – a harbinger of the further changes in favour to come.

In either case, Così Fan Tutte marks something of anomaly in Da Ponte’s oeuvre, as one of the only two original librettos from a catalogue of more than 50 which were otherwise based on existing material.

It was to prove not just his final work with Mozart, but his last contribution to the city which made his celebrity. Shortly after its premiere, at Vienna’s Burgtheater in January 1790, Joseph II passed away and, haunted by malicious rumours, Da Ponte was exiled by the succeeding monarch, Leopold II. He fled to London, where he was persecuted by debt and arrest, and later New York, where he worked variously as a grocer, a milliner, bookseller and an Italian teacher. Mozart, meanwhile, went on to write just three more operas before his death less than two years later.














The Composer and His Muse: Salieri, Mozart and Nancy Storace


Did Salieri plot Mozart's demise to the point of actually poisoning him? Or is it just as fanciful as all those serpents and magic bells in the younger composer's opera The Magic Flute?

Antonio Salieri was a hugely influential composer of opera and a much in-demand teacher who taught Schubert, Beethoven and Liszt. The chances are, however, that you've only ever heard of Salieri because he happened to be the arch-rival of the irrepressible Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Or was he?

The rise of the poisoning tale

Mozart's rivalry with Salieri could have originated with an incident in 1781, when Mozart applied to be the music teacher of Princess Elisabeth of Württemberg, and Salieri was selected instead because of his reputation as a singing teacher. In the following year Mozart once again failed to be selected as the Princess' piano teacher.

In addition, when Lorenzo Da Ponte was in Prague preparing the production of Mozart's setting of his Don Giovanni, the poet was ordered back to Vienna for a royal wedding for which Salieri's Axur, re d'Ormus would be performed. Obviously, Mozart was not pleased by this.

Within six years of Salieri's death, the Russian writer Pushkin wrote a play, Mozart and Salieri , which portrayed the danger of envy. In 1898, Rimsky-Korsakov turned Pushkin's play into an opera. In both, it's suggested that Salieri's jealousy of Mozart led him to poison the younger composer.

However, even with Mozart and Salieri's rivalry for certain jobs, there is very little evidence that the relationship between the two composers was at all acrimonious beyond this, especially after 1785 or so, when Mozart had become established in Vienna. Rather, they appeared to usually see each other as friends and colleagues, and supported each other's work. In several of Mozart’s letters, there is evidence that the Italians (supposedly lead by Salieri) in Emperor Joseph’s court did get in the way of several attempts to advance Mozart's career, and some of these are portrayed in the film Amadeus. There is, however, no clear proof that Salieri hated Mozart or plotted against him or planned his death, although those ideas made for a much more exciting story.

Where the film rings true is in its portrayal of Mozart's uncanny improvisational ability, his computer memory and instant recall, his effortless skill at composition - "without setting down his billiard cue" - his talent for languages and his genius for musical and verbal mimicry. That the divine Mozart could also curse like a sailor, improvise obscene verses and even talk backwards was also true  though its doubtful Salieri and his faction would have been as offended by Mozart's language as he is in the film. The late 18th century was not noted for its delicacy of language. However - all quibbles aside - this moving and hugely entertaining film is still an excellent introduction to Mozart, his music and his world.


Lost cantata by Mozart and Salieri found in Prague



A long-lost composition co-written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri was rediscovered in the Czech National Museum in Prague. German musicologist and composer Timo Jouko Herrmann found the piece while doing research on Antonio Salieri in the collection of the Czech Museum of Music. It’s a libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, a Venetian priest and poet who wrote the librettos for three of Mozarts most beloved operas — Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte — and published by printer to the Imperial court in Vienna Joseph von Kurzböck. Very unusually for a libretto, this one includes the sheet music in a simple piano arrangement. Mozart and Salieri’s names do not appear anywhere in the pamphlet, only their initials in the musical notation identifying which measures were written by which composer. There is also a third composer credited, one Cornetti, who is unknown under that name.

The piece is entitled Per la Ricuperata Salute di Ofelia (“For the recovered health of Ophelia”) and was written in 1785. The Ophelia in question was Nancy Storace, an English coloratura soprano who was friends with and muse to both Mozart and Salieri.


Nancy was a musical prodigy from a very young age. She gave her first public performance when she was eight years old and debuted at London’s Haymarket Theatre the next year. Her older brother Stephen was also a child prodigy, taught by his father to play violin so expertly that by the age of 10 he was performing the most complex, difficult pieces of the time.

Nancy traveled to Venice to take voice lessons from composer Antonio Sacchini and began getting professional gigs, rapidly rising from minor parts to leads and becoming something of a sensation. While still a teenager in 1782 she performed the role of Dorina in the Milan premiere of Giuseppe Sarti’s opera Fra I Due Litiganti Il Terzo Gode, a part that Sarti wrote specifically for her, to great acclaim.

When in 1783 Austrian Emperor Joseph II decided to put together a company dedicated to performances of Italian opera buffa (comic opera), he snapped up the 18-year-old Nancy Storace for his prima donna.

The opera that Nancy premiered was Antonio Salieri's La scuola de gelosi (The School of Jealousy), in which she took the role of the Countess Bandiera.  The plot of the opera involves love intrigues, attempted seductions and provocations to jealousy between members of the three different social strata: the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie and the working class, which was typical for plots in the early to late 1780s.


Mozart had first seen Nancy when she made her Viennese debut in Salieri’s La Scuola De’ Gelosi. He immediately fell in love with her as an artist and, it was rumored, their relationship actually went much deeper. Certainly Nancy and Stephen became part of Mozart’s circle and were often at his house, while he frequently had dinner with them and their mother.


The role of Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro was written for and first performed by her. it is possible that her lively acting style was the inspiration for the central character of Susanna.


When she was about to leave Vienna, Storace performed in a farewell concert on 23 February 1787. For this occasion Mozart wrote the concert recitative and aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te?

The rediscovery of Per la Ricuperata Salute di Ofelia underscores that Mozart and Salieri were on good terms in 1785, even though a few years earlier Mozart had written in letters to his father of his frustration with the Italian cabal at the Viennese court. He thought Salieri, Da Ponte and other Italians who had the ear of the Emperor were blocking his ascent, but by 1785 Mozart was well-established and was working closely with said Italians. Salieri would go out of his way to express approval of Mozart’s work, even directing performances of several of his compositions.

Vasiliy Shkafer as Mozart and Fyodor Shalyapin as Salieri
(Russian Private Opera, 1898)

Nonetheless, decades after Mozart’s premature death rumors were rife that Salieri had poisoned his rival. The rumor was immortalized in art when, six years after Salieri’s 1825 death, revered Russian poet Alexander Pushkin wrote a verse drama Mozart and Salieri that posited Salieri as the bitterly jealous poisoner of the greater man. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov set the play to music in the opera Mozart and Salieri, and playwright Peter Shaffer based his 1979 play Amadeus on Pushkin’s drama. That in turn was adapted for film in the Oscar-winning movie of the same name directed by Miloš Forman. So now when people think of Mozart and Salieri they think of a rivalry unto the death, when in fact the two men were on quite good terms.

And now, possibly for the first time and certainly for the first time in centuries, here is Per la Ricuperata Salute di Ofelia by Wolfgang Mozart and Antonio Salieri, played on the harpsichord by Lukas Vendl.






Sources:  http://www.classicfm.com/composers/mozart/guides/did-salieri-murder-mozart-mythbuster/#yi3zSJWK2xaMF3wI.99http://www.classicfm.com/composers/mozart/guides/mozart-love/#dS2kjorX0xDfOkRh.97
http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/40680 https://reelrundown.com/movies/Historical-Inaccuracies-in-Amadeus

Music Education: More Than Just Music!



Whether your child is the next Beyonce or more likely to sing her solos in the shower, she is bound to benefit from some form of music education. Research shows that learning the do-re-mis can help children excel in ways beyond the basic ABCs.

More Than Just Music


Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Language Development


“When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. “Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” she says. But Luehrisen adds that those inborn capacities need to be “reinforced, practiced, celebrated,” which can be done at home or in a more formal music education setting.

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

This relationship between music and language development is also socially advantageous to young children. “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”

Increased IQ


A study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. Schellenberg provided nine months of piano and voice lessons to a dozen six-year-olds, drama lessons (to see if exposure to arts in general versus just music had an effect) to a second group of six-year-olds, and no lessons to a third group. The children’s IQs were tested before entering the first grade, then again before entering the second grade.

Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. The drama group didn’t have the same increase in IQ, but did experience increased social behavior benefits not seen in the music-only group.

The Brain Works Harder

 
Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a nonmusician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

In fact, a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. The students in the study who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, and brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain associated with those abilities, according to the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research.

Spatial-Temporal Skills


Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem.

“We have some pretty good data that music instruction does reliably improve spatial-temporal skills in children over time,” explains Pruett, who helped found the Performing Arts Medicine Association. These skills come into play in solving multistep problems one would encounter in architecture, engineering, math, art, gaming, and especially working with computers.

Improved Test Scores


A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.

Aside from test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. Luehrisen explains this psychological phenomenon in two sentences: “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high-quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to go up and do better.”

And it doesn’t end there: along with better performance results on concentration-based tasks, music training can help with basic memory recall. “Formal training in music is also associated with other cognitive strengths such as verbal recall proficiency,” Pruett says. “People who have had formal musical training tend to be pretty good at remembering verbal information stored in memory.”

Being Musical


Music can improve your child’ abilities in learning and other nonmusic tasks, but it’s important to understand that music does not make one smarter. As Pruett explains, the many intrinsic benefits to music education include being disciplined, learning a skill, being part of the music world, managing performance, being part of something you can be proud of, and even struggling with a less than perfect teacher.

“It’s important not to oversell how smart music can make you,” Pruett says. “Music makes your kid interesting and happy, and smart will come later. It enriches his or her appetite for things that bring you pleasure and for the friends you meet.”
While parents may hope that enrolling their child in a music program will make her a better student, the primary reasons to provide your child with a musical education should be to help them become more musical, to appreciate all aspects of music, and to respect the process of learning an instrument or learning to sing, which is valuable on its own merit.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”
 


Laura Lewis Brown caught the writing bug as soon as she could hold a pen. For several years, she wrote a national online column on relationships, and she now teaches writing as an adjunct professor. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and three young children, who give her a lot of material for her blog, EarlyMorningMom.com.

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The Composer and his Muse: Richard Wagner

Born on May 22, 1813. German composer, theater director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, "music dramas"). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works.

Until his final years, Wagner's life was characterized by political exile, turbulent love affairs, poverty and repeated flight from his creditors. His controversial writings on music, drama and politics have attracted extensive comment since the late 20th century, especially where they express antisemitic sentiments. The effect of his ideas can be traced in many of the arts throughout the 20th century; his influence spread beyond composition into conducting, philosophy, literature, the visual arts and theater.

Wagner began composing the music for Das Rheingold between November 1853 and September 1854, following it immediately with Die Walküre (written between June 1854 and March 1856). He began work on the third Ring opera, which he now called simply Siegfried, probably in September 1856, but by June 1857 he had completed only the first two acts. He decided to put the work aside to concentrate on a new idea: Tristan und Isolde, based on the Arthurian love story Tristan and Iseult.

One source of inspiration for Tristan und Isolde was the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, notably his The World as Will and Representation, to which Wagner had been introduced in 1854 by his poet friend Georg Herwegh. Wagner later called this the most important event of his life.


A second source of inspiration was Wagner's infatuation with the poet-writer Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of the silk merchant Otto Wesendonck. Wagner met the Wesendoncks, who were both great admirers of his music, in Zürich in 1852. From May 1853 onwards Wesendonck made several loans to Wagner to finance his household expenses in Zürich, and in 1857 placed a cottage on his estate at Wagner's disposal,which became known as the Asyl ("asylum" or "place of rest"). During this period, Wagner's growing passion for his patron's wife inspired him to put aside work on the Ring cycle (which was not resumed for the next twelve years) and begin work on Tristan. While planning the opera, Wagner composed the Wesendonck Lieder, five songs for voice and piano, setting poems by Mathilde. Two of these settings are explicitly subtitled by Wagner as "studies for Tristan und Isolde".


Amongst the conducting engagements that Wagner undertook for revenue during this period, he gave several concerts in 1855 with the London Philharmonic Society, including one before Queen Victoria. The Queen enjoyed his Tannhäuser overture and spoke with Wagner after the concert, writing of him in her diary that he was "short, very quiet, wears spectacles & has a very finely-developed forehead, a hooked nose & projecting chin."

Wagner's uneasy affair with Mathilde collapsed in 1858, when his wife Minna intercepted a letter to Mathilde from him. After the resulting confrontation with Minna, Wagner left Zürich alone, bound for Venice, where he rented an apartment in the Palazzo Giustinian, while Minna returned to Germany. Wagner's attitude to Minna had changed; the editor of his correspondence with her, John Burk, has said that she was to him "an invalid, to be treated with kindness and consideration, but, except at a distance,  a menace to his peace of mind." Wagner continued his correspondence with Mathilde and his friendship with her husband Otto, who maintained his financial support of the composer. In an 1859 letter to Mathilde, Wagner wrote, half-satirically, of Tristan: "Child! This Tristan is turning into something terrible. This final act!!!—I fear the opera will be banned ... only mediocre performances can save me! Perfectly good ones will be bound to drive people mad."


After grave difficulties in rehearsal, Tristan und Isolde premiered at the National Theatre Munich on 10 June 1865, the first Wagner opera premiere in almost 15 years. (The premiere had been scheduled for 15 May, but was delayed by bailiffs acting for Wagner's creditors, and also because the Isolde, Malvina Schnorr von Carolsfeld, was hoarse and needed time to recover.) The conductor of this premiere was Hans von Bülow, whose wife, Cosima, had given birth in April that year to a daughter, named Isolde, a child not of Bülow but of Wagner.

Cosima was 24 years younger than Wagner and was herself illegitimate, the daughter of the Countess Marie d'Agoult, who had left her husband for Franz Liszt. Liszt initially disapproved of his daughter's involvement with Wagner, though nevertheless the two men were friends. The indiscreet affair scandalised Munich, and Wagner also fell into disfavour with many leading members of the court and was finally forced to leave Munich.

Minna had died of a heart attack on 25 January 1866 in Dresden. Wagner did not attend the funeral. Following Minna's death Cosima wrote to Hans von Bülow on a number of occasions asking him to grant her a divorce, but Bülow refused to concede this. He only consented after she had two more children with Wagner; another daughter, named Eva, after the heroine of Meistersinger, and a son Siegfried, named for the hero of the Ring. The divorce was finally sanctioned, after delays in the legal process, by a Berlin court on 18 July 1870. Richard and Cosima's wedding took place on 25 August 1870. On Christmas Day of that year, Wagner arranged a surprise performance (its premiere) of the Siegfried Idyll for Cosima's birthday. The marriage to Cosima lasted to the end of Wagner's life.




Classical Works Inspired by Rain


‘I love all films that start with rain…’ writes the poet Don Paterson. But how has rain been rendered in music? Is the mood of a rainy day necessarily melancholic and disappointing or can the rhythm of a good downpour suggest something joyful or cathartic? Here are examples of how rain has been made in music. 

Chopin: Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 – ‘Raindrop Prelude’




A sudden rain shower can create both distance and intimacy. It can often induce a meditative or dream-like mood in the adult, or for the child who cannot go out to play. It is thought Chopin’s ‘Raindrop Prelude’ was indeed inspired by a dream, according to his partner George Sand’s account of the moment of composition.

In her autobiography, Sand writes that: ‘He saw himself drowned in a lake – heavy, icy drops of water falling rhythmically on his chest - and when I had him listen to the drops of water falling rhythmically on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry at what I translated by the expression ‘imitative harmony.’’ 

This story is part of the mythology that surrounds the magic of this intimate, introspective piece.



Britten, Noye’s Fludde




Britten’s opera for children, Noye’s Fludde, depicts the dramatic story of Noah’s Ark. The sound of the first drops of this epic deluge is actually made and inspired by domestic objects: the china mug and the wooden spoon. 

Britten’s assistant, Imogen Holst, recalls her own involvement in this moment of experimental composition shared with Britten: ‘I had once to teach Women’s Institute percussion groups during a wartime ‘social half hour’, so I was able to take him into my kitchen and show him how a row of china mugs hanging on a length of string could be hit with a large wooden spoon.’



Debussy Estampes, ‘Jardins sous la pluie’


‘Jardins sous la pluie’ or ‘Gardens in the Rain’ is from Debussy’s Estampes for solo piano. It evokes the light and colour of a spring shower through its trembling, fluid and slightly frenetic sound. It also seems to capture the delicate quality of each raindrop through this rapidity of notes.

Pianist Stephen Hough writes that ‘Debussy’s discovery of new sounds at the piano is directly related to the physiology of hands on keyboard.’ As we are transported by the intense mood of rain communicated in this piece, we are also experiencing the physicality of the piano and the movement of fingers in a new way.



Judith Weir, The Welcome Arrival of Rain



Rain in this piece is a response to the monsoon rains returning in India, and is inspired by an extract of verse from the Hindu text, Bhagavata Purana. The piece captures the sense of sudden rain, its syncopating rhythmic energy, and the change, renewal and growth it brings. 

It also becomes a metaphor for the process of creativity itself, as Weir describes: ‘Whilst I composed it, as the notes and the pages multiplied, I began to think of a comparison with the arrival of the monsoon in India, when aridity is pierced by life-giving rain; and humans, animals and vegetation revel in sudden activity and fertility.’


 John Luther Adams, In the Rain




How does rain sound? In the Rain investigates and experiments with how we hear its changing rhythms. Adams encourages us to attend to the sonic expression of the natural world, as well how the rain encounters and catches on objects and surfaces. There is a numinous, otherworldly quality to this work.


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The Composer and his Muse: Mothers

Brahms: German Requiem

While the death of his dear friend Robert Schumann provided an initial impetus for Brahms's German Requiem, the composer dedicated it to his mother, who died nine years later. The memory of Johanna Brahms is particularly apparent in the work’s fifth movement, which takes Isaiah 66:13 for its text: “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.”





Strauss’s “Muttertändelei” 

Any proud mama would be charmed by Richard Strauss’s “Muttertändelei” (Mother-chatter) in which a new mom brags about her angelic-looking child, with a disposition to match. Using verse from the 18th-century German poet Gottfried August Burger, Strauss wrote the piece in 1899, two years after his wife Pauline gave birth to their son Franz. Apparently Pauline was so taken with the work she would not lend the manuscript to fellow musicians.



Dvorak: "Songs My Mother Taught Me"

Dvorak’s melancholy folk melody “Songs My Mother Taught Me” is part of the Czech composer’s collection of Gypsy songs. The short melody tells of a woman passing down the songs she learned to her own children. It was an immediate hit when Dvorak composed it and still remains one of his best-known melodies.




Webern: Six Pieces for Orchestra

Though Anton Webern dedicated his Six Pieces for Orchestra to his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, the works attempt to sort out his emotions from his mother’s recent death. "The first piece is to express my frame of mind when I was still in Vienna, already sensing the disaster, yet always maintaining the hope that I would find my mother still alive,” wrote Webern. The subsequent miniatures express the composer’s grief and also joyous memories with his mom.




Barber: Knoxville Summer of 1915

Samuel Barber’s destiny towards becoming a composer seems to have been cemented in a prophetic letter the nine-year-old composer wrote to his mother, begging her to let him make music rather than playing football (“I have written to tell you my worrying secret...I was meant to be a composer, and will be I’m sure”). While Barber dedicated his orchestral suite, Knoxville Summer of 1915, to his father (as did its original author, James Agee), the piece tenderly describes a mother “who is good to me.”



Angelica Hale Debuts Her New Single Feel the Magic!

From Dr. Fuddle's very own honorary Messenger of Music. 


Available at Google Store Music download, stream, and leave a review!


Angelica on Listen World Tour with the TNT Boys 
Performs Feel the Magic


The Composer and His Muse: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Désirée Artôt



The Belgian mezzo-soprano Désirée Artôt started her career at the Paris Opera in 1858 when Giacomo Meyerbeer engaged her to sing in his Le prophète. Berlioz, uncharacteristically, could not find enough accolades to praise her singing. However, she quickly bid farewell to the French repertoire and went on to sing in Italy a year later. With an Italian opera company under the direction of Merelli, she extensively toured throughout Europe, and in 1868 arrived in Moscow. Moscow immediately fell in love with her. An anecdote relates that at a reception for her at the home of Maria Begicheva, “the hostess knelt before Artôt and kissed her hand.” But Begicheva was not the only artistic personality smitten with Artôt. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had also met Artôt at a Begicheva soiree, and when they met again a couple of months later, she “started to send him invitations every day, and he became accustomed to visiting her every evening.”

He later told his brother Modest, that she possessed “exquisite gesture, grace of movement, and artistic poise.” He even stopped working on his symphonic poem Fatum to give her all his attention. Tchaikovsky did, however, write a little Romance in F minor for piano, which he dutifully dedicated to her.


Artôt’s mother was fiercely opposed to the marriage on official grounds that Tchaikovsky was too young—he was seven year’s her junior—and that he would force Désirée to live in Russia. It is more likely that she found out about Tchaikovsky’s sexual orientation and wasn’t going to allow her daughter to engage in a destined to be unhappy union.

Désirée was quickly rushed off to her next singing engagement and kept far away. Tchaikovsky sensed that something was afoot, and writes to his brother Anatoly, “This affair is beginning to fall apart.” Maybe he instinctively knew that Artôt had quietly married the Spanish baritone Mariano Padilla y Ramos without telling him. Tchaikovsky was in the middle of rehearsals for his opera The Voyevoda, and when Nikolai Rubinstein brought him the news, “he became quite upset, abandoned the rehearsal, and left immediately.” Musicologists have suggested that the musical chipper of her name, in the manner of Schumann, appears in his First Piano Concerto, and Tchaikovsky certainly never revealed the program of Fatum. And let’s not forget that Romeo and Juliet was completed a mere two months after Artôt’s clandestine marriage.


It was in December 1887 that they actually renewed their acquaintance in Berlin. He spent an evening at her place, and later wrote in his diary. “This evening is counted among the most agreeable recollections of my sojourn in Berlin. The personality and the art of this singer are as irresistibly bewitching as ever.” She asked him to compose a song on a text by a French poet, and he sent her a set of six. “I have tried my best,” he writes, “to serve you and hope that you will be able to sing them all, since all six of them correspond to the current range of your voice. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy these melodies, but unfortunately, I am not so sure of this. I must confess that I have been working very hard lately and that my latest compositions have sprung from good intentions rather than from true inspiration. And besides, it is a little awkward to write for a singer whom I consider to be the greatest among the greatest.”

Tchaikovsky never revealed exactly how deep a wound this affair inflicted, he in his personal letters, always praising her beauty and artistry.  His torch for Artot may perhaps never have been totally extinguished.

Tchaikovsky may have coded her name into works such as his First Piano Concerto and the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture. The use of initials spelled out in musical pitches is a device often used by Robert Schumann (for example, in his Carnaval), and Tchaikovsky was a great admirer of Schumann's music.



There are other suggestions that Tchaikovsky coded his own name into the concerto, and Artôt's name into the symphonic poem Fatum, the Symphony No. 3, and the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture. He never revealed the program of Fatum, and later even destroyed the score (although it was reconstructed from the orchestral parts and published posthumously as Op. 77).




The Artôt episode was very fresh in Tchaikovsky's mind at the time he wrote Romeo and Juliet. He could easily have drawn a parallel between his personal loss and the tragedy of Shakespeare’s drama.

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The String Quartet


The string quartet is one of the most prominent chamber ensembles in classical music, with most major composers, from the late 18th century onwards, writing string quartets.

The origins of the string quartet can be traced back to the Baroque trio sonata, in which two solo instruments performed with a continuo section consisting of a bass instrument (such as the cello) and keyboard. A very early example is a four-part sonata for string ensemble by Gregorio Allegri (1582–1652) that might be considered an important prototype string quartet. By the early 18th century, composers were often adding a third soloist; and moreover it became common to omit the keyboard part, letting the cello support the bass line alone. Thus when Alessandro Scarlatti wrote a set of six works entitled “Sonata à Quattro per due Violini, Violetta [viola], e Violoncello senza Cembalo” (Sonata for four instruments: two violins, viola, and cello without harpsichord), this was a natural evolution from existing tradition.





The string quartet rose to prominence with the work of Joseph Haydn. Haydn’s own discovery of the quartet form appears to have arisen essentially by accident.

The young composer was working for Baron Carl von Joseph Edler von Fürnberg sometime around 1755-1757 at his country estate in Weinzierl, about fifty miles from Vienna. The Baron wanted to hear music, and the available players happened to be two violinists, a violist, and a cellist. Haydn’s early biographer Georg August Griesinger tells the story thus:

"The following purely chance circumstance had led him to try his luck at the composition of quartets. A Baron Fürnberg had a place in Weinzierl, several stages from Vienna, and he invited from time to time his pastor, his manager, Haydn, and Albrechtsberger (a brother of the celebrated contrapuntist Albrechtsberger) in order to have a little music. Fürnberg requested Haydn to compose something that could be performed by these four amateurs. Haydn, then eighteen years old, took up this proposal, and so originated his first quartet which, immediately it appeared, received such general approval that Haydn took courage to work further in this form."

Haydn went on to write nine other quartets around this time. These works were published as his Op. 1 and Op. 2; one quartet went unpublished, and some of the early “quartets” are actually symphonies missing their wind parts. They have five movements and take the form: fast movement, minuet and trio I, slow movement, minuet and trio II, and fast finale. As Finscher notes, they draw stylistically on the Austrian divertimento tradition.





Haydn then ceased to write quartets for a number of years, but took up the genre again in 1769-1772 with the 18 quartets of Ops. 9, 17, and 20. These are written in a form that became established as standard both for Haydn and for other composers, namely four movements, consisting of a fast movement, a slow movement, a minuet and trio and a fast finale .





Ever since Haydn’s day the string quartet has been prestigious and considered a true test of the composer’s art. This may be partly because the palette of sound is more restricted than with orchestral music, forcing the music to stand more on its own rather than relying on tonal color; or from the inherently contrapuntaltendency in music written for four equal instruments.

Quartet composition flourished in the Classical era, with Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert writing famous series of quartets to set alongside Haydn’s. A slight slackening in the pace of quartet composition occurred in the 19th century; here, composers often wrote only one quartet, perhaps to show that they could fully command this hallowed genre, although Antonín Dvořák wrote a series of 14.

The String Quartet in F major, Op. 96, nicknamed the American Quartet, is the 12th string quartet composed by Antonín Dvořák. It was written in 1893, during Dvořák's time in the United States. The quartet is one of the most popular in the chamber music repertoire.





With the onset of the Modern era of classical music, the quartet returned to full popularity among composers, and played a key role in the development of Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartók, and Dmitri Shostakovich especially. 

After WWII, some composers, such as Pierre Boulez and Olivier Messiaen questioned the relevance of the string quartet and avoided writing them. However, from the 1960s onwards, many composers have shown a renewed interest in the genre.



Happy Easter


It’s Easter, and whether you believe in the story surrounding the holiday or just looking to crack some Easter eggs, one thing is true – it’s a time associated with some great musical works. In fact, if you’re into classical music, you would realize that some of the best compositions are associated with the messages of this time of the year.

From oratorios by Bach to ballets by Stravinsky, there are musical masterpieces that have continued to draw crowds at public performances around the world, as well as served as sources of comfort for minds looking for musical relaxation and reflection during Easter. With that said, here are five of the best classical pieces to listen to this Easter. Enjoy!

Easter Oratorio by J.S. Bach – 1725-46

Based on the resurrection story, this is an Easter favorite for many who follow closely the Easter tradition. It was written for a Lutheran church service by the master composer and has been a mainstay of many of today’s Easter performances to be led by famous conductors, such as Sir Jon Eliot Gardiner.



The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross by Joseph Haydn – 1783-96

Regarded by many classical aficionados as an epic orchestral composition, this piece by Haydn represents the last words to be uttered by Christ on the cross before he gave up the ghost. It was originally created to be interspersed by seven readings during Easter service.




Symphony No 2, “Resurrection” by Gustav Mahler – 1888-1894

While not exactly about Christ’s resurrection, this piece was considered to be one of the greatest works by Gustav Mahler. A rousing, thought-provoking number, Mahler got the idea for this symphony after the funeral of a fellow musician and friend got him thinking about the afterlife. Today, it remains among Easter audience favorites.




The Mystery Sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber – 1678

Written for his employer, Biber composed this piece to be made up of 15 short sonatas related to a part of the Rosary Devotion of the Catholic Church. A renowned violin virtuoso, Biber’s skill brings the Rosary’s 15 meditations (on mysteries surrounding the life of Christ and Mary) to life in stunning fashion. It’s a reflective piece, hence why it is still an Easter favorite.



Messiah by George Frideric Handel – 1741

The longest on this list, “Messiah” is a favorite piece for well-known orchestras around the world, especially at Christmas. Its popularity during the Yuletide season is due to the fact that the first section of this masterpiece deals with the birth of Christ. However, the rest of the composition covers the death and resurrection, which is why it was originally launched as an Easter performance. It includes the well-known “Hallelujah,” which is just one of the many reasons why audiences around the world can’t get enough.



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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn

The composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn were friends. Their relationship is not very well-documented, but the evidence that they enjoyed each other's company and greatly respected each other's work is strong, and suggests that the elder Haydn acted in at least a minor capacity as a mentor to Mozart.


Haydn was already a fairly well-known young composer in Mozart's childhood. His six string quartets Opus 20 (1772), called the "Sun" Quartets from the drawing of the sun on the cover of the first edition, were widely circulated and are conjectured (for instance, by Charles Rosen) to have been the inspiration for the six early string quartets K. 168–173 the 17-year-old Mozart wrote during a 1773 visit to Vienna.




The two composers, a generation apart, met in Vienna around Christmas of 1783 at a performance sponsored by the Vienna Tonkünstler-Societät, a charitable organization for musicians. On the program were works by both Haydn (Jones: "a symphony and a chorus, both probably from [the oratorio] Il ritorno di Tobia") and Mozart ("a new concert aria, probably 'Misero! o sogno!' [K. 431], and, on the first night, a piano concerto").


After sensing a great kinship of spirit, they moved quickly across the concentric circles of platonic relationships and arrived at the center of a deep friendship. Having already admired Haydn for years and even considered him his teacher, Mozart composed six string quartets dedicated to his friend and hero.

Haydn last saw Mozart in the days before he departed for London in December 1790.  Haydn, still in London a year later when the news of Mozart's death reached him, was distraught; he wrote to their mutual friend Michael Puchberg, "For some time I was quite beside myself over his death, and could not believe that Providence should so quickly have called away an irreplaceable man into the next world". Haydn wrote to Constanze Mozart offering musical instruction to her son when he reached the appropriate age, and later followed through on his offer.


Source Wikipedia


Happy Birthday Joseph Haydn


Born on March 31, 1732 in Rohrau, Austria, Franz Joseph Haydn's father was a wheelwright, his mother a former cook. The second child of his parents, Haydn began to display musical talent early on in life, wanting to give him the training he needed, his parents agreed to let their cousin, a principal and choirmaster in Hainburg, take Haydn to the school at age six.

Haydn's experience in Hainburg was good for his musical abilities, but bad for his soul. The young boy was often left without much to eat during his time there, and was not given the same love he might have received from his parents.  When the musical director of a church in Vienna offered to take Haydn as a chorister at age eight, his parents accepted.

Haydn spent nine years at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, but when his voice changed, he was expelled from the school. Haydn began doing odd jobs to make money, and taught himself music theory, eventually he worked his way up to becoming the musical director for count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin. It was in this position that he composed his first symphony.



Haydn's wife Anna. Unauthenticated miniature attributed to Ludwig Guttenbrunn (Burgenländisches Landesmuseum)

In 1760 he married Maria Anna Aloisia Appolonia Keller, they never had children. A year later, Haydn became assistant music director for Esterhazy family, his kindness to the staff and good nature here earned him the title "Papa" by many of the musicians and later earned him the post of musical director.

As a "house officer" in the Esterházy establishment, Haydn wore livery and followed the family as they moved among their various palaces, most importantly the family's ancestral seat Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt and later on Esterháza, a grand new palace built in rural Hungary in the 1760s. Haydn had a huge range of responsibilities, including composition, running the orchestra, playing chamber music for and with his patrons, and eventually the mounting of operatic productions. Despite this backbreaking workload, the job was in artistic terms a superb opportunity for Haydn. The Esterházy princes (Paul Anton, then from 1762–1790 Nikolaus I) were musical connoisseurs who appreciated his work and gave him daily access to his own small orchestra. During the nearly thirty years that Haydn worked at the Esterházy court, he produced a flood of compositions, and his musical style continued to develop.



FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN, THE VIOLINIST SIMON, AND MEMBERS OF THE ESTERHAZY FAMILY

1779 was a watershed year for Haydn, as his contract was renegotiated: whereas previously all his compositions were the property of the Esterházy family, he now was permitted to write for others and sell his work to publishers. Haydn soon shifted his emphasis in composition to reflect this (fewer operas, and more quartets and symphonies) and he negotiated with multiple publishers, both Austrian and foreign. His new employment contract "acted as a catalyst in the next stage in Haydn's career, the achievement of international popularity. The new publication campaign resulted in the composition of a great number of new string quartets (the six-quartet sets of Op. 33, 50, 54/55, and 64). Haydn also composed in response to commissions from abroad: the Paris symphonies (1785–1786) and the original orchestral version of The Seven Last Words of Christ (1786), a commission from Cádiz, Spain.




Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who Haydn had met sometime around 1784 were good friends and according to later testimony by Michael Kelly and others, the two composers occasionally played in string quartets together. Haydn was hugely impressed with Mozart's work and praised it unstintingly to others. Mozart evidently returned the esteem, as seen in his dedication of a set of six quartets, now called the "Haydn" quartets, to his friend. In 1785 Haydn was admitted to the same Masonic lodge as Mozart, the "Zur wahren Eintracht [de]" in Vienna.




  
Haydn spent his last twelve years in the "Haydn house" in Vienna's sixth district, composing important late works including "Die Schoepfung" (The Creation) and "Die Vier Jahreszeiten" (The Seasons), where he died in 1809 at the age of 77.



Source Wikipedia

Happy Birthday Johann Sebastian Bach!

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was music's most sublime creative genius. Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque Era. Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21st 1685 in Eisenach, Germany.

He started life as part of an established family of musicians: his father (pictured) was director of the town musicians and court trumpeter for the Duke, and his uncles all held professional posts as trumpeters, organists, court musicians, and composers. The name 'Bach' opened all sorts of musical doors, and the family enjoyed a wide reputation for their talent.

The young Bach was offered a choral scholarship to the prestigious St Michael's School in 1699. Unsurprisingly, the young Bach made quite the impression at the Latin Grammar School, where he was invited to sing in the Georgenkirche choir with the other pupils. Described as having an 'uncommonly fine treble voice', it's here the young composer encountered the Lutheran spirit first hand, cementing the religious faith which inspired so many of his later compositions.

Both of J. S. Bach’s parents had died by the time he was ten. The boy went to live with his eldest brother, also named Johann Christoph, who was the organist at the Michaeliskirche at Ohrdruf . It was under his guidance that J. S. Bach laid the foundations of his keyboard technique.


1703 saw Bach become the organist at St Boniface's Church in Arnstadt - a role that saw him on a regular salary and expanding his skills at the keyboard. 


Bach composed the cantata Gott ist mein König in 1708 - he was paid handsomely, and it helped him cement his early career.



The Brandenburg Concertos were composed in 1721 as a sort-of musical job application for the Margrave Ludwig of Brandenburg - it was unsuccessful.



In his later years Bach faced harsh criticism. During the 1720s and 1730s when he was composing his most important works - the Passions and the Goldberg Variations among them - a new Italian style invaded Germany, making his work appear outdated.

The Well Tempered Clavier, a quintessential student text, was finished in 1744 and comprised two volumes of piano music in every musical key.



With the notable exception of opera, Bach composed towering masterpieces in every major Baroque genre: sonatas, concertos, suites and cantatas, as well as innumerable keyboard, organ and choral works.

Bach died on July 28th 1750 in Leipzig. It is still disputed whether it was a botched eye operation or a stroke caused by pneumonia were to blame for his death.

Bach's popularity was decaying until 1829, when Mendelssohn performed the St Matthew Passion and rescued Bach from oblivion.