Johann Sebastian Bach worked hard. He worked hard to be a magnificent composer, he worked hard to be a good teacher and he worked hard to be a good father. Bach was married twice — first to Maria Barbara Bach and, upon her death, to Anna Magdalena Wilcke — and sired 20 children. 10 survived into adulthood — six sons and four daughters. While we're left to wonder what kind of talents their sisters may have harbored, four of those sons went on to become notable composers in their own right.
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
He was the oldest of the J.S. sons, and had the toughest life. This is partially, at least according to Grove, due to the death of his mother when he was 10 years old and his father’s remarriage less than two years later. However, he did display some legitimately good keyboard skills and a composer. Like many of his brothers he attended the Thomasschule, and after graduation he proved to be a standout student at the University of Leipzig. In 1733, he handily won the organist’s position at St. Sophia’s Church in Dresden, where he also began to associate with the figures of the court. And Dresden’s court partied hard, so hard that it must have been quite the culture shock for someone who grew up under the religious restraints that Leipzig provided. Dresden was also a Catholic city, yet another thing a Lutheran Bach had to get used to. But Wilhelm Friedemann was able to adjust — perhaps too well. By the time he got to Halle (he's also known as the “Halle Bach”) — the liberal organist was at odds with the conservative city. His professional relationships in Halle grew ever contentious, and in 1764 he walked out of the job. Though that may have been his prerogative, it was more than a bit irresponsible considering he had a family at home.
Unfortunately, Wilhelm was a terrible keeper of his father’s work; most of the music he received from Johann Sebastian’s estate is now lost. He sold a lot of it, and passed some off as his own. There’s also a good chance that it was he who lost the St. Mark Passion. Thanks, Will.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Mozart once said, “Bach is the father, we are the children.” And while Johann Sebastian did have a lot of kids, it wasn’t Jo he was referring to. Mozart was talking about Carl Philipp Emanuel. That makes perfect sense, given C.P.E.’s role during the transition to what we know as the “Classical era” and the sheer volume of music he composed. Carl kept it busy.
Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci Flute Concert
with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci. That's C.P.E. Bach seated at the
(Adolph Menzel / Wikipedia Commons)
He was a precocious child; J.S. was his primary music teacher and he was a talented sight reader of his father’s music by 11. He attended the University of Leipzig to study law, and like any money-conscious college student he lived at home with his parents and assisted in his father’s musical projects. Like any student out there grinding, he eventually transferred and made money by giving music lessons and directing public concerts. And through all of this, he began to emerge as a composer, balancing a full academic workload with his full creative capabilities. Grove speculates that C.P.E. was such a great student because he wanted to have the path to a “respectable” job if need be — professional musicians of his day weren’t always recognized for their creative contributions and were at the beck and call of their patrons (J.S. knew this all too well). Luckily for us, Carl went with music. But all the obsessive note-taking and meticulous record keeping habits he learned in school served him well — he was the most responsible steward of his father’s music. C.P.E. also counted among his friends Frederick the Great of Prussia. He was a mean flute player, and Carl and the King had many a jam session; C.P.E. even claimed that he accompanied Frederick’s first flute solo.
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach
Of all of J.S. Bach’s children to make their names as notable composers, J.C.F. and his younger brother Johann Christian got kind of unlucky. Not because of their talent, but because their older siblings got so much more time with their dad. And if you’re a Bach, “time with dad” means “time learning music.” J.C.F. went off to (again) the University of Leipzig, but had to drop out shortly after enrolling, in 1750. J.S. was sick (he died later that year), and the third Bach son needed to find a paying job. He wound up in Bückeberg, and did quite well for himself. While the court there was neither the grandest nor the most famous, it was incredibly cultured, making it a fine place to foster the life of the mind. J.C.F. cranked out vocal work, including some in collaboration with Johann Gottfried Herder.
Here’s something warm: in the late 1770’s J.C.F. and Wilhelm Friedemann went on a road trip to England to see their younger brother Johann Christian in England, stopping along the way to see Carl.
Johann Christian Bach
The youngest Bach boy was only a teenager when his father died. J.C. received a sizable inheritance (including three harpsichords) and eventually moved in with his older brother and music teacher Carl Philipp Emanuel. But in 1754, he moved to Italy where he *gasp* converted to Catholicism and became an organist at Milan Cathedral. It was there that he fell in love with opera; he moved again, this time to London, to compose for the Kings theater. He was popular, and in 1764 he was visited by a prodigious 8-year-old boy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. While J.C. was never formally his teacher, they were friendly, and Bach remained a great influence. According to Grove, 1768 saw J.C. give what might have been the first public performance on the piano.
Unfortunately, J.C.’s popularity declined over the years. His debtors were beginning to come around, and the shrinking demand for his new music did not pair well with the revelation that J.C.’s own housekeeper forged receipts and left with much of his money. His debts were never fully repaid. And while much of the public ignored his death, Mozart was sure to give him much deserved praise.
This was posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by RODNEY HOemail@example.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.
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.
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 “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.
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."
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.