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I had English Humanities in school when I was a teenager - it included Music Appreciation.
Unfortunately, I remember learning very little, except that classical music could tell a story or have an interesting story behind it.
I distinctly remember "Peer Gynt" (Grieg), especially In the Hall of the Mountain King. Of course I also remember about "Peter and the Wolf", but not even that it was by Prokofiev (1936)! It was unique to me because of the musical instruments were actually characters in the story. There were the operas "La Traviata" and "William Tell" but I may remember those more because my father had recordings. I couldn't escape "The William Tell Overture" because of The Lone Ranger!
I wish we could have had some more interesting insight like in this video to help me remember pieces by other composers - there's been recent conversation about Pekka Kuusisto...
Maybe I don't remember much about classical music because I grew up in an age smothered in Rock, Pop and Folk Ballads!
Thank you for that video (or "Youtube" as the young man said:) ). His mention of Dudley Moore's parodies of Beethoven, etc. caused me to divert off to another tab and pull up the Dudley Moore performance that Mr. Kuusisto mentioned.
It's is really a great performance. I'm including a link here. Worth the watch:
Bob in Lone Oak, Texas
That is hilarious!
Wouldn't expect anything less from Dudley Moore - and I didn't have a chance to look it up.
@Gordon Shumway -
Thank you for the suggestion of BBC Radio 3 - listening now, from Alexa as I type.
I've listened on and off to classical radio my whole life (I enjoy most music) - usually a PBS radio station here.
I think you may have missed the point of my thread.
Maybe Classical music "podcasts" would have interesting interviews like Pekka's, but classical radio stations that I've listened to mainly just play music and don't give very much more information than a title!
Unless I'm missing out on something, I don't see were BBC Radio 3 is any different in that respect, but I've always loved the absence of commercial breaks!
Listening to Online Radio Box, Christmas UK (now) - 'Tis the Season!
Speaking of radio, if you're looking for classical music with stories behind it, my local classical station has an excellent weekly series called "Connections" that explores classical music with a common theme or inspiration each week. It's all archived.
My favorite story is the one behind Brahms's Academic Festival Overture.
Brahms had been nominated for an honorary doctorate by the University of Breslau, and accepted thinking that the most he would have to do was show up and make some remarks. But then he learned, much to his annoyance, that the university expected him to compose a suitably serious piece for the occasion. He decided he would respond with a musical joke, composing an overture on three student drinking songs. Brahms himself conducted the overture at the special convocation that the university held in his honor, and supposedly, much to the chagrin (or perhaps concealed delight?) of the academics in the audience, many of the undergraduates realized what was going on and sang along.
(Just to clarify, there was no "Academic Festival" -- German-speaking composers used the term "Festouvertüre" or "Festival Overture" to refer to an overture composed for a special occasion rather than for a stage work.)
Today is probably Beethoven's 250th birthday (his exact date of birth is uncertain as we only have a baptismal record) so here's a charming little piece from him with an unusual title.
One of Beethoven's first friends when he moved to Vienna (and the frequent butt of Beethoven's off-color jokes) was a very nearsighted cellist named Nikolaus Zmeskall. Beethoven soon began to need reading glasses to read music himself, and composed this short duo for viola and cello "with two eyeglasses obbligato" for himself and Zmeskall.
I think you may have missed the point of my thread.
Prolly, lol. Sorry, my attention is very poor.
I've been listening to Radio 3 (it was called the Third Programme originally) since about 1963/64, but I turn my ears off whenever I hear talking, so I've heard probably all of the Western canon, but don't know what any of it is called!
If you listen to people telling you how to appreciate music, that's time wasted when you could have been appreciating music!
And partly I've always been allergic to narrative music ("in this measure Till Eulenspiegel makes a pork sandwich then decides he wishes he'd made Coronation Chicken instead, so he puts mango chutney in it as a partial corrective").
I'm glad you reminded me about Peter and the Wolf, though. In the 60s we had it on record, and I think it was Peter Ustinov narrating, and I had been meaning for a month to ask which version is people's favourite, as I don't have a CD of it.
@GregW - Thanx! Will take a look.
Beethoven's got quite a sense of humor, it appears!
This immediately made me think of all the Irish tunes with repeating motifs - like he wanted to make this easy to memorize, maybe to avoid the need for good vision. (lol)
Thanx for that!
@Gordon Shumway -
...just part of the wonders of Humanity, in my mind.
"Enlightenment" would be a more appropriate word - I should have used it.
I have no idea how long the terms "Literature/Music/Art Appreciation" have been in use. Probably a poor choice of a word since you really can't make anyone "appreciate" something.
I've always felt understanding how and why people create can lead to respect, also interest in a person/their creations and different points of view. Most important of all (to me), it can be inspiring.
Of course that's not always the case! (lol)
Btw, I know Alf would rather eat a cat. (lol) - Emily
In literature and visual art people are always "telling stories", and cultural theory and critical literacy are required for both.
In music it's not that simple. Some try to tell stories, opera and song aside, but, as I said, I don't like it. I prefer a more intuitive approach to music.
Similarly in art there are different kinds of storytelling involved, legitimate and illegitimate. Some of the messages in art (e.g. especially conceptual art) are more applicable to books, and are thus illegitimate. R.B. Kitaj gets away with it, although he's not to my taste, but examples of paintings that are dreadful for this reason are Korean Massacre by Picasso and the Piano Lesson by Matisse.
If any art is required by its creator to be explained, or could be replaced by a written narrative, then the artist should have taken up writing instead.
I seem to be ranting. I have no idea why. Prolly cos I was half expecting my fettled Gewa to be as good as my Breton!
@Gordon Shumway -- All art exists in a context, and that context can make a difference in how you appreciate it, even if it doesn't explicitly tell a story. When people who aren't normally classical listeners ask me to recommend classical pieces, I usually don't recommend programmatic music, but I do like to recommend pieces with some kind of interesting story behind their composition.
"programmatic music". I couldn't remember what it was called. I began calling it "serial music", then looked that up and realised it wasn't right.
Here's the thing. It's a matter of taste. If someone asks me what paintings to look at, I send them to an art gallery - an ancient and a modern and tell them to find out what they like. If they get a rough idea then they can read a book on art history for context.
If a fiddler asks me what classical music to listen to, it's a matter of taste. I recommend they listen to a radio station for a few weeks (either BBC radio 3 or classical lollipops like Classic FM) and find out what appeals to them and what doesn't.
I don't understand how the circumstances around a composition can help much. The methodology of composing is a conceptual block most of us non-composers have. I suppose the best example is Mozart. If you want his context, read a biography of him. But that won't tell you how he really wrote.
When I was 17 I was stuck in a scientific rut at school. I read the Virgin Soldiers and found it immature rubbish, so I asked a friend who was in the arts what was worth reading. He recommended Solzhenitsyn and Sartre. Lot of good that did me!
I probably still don't understand what the thread is about. Emily wants information on every piece she listens to? I wouldn't be able to remember that much information. Might not a book on the history of music be best? Or a book like Schonberg's The Lives of the Great Composers?
All right... I'm not doing this anymore!
Told Kevin to turn off the TV and put on some Christmas music while he was putting up some of our larger decorations, yesterday.
Being a Scrooge, he put on a Classical radio station instead. In all fairness, I'd been talking about this thread.
Little while later, he referred to a previous question I'd asked him, "Is there something in particular you'd like me to learn to play?".
He said (grinning ear to ear), "I know what I'd like you to learn to play!" -
"Vivaldi's Concerto for 2 Violins"
"Both parts at the same time?"
"Are you going to learn to play the violin?"
And then, my standard reply...
"Maybe next year." (lol)