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Composers and the Sea
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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September 3, 2021 - 3:11 am
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After @ELCBK started a thread on water, I thought it would be appropriate to spin off one on classical music associated with the sea.

I already posted Debussy's La Mer, but I'll post it again.

 

Mendelssohn wrote a number of pieces related to the sea. The best known is his Hebrides Overture, alternately titled "Fingal's Cave," inspired by a visit to the sea cave of that name.

 

But another Mendelssohn piece that is less often played is "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage." The piece portrays the despair of becalmed sailors turning to joy as the wind picks up and allows them to continue their voyage.

 

Camille Saint-Saens's Piano Concerto No. 5, nicknamed "Egyptian", is so called because he composed it while on vacation in Egypt. Though the slow movement contains a melody that he heard sung by a Nile boatman, the main inspiration for the concerto as a whole was the sea voyage.

 

The next one is obscure, but well worth a listen. Jean Cras (1879-1932) was not a professional musician but a career naval officer, and is known mainly for inventing the Cras rule, a navigation tool that is still used by sailors today. But he also wrote a fair amount of music, much of it inspired by the sea and his travels. In his String Trio, composed at sea while Cras commanded the light cruiser Lamotte-Picquet, you can hear bits of jazz, Moroccan and Balkan folk music, and the Celtic traditions of Cras's native Brittany.

 

One of Benjamin Britten's more frequently performed orchestral pieces is his set of Four Sea Interludes, taken from his opera Peter Grimes.

 

Since I've always liked to introduce people to lesser-known classical music, I'm going to finish this post with two more lesser-known pieces even though there's still quite a bit more sea-inspired music by more famous composers.

 

Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894), Symphony No. 2 ("Ocean")

 

Helena Munktell (1852-1919), Bränningar (Breaking Waves)

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ELCBK
USA
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September 3, 2021 - 3:40 am
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@AndrewH -

Great idea! 

Honestly, I wasn't thinking of water on this size scale in the other thread. (lol) 

Looking forward to checking all these pieces out later today. 

Thank you!

 

...always interested in how composers interpret elements of, or their feelings of, Nature in music. 

- Emily

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 8, 2021 - 12:31 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16422

Wow Andrew,
Is your memory that good or did you have to do some searches. I am familiar with most of them and I think I even played Rubinsteins Symphony No. 2, but I don't recall hearing or playing Munktell. There are so many great works out there. 😁

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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September 8, 2021 - 12:52 pm
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Fiddlerman said
Wow Andrew,

Is your memory that good or did you have to do some searches. I am familiar with most of them and I think I even played Rubinsteins Symphony No. 2, but I don't recall hearing or playing Munktell. There are so many great works out there. 😁

  

This was off the top of my head. I'm the "obscure composers guy" in a lot of my musical circles, and the local classical radio station likes to go off the beaten path a lot.

I'm also practicing a different piece by Munktell for a virtual orchestra project.

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ELCBK
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September 9, 2021 - 12:15 am
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@AndrewH -

Finally took time to listen more - really enjoyed these pieces!  

Britten's was different.

Liked Helena Munktell's Bränningar and that video was presented by the 'Quinone Bob YouTube Channel', giving me the chance to listen to some of 342 video scores of Classical pieces from many Composers I've never heard of! 

Thank you! 

https://is1-ssl.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Purple127/v4/0b/79/5b/0b795be7-4666-a946-ce74-03eed0b2e789/source/512x512bb.jpg

 

- Emily

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JohnG
Greater Chicagoland
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September 9, 2021 - 12:42 am
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Does this count?  laugh

The old curmudgeon!

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ELCBK
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September 9, 2021 - 1:26 am
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Here's one I really enjoy. 

This Symphony Video score, by Li Huanzhi, has 4 movements - performed by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra.  Li Huanzhi was a Classical Chinese Composer (died in 2000). 

Symphony No.1 “Heavenly Wind and Sea Waves” - Li Huanzhi

I love that this video shows the score!

https://www.emofaces.com/png/200/emoticons/musical.png

 

- Emily

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 9, 2021 - 11:04 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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That is impressive @andrew.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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September 9, 2021 - 8:58 pm
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A few more, because why not?

 

One of the first sea-inspired pieces that comes to mind is, of course, Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 1 ("A Sea Symphony"), a choral symphony on several Walt Whitman poems.

 

Here's Edward MacDowell's "Sea Pieces," a set of short piano pieces by the first American composer to become famous in Europe -- I've played these before, back when I played piano regularly.

 

Something more recent: "Along the Western Shore" by Elinor Remick Warren, an orchestral piece inspired by the California coast.

 

And another piece by an obscure Chinese composer: the Ocean Symphony by Sheng Lihong. Each movement is a separate video.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 13, 2021 - 12:08 pm
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And now you're just showing off your memory and making me feel bad.... 🤣

Oddly I recognize almost everything.
Remember when I played professionally that we would sometimes ask each other, what did we play last week.... You'd be surprised how many people would first say, "I don't remember, what DID we play"?
Strangely, most of the viola players would remember what our repertoire was...

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ELCBK
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September 13, 2021 - 5:50 pm
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@AndrewH -

Finally got to listen to more - great stuff!

Fell in love with Sheng Li Hong's 2nd movement. 

Really want to learn more about composers from the Far East. 

Thank you!

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