The Beauty and Mystery of the Unaccompanied Violin

By |2019-10-17T22:30:03-05:00October 17th, 2019|Categories: Culture, J.S. Bach, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Playing violin unaccompanied is the most exposed sort of music-making, with a vulnerability that is both technical and emotional. Its music seems to bring out a personal quality in composers that one doesn’t always get from music for large forces. The purity of the medium and its limitations call forth a challenge to the composer [...]

Ten Spooky Classical Music Favorites for Halloween

By |2020-10-27T11:45:04-05:00October 30th, 2018|Categories: Audio/Video, Camille Saint-Saëns, Culture, Halloween, J.S. Bach, Jean Sibelius, Music, Sergei Rachmaninoff|

It’s Halloween, and you’re looking for that perfect, spooky Halloween music that’s a little more sophisticated than “The Monster Mash” and “Thriller” and “Werewolves of London.” Look no further, friends. I’ve done my own hopping around to see what others consider to be their Top 10 classical spooky favorites. My list is a little different; [...]

“Coffee Cantata”

By |2021-03-26T13:39:20-05:00September 26th, 2018|Categories: Audio/Video, J.S. Bach|

Johann Sebastian Bach composed his short, comic "Coffee Cantata" in 1735. Likely first premiered in a Leipzig coffee house, it depicts a scene in which a father berates his daughter for drinking the intoxicating beverage. Here is the text in English translation, with a video with English subtitles below: Recitative Narrator Be quiet, stop chattering, [...]

Five Great Classical Pieces for Cello

By |2019-11-19T13:40:17-06:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Antonin Dvorak, Audio/Video, Camille Saint-Saëns, Christine Norvell, J.S. Bach, Music|

Having played the cello for more than thirty years, I am often asked what I would recommend for listeners, especially for those who aren’t necessarily concertgoers. As a cellist, it’s hard to categorize what to listen to. Some pieces are fun to play and to listen to, while others require such technical practice that they [...]

An Amateur’s Week With Beethoven’s “Harp” Quartet

By |2019-12-12T14:12:11-06:00August 9th, 2017|Categories: Audio/Video, Europe, History, J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Poland, World War II|

What a treat is it for a group of amateur string players, busy in their everyday lives, to spend a week in a far-off place and inundate themselves in practice and education concerning a single piece of music and its composer—the sort of exercise usually reserved for professionals. […]

The Power of Song in Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”

By |2021-03-20T15:32:52-05:00June 1st, 2017|Categories: Audio/Video, Catholicism, Christianity, Culture, Featured, J.S. Bach, Music, Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College|

In the St. Matthew Passion, Bach indulges his gypsy soul. It is as though Bach, in his broad and deep humanity, his capacity for feeling all kinds and degrees of sorrow and joy, was reaching out to all his fellow human beings, believers and non-believers alike, and impressing upon them what was for him the [...]

Bach’s Mass for All Christians

By |2021-03-20T15:26:36-05:00April 14th, 2017|Categories: Audio/Video, Catholicism, J.S. Bach, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

J.S. Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” is the summation of his life’s work and one of the supreme masterpieces of Western classical music. Yet mystery surrounds the work. What was its purpose, how did it come to be written, and how was it intended to be performed? No work of Johann Sebastian Bach is more [...]

The Riddle of Bach’s “Lutheran” Mass

By |2021-03-20T15:22:36-05:00March 25th, 2016|Categories: Audio/Video, Catholicism, Christianity, J.S. Bach, Music, Religion|

Johann Sebastian Bach was a faithful Lutheran, which makes it all the more surprising that perhaps his greatest work was a musical setting of the Roman Catholic Mass in Latin. J. S. Bach is widely considered to be one of the history’s greatest musical composers. You’ve certainly heard his music before, and if you’ve taken [...]

Music for Christmas: Ten Great Classical Pieces

By |2020-12-17T17:54:46-06:00December 10th, 2015|Categories: Audio/Video, Christmas, Hector Berlioz, J.S. Bach, Music, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|

Here are ten outstanding Christmas-themed classical pieces, including both the well-known and the little-known. 1. G.F. Handel: Messiah  Though especially popular at Christmas time, it is only “Part the First” of Handel's Messiah that pertains to the season—the latter two sections address Christ’s passion and resurrection. There are some 100 versions of this magisterial work currently [...]

Ten Scary Classical Music Pieces for Halloween

By |2020-10-22T15:29:26-05:00October 31st, 2014|Categories: Antonin Dvorak, Audio/Video, Franz Schubert, Halloween, Hector Berlioz, J.S. Bach, Jean Sibelius, Music, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

Great music pierces the soul…and can sometimes terrify it. Over the centuries, composers, like nearly all artists of every variety, have been fascinated by the subject of death and by the supernatural—the world of witches, goblins, ghosts, and demons. Composers have given us Dances of the Dead, frightful tone poems and songs, scary opera scenes, [...]

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