10 Great Violin Concertos You Must Hear

By |2018-05-20T07:40:39-05:00May 19th, 2018|

The fun thing about really getting to know the violin concerto repertoire is that there are always more treasures to discover… The violin concerto repertoire is so rich and satisfying, I’m embarrassed to admit that, prior to becoming an adult beginner on the violin in 2005, I was only familiar with a few of them. [...]

Good Books and Great Music for Christmas Gifting

By |2017-12-14T15:43:07-05:00December 14th, 2017|

Here are four recently-published books and four new classical music albums that I have greatly enjoyed this past year… Books I’ve read several excellent biographies (and one great autobiography) this past year. Foremost among the former is Jan Swafford’s magisterial Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, which could easily be termed the definitive biography of perhaps the [...]

Creating Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony

By |2018-10-29T18:09:47-05:00November 6th, 2017|

Tchaikovsky's First Symphony is a delight: fresh, assured and just plain fun to listen to. The violins introduce the first movement with a shimmering, sweet tremolo, giving it a dreamy, gossamer texture, that perfectly illustrates the movement’s subtitle, “Daydreams of a Winter Journey"... While a longtime fan of Tchaikovsky, I must confess that, up to a [...]

“Elegy for Strings”

By |2018-10-29T18:09:56-05:00May 28th, 2017|

Editor's Note: Tchaikovsky composed what became known as his "Elegy" in 1884 on a commission from the Moscow Society of Artists, who were honoring Ivan Samarin on the occasion of his fifty years of acting. Tchaikovsky titled the piece for string orchestra, which was meant to open the ceremonies, "A Grateful Greeting," though its spirit is, incongruously, [...]

“A Conceited Mediocrity”: Why Tchaikovsky Hated Brahms

By |2017-05-06T22:11:27-05:00May 6th, 2017|

Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky had a lot to say about Johannes Brahms’ music—all bad… “I have played over the music of that scoundrel Brahms,” wrote Tchaikovsky in his diary in 1886. “What a giftless bastard!” Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky had a lot to say about Brahms’ music—all bad. Johannes Brahms, for his part, didn’t [...]

Mozart’s Music: The Culminating Point of Beauty

By |2019-01-21T12:51:40-05:00January 27th, 2017|

"When I listen to his music, it is as if I am doing a good deed. It is difficult to convey what exactly his beneficial influence on me consists of, but it is undoubtedly beneficial, and the longer I live, the closer I get to know him, the more I love him"... Editor's Note: Unlike [...]

Music for Christmas: Ten Great Classical Pieces

By |2018-11-06T14:47:50-05:00December 10th, 2015|

What better gift than music for the season in which we celebrate God, the source of all beauty, becoming man? Here are some familiar and less familiar classical pieces. 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 [...]

Discontent, Death, & Desolation: Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”

By |2015-11-20T08:52:34-05:00November 20th, 2015|

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” —Father Zossima, in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov Is there an opera that better conveys the mood of late autumn—with the inevitability of winter’s desolation on the doorstep—than Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin? Based on the “novel in verse” [...]

The Top Ten Greatest Violin Concertos

By |2018-11-19T11:35:33-05:00December 31st, 2014|

The violin concerto as a form of music has endured for some 300 years and remains, alongside the piano concerto, the most popular type of concerto played in modern concert halls and committed to recording. The genre was first developed during the Baroque era, when the concerto was conceived as a tripartite structure, running about [...]

The Ten Most Beautiful Classical Symphonies

By |2019-03-26T15:38:02-05:00November 27th, 2013|

“Imagination creates reality.” —Richard Wagner Though beauty is an absolute reality, we human beings see through a glass darkly, and the space between objective beauty and our own personal taste can be fuzzy. Any list that seeks to rank the most beautiful works of any kind is thus going to be subjected to fierce [...]

The Top Ten Greatest Operas

By |2019-03-05T11:57:35-05:00June 23rd, 2013|

The human voice is God’s most beautiful instrument, and the blending of voices and musical instruments within the context of a dramatic visual presentation is the zenith of human artistic achievement. This is the glory of opera. Below is a list of the ten greatest operas ever composed, in order of greatness, from ten [...]