Posted on June 30, 2009 by Michael Lawrence
Sometime in the early 1940’s, Bela Bartok emigrated to the United States. He was broke, and, what is worse, sick. Serge Koussevitsky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, commissioned him to write a piece, which he composed while lying sick. The result was his concerto for orchestra, a magnificent piece human ingenuity. In it is all the angst and hope that one would think a suffering man might have. Sometimes the worst circumstances in life produce the most amazing and surprising things. That’s comforting when times are tough. When times are good, it’s a frightening thought.
Here’s the first movement:
Filed under: culture, music--classical, performing arts | Tagged: Bela Bartok, classical music, culture, music, Serge Koussevitsky | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 26, 2008 by Michael Lawrence
Everyone thinks this is for Advent. It’s actually for one of the last Sundays of the church year which precede Advent. “Wachet auf” means, “wake up.” It’s great music to jump start the morning.
Filed under: culture, music--classical, performing arts, Sacred Music | Tagged: J.S. Bach, music | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 12, 2008 by Michael Lawrence
I have just recently picked up James R. Gaines’ Evening in the Palace of Reason, an account of the meeting in 1747 between Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest composer who ever lived, and the Prussian emporer Frederick “the Great.” It is a fascinating read, aside from the author’s occasional silly attempts to appeal to bourgeois dolts.
Somewhere along the way, the Actus tragicus, an early work of Bach’s, is mentioned, and I hadn’t recalled ever hearing it before. So I looked it up on YouTube. It is unspeakably beautiful. Here ya go:
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Posted on September 17, 2008 by Michael Lawrence
One of my favorite musicians plays one of my favorite composers. The Glenn Gould year is just winding down, and what better way to mark it than with the golden autumnal works of Johannes Brahms?
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Posted on August 21, 2008 by Michael Lawrence
Last spring, I planned an organ recital that I thought would be really fantastic. The problem was that I had gotten in over my head and, for a number of reasons, some of which were related to burnout, found myself unprepared as the recital neared and having to cancel it.
I have not failed to reflect on this, and I have come up with a program for this Fall (date to be announced later) which should be much more manageable, and dare I say enjoyable, to prepare for. This lineup is based on an All Saints/All Souls theme: I suppose you could call it the elitist’s version of the all-too-common “Halloween concert.”
Henry Walford-Davies: Solemn Melody
J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
Bach: Alle menschen muessen sterben (from the Neumeister Choraele)
improvisation on the Dies Irae
Olivier Messiaen: Le Banquet Celeste
Messiaen: Transports de joie
Hymn: O Quanta Qualia (assuming there are enough people there to make the singing of it thrilling)
Calvin Hampton: In Paradisum
Marcel Dupre: Cortege et Litanie
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