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Rediscovering a Classic

This blog is about being surprised, not by a new work, but by an old one I considered too familiar, one by a composer whose birthday was on March 4.

It happened that a colleague sent me a score, and asked me to check something in it. I opened the file. There at the top was a most famous title, which brought to mind its opening tune used in countless TV and radio ads. Then, turning to the introduction, I came upon something unexpected: sonnets that the composer had written, one for each of the work’s four parts.

Finally, when I reached the actual score, I found lines from these sonnets above musical passages so that the performer can know what is being described.

“Songs of birds” it said just after that famous opening music. Goldfinch and turtle-dove are heard at measure 58 in the first movement of Part 2. Having often wondered about repeated notes in the slow movement of Part I, I investigated, and read, “the dog that barks.”

Romanticism of the 19th century? Try Baroque, 1725: “Le Quattro Stagioni” The Four Seasons, probably Vivaldi’s most famous concertos.

The most exciting part is that you do not need to be a violinist or conductor to learn these pieces. NLS Music section has an arrangement for solo piano at BRM35873. You can play them at your keyboard, or just read through them to learn what Vivaldi was depicting in his “Trial of Harmony and Invention” (“Il cimento dell’armonica e dell’invencione”).

The next time you hear The Four Seasons, you may give them an added dimension by having Vivaldi’s sonnets at your fingertips. This is just what my wife and I did one evening last month. In the fourth concerto, those tremolo effects brought teeth-chattering winter cold right into our living room, though Virginia temperatures reached the 70s!

So, whether you’ve rarely heard them, or think you’ve heard them too often, Let BRM35873 give you deeper knowledge of The Four Seasons.

Celebrating Black Composers

In honor of Black History Month, this blog post will highlight materials in the music section that are written by or about African American composers. These composers wrote in many styles, including popular, Western classical, jazz, gospel, and more. Here is some music by three Black composers that we have available in our collection. Harry […]

An Interview with Stephanie Pieck, Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with Stephanie Pieck. Q) Explaining your teaching philosophy, you wrote, “I faced many instances in which the general opinion was that a blind person couldn’t learn. But I also had many very dedicated teachers who knew this wasn’t true; all that was needed was a different way to […]

An Interview with Stephanie Pieck, Part 1

I am excited to share my interview with Stephanie Pieck, a pianist, teacher, and an NLS patron. Stephanie received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Ithaca College and maintains a private music studio in New York. Q) How old were you when you started playing the piano? What motivated you to start playing? A) […]

A Miniaturist and More

For many music lovers, the end of January brings to mind two birthdays: Mozart’s on the 27th, and Schubert’s on the 31st. Could a composer born between these two giants, end up being overlooked? Perhaps. It was while preparing my blog about the Viking Opera Guide (BRM29585) that I learned that the 29th of January […]

Newest BARD Additions

Since we are on a roll talking about BARD, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the new (or newly digitized) titles that we’ve uploaded to BARD over the past few weeks. Talking Books Uncle Dave Macon (DBM03766) This is a look at “Uncle Dave” Macon (also known as “The Dixie Dewdrop) and […]

BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download)

Recently, I’ve been dismayed to hear some patrons say, “I know you don’t have such and such in your collection because I already checked on BARD.” After receiving a few of these comments, I realized that some of our patrons mistakenly believe that our entire collection is available on BARD.  I would like to use […]

A Four Hour Concert in an Unheated Hall

On this day, over two hundred years ago, a historic concert took place. It was in Vienna, in the middle of the Advent season, and Beethoven needed some money. “But, Beethoven,” you would say, “surely he was doing fine! He is Beethoven! Everyone loves him!” However, in Vienna in 1808, just because everyone loved you […]