Classical Tyro

A Beginner's Guide to Great Music

Mozart, Rondo in C for Violin and Orchestra (1781)


"Music washes away from the soul the dust of every day life." – Berthold Auerbach


Pinchas Zuckerman, violin
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Franz Xaver Gruber, "Silent Night" (1818)

With high hopes that the spirit of peace and joy continues beyond the holiday season, I'm posting this video of the great Plácido Domingo singing "Silent Night." May love and kindness bless us all.


Placido Domingo with the Children's Choirs of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC
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Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, First Movement (1804)

With the two E-flat major chords that begin this symphony Beethoven started a revolution in music. This first movement alone was almost as long as entire symphonies of the time, the traditional third movement minuet became a scherzo, and, unlike previous symphonies, this symphony follows a dramatic narrative through all four movements. I have placed this piece in the “Classical” category but could easily have tagged it as “Romantic.”


Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra
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Haydn, Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major, Third Movement (1796)

Musicians playing the valveless trumpets of the eighteenth century were limited to playing notes from a harmonic series and were generally unable, except in higher registers, to provide satisfying melodic lines. However, new developments in the construction of trumpets during the late 1700s allowed the instruments to deliver satisfying melodies in all registers. Anton Weidinger, a trumpet virtuoso in the Vienna Court Orchestra, played a significant role in developing a five-keyed trumpet and then asked Joseph Haydn to compose a concerto for the new instrument. The Concerto in E-flat Major came from that request.

A lesson for Tyros — a “concerto” provides audiences with a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra. In the video below Haydn’s orchestral accompaniment has been scored for piano.



Markus Würsch, keyed trumpet; Peter Solomon, fortepiano
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Mozart, Clarinet Concerto, Second Movement (1791)

This clarinet concerto was the last significant work Mozart finished before his death in December 1791. London’s Classic FM audience recently ranked the concerto at #8 in it’s 2015 Hall of Fame poll for favorite pieces of classical music.


Martin Fröst, clarinet (Christoph Poppen conducting the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra)
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