Mozart, Hell's Vengeance Boils in My Heart (1791)

For no particular reason other than it's always fun to hear, I have embedded two videos of Mozart's great Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute, "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen." (“Hell’s Vengeance Boils in My Heart”).

Animated Graphical Score by Music Animation Machine

Diana Damrau, soprano

Year of Wonder – March

It’s official — I have never stayed with a New Year’s Resolution as long as the one I made for 2019 to listen to all the music in Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder. February supplied some great pieces, from Gregorio Allegri to Giacomo Puccini to John Williams. I will say, however, that I was generally familiar with the music on the February list and wasn’t introduced to as many new pieces as was true for January. I was nevertheless thrilled to wake up every morning and read about the music Burton-Hill had assigned for each day of the month.

Although I made my resolution at the beginning of January, I see no reason the Year of Wonder can’t begin any day of the year. I recommend followers of this blog purchase Burton-Hill's book and get to work reading about and listening to her terrific recommendations. I have posted a Spotify playlist for March for those who want to begin their own Year of Wonder.

I have also embedded pieces by Percy Grainger and Wolfgang Mozart that ranked as highlights for me in February.


Spotify Playlist for MARCH of the Year of Wonder

Handel in the Strand
Performed by Richard Hickox (piano) and the BBC Philharmonic

Mozart, Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, K. 448
Performed by Daniel Barenboim and Margaret Argerich

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 2018 Hall of Fame poll for favorite pieces of classical music.

Martin Fröst, clarinet

Mozart Breaks a Rule

"People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times." –Wolfgang Mozart, in a letter to a friend (attributed)

In 1770, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a fourteen-year-old prodigy who had been touring Europe as a performer since the age of six. While traveling through Italy with his father, he found himself at the Vatican during the days preceding Easter, and he heard a performance of the legendary work of vocal music titled
Miserere. The Catholic church had printed only three copies of the piece and had restricted performances to Holy Week services in the Sistine Chapel. Within hours after hearing the piece, Mozart created a manuscript of Miserere from memory. He created the manuscript without the pope’s permission and then returned to the Sistine Chapel two days later on Good Friday — Friday the 13th — to hear the piece again and make corrections to his manuscript.

Miserere was one of the most safely guarded works of art in Europe, and performers were prohibited from taking the music outside the Vatican. By creating a manuscript of the music, Mozart violated a papal edict protecting it. His transcription may have even contributed to the published versions appearing all over Europe the next year. No one is certain. Historians do know, however that Mozart’s father seemed determined to abide by the pope's decree.

"You have often heard of the famous Miserere in Rome, which is so greatly prized that the performers are forbidden on pain of excommunication to take away a single part of it, copy it or to give it to anyone. But we have it already. Wolfgang has written it down and we would have sent it to Salzburg in this letter, if it were not necessary for us to be there to perform it. But the manner of performance contributes more to its effect than the composition itself. Moreover, as it is one of the secrets of Rome, we do not wish to let it fall into other hands." – Leopold Mozart, in a letter to his wife, April 14, 1770

When Pope Clement XIV heard about Mozart's transcription of Miserere he did not condemn the boy for violating his decree. Instead, he recognized Mozart’s musical genius with a papal knighthood, making Mozart a Knight of the Order of the Golden Spur.

Allegri, Miserere – King's College Chapel Choir

Many thanks to
The Greatest Music Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer for introducing me to this story.

The 20 Greatest Symphonies

The September 2016 edition of BBC Music Magazine included a ranking of "The 20 Greatest Symphonies of All Time." The ranking was based on a poll of 151 of the world's greatest conductors, including such notable maestros as Marin Alsop (São Paulo State Symphony), Sir Andrew Davis (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Alan Gilbert (New York Philharmonic), Zubin Mehta (Israel Philharmonic), Peter Oundijan (Royal Scottish National Orchestra), Sir Simon Rattle (Berlin Philharmonic), and Leonard Slatkin (Detroit Symphony Orchestra).

The conductors who took part in the poll were obviously well-acquainted with the greatest symphonies in the classical repertoire, which, for me, gave the results some credibility. In other words, it was more than just a popularity poll taken from classical music audiences. The conductors were asked to rank their top three symphonies in any order, and based on their selections here are history's 20 greatest symphonies.
  1. Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, “Eroica” (1804)
  2. Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 in D minor, “Choral” (1824)
  3. Mozart, Symphony No. 41 in C major, “Jupiter” (1788)
  4. Mahler, Symphony No. 9 in D major, “Farewell” (1909)
  5. Mahler, Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection” (1894)
  6. Brahms, Symphony No. 4 in E minor (1885)
  7. Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique (1830)
  8. Brahms, Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1876)
  9. Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 6 in B minor, “Pathétique” (1893)
  10. Mahler, Symphony No. 3 in D minor (1896)
  11. Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C minor (1808)
  12. Brahms, Symphony No. 3 in F major (1883)
  13. Bruckner, Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1890)
  14. Sibelius, Symphony No. 7 in C major (1924)
  15. Mozart, Symphony No 40 in G minor (1788)
  16. Beethoven, Symphony No. 7 in A major (1812)
  17. Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5 in D minor (1937)
  18. Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D major (1877)
  19. Beethoven, Symphony No. 6 in F major, “Pastoral” (1808)
  20. Bruckner, Symphony No. 7 in E major (1883)
Like all lists of this sort the rankings are not definitive, and the list should primarily serve as food for thought and a topic for entertaining discussion. In thrusting myself into that discussion I want to provide a few of my own takeaways from the list.

1.The ranking offers few surprises, containing a list of the traditional composers and pieces that I would expect. Beethoven leads the pack with five symphonies, followed by Brahms (four), Mahler (three), Bruckner (two), Mozart (two), Berlioz (one), Shostakovich (one), Sibelius (one), and Tchaikovsky (one). (Note that Brahms is the only composer on the list to bat a thousand — all four of his symphonies made the list.)

2. When I first heard about the project, I assumed Beethoven’s Ninth would earn the top spot on the list. I will say, however, that I am thrilled that Beethoven’s Third was chosen the “world’s greatest symphony.” I have taught classes deconstructing both the Third and the Ninth and find that I need much more time to explain what happens in the Third, a symphony that contains an abundance of musical content to analyze. It's a symphony that takes listeners on a journey through a complicated musical narrative that never fails to prompt great discussions after it is over. The first movement provides a roller coaster of edge-of-your-seat excitement, and the almost comic anarchy of the final movement gives listeners plenty to think about. The symphony’s message is abstruse and ambiguous, and it's difficult to imagine someone would listen to Beethoven's Third without wanting to hear it again and again and again.

3. I find personal validation in Mahler holding three spots in the top ten, beating out Beethoven and Brahms who each have two. For several years I’ve been tooting Mahler’s magic horn (!) in my music history classes, and now I have a list from
BBC Music to validate my passion. I also love that Mahler’s Ninth is so high on the list, although I am not surprised. Mahler's Ninth juggles a variety of ideas and emotions that in the end become achingly silent. All music eventually goes silent, but only Mahler has ever connected music to silence so elegantly. For me, the end of Mahler’s Ninth sparks the sort of transcendent soul searching that can only come from music.

4. Although I have no significant complaints about the ranking, I would like to provide some of my own honorable mentions: composers and works that I would not have been surprised to see on the list. I have decided to avoid listing additional works by the composers who already made the list.
Regardless of how history's great symphonies are ranked, every symphony listed on this page is worth hearing — every one of them will provide a few of those nice moments that can only come from music.

Just for fun, here's an animated score of the breathtaking first movement of Beethoven’s Third. (The animation comes from the
Music Animation Machine and the recording comes from the Bezdin Ensemble.)


Visit the Official Website of BBC Music Magazine at

Listening to Classical Music

It’s not that people don’t like classical music. It’s that they don’t have the chance to understand and to experience it.

– Gustavo Dudamel

I have spent over twenty years teaching students in high school and continuing education classes about music history. Most students enter my classes knowing little about music, and I have gained much experience helping those who are new to classical music — the tyros, I call them — learn to understand and enjoy what they are hearing. To help students in my classes I have come up with five suggestions for learning to enjoy classical music.

Five Steps Toward Understanding and Enjoying Classical Music

1. Listen to a piece of music several times.
If I placed only one suggestion on my list, this would be it. The more you listen to a great piece of music, the more you will understand it, and the more you understand it, the more you will enjoy it. It’s almost that simple.

Unlike most movies or books, a piece of classical music gets better if you have experienced it numerous times. As much as you might enjoy watching a film like
The Shawshank Redemption, you probably don’t need to repeat the experience dozens of times. Even the greatest films have their limits.

But that is generally not true of great music. If you only listen to Beethoven's
Fifth Symphony once, you might not be able to grasp the narrative of each movement and how the movements relate to each other. If you listen to the symphony several times, however, you should begin to understand the narrative, and it should eventually begin affecting you intellectually and emotionally.

Think about it. A rock group's biggest ovation at a concert most likely comes from a song the audience knows well, not from a song the audience has never heard. The same is true with classical music. You are most likely to enjoy the pieces you know best. With good music, familiarity does not breed contempt, it breeds adulation.

The desire to hear a great piece of music several times is not limited to classical music. It is also true of so-called popular music. I assume most Beatles fans enjoy the song “Let It Be.” Even if those who like the song have heard it a hundred times, they could probably listen to it again. A good song never grows old.
The same is true of classical music, although classical music differs from pop music in a significant way — most pop songs are easier to understand than classical music. Whether a pop song is about unrequited love or some other version of “can’t get no satisfaction,” the music and message are generally understandable after only a few hearings, maybe even the first hearing.

Understanding classical music, however, usually takes a little more work. For one thing, a piece of classical music is generally longer, containing much more information and musical content. But if you give classical music the time it deserves and listen to a piece of music several times, the rewards will be tremendously satisfying. Music composed by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven has survived over two hundred years for a reason — it is great music. The music is too good not to enjoy, and repeated hearings will only enhance your enjoyment.

2. Put some time and effort into learning the terminology of music.
Again, enjoying classical music is different from enjoying a good movie. In most cases, you can understand a Hollywood film while possessing little or no knowledge of cinematic technique. Most films require no extra homework to figure them out.

A piece of classical music, on the other hand, requires a little work. Without knowing a few basic musical terms and the general outline of music history, a piece of classical music might not make sense, sounding like a series of random tones, some more pleasant than others. Classical music requires you to know the difference between a concerto, sonata, symphony, and symphonic poem. You need to know the characteristics of music from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. And it takes a little effort to learn all this.

Before you can begin to understand Mozart’s
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, you should probably know the answer to a few questions. What is a symphony? How many movements are in a symphony? What are the expectations for each movement? What does it mean that the symphony is in a minor key? What did audiences expect from a symphony in Mozart’s time? Is it a "programmatic" symphony?

Mozart, Symphony No. 40, First Movement (New England Conservatory Youth Symphony)

If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you can still enjoy Mozart’s symphony, or at least parts of it. However, you will likely enjoy it much more if you listen with a little knowledge about what is happening in the music, as well as the symphony’s historical context.

If you know nothing about music and the task of learning so much history seems daunting, hang in there — your knowledge and enjoyment will grow exponentially. The more you learn, the more you will discover that new pieces of music are easier to understand. The more you learn about Mozart’s
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, for example, the easier it will be to understand his Symphony No. 41 in C major, as well as Haydn's symphonies. You will then have a frame of reference for understanding Beethoven and the innovations he brought to writing symphonies. You will also be on your way to a better understanding of the composers who followed Beethoven. It’s all related.

3. Be able to place a piece of music within its historical context.
All works of art are a product of the time and place of their creation. When you look at Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel you are not only observing the works of a great artist, you are paying a visit to the Italian Renaissance. Reading a book by Charles Dickens can take you back to Victorian England, and John Steinbeck can take you back to the Great Depression. Art and literature are like time machines that can transport you to a different world and help you better understand that world.

Music works the same way. Just as songs written by the Beatles can take you back to the 1960s, Bach’s music can teach you something about German culture in the early eighteenth century. Shostakovich’s music can teach you volumes about Stalinist Russia.

The more you know about history, the more you can understand the environment in which a piece of music was created, and the more you understand that environment, the more you can enrich your experience of listening to music.


4. Learn about the composer who created the music.
Some composers are best described as skilled craftspersons who may not have been concerned about putting their personal lives and philosophies into their music. Other composers, however, used music as a form of personal expression, and some of their compositions cannot be completely understood without an examination of their personal biographies. In either case, you will want to know something about the person who composed the music your are trying to understand.

Although a composer like Bach did not generally use music as a form of personal expression, knowing something about his biography can help you understand the context in which his music was created. For the last twenty-seven years of his life, Bach created music for several churches in Leipzig, Germany. Much of Bach’s music was therefore utilitarian, designed for performance in church. To understand Bach we should appreciate the degree to which his music glorifies God, not because he was a religious man (which he was), but because his job required him to create music for church services.

Beethoven, on the other hand, was one of the first significant composers to use music as a form of personal expression. The suffering he endured from loneliness and debilitating illness can be heard in some of his music. His Third Symphony can be heard as a testament to his personal heroism. His Fifth Symphony can be heard as an expression of the fate he confronted in losing his hearing. An understanding of Beethoven’s personal life enriches the experience of listening to his music.

Whether we are listening to Bach or Beethoven, a little biographical knowledge enhances the enjoyment of their music.

5. Learn to recognize how a piece of music is organized.
Just as a high school student writes an essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion or a haiku with three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, composers follow certain “forms” to give structure to their music. Understanding how to hear those forms is probably the most difficult of my five suggestions for learning how to understand and enjoy classical music. Nevertheless, learning to hear musical form is an essential element in taking your enjoyment of classical music to a higher level.

Listening to music with no knowledge of musical form is somewhat like attending a sporting event with no knowledge of the rules of the game. Imagine watching a football game and not even knowing what players must do to score points. The game would be a jumbled mess. The game is more fun if you simply knew that players are trying to move the ball ten yards in four downs with the ultimate goal of scoring a touchdown.

For those who are new to classical music, knowing how a piece of music is organized is similar to learning the rules of a sporting event. Suddenly, everything will begin to make sense. The music will have a goal — a “story” with a beginning, middle, and end — and deciphering that story can be great fun.

I hope my five suggestions will help the Classical Tyros reading this blog become connoisseurs of great music. After all, the journey that people take to understand classical music is a journey that is guaranteed to bring more beauty and pleasure into their lives — a journey worth taking, I'd say.

If you're looking for more to help you get started, here's three articles from
The Atlantic about how to appreciate classical music.

"The Secret to Enjoying Classical Music: It's Just Music"
"How to Listen to Classical Music, and Enjoy It"
"What Stephen Strasburg Has in Common With a Violinist"

A Beginner's Guide to Major and Minor Tonality

Should it matter to a listener whether a piece of music is composed in a major or minor key? If we find ourselves listening to Mozart's Symphony No. 41 in C major or Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, do we need to pay attention to the "major" and "minor" labels?

These questions were asked recently by a student in a lifelong learning class I was teaching titled "How to Listen to a Symphony." The questions were elementary, but consequential. Considering the sincerity of the questions, I wanted to follow Albert Einstein's maxim, "If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." I hoped a six year old would be able to understand what I was about to say.

My answer was uncomplicated and direct: "Yes, it does matter."

It matters in the same way as deciding before going to the theater whether you want to see a comedy or tragedy. In most cases, the entire mood or tone of a piece of music is determined by whether it is composed in a major or minor key.

Here’s what the average listener with little or no understanding of the language of music needs to know: If a piece of music is composed in a major key it will generally sound bright, happy, sunny, cheerful, or joyful. A piece in a minor key will generally sound dark, sad, grave, sinister, or dramatic. A piece in a major key can sound delicate or light. A piece in a minor key can sound heavy or weighty.

Listen to the following pieces and note the differences.

Classical Music in a Major Key
Beethoven, Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28, "Pastoral," Fourth Movement

Classical Music in a Minor Key
Beethoven, Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, “Pathetique,” First Movement

Movie Music in a Major Key
Vangelis, "Theme from Chariots of Fire"

Movie Music in a Minor Key
John Barry, “James Bond 007 Theme Music”

Now, back to the pieces my student asked about in the first question.

Mozart, Symphony No. 41 in C major, First Movement

Mozart Symphony No. 40 G minor Symphony, First Movement

The German composer Paul Hindemith once said, "Tonality is a natural force, like gravity."
As I explain it to my students, the center of gravity in major tonality will likely pull you toward the "light" and in a minor tonality it will likely pull you toward the "dark."
May your days always end on a major tonality.

A Beginner's Guide to Melody

Defining "melody" is one of the least difficult tasks for a teacher explaining the elements of music to students who are new to classical music.

When listening to a piece of music we hear notes that are arranged both vertically and horizontally. By “vertical,” I am referring to the different notes that are played simultaneously. By “horizontal,” I am referring to the notes that are played one after another.

Melody is a successive arrangement of notes. We can therefore think of a melody as a musical "sentence." Just as we hear one word after another in a sentence, we hear one note after another in a melody. All told, melody, for most people, is the most recognizable element of music, the one element that most people hear first.

Here's one of the world’s most timeless melodies:

Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusic, Fourth Movement

Some melodies are singable, conforming to the natural abilities of the human voice. If the singable melody is also memorable, the type that gets stuck in your head, we can generically call it a “tune.”
Here's a great tune from Beethoven.

Some melodies are not singable, as represented by this melody from "Mood Indigo."

Duke Ellington, "Mood Indigo," performed by the Clark Terry Quartet

Sometimes music provides a short series of notes rather than a complete melody. When a series of notes is too short to form a complete musical sentence, it's called a
motif. Sometimes a series of motifs can be used to complete a musical sentence and form a melody. Sometimes the motifs stand alone.
Here's one of the most well-known motifs in music history, a motif that stands alone as the primary theme of the music.

Symphony No. 5, First Movement, performed by the Canadian Brass

A piece of music generally presents a melody in one of three different ways.

1. Monophony: Music that provides a single melody with nothing else happening. The melody has no accompaniment.

Sanctus Lambertus, plainchant

2. Polyphony: Music that provides two or more melodies at the same time. Polyphony can get complicated, and the two ears that nature gave us might not be enough to hearing everything that’s going on.

Bach, “Little” Fugue in G Minor

3. Homophony: Music that provides a single melody with an accompaniment. Almost all pop music is homophonic and most people's ears are well-acquainted with homophony. Think of a singer strumming a guitar. The singer is most likely providing the melody and the guitar the accompaniment. That’s homophony.

The Beatles, Blackbird

There it is. Listening to classical music requires much more than identifying a melody and how it is being used. Nevertheless, I can think of no better place to begin a journey through music history than being able to recognize the melody in a piece of music.

Form in Classical Era Music

One of the many reasons I enjoy classical music is that it gives me an opportunity to exercise my brain. Better than working on a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, listening to a piece of instrumental music and trying to identify its component parts provides me with an intellectual challenge on par with reading a great novel or trying to learn a foreign language. For those who have never thought of music in this way and would like to “deconstruct” a piece of music simply for the mental exercise it provides, I recommend beginning with music composed by Mozart. The sections of his music are, in most cases, so clearly defined that he may be the best composer for beginning an understanding of musical form.

Here’s how to get started with deconstructing instrumental music.

First, be able to identify the four primary musical forms of the Classical era (1730-1820).
  1. Theme and Variations
  2. Minuet and Trio
  3. Rondo
  4. Sonata Form
Next, sit and listen to a piece of music that represents one of those forms (again, I recommend Mozart). Give the music your full attention and don’t do anything else while you are listening. Listen again and again until you can recognize each of the component parts of the form.

It’s not easy, but with repeated listening your ability to identify the sections of each form will increase exponentially.

Here’s an example of each of the four forms and a simplified, basic definition of each form :

Theme and Variations
A theme and variations begins with a main theme that is transformed through a series of variations.

Mozart, Sonata in A Major, K 331, Andante Grazioso (1783)
James Liu, piano

  • 0:05 – Theme
  • 0:50 – Variation 1
  • 1:32 – Variation 2
  • 2:11 – Variation 3
  • 2:54 – Variation 4
  • 3:35 – Variation 5
  • 5:15 – Variation 6
Minuet and Trio
A minuet and trio is composed in triple meter, which means the beat can be divided into groups of three. A minuet and trio contains three sections: a minuet waltz, a contrasting section that is called a trio, and a return to the beginning that is called the da capo.

Mozart, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525 , Third Movement (1787)
Gewandhaus Quartett

  • 0:07 – Minuet
  • 0:48 – Trio
  • 1:46 – Da Capo
A rondo begins with a main theme that is usually light and engaging. After several departures the main theme keeps returning, providing listeners with a sense of satisfaction upon each return.

Beethoven, Violin Concerto in D major
Hilary Hahn, violin

  • 0:00 – Rondo Theme
  • 0:48 – Departure
  • 1:54 – Rondo Theme
  • 2:56 – Departure with cadenza at 4:17
  • 5:53 – Rondo Theme
Sonata Form
In sonata form composers provide two or more themes and then develop those themes before returning to them at the end. Sonata form is usually organized in at least three sections. In the
exposition we hear the main themes that will serve as the unifying element of the entire piece. The exposition is usually repeated so that listeners can hear the themes a second time. In the development the composer tells the “story” of the main themes. Composers are free to do almost anything in the development. In the recapitulation the main themes of the exposition return and listeners are given a sense of resolution after the instability of the development.

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, First Movement (1788)
Graphic animated score from Music Animation Machine

  • 0:08 – Theme 1
  • 0:38 – Modulating Bridge
  • 0:57 – Theme 2
  • 1:23 – Closing Material
  • 2:02 – Theme 1
  • 2:33 – Modulating Bridge
  • 2:50 – Theme 2
  • 3:17 – Closing Material
  • 3:56 – 5:10
  • 5:10 – Theme 1
  • 5:39 – Modulating
  • 6:20 – Theme 2
  • 6:52 – Closing Material (Coda)
The descriptions and examples I have provided above will only get you started on what is sure to be a neverending journey. What fun you will have learning to recognize changes in tonality and discovering the unlimited ways that composers can play around within the forms to surprise you and develop their unique artistic vision.

And there it is, an introduction to four of the musical forms from the Classical era. Learn to identify the components parts of musical form and classical music will never again sound the same. Enjoy!

Defining Music, Part Two

In a previous blog I described music in simplistic terms as “the moments defined by what I am listening to.” In this blog I want to provide four additional items to my description. I should also add that any attempt to define something as abstract as music is probably a futile task.
In any case, here's some food for thought.

1. Nothing should be ruled out when describing something as "music."
What someone calls "music" might be a Mozart piano concerto, the songs of a humpback whale, or the cacophony of a hammer hitting an anvil — it depends on who is listening and how they want to label it. We are not obligated to like what others call "music," but common courtesy requires us to refer to something as music when others think of it that way.

John Cage, Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for 112 Radios
(performed by students of Hunter College of The City University of New York)

John Cage, 4’ 33” (composed in three movements, performed by David Tutor)

2. Music is the language of emotion.
In ancient Greece music was described as a language that spoke directly to human emotion. In what has become known as the
doctrine of ethos , the Greeks expressed an idea that the right kind of music had the power to heal the sick and shape personal character in positive ways. The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that when a piece of music was designed to imitate a certain emotion, a person listening to the music would have that emotion. Aristotle’s idea of music is still alive in the way we use music to exaggerate the drama, horror, or comedy in Hollywood films.

John Williams, Theme from "Jaws"
(performed by John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra)

3. Instrumental music is a prime example of abstract art.
Just as abstract visual images might refer to something that goes beyond reality, instrumental music might be used to portray aspects of human existence that cannot normally be described with sound. After all, what is the sound of "love," "fear," or "spiritual redemption?" Why does Rimsky-Korsakov's music sound so “Russian” and Aaron Copland's music sound so "American"? Only great music can answer that question, and the answer cannot always be expressed in words.

Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian Easter Overture
(performed by Valery Gergiev and the Marlinsky Orchestra)

Aaron Copland, Rodeo, Fourth Movement
(performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by William Warfield)

4. Some music requires repeated hearings before it can be fully understood or appreciated.
Musical masterworks tend to get better the more they are heard. The first time you listen to Beethoven's
String Quartet, Opus 127, it might have little effect on your emotions. After hearing it several times, however, you might begin to describe it as "spiritual" and marvel at its ability to express profound truth. Listen to the quartet embedded below, and think of it as providing a contrast between Beethoven's inner turmoil and his public persona. It may take several hearings, but you should eventually be able to hear the difference between the "private" and the “public" in the composer's life.

Beethoven String Quartet, Opus 127
(performed by the Jasper String Quartet)

And so it goes...
This blog was written under the influence of Mozart’s
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major.

Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major
Yeol Eum Son, piano