Listening Log

September 2017

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 659

This translates from German as “Now Come, Savior of the Gentiles”. It was originally choral music written by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Later the hymn was arranged for the piano by Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924). He was a big fan of Bach’s music. This piece is performed by Murray Perahia.

October 2017

Avalanche Op. 45, No. 2

This exciting and slightly-spooky music is sure to give you goosebumps. It was composed by Stephen Heller. He was born in Hungary in 1813 and studied music in Austria. When he was 25 years old he moved to Paris, France and was friends with other famous composers like Hector Berlioz, Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt. This piece is performed by Randall Faber.

November 2017

The Moons of Jupiter

Did you know that the planet Jupiter is really massive? Its mass is 318 times the mass of planet Earth. It has 63 moons, because it has a really strong gravitational pull due to it’s enormous size. To learn more about Jupiter and its moons click here.

This piece was composed by Nancy Faber. She began composing music at the age of 7. She and her husband, Randall Faber, co-wrote the Piano Adventures series. He is playing her composition in this recording. They teach together at the Faber Institute in Michigan.

December 2017

Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24

The composers Paul O’Neill and John Oliva heard about a cellist that was born in Sarajevo. He was very good, so he moved away to play with orchestras throughout Europe. During the Bosnian War, he returned to his home town and found it destroyed by the fighting. Every night instead of going inside the safety of the bomb shelter, the man took his cello to the town square and played Christmas carols. He wanted to prove that the spirit of humanity was still alive there. This story inspired O’Neill and Oliva to compose this piece.

It is played in this recording by guitar soloist George Lynch and the Stahlwersfonie Orchestra.

January 2018

Mozart Piano Sonata No. 6 in DM K 284, Rondeau en Polonaise

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed this piece. His music is full of beautiful melodies and surprises, as you’ll hear in this recording.

Mitsuko Uchida makes this sonata sparkle. Her sensitive and emotional interpretations of Mozart’s music, her incredibly fast and agile fingers, and her stunning technique set her apart. When I want to listen to Mozart’s keyboard music, I turn to Ms. Uchida.

 

February 2018

The Sun’s Gonna Shine Again

Ray Charles composed and recorded this song with a band. It belongs to the rhythm and blues genre of jazz music. It is about a man that is sad because his wife is mad at him. Playing the blues makes him feel better and he is hopeful that the future will be “sunny”.

Mr. Charles was an excellent jazz pianist. He always wore sunglasses because he couldn’t see. He played by feeling the keys.

March 2018

Chopin Mazurka Opus 30, No. 4

Arthur Rubinstein is playing this piece composed by Frederic Chopin. Rubinstein was a very great artist. His recordings of Chopin’s music are some of the finest in the world. Rubinstein once said “On stage, I will take a chance. There has to be an element of daring in great music-making. These younger ones, they are too cautious. They take the music out of their pockets instead of their hearts.” You can read about his life by clicking here.

Both Rubinstein and Chopin were born in Poland. Chopin wrote many types of music for the piano: preludes, mazurkas, polonaises, nocturnes, etudes, concertos and more. Click here for more information about the composer.

APRIL 2018

Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 19 in G Minor, Opus 49, No.1, Andante

The late Chilean pianist, Claudio Arrau, plays with artistry and brings out the drama in Beethoven’s compositions. His music paints sunshine and storms in the listener’s imagination. I love to listen to him play Beethoven’s piano music.

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) was from Germany. He composed 32 piano sonatas! Some of the most famous ones have nicknames like “Appassionata,” “Pathetique,” “Tempest” and “Waldstein”. These compositions are wonderful and I recommend that you listen to a recording of Claudio Arrau playing them one day. Beethoven is most famous for his “Ninth Symphony” (Ode to Joy), “Fur Elise” and “Moonlight Sonata.” To learn more about his life click here.