June 4-June 10: Magical Music

1) S. Rachmaninoff, Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 3 no. 2

While Classical Music is often associated with soothing relaxation, it can also be electrifying and earth shaking!  This is one of Rachmaninoff's most famous pieces, also known as "The Bells of Moscow".  I've included a version where it is played on electric guitar and transforms into a rock song.

Questions

This piece is filled with chords, creating a thick texture and powerful sound.  In the final section when the main theme returns, the music is written on 4 staves to accommodate the amount of notes and huge range!

  • In the final section, how many notes do you think are played in each chord?
  • How can you produce a powerful sound on the piano?
 

2) Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter

Harry Potter music is back by popular demand!  The music we hear in movies is often played by orchestras.  Watch each instrument perform its magic, each with it's own tone and colour!

Questions

  • Do you recognize any of the instruments?
  • Each instrument has its own unique sound.  Which instruments did you like?

May 28-June 3: Little Red Riding Hood and Bach

1) J.S. Bach, Cello Suite No. 1, Prelude

This piece has a monophonic texture which is unlike any of the pieces we have heard this year.  There is only a single line throughout the entire piece with no accompanying chords!  However, different layers can still be heard - a result of compositional genius, brought to life by an insightful performer.  Bach did not only achieve this once - he wrote six Cello Suites, each consisting of 6 movements.  This is only the first movement of the first suite!

2) S. Rachmaninoff, Etude Tableaux, Op. 39 No. 6 "Little Red Riding Hood"

Rachmaninoff wrote 2 sets of Etude Tableaux (picture study)which was music inspired by visuals. However, he did not reveal what exactly inspired each one.  Rachmaninoff believed the listener should paint their own images of what the music suggests and said, "I do not believe in the artist that discloses too much of his images."

Questions

  • What image does each piece of music paint in your head?

May 21-May 27: Midnight Moonlight Mood ☽

☾ The theme of this week's pieces are moonlight ☽

1) L. Beethoven, "Moonlight" Sonata, Op. 27 no. 2

Beethoven's 14th piano sonata consists of 3 movements.  The name, "Moonlight Sonata", comes from the 1st movement but was not given by the composer himself.  This is the most popular movement and the one we will be focusing on for this listening activity.  I've included a recording with the famous 1st movement and a recording of the complete sonata.  I encourage everyone to listen to the entire piece as this is how it is meant to be performed - the other movements of the sonata are a huge contrast to the first, with a joyful 2nd movement and a stormy, turbulent 3rd movement.

 

2) C. Debussy, Clair de Lune (Moonlight)

The name of this piece comes from a poem it was inspired by, Clair de Lune, by Paul Verlaine in 1869.  The style here is very different from the previous one - Debussy was a composer of the Impressionistic period, hundreds of years after Beethoven.  It remains a popular piece to this day and has been featured in films, commercials, and more.  There is even an extended repeat version on YouTube which lasts for almost an hour and has close to 15 million views!  I've included 2 versions (including this extended version) for your enjoyment.

Questions

  • What are some things that inspire you?
  • Do these pieces sound like moonlight to you?  If so, what parts and why?
  • If you could rename these pieces, what would you name it?
  • How are the styles of these two pieces different from each other?