Rued Langgaard – String Quartet no. 5 (1925)

String Quartet no. 5  is composed by the danish composer Rued Langgaard. Here played by Kontra Kvartetten:

Peter Fabricius – Bratsch
Anton Kontra – Violin
Boris Samsing – Violin
Morten Zeuthen – Cello

Rued Langgaard (born Rud Immanuel Langgaard; 28 July 1893 – 10 July 1952) was a late-Romantic Danish composer and organist. His then-unconventional music was at odds with that of his Danish contemporaries and was recognized only 16 years after his death. [source]

The danish filmproducer Peter Aalbaek who normally work together with Lars Von Trier is planning to make a feature movie about Rued Langgaard. Aalbaek has been fascinated by Langgaards history throughout his career, and his graduation film from the Film School also portrayed the composer.

picture from the homepage of Rued Langgaard Selskabet:



Igor Stravinsky – Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1947 version)


The work was first heard in London in 1921, when Koussevitsky conducted it at the Queens Hall. Early performances seem to have been unsatisfactory, though, and the work’s importance was slow to be recognised. In 1947 Stravinsky published a revised edition, with slight alterations to the instrumentation and layout of the music. This revised edition is performed here.

Members of the London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev

To the memory of Claude Debussy.

F. S. Kelly – Elegy for Strings: “In Memoriam Rupert Brooke” (1915)


Frederick Septimus Kelly was the seventh child from an enormously wealthy Australian family. His father Thomas Kelly had started off as a wool trader, but by the time of his death sat on a variety of boards of what would now be called ‘multinational corporations’. After grammar school in Australia, Frederick and his five brothers were sent to Eton in 1893, where he progressed on to Baliol College Oxford in 1909.

Music had been his passion since his youth; he had allegedly memorised Mozart piano sonatas by the age of five and began composing at around the same age. However, his parents dissuaded him from leaving Eton to attend a conservatoire aged 14, and Frederick found a substitute in sporting pursuits; football, cricket, but especially rowing.

Indeed during his life, he achieved most fame as a rower, winning the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley 1903 and 1905 and gold at the 1908 London Olympics as part of the men’s eight, plus a multitude of other events. He was apparently considered one of the finest ‘skulls’ of his generation, with a poise and effortless technique unrivalled by any of his contemporaries.

Another composer affected by the horrors of war. Frederick Septimus Kelly, Australian composer, killed in action in 1916.

His musical and sporting pursuits were detrimental to his studies at Oxford (he graduated with a fourth class degree in history), but he had made the connections and friends he needed, and a large inheritance on his father’s death in 1901 and his mother’s in 1902 meant that he never wanted for money, although the emotional impact of losing both of his parents within the space of a year marked a period of readjustment for the young composer.

Bisham Grange, c.1890 (courtesy Oxfordshire County Council) Although a proud Australian and frequent traveller, Frederick was to make his home in England, purchasing Bisham Grange, a fine manor house on the banks of the River Thames in Berkshire, where he lived with his sister Maisey and hosted select gatherings.

With a highly-strung, blunt personality, he was noted for his eccentric behaviour when overcome by high spirits when he apparently “rolled on the ground or indulged in war-dances and animal impressions” (ODNB). He seems to have also gained the sobriquets ‘Sep’ and the more abstruce ‘Cleg’, presumably a reference to Samuel Rutherford Crockett’s 1896 novel Cleg Kelly: Arab of the City. He is frequently referred to as ‘Cleg’ in war correspondence.

Oxford had given him the opportunity to mix with like-minded individuals and after his father’s death he recommenced a more serious study of music. From 1903 onwards he attended the Hochschule Konservatorium in Frankfurt to study piano and composition, a choice perhaps influenced by the attendance there of another Australian, Percy Grainger, with whom Kelly had made an acquaintance previously, although it was also had an English contingency in Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner and Roger Quilter.

Frederick wrote in his diary in 1907 of his desire ‘to be a great player and a great composer’; he toured several concert programmes around England as well as Australia where he performed national premieres of new works by Debussy and Scriabin.

For the next five years his experience as a concert pianist fluctuated; his diaries record some triumphant public performances, but also disappointments (on one occasion, his memory failed him during a piano concerto). Meanwhile, he composed steadily, with his works making semi-regular appearances in London performances, although there was no ‘break out’ work and his archives reveal many half-completed works.

As a patron of the arts, he also encouraged other musicians, for example taking over the running of the Classical Concert Society. It was through this that he met a Hungarian violinist called Jelly D’Aranyi, for whom he composed several works and it is widely assumed he would have married, although this period of his life was marked by several relationships that cooled off before engagement.

The Grantully Castle, date unknown At the outbreak of war in August 1914, Kelly was quick to volunteer, joining the newly-formed Royal Navy Division in September 1914. Posted in the Drake Battalion, he was transferred to the Hood Battalion sailing aboard the Grantully Castle towards the Dardanelles in the eastern Mediterranean where he found himself among acquaintances such as the composer William Denis Browne, Arthur Melland Asquith (son of the Prime Minister, known as “Oc”), the banker Patrick Shaw Stewart (now best known for the war poem “Achilles in the Trench”), Charles Lister and most famously the poet Rupert Brooke, whose midnight burial on the Isle of Skyros among the olive groves is one of the more famous episodes in the early part of the war.

After the ensuing battles at Gallipoli, Kelly was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for conspicuous gallantry during the evacuation in January 1916. While recuperating he composed his Elegy for strings and harp “in memoriam Rupert Brooke” (1915-6), one of the few works by Kelly to have been recorded.

He was promoted to lieutenant-commander, but posted to the Somme where a bullet claimed his life at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre on 13 November 1916 while leading an attack on a German machine-gun emplacement.


Toshi Ichiyanagi – Parallel Music (1962)

For electronic tape. Recorded in 1962 at NHK Electric Music Studio, Tokyo Japan. Appears on Cosmos Of Toshi Ichiyanagi III ~ 1960’s & 1990’s.

Toshi Ichiyanagi (一柳 慧 Ichiyanagi Toshi?, born 4 February 1933, Kobe, Japan) is a Japanese composer of avant-garde music. He studied with Tomojiro Ikenouchi, Kishio Hirao and John Cage. One of his most notable works is the 1960 composition, Kaiki, which combined Japanese instruments, shō and koto, and western instruments, harmonica and saxophone. Another work Distance (1961) requires the performers to play from a distance of three meters from their instruments. Anima 7 (1964) states that chosen action should be performed “as slowly as possible.”  Ichiyanagi was married to Yoko Ono from 1956 to 1963. [source]


John Cage – Twenty-Eight with Twenty-Nine (1991)


The so-called “number pieces” of John Cage were written during the last years of his life (from 1987-1992). The number referenced by the title indicates the number of players for which the work is written. For most of the number pieces Cage employed a series of flexible “measures” he called “time brackets”. In most cases an individual player is given a single note (though sometimes more) to be played within the time bracket of 0’00” to 1’00” for instance. The end result is a kind of music that seems to have no rhythmic profile at all. Long-held notes create a kind of static timelessness very similar to the effect created by a Japanese Gagaku ensemble. Cage’s number pieces represent perhaps his most refined and beautiful application of the principles of Zen to the creation of music.

Prague Winds; Christina Fong, violins and violas; Karen Krummel, cellos; Michael Crawford, double basses; Glenn Freeman, percussion. Image by John Cage.

Luciano Berio – Cries of London, for eight voices (1976)


Olive Simpson, Catherine Bott, sopranos
Carol Hall, Linda Hirst, mezzo-sopranos
John Potter, Ward Swingle, tenors
John Lubbock, David Beavan, basses

Cries of London, for eight voices (two sopranos, two contraltos, two tenors and two basses), are a reworking of an earlier piece bearing the same name for six voices (two contraltos, one tenor, two baritone and one bass), written in 1974 for the King’s Singers.

In this new version, the Cries of London become a short cycle of seven vocal pieces of folk nature, where a simple piece regularly alternates with a more elaborate one. The first and third “Cry” have the same text. The fifth “Cry” is the exact repetition of the first one. The seventh piece, “Cry of Cries”, is a commentary on the preceding “Cries”. As it takes on their melodies and their harmonic characters, it also moves away from them musically, as a distant echoing…

As a whole, this short cycle can also be listened to as an exercise in musical characterization and dramatization. The texts have been chosen among the famous cries of Old London street vendors. –Luciano Berio

Art by Peter Ellenshaw

Olga Neuwirth – The Long Rain (2000)

Neuwirth’s work you’ll find, say, a thrilling, teeming, claustrophobic score for a film of Ray Bradbury’s story The Long Rain; there’s a meditation on Italy’s fascist past for film and improvising musicians, Italia Anno Zero; a homage to high-camp and high-art cabaret artist Klaus Nomi; there’sTorsion, for manically tortured bassoon soloist and ensemble; and a piece called Hooloomooloo for three-part ensemble and CD player (Neuwirth has some of the best titles in the business). [source]

Olga Neuwirth (born 4 August 1968 in Graz) is an Austrian composer.  As a child at the age of seven, Neuwirth began lessons on trumpet. She later studied composition in Vienna at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts under Erich Urbanner, while studying at the Electroacoustic Institute. Her thesis was written on the music in Alain Resnais’s film L’Amour à mort. In 1985/86, she studied music and art at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Elinor Armer. In 1993/94 she studied with Tristan Murail and worked at IRCAM, producing such works as “…?risonanze!…” for viola d’amore. Earlier in her career, Neuwirth had the chance to meet with Italian composer Luigi Nono, who had similarly radical politics, and has claimed this had a strong influence on her life. [source]

Olga Neuwirth, Vienna 2004.

Dmitri Shostakovich – Piano Concerto No. 2 (1957)


Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102, by Dmitri Shostakovich was composed in 1957 for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday. Maxim premiered the piece during his graduation at the Moscow Conservatory. It is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece, much more so than most of Shostakovich’s works. The work is scored for solo piano, three flutes (third doubling piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, timpani, snare drum and strings. Despite his dismissal of the concerto, the composer performed it himself on a number of occasions, and recorded it along with his first concerto. Both are played at fast tempi rarely matched in modern recordings.

Arnold Schoenberg – A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46 (1947)


Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46. From the Album Simon Rattle Edition: The Second Viennese School.

Franz Mazura: speaker / Men’s voices of the City of Brimingham Symphony chorus / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Conductor: Simon Rattle.


I cannot remember everything. I must have been unconscious most of the time.

I remember only the grandiose moment when they all started to sing, as if prearranged, the old prayer they had neglected for so many years – the forgotten creed!

But I have no recollection how I got underground to live in the sewers of Warsaw for so long a time. The day began as usual: Reveille when it still was dark. “Get out!” Whether you slept or whether worries kept you awake the whole night. You had been separated from your children, from your wife, from your parents. You don’t know what happened to them… How could you sleep?

The trumpets again – “Get out! The sergeant will be furious!” They came out; some very slowly, the old ones, the sick ones; some with nervous agility. They fear the sergeant. They hurry as much as they can. In vain! Much too much noise, much too much commotion! And not fast enough! The Feldwebel shouts: “Achtung! Stilljestanden! Na wird’s mal! Oder soll ich mit dem Jewehrkolben nachhelfen? Na jut; wenn ihrs durchaus haben wollt!” (“Attention! Stand still! How about it, or should I help you along with the butt of my rifle? Oh well, if you really want to have it!”)

The sergeant and his subordinates hit (everyone): young or old, (strong or sick), quiet, guilty or innocent …

It was painful to hear them groaning and moaning.

I heard it though I had been hit very hard, so hard that I could not help falling down. We all on the (ground) who could not stand up were (then) beaten over the head…

I must have been unconscious. The next thing I heard was a soldier saying: “They are all dead!”

Whereupon the sergeant ordered to do away with us.

There I lay aside half conscious. It had become very still – fear and pain. Then I heard the sergeant shouting: „Abzählen!“ (“Count off!”)

They start slowly and irregularly: one, two, three, four – “Achtung!” The sergeant shouted again, “Rascher! Nochmals von vorn anfange! In einer Minute will ich wissen, wieviele ich zur Gaskammer abliefere! Abzählen!“ (“Faster! Once more, start from the beginning! In one minute I want to know how many I am going to send off to the gas chamber! Count off!”)

They began again, first slowly: one, two, three, four, became faster and faster, so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and (all) of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Shema Yisroel. [source]






















Photo: Arnold Schoenberg, Rockingham Avenue, LA, 1947/48