Egon Wellesz – Idyllen, op. 21 (1917)

Egon Wellesz was undoubtedly one of Vienna’s modernist masters, lost to the city and posterity after exile in 1938. He, along with Alban Berg and Anton Webern made up the original group of pupils to study with Arnold Schoenberg. [source]

Egon Wellesz (1885-1974): Idyllen, fünf Klavierstücken zu Gedichten von Stefan George, op.21 (1917).

I. In ruhig fließender Bewegung
II. Schwebend
III. Mäßig
IV. Verträumt
V. Langsam. Frei im Vortrag

Margarete Babinsky – pianoforte.

[Here you can read Egon Wellesz on Schönberg, 13. September 1934.]

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Egon Wellesz as painted by Oskar Kokoschka 1911

Arnold Schoenberg – Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1906)

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The Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9 (also known by its title in German Kammersymphonie, für 15 soloinstrumente, or simply as Kammersymphonie) is a composition by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg.

It was finished in 1906 and premiered on February 8, 1907 in Vienna by the Rosé Quartet together with a wind ensemble from the Vienna Philharmonic, under the composer’s baton. Schoenberg again conducted the piece, as part of the famed Skandalkonzert in 1913, in which the heterodox tonalities of Schoenberg’s Symphony and, more so, of his student Alban Berg’s works incited the attendees to riot in protest and prematurely end the concert.[citation needed]

The first British performance was on 6 May 1921 (or possibly on 16 April) at the Aeolian Hall, London, conducted by Edward Clark, Schoenberg’s champion and former student. The players included Charles Woodhouse (violin), John Barbirolli (cello), Léon Goossens (oboe), Aubrey Brain and Alfred Brain (horns).

The piece is a well-known example of the use of quartal harmony.




John Cage – Music of Changes (1951)

Music of Changes is a piece for solo piano by John Cage. Composed in 1951 for pianist and friend David Tudor, it is Cage’s earliest fully indeterminate instrumental work.

Music of Changes was the second fully indeterminate work Cage composed (the first is Imaginary Landscape No. 4, completed in April 1951, and the third movement of Concerto for prepared piano also used chance[1]), and the first instrumental work that uses chance throughout. He was still using magic square-like charts to introduce chance into composition, when, in early 1951, Christian Wolff presented Cage with a copy of the I Ching (Wolff’s father published a translation of the book at around the same time).[2] This Chinese classic text is a symbol system used to identify order in chance events. For Cage it became a perfect tool to create chance-controlled compositions: he would “ask” the book questions about various aspects of the composition at hand, and use the answers to compose. In effect, the vast majority of pieces Cage completed after 1951 were created using the I Ching. [source]

Book I (New York, May 16, 1951)
Book II (New York, August 2, 1951)
Book III (New York, October 18, 1951)
Book IV (New York, December 13, 1951)

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Krzysztof Penderecki – Complete Cello Concertos (1967-1983)

1 Concerto For Cello And Orchestra No. 1 (1967/1972) 17:48
2 Concerto For Cello And Orchestra No. 2 (1982) 35:06
3 Concerto For Viola And Chamber Orchestra (1983) 20:16

Cello – Arto Noras
Composed By – Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor – Krzysztof Penderecki
Orchestra – Sinfonia Varsovia

Finlandia Records

Around the mid-1970s, while he was a professor at the Yale School of Music, Penderecki’s style began to change. The Violin Concerto No. 1 largely leaves behind the dense tone clusters with which he had been associated, and instead focuses on two melodic intervals: the semitone and the tritone. Some commentators[who?] compared this new direction to Anton Bruckner. This direction continued with the Symphony No. 2, Christmas (1980), which is harmonically and melodically quite straightforward. It makes frequent use of the tune of the Christmas carol Silent Night.  Penderecki explained this shift by stating that he had come to feel that the experimentation of the avant-garde had gone too far from the expressive, non-formal qualities of Western music: ‘The avant-garde gave one an illusion of universalism. The musical world of Stockhausen, Nono, Boulez and Cage was for us, the young – hemmed in by the aesthetics of socialist realism, then the official canon in our country – a liberation…I was quick to realise however, that this novelty, this experimentation and formal speculation, is more destructive than constructive; I realised the Utopian quality of its Promethean tone’. Penderecki concluded that he was ‘saved from the avant-garde snare of formalism by a return to tradition’. [source]

Arto Noras (born 12 May 1942 in Turku) is a Finnish cellist who is one of Finland’s most celebrated instrumentalists and amongst the most outstanding internationally acknowledged cellists of his generation. [source]

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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:

www.ruedlanggaardselskabet

 

Igor Stravinsky – Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1947 version)

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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)

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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.

[Source]

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]

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

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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.