The World's most beautiful music: Handel's Sarabande

>> Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Featured in the 1975 epic film, Barry Lyndon, this gorgeous piece of music is one of Handel's most beloved orchestral works, and remains a favorite of professional musicians and amateur music lovers alike. This is Handel in pure heart chakra mode.


The Music of Renaissance England: Thomas Morley

>> Monday, April 27, 2009

Thomas Morley (1557 or 1558 – October 1602) was an English composer, theorist, editor and organist of the Renaissance, and the foremost member of the English Madrigal School. He was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England. He and Robert Johnson are the composers of the only surviving contemporary settings of verse by Shakespeare.

Morley was born in Norwich, in East Anglia, the son of a brewer. Most likely he was a singer in the local cathedral from his boyhood, and he became master of choristers there in 1583. However, Morley evidently spent some time away from East Anglia, for he later referred to the great Elizabethan composer of sacred music, William Byrd, as his teacher; while the dates he studied with Byrd are not known, they were most likely in the early 1570s. In 1588 he received his bachelor's degree from Oxford, and shortly thereafter was employed as organist at St. Paul's in London. His young son died the following year in 1589.

In 1588 Nicholas Yonge published his Musica transalpina, the collection of Italian madrigals fitted with English texts, which touched off the explosive and colorful vogue for madrigal composition in England. Morley evidently found his compositional direction at this time, and shortly afterwards began publishing his own collections of madrigals (11 in all).

Morley lived for a time in the same parish as Shakespeare, and a connection between the two has been long speculated, though never proven. His famous setting of "It was a lover and his lass" from As You Like It has never been established as having been used in a performance of Shakespeare's play, though the possibility that it was is obvious. Morley was highly placed by the mid-1590s and would have had easy access to the theatrical community; certainly there was then, as there is now, a close connection between prominent actors and musicians.

While Morley attempted to imitate the spirit of Byrd in some of his early sacred works, it was in the form of the madrigal that he made his principal contribution to music history. His work in the genre has remained in the repertory to the present day, and shows a wider variety of emotional color, form and technique than anything by other composers of the period. Usually his madrigals are light, quick-moving and easily singable, like his well-known "Now is the Month of Maying"; he took the aspects of Italian style that suited his personality and anglicised them. Other composers of the English Madrigal School, for instance Thomas Weelkes and John Wilbye, were to write madrigals in a more serious or sombre vein.

In addition to his madrigals, Morley wrote instrumental music, including keyboard music (some of which has been preserved in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book), and music for the broken consort, a uniquely English ensemble of two viols, flute, lute, cittern and bandora, notably as published in 1599 in The First Booke of Consort Lessons, made by diuers exquisite Authors, for six Instruments to play together, the Treble Lute, the Pandora, the Cittern, the Base-Violl, the Flute & Treble-Violl.

Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (published 1597) remained popular for almost two hundred years after its author's death, and remains an important reference for information about sixteenth century composition and performance.

Source: Wikipedia

Sweet Nymph come to thy lover performed by the Hilliard Ensemble


Longing for Vienna

>> Sunday, April 26, 2009

I awakened this morning longing to be in Vienna. Perhaps its not the city so much as what the city means to me, but all the same, I wish I were there today.


Taking the bait

>> Saturday, April 25, 2009

Don't you just love it when you come up with a plan to expose a person's deceit and they take the bait? It's kind of like the plan that the Contessa and Susanna come up with to expose the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, very subtle and alluring, yet it's the perfect trap.

UPDATE 5/6/09:



Mamma Mia, it's Bryn Terfel!

>> Friday, April 24, 2009

And if you thought he was insistent as Mozart's most famous Don, (thanks Merisi!), you should hear him as Scarpia in this concert performance of Va, Tosca (Te Deum) from Puccini's Tosca. Mamma Mia, indeed!


A Mozart Showdown!

>> Thursday, April 23, 2009

Below I have presented three different versions of the famous duet, La ci darem la mano, from Mozart's Don Giovanni, and I want you to choose which among the three is your favorite and why. I won't tell you mine until after everyone has had a chance to make their choice.

A. Bryn Terfel and Hei-Kyung

B. Samuel Ramey and Dawn Upshaw

C. Thomas Allen and Susanne Mentzer


The Beatles: "Everybody's Got Something to Hide", Dedicated to the Wicked Witch of the West and all her Flying Monkeys

>> Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You guys are so predictable.


I've changed my mind

>> Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In light of some recent events involving an ongoing problem with the internet stalking that Steph has been a victim of for the last eight years, I've decided that I'm not going to post any more excerpts from my novel. Besides that, in light of some new information which I have only just obtained, I'm in the midst of some major rewrites.

I'll keep everyone updated on my progress!


Because it's a beautiful spring day!

>> Monday, April 20, 2009


The World's most beautiful music: Brahms Requiem, Mvt. 4 "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place"

>> Sunday, April 19, 2009

I've always loved the Brahms Requiem and this is probably my favorite movement. Preformed here by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio Choir, I hope you enjoy this lovely performance of one of Brahms' most beautiful works.


A star is born!

>> Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last night Steph and I watched "Great Performances" on PBS, an October, 2008 performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera featuring a young Polish tenor by the name of Piotr Beczala. It seems that the tenor who was scheduled to sing the role of Edgardo became suddenly ill and was unable to go on stage. Beczala, who was already known throughout Europe as a fine Mozart tenor, happened to be in the audience that evening and so they pulled him out and put him on stage for the performance. The Met audience went wild for him and thus a new tenor star appeared in the sky.

I've chosen to feature him in a 2006 Salzburg Festival recording of Mozart's Don Giovanni, singing a personal favorite of mine, Dalla sua pace. This guy is absolutely amazing.

P.S. Here's the link to the finale of Lucia di Lammermoor featuring Beczala as Edgardo. I chose not to use this one because it isn't a live performance, but it is wonderful, and definitely worth a listen.


Ostara's Blessings

>> Sunday, April 12, 2009

When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light

We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
We bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days

And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone

"A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of our Lord's hand"


Mozart goes to prison

>> Saturday, April 11, 2009

This has got to be one of the best scenes in film history. In The Shawshank Redemption, wrongfully convicted prisoner, Andy DuFrane, who works as the prison librarian, finds a recording of Le Nozze di Figaro and plays the duet from Act III, Sul'laria over the prison loudspeakers. If you've not seen this film, I advise that you run out and rent it today. It's a must-see.


An American Sweetheart: Deanna Durbin

>> Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I had never heard of her until very recently when I stumbled upon this YouTube video. I was thoroughly impressed. This particular clip is from the 1932 film entitled Three Smart Girls and features Durbin at the tender age of 14. Apparently she went on and made several popular films throughout the thirties and forties and became one of America's film sweethearts. She auditioned for the voice of Snow White the same year as she made this film, but Disney rejected her saying that her voice was "too mature".


Nancy Storace's Weblog: My Life for a Song

>> Saturday, April 4, 2009

Several months back I created a blog for my favorite Mozart soprano, Nancy Storace. Things got a bit hectic, however, when almost at the same time I decided to create two other blogs, in addition to this one, which was probably not the best move on my part. However, recently, since I have entered the editing and rewriting phase of my novel, based on the love story between Mozart and Nancy Storace, I have decided to re-open Nancy's blog and use it as a testing place for the book. Over the next several weeks and months, I will post segments from So Faithful a Heart in chronilogical order, beginning with the prologue, (starting today), and going until I have posted the entire novel.

You can find Nancy's Weblog, My Life for a Song by clicking the hyperlink. It will also show up on my blog list whenever it is updated, which I intend to do twice a week. There will also be links to keep my readers updated in case they miss an entry.


The World's most beautiful music: Handel: Cara sposa from "Rinaldo"

>> Friday, April 3, 2009

This is it, Ladies and Gentlemen, from the same opera that brought you the gorgeous and heart-wrenching Lascia ch'io pianga, we have yet another heart-wrenching aria, Cara sposa. Originally intended for castrato, this particular recording was made by the fabulous mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne.


For Lauren: Pink Martini: Sympathique

>> Thursday, April 2, 2009

This is especially for my little Francophile who is studying French at OU. She loves this song.


There's no fool like an old fool

>> Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This old recording of Sammy Davis Jr. singing What Kind of Fool am I? proves that he was nobody's fool. From the 1979 revival of Stop the World I Want to Get Off, this song was one of his greatest hits.


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