Saturday, February 27, 2021

My 8 Favorites Classical Music Composers

Ludwig van Beethoven 



Piano Concerto #5 "Emperor" - Vladimir Ashkenazy pianist

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire. His works span the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music; from the "classical" styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to the early romantics as Chopin, Shubert, Mendelsohn. In the late period of his, Beethoven began to suffer increasingly from deafness. His symphony No. 9 “the Symphony of Symphonies” wass composed when he was deaf 

Born in Bonn, Beethoven's musical talent was obvious at an early age. His first major orchestral work, the First Symphony, appeared in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate, but he continued to conduct, premiering his Third and Fifth Symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His Violin Concerto appeared in 1806. His last piano concerto (No. 5, Op. 73, known as the 'Emperor'), dedicated to his frequent patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, was premiered in 1810, but not with Beethoven as soloist. 

Beethoven was almost completely deaf by 1814, He composed many of his most admired works, in this period, including his later symphonies and his mature chamber music and piano sonatas. His only opera, Fidelio, which had been first performed in 1805, was revised to its final version in 1814. He composed his Missa Solemnis in the years 1819–1823. After some months of bedridden illness, he died in 1827. Beethoven's works remain the mainstays of the classical music repertoire.

Frédéric François Chopin 


Plonaise "Heroic" op. 53 - Olga Scheps pianist

Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation." 

 Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola in the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20 Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann.

After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often-troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin (known by her pen name, George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to Mallorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. 

For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39, probably of pericarditis aggravated by tuberculosis. All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos and a few chamber pieces. His piano music is technically demanding which expands the limits of the instrument.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 27 January 1756 and died on 5 December 1791, at the age of 35. He was baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. 

While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600 works, many of which are acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is considered among the greatest classical composers of all time. His influence on Western music is profound. 

Gioachino Antonio Rossini 

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born on 29 February 1792 in Pesaro, Papal States (Italy) and died on 13 November 1868 in Paris, France. He was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas particularly his comic operas, of which The Barber of Seville (1816), Cinderella (1817), and Semiramide (1823) are among the best known. Of his later, larger-scale dramatic operas, the most widely heard is William Tell (1829He also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity.

Johann Strauss Jr. 

Johann Strauss Jr. was born in 1825, in Austria, and died on 3 June 1899. His father, Johann Strauss Sr. was a self-taught musician who established a musical dynasty in Vienna, writing waltzes, galops, polkas and quadrilles and publishing more than 250 works. Johann Jr. went on to write more than 500 musical compositions, 150 of which were waltzes, and he surpassed both his father's productivity and popularity. Compositions such as The Blue Danube helped establish Strauss as "the Waltz King" and earned him a place in music history. His other famous waltzes include Emperor Waltz, Tale from the Vienna Wood, Vienna Blood, Morning Papers, etc. etc. etc. Among his operettas, Die Fledermaus (The Bat) and Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gipsy Baron) are the best known.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally. He was honored in 1884 by Tsar Alexander III and awarded a lifetime pension. 

Tchaikovsky was in Kamsko-Votkinsk, 7 May 1840 and died St Petersburg, 6 November 1893; He lived in the Romantic period of music. He is the most popular of all Russian composers. He wrote melodies which were usually dramatic and emotional. His compositions include 11 operas, 3 ballets, orchestral music, chamber music and over 100 songs. His famous ballets (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty) have some of the best known tunes in all of romantic music. He is widely regarded as the greatest composer of ballets.

Tchaikovsky's sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera. His music has remained extremely popular among audiences, I consider his "Swan Lake" ballet the greatest ever. It is two plus hours of beautiful melodies, one after another. I always maintain that when Tchaikovsky composed "Swan Lake" he was touched by the "Hand of God."

Swan Lake "El Lago de los Cisnes" Teatro Colon /Nadia Muzyca- Juan Pablo Ledo

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi


Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian opera composer born on 9 October 1813 and died on 27 January 1901. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. In his early operas, Verdi demonstrated a sympathy with the Risorgimento movement which sought the unification of Italy. The chorus "Va, pensiero" from his early opera Nabucco (1842)was much in the spirit of the unification movement, and the composer himself became esteemed as a representative of these ideals. 

An intensely private person, Verdi, became professionally successful was able to reduce his operatic workload and sought to establish himself as a landowner in his native region. He surprised the musical world by returning, after his success with the opera Aida (1871), with three late masterpieces: his Requiem (1874), and the operas Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893). His operas remain extremely popular, especially the three peaks of his 'middle period': Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, and the 2013 bicentenary of his birth was widely celebrated in broadcasts and performances. He is regarded as the greatest of all opera composers. He wrote 26 operas and more than 20 of them are in the standard repertoire of opera houses around the world.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi 


Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on 4 March 1678 and died on 28 July 1741. He was an Italian  Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, impresario, and Roman Catholic priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian Republic, Vivaldi is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe, being paramount in the development of Johann Sebastian Bach's instrumental music. 

Vivaldi composed many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other musical instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children. Vivaldi had worked there as a Catholic priest for 18 months and was employed there from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with expensive stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for royal support. However, the Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival, and Vivaldi himself died in poverty less than a year later. 

 After almost two centuries of decline, Vivaldi's music underwent a revival in the early 20th century, with much scholarly research devoted to his work. Many of Vivaldi's compositions, once thought lost, have been rediscovered - in one case as recently as 2006. His music remains widely popular in the present day and is regularly played all over the world. 

Four Seasons Op. 8

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Olga Scheps

I just learned about Olga Scheps when I saw her recital of Chopin’s first Piano Concerto on Youtube. I was taken aback at her piano prowess and physical beauty. Unfortunately, her recordings are not distributed in the United States.

Olga Scheps is a young pianist with extraordinary powers of expression, Olga has been enchanting audiences throughout Europe for several years – she is 35.  Olga has performed either solo recitals or as concerto soloist with orchestras throughout Germany where she lives and throughout Europe.

Olga’s repertoire is a balanced combination of the very familiar and the seldom performed, and she brings to everything she plays a deeply considered emotional sensitivity to the impulses that drive the music.  Although it is clear that she has the technical prowess and sheer muscle to pull off the grandest effects called for in the many masterpieces in her repertoire, it is the beautiful clarity of her approach to playing the piano and her attention to subtle details of expression which I find most remarkable. Actually, Olga Scheps does not play the piano; she is the piano.

The only thing I wish her to play Beethoven's third and fifth piano concertos and some more Mozart piano music. The following are links to her performances:

Saturday, February 20, 2021

My Favorite Ballets Performances

The following links are my best performances of my favorite ballets. They are not in their preferred order except for the "Swan Lake," which is my favorite ballet, by far. 

1. Swan Lake of Pyotr Tchaikovsky ("El Lago de los Cisnes")

2. Romeo and Juliet of Sergei Prokofiev

3. La Bayadere

4. Giselle

5. Le Corsaire ("El Corsario")

6. Sleeping Beauty of Pyotr Tchaikovsky

7. Nutcracker

8. Coppelia

9. The Merry Widow of Franz Lehár

10. La Fille Mal Gardée

11. Don Quixote

12. The Pharaoh's Daughter

13. Spartacus

14. La Sylphide

15. Raymonda

16. The Lady of the Camellias

17. La Esmeralda

18. Carmen Suite

19. Cinderella

20. Gaite Parisienne music by Offenbach

21. Choppiniana

22. Petrushka

23. The Bolt

24. Marco Spada

25. Mayerling

26. Scheherezade Ballet

27. Serenade by Tchaikovsky

28. A Hero of Our Time

29. The Golden Age

30. A Legend of Love

31. The Flames of Paris

32. Jewells / George Ballantine Choreography

Lauren Cuthbertson

Lauren Cuthbertson is one of my favorite five performing ballerinas. The following is a brief biography that I copied from the Royal Ballet site.

English dancer Lauren Cuthbertson is a Principal of The Royal Ballet. She studied at The Royal Ballet School as a junior associate and at White Lodge and the Upper School, and joined the Company in 2002. She was promoted to Soloist in 2003, First Soloist in 2006 and Principal in 2008. Cuthbertson was born in Devon. Awards include Young British Dancer of the Year (2001), the 2004 Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) and silver medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2006, where she represented Great Britain. She is an active patron of National Youth Ballet and London Children’s Ballet. Cuthbertson’s repertory with the Company includes leading roles in the classical ballets, Juliet, Manon, Anastasia and roles in many other works by Kenneth MacMillan, and leading roles in works by choreographers including Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, David Bintley, Alastair Marriott, Wayne McGregor, Jerome Robbins, Liam Scarlett, Glen Tetley and Christopher Wheeldon. Her role creations include La Glace (Les Saisons), Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Hermione (The Winter’s Tale) and in Symphonic Variations, Tryst, Qualia, Chroma, Infra, Acis and Galatea (The Royal Opera), Live Fire Exercise, The Human Seasons, Tetractys and Multiverse.


Monday, February 1, 2021

Yulia Makhalina

Yulia Victorovna Makhalina also Yulia, (born 23 June 1968) is a Russian ballet dancer. Since 1986, she has been with the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet where she is a principal dancer. Along with Ulyana Lopatkina, Makhalina is a member of 'the basketball team', a group of Kirov dancers who are characterized for being especially tall and slender.

Born in Leningrad, she trained under Marina A. Vasilieva at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, graduating in 1985. A member of the Mariinsky Ballet since 1986, she has performed the leading roles in 
Swan LakeSleeping BeautyLe Corsaire and Anna Karenina. Her repertoire has included the major classical ballets as well as works choreographed by George Balanchine including Theme and VariationsScotch SymphonyApolloThe Prodigal Son and Symphony in C. Makhalina's role debuts with the Kirov/Mariinsky included Myrtha (1986) and the title role (1991) in Giselle, Medora (1987) in Le Corsaire, Odette/Odile (1987) in Swan Lake, Gamzatti (1988) and Nikiya (1990) in La Bayadère, Kitri (1989) in Don Quixote, Lilac Fairy (1989) in Sleeping Beauty, title role (1994) in Raymonda, and Countess of Elba (1996) in Goya Divertissement. She has also performed the title roles in Roland Petit's Carmen and in Kenneth MacMillan's Manon. Exotic roles have included Zobeide in Scheherazade and Death in The Youth and Death, while supporting roles have included the evil stepmother in Cinderella. She has also performed as a soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet, Berlin's Deutsche Oper, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at the Paris Opera. In Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, she has danced in Swan LakeLa Bayadère and The Firebird. In 2014, it was announced that Makhalina would return to Montreal's "Gala des Étoiles du ballet russe", known as "Don des Étoiles" in 1988 when she first appeared at the event. With a repertoire of 40 roles, Makhalina also has outside interests in areas such as architecture and nature.


Yulia Makhalina has won many prestigious awards including:

  • 1990: Gold Medal, Paris International Ballet Competiti
  • 1998: Prix Benois de la Danse
Yulia Makhalina's Ballet Links:

Nadia Muzyca

Nadia Muzyca is an Argentine classical ballet ballerina who was born in the city of Quilmes, just outside Buenos Aires. At the age of 9 years, she became a student of the “Instituto Superior de Arte of the Teatro Colón.” Ever since then she dedicated her life and personal sacrifices to ballet.  In 2012 she was named as the first ballerina of Teatro Colon, her dream.  

She studied with Lidia Segni and at Teatro Colón’s Instituto Superior de Arte. She was part of Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino, who chose her as his partner in Pulsations. She was principal dancer of the Ballet Estable del Teatro Argentino de La Plata until 2004. In 2012 she entered the Teatro Colón Permanent Ballet as principal. She danced in numerous national and international galas and as principal with different companies. She won gold medals in the Latin American and International III Competitions. She was nominated to the Clarín Revelation of Dance Awards 2008 and 2009 and Benois de la Danse (Moscow 2014) as Best Dancer. In 2016 she took her own Tango Ballet show with success to Greece, Austria and Egypt. She directs and teaches in her own ballet school in Quilmes.