Saturday, August 31, 2019

Project 366 - Dates on the Musical Calendar

For Part One of Project 366, click here.
For Part Two of Project 366, click here.
For Part Three of Project 366, click here.

Part Four - Dates on the Musical Calendar

Project 366 has assembled 300 listener guides since its inception. Starting September 1st, we embark in a final tranche of this long-term project, one that both will revisit everyone of these listener guides, and will also introduce 66 new ones - one listener guide for every day in the calendar including February 29th (which is a few short months away...)

As we have in past installments, we will issue a monthly post featuring about a handful of new guides, with an emphasis on special dates - these could be anniversaries, holidays or special events. The remaining days of the calendar will be filled by some of our past listener guides, more or less in sequence. The order and inclusion of new guides as "filler" dates is intended to stay somewhat germane to the sequence - and the previous thematic underpinning of the sequence. For example, in September, we add a new organ-inspired post that meshes with the "King of Instruments" theme.

As I have teased earlier this Summer, our Pod-O-Matic podcasting channel will feature the daily listener guide. The archive posts still are available anytime - if you miss a day. Brcuse we are limited with how much podcasts we can host any given time, and because we still host our FRiday posts, we will cycle listener guides in and out over time, but expect a listener guide to be on line at least a week or two.

Musical Calendar for September to December 2019

(On line Version)

September 2019 301-305
October 2019 306-310
November 2019 311-314
December 2019 315-319

(On line Version)

January 2020320-323
February 2020324-328
March 2020329-331
April 2020332-336

(On line Version)

May 2020337-342
June 2020343-349
July 2020350-356
August 2020357-366

And, [per our sual tradition, the Yellow Pages for this final portion of the project

Friday, August 30, 2019

J.S. Bach Suites & Partitas

No. 321 of the ongoing  IITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


For my third Blog and Podcast for August, and the last post before September and the pending recast of our Podcasting channel, I turn to a familiar composer: Johann Sebastian Bach.

In Bach-speak, the terms “suite” and “partita” kind of are synonymous, as they are typically sequences of courtly dance-themed movements. Today’s montage provides examples of this for several solo instruments and for orchestra.

Bach's third Orchestral Suite, composed in the first half of the 18th century, is set for three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, strings (two violin parts and a viola part), and basso continuo. In the second movement of the suite however only the strings and the continuo play. This is the only movement of the suite where all other instruments are silent. The music of the "Air" is written for solo violin, strings, and continuo. The interweaving melody lines of the high strings contrasts with the pronounced rhythmic drive in the bass.

In the late 19th century, violinist August Wilhelmj arranged the second movement of Bach's Suite for violin and an accompaniment of strings, piano or organ. On the score he had printed auf der G-Saite (on the G string) above the staff for the solo violin, which gave the arrangement its nickname.
Also featured in today’s montage are familiar suites/partitas for the cello and for keyboard. However, I added a pair of less-frequented suites and partitas for other solo instruments.

The BWV catalog identifies four suites (BWV 995, BWV 996, BWV 997 and BWV 1006a) as well as  a number of miscellaneous pieces for solo lute, often heard played on the guitar. Guitarist/lutist Clive Titmuss suggests, however, that “the evidence would be that Bach did not write any music specifically intended for solo lute.”

Bach wrote his lute pieces in a traditional score rather than in lute tablature, and some believe that Bach played his lute pieces on the keyboard. No manuscript by Bach himself of the Suite in E minor for Lute (played on today’s montage on the guitar by Julian Bream) is known to exist. However, in the collection of one of Bach's pupils, Johann Ludwig Krebs, there is one piece ("Praeludio – con la Suite da Gio: Bast. Bach") that has written aufs Lauten Werck ("for the lute-harpsichord") in unidentified handwriting.

Some argue that despite the annotation about the lute-harpsichord, the piece was meant to be played on the lute as demonstrated by the texture. Others argue that since the piece was written in E minor, it would be incompatible with the baroque lute which was tuned to D minor. Nevertheless, it may be played with other string instruments (such as the guitar, mandola or mandocello) and keyboard instruments, and the fifth movement bourrée is especially well-known among guitarists.

To complete the montage, the Partita in A minor for solo flute, BWV 1013, has an uncertain date of composition. The discoverer of the sole surviving manuscript of the partita, Karl Straube, believed it to be an autograph; however, more recently it has been shown that it was made by two copyists. Although their names are unknown, one appears to be identical with the principal scribe of another manuscript (containing the violin sonatas and partitas, BWV 1001–1006), which places this part of the copy of the Partita in the first half of the 1720s. In a Tuesday Blog, I shared a transcription of this partita with those for violin all played on the viola. Today’s performance, by James Galway, restores it in its intended form.

I think you will love this music too

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Left Hand

No. 320 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


This week’s Blog and Podcast mark’s Left Hander’s Day (which explains a Tuesday rather than Friday broadcast). It was first celebrated on 13th August 1992 as an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. As our way of celebrating this event, I programmed three piano works meant to be played by the left hand only.

Pianists limited to the use of their left hands are not uncommon. As an example, in 1964, American pianist Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to a condition that was eventually diagnosed as focal dystonia. Fleisher commenced performing and recording the left-handed repertoire while searching for a cure for his condition. In the 1990s, Fleisher was able to gradually overcome his focal dystonia symptoms after experimental botox injections to the point where he could play with both hands again.
Unlike Fleisher, Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein’s situation was irreversible, having his right arm amputated during the First World War. He devised novel techniques, including pedal and hand-movement combinations that allowed him to play chords previously regarded as impossible for a five-fingered pianist.

A musician who enjoyed the company of several luminaries of the day during his youth (Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler, Josef Labor, and Richard Strauss - with whom the young Paul played duets - among them), a determined Wittgenstein approached famous composers, asking them to write material for him to perform. Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Alexandre Tansman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Sergei Prokofiev, Karl Weigl, Franz Schmidt, Sergei Bortkiewicz, and Richard Strauss all produced pieces for him. Maurice Ravel wrote his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, which became more famous than any of the other compositions that Wittgenstein inspired. (In a past podcast, I shared a performance of this famous work with the dedicatee as soloist).

Today’s podcast features one of Schmidt’s concerti, composed for Wittgenstein.

Caroline Montigny-Rémaury was Camille Saint-Saëns’ duet partner and the dedicatee of his ‘waltz-caprice’ Wedding Cake, Op 76, a gift for her second wedding (to Auguste Wieczffinski de Serres) in 1886. In 1912 she seriously wounded her right hand and she requested a set of studies for her left hand alone. For his six etudes for Left Hand Alone, Saint-Saëns recreates old dance forms from harpsichord suites, inspired by his life­long interest in the works of Couperin and Rameau. These are unpretentious pieces, but beautifully textured and intelligently designed. They were avidly studied by Ravel before he wrote his Concerto pour la main gauche.

Another pianist, Otakar Hollmann, also lost the use of his right hand during World War I. Although little known now, he was considered second only to Paul Wittgenstein in the promotion of the left-hand repertoire.

After a meeting with the pianist when he suggested a commission for him to play, Czech composer Leos Janáček refused to write such a work, declaring: "But, my dear boy, why do you want to play with one hand? It's hard to dance when you have only one leg."
Janáček later changed his decision and began composing a piano piece for left hand, but didn't consult Hollman. Ultimately, Janáček did not dedicate the work to him and did not give him the right to premiere the work; however, in May 1927 he sent the score to the pianist, and in the summer of the same year Hollmann started to study the new composition.

The premiere of the Capriccio took place on March 2, 1928 in Prague, with conductor Jaroslav Řídký and seven Czech Philharmonic members.

I Think you will love this music too!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

For Your Listening Pleasure

On Monday April 15 2011 we launched our podcasting service, hosted by Pod-O-Matic. This service, along with our YouTube channel and our many posts on the Internet Archive provide music lovers with access to both original and curated content that we feature on this blog (as well as our French language blog) and our enduring presence in TalkClassical, MQCD-Musique-Classique and OperaLively.

Starting on September 1st 2019, we will recast our podcasting service under a new name and a renewed commitment to providing our content to Music Lovers. Pod-O-Matic continues to be our content distributor and host – that will not change, as we have been very satisfied with that partnership over the years.

The main changes to our podcasting approach are the following:

  • We will now issue a daily podcast. As I will elaborate as we get closer to our “launch date”, Part 4 of Project 366 entails “One podcast a day, every day” of the 366 days between September 1st 2019 and August 31st 2020.
  • Under this new format, we will re-issue old montages as well as some of our past Curated content from our Forum series Vinyl’s Revenge, Once Upon the Internet, Cover 2 Cover and Once or Twice a Fortnight. To do so, these playlists will be converted to Pod-O-Matric friendly “single track” media in the same vein as our Friday montages.
  • Because Project 366 and the ITYWLTMT Podcast are currently managed separately, for the coming year we will issue Friday montages (and quarterly Tuesday montages) as we have done so far in addition to the daily podcasts. As a result the Friday Blog and Podcast will sometimes feature “Podcast Vault” selections as well as new content. (It is my intention to remedy the situation after we are done with Project 366, so stay tuned)
  • For the time being, we will continue using the YouTube channel and public domain sites as the main purveyor of our curated content. This situation may change in the future.
As we retool over the coming weeks, my intent is to maintain as much of the content currently active on the channel as I can, keeping in mind I will start pre-positioning some media for the launch. Our policy will continue to be that of archiving all our content to our Internet Archive if it stops being available on the channel. I’ll need to come up with a set of guidelines to keep original content up as long as possible to make sure it gets sampled by everybody.

In the meantime, if anything changes with access to content, I will make sure to post updates on this and my other platforms.

Friday, August 9, 2019


No. 319 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


I think it’s been a few years since we’ve put together a travelogue montage. So, in the spiorit of past such playlists, here are some works inspired by Brazil, or composed by Brazilian composers.

Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America; at 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. The land now called Brazil was claimed for the Portuguese Empire on 22 April 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral. This legendary crossing was depicted in a 1936 Brazilian educational/adventure film O Descobrimento do Brasil (Trad. Lit. The Discovery of Brazil) directed by Humberto Mauro and starring Alvaro Costa, João de Deus, and Manoel Rocha. Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote the score for the film, from which he extracted no less than four orchestral suites – his second suite is featured as one of the main works in today’s podcast.

Today, Brazil is unique in South America as a Portuguese-speaking country (rather than the prevailing Spanish everywhere else). The opening track of the montage, The Girl from Ipanema, is sung in both Portuguese and English and illustrates my point of how foreign-sounding Portuguese can be, even for people like me comfortable with Latin-based languages. This Brazilian bossa nova and jazz song was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s. The version I retained features the then-husband and wife duo of Astrid and João Gilberto. She sang on two tracks on the 1963 album Getz/Gilberto featuring he husband, Stan Getz, and Antônio Carlos Jobim, despite having never sung professionally before this recording. Mr. Gilberto, who sings the Portuguese lyrics on the track, was often called "father of bossa nova" and passed away last month.

Ottorino Respighi made his first trip to Brazil in May 1927, leading a concert series of his own music in Rio de Janeiro. Before his return to Europe, Respighi announced to the Brazilian press that he'd been absorbing local music and custom during his stay and would return the following year with a five-part orchestral suite based on his experiences. Respighi did, in fact, return to Rio de Janeiro in June 1928, but more pressing matters had weighed upon him in the interim, and the promised five-movement suite was presented only as a three-movement work entitled Brazilian Impressions. It nonetheless was warmly received; the result being that Respighi subsequently dropped the plan to add the two additional movements.

Written in 1927, The Rio Grande (set to the poem of the same name by Sacheverell Sitwell) is a secular cantata by English composer Constant Lambert. It is an example of symphonic jazz, not unlike the style of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, although it is very much Lambert's individual conception.

Here’s the catch: the poem refers to a river in Brazil, although there is no Brazilian river called Rio Grande!

From 1917 to 1919 Darius Milhaud served as secretary to Paul Claudel, the eminent poet and dramatist who was then the French ambassador to Brazil, and with whom Milhaud collaborated for many years, setting music for many of Claudel's poems and plays. On his return to France, Milhaud composed works influenced by the Brazilian popular music he had heard, including compositions of Brazilian pianist and composer Ernesto Nazareth. Le bœuf sur le toit includes melodies by Nazareth and other popular Brazilian composers of the time, and evokes the sounds of Carnaval. Among the melodies is, in fact, a Carnaval tune by the name of "The Bull (or the ox) on the Roof".

Eu acho que você quer amar essa música também

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Verdi: Don Carlos (Sung in the original French)

This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.

Let me pop out of my summer hiatus for one OTF post, this one in the “Old Switch-a-roo” tradition, looking at operas that are adapted in other languages.

Some of us are familiar with Don Carlo, a Verdi’s longest opera with an enduring duet

It turns out the opera was commissioned and produced by the Paris Opera and given its premiere at the Salle Le Peletier on 11 March 1867. Developed with both a French and an Italian libretto, the first performance in Italian was given at Covent Garden in London in June 1867. The first Italian version given in Italy was in Bologna in October 1867.
Over the following twenty years, cuts and additions were made to the opera, resulting in a number of versions being available to directors and conductors.

Revised again by Verdi, it was given in Naples in November/December 1872. Finally, two other versions were prepared: the first was seen in Milan in January 1884 (in which the four acts were based on some original French text which was then translated). That is now known as the "Milan version", while the second—also sanctioned by the composer—became the "Modena version" and was presented in that city in December 1886. It restored the "Fontainebleau" first act to the Milan four-act version.

No other Verdi opera exists in so many versions.

The version I’m sharing today is from the BBC Opera Rara series, originally broadcast in the 1970s. In some ways it is the most important: it comes closest to what Verdi had in mind for his extended masterpiece. What is more, it is given by a cast of largely Francophone singers, who make it sound – at last – like the truly French work it is.

According to a detailed review of the text sung in this broadcast version, we have the complete Fontainebleau scene, a short solo for Posa at the beginning of Scene 2, a longer version of the Posa-Philippe scene in Act 2, the costume-changing of Elisabeth and Eboli, their duet before “O don fatal” in Act 3, the whole of the ballet, the full Insurrection scene, and the longest version of the finale.

That adds up to almost four hours. No wonder Verdi either made or sanctioned cuts!

The principal singers, as I stated in a post a few weeks ago, are French-Canadian. The musical direction is poised but the sound quality is uneven.

The links below are to both the YouTube clips of the disc and my own montages (for later use) into two large tracks.

Happy summer listening!

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) 

Don Carlos (1867)
Opera in five acts, French Libretto: Joseph Méry and Camille Du Locle on Schiller’s dramatic poem ‘Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien’ (1785-86)

1867 Paris version sung in French and complete with music unused at the first production

Philippe II (King of Spain), Joseph Rouleau (bass);
Don Carlos (Infante of Spain), André Turp (ten);
Rodrigue (Marquis de Posa), Robert Savoie (bar);
Le Grand Inquisiteur, Richard Van Allan (bass);
Elisabeth de Valois (Philip's Queen), Edith Tremblay (sop);
Princesse Eboli (Elisabeth's lady-in-waiting), Michelle Vilma (mezzo);
Thiabault (Elisabeth's page), Gillian Knight (sop);
Le Comte de Lerme (A Royal Herald), Emile Belcourt (ten);
An Old Monk, Robert Lloyd (bass);
A Voice from Heaven, Prudence Lloyd (sop)
BBC Singers; BBC Concert Orchestra/John Matheson

rec. 22 April 1972 before invited audience, Camden Theatre, London.
First broadcast: BBC, 10 June 1973


Synopsis –
Libretto - (This may not completely fi the opera dialogue as the performance reintroduces missing portions)

Internet Archive -