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Wagner's Rienzi is not at the level of his ten famous operas, but far from a failure IMO. I like it better than Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot (imo his worst), but even these two I would not classify as fails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #102 ·
Wagner's Rienzi is not at the level of his ten famous operas, but far from a failure IMO. I like it better than Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot (imo his worst), but even these two I would not classify as fails.
Gotcha. Sometimes "Fail" is merely comparing one's works with one's other works. For instance, there are many undervalued Beatles songs because such a great many of their songs are simply wondrous. But some of the Beatles' throwaways have become gold in the hands of other artists. Some of their neglected songs might have been Top Ten Hits had they been released by some unknown band.

For them an album that only sold 1,000,000 copies is a failure compared to the sales of some of their other albums.

So Rienzi, or Das Liebesverbot (OMG a comic opera from Wagner?) are only a failure when compared to some of his other works then? Rienzi generally panned by everyone. Das Liebesverbot is just ignored, I think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #103 ·
#31
Ride of the Valkyries
Richard Wagner
1854 (premiered 1870)


OK, talk about an edit of a larger work. Much larger. So-o-o-o-o large . . . . .

The "Ride of the Valkyries" (German: Walkürenritt or Ritt der Walküren) refers to the beginning of Act 3 of Die Walkure, the second of the four operas constituting Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

And it often refers to the purely instrumental version, which is the three minute version most of us familiar with the work know. The "Ride", in its operatic context runs around eight minutes.

And those who have heard this are familiar with its use in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, where the 1/9 Air Cavalry squadron plays it on helicopter-mounted loudspeakers during their assault on a North Vietnamese-controlled village as psychological warfare and to motivate their own troops.

But it originally opens the 3rd act of Die Walkure, beginning in the prelude to the third act, building up successive layers of accompaniment until the curtain rises to reveal a mountain peak where four of the eight Valkyrie sisters of Brunnhilde have gathered in preparation for the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla. As they are joined by the other four, the familiar tune is carried by the orchestra, while, above it, the Valkyries greet each other and sing their battle-cry.

Anyway, either way, this piece is a great way to give yourself chills.

Here's the popular version (No! not Elmer Fudd singing "Kill the Wabbit Kill the Wabbit . . . "!) . . . the one from Apocalypse Now.

Ride of the Valkyries - Apocalypse Now (3/8) Movie CLIP (1979) HD


:devil:

And here it is, more or less, in its original setting, presented by the Royal Danish Opera.

Their interpretation with alcohol fuelled Valkyries is wonderfully decadent. The world that they live in is decadent and destined to be destroyed in Gotterdammerung. Even if there is redemption through Brunhilde's sacrifice in the end, all the characters have a dark underside. The production values of this version are excellent; note when the entire set rotates to reveal even more Valkyries on the roof.

In this sense they function more as angels celebrating the impending slaughter of soldiers, because they can then be with them in Valhalla, so to speak.

Musically the scene is a masterpiece and requires great discipline from everyone. Wagner composed it to give the impression the Valkyries are singing over each other sometimes with overlapping entries and that continues through the act.

Enjoy . . . most of us rarely get to hear (and see) things like this . . . .

Wagner : The Ride of the Valkyries - Copenhagen Ring


:eek:

And here's one more version for you metalheads that "love the smell of napalm in the morning" . . . Eric Calderone slashes the Valkyries.

Ride of the Valkyries Meets Metal | from Wagner's Die Walküre

 

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Discussion Starter · #104 · (Edited)
Ride of the Valkyries
Richard Wagner

So . . .

. . . just one more short video to show the lasting impact of The Ride of the Valkyries . . .

Here's a short clip from the 1938 film The Young In Heart, starring Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paulette Goddard, Roland Young, and Billie Burke, and featuring a score by Franz Waxman.

But it's also notable for featuring "The Flying Wombat", a one-only prototype Phantom Corsair, hawked as the first "Car of the Future". In the film, the car horn plays a rather distinctive tune . . . .

1938 PHANTOM CORSAIR The 1st "Car of the Future"!!!


 

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Discussion Starter · #105 ·
#32
Symphony No.40 in G minor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1788


You knew it had to be coming sooner or later. Who doesn't love Mozart's 40th? (And . . . funny how it sounds like future Beethoven . . . not like Introitus, from Mozart's Requiem, which is basically Bach, and coming up at #35 on this list.)

Symphony #40, generally considered a masterpiece, was written towards the end of Mozart's life, and is one of only two written in a minor key. It is in four movements:

I. Molto allegro
II. Andante
III. Menuetto & Trio. Allegretto
IV. Allegro assai


This symphony is quite original, and has had lasting influence on future composers. Few works from then 18th century are as intense, chromatic, and unconventional.

The first movement Molto Allegro makes much of plaintive sighs, though gentle graceful melodies also appear and even occasional bursts of jubilation (yeah, I stole that sentence from somewhere . . . ). The second movement Andante is softly elegant, as if of a quiet moonlit evening. Here, Mozart entirely sets aside the shadows of minor keys in favor of brighter major keys.

The third movement Minuet and Trio offers darkness as well as light, the dark passages strongly assertive and the light ones sweeter. For the Allegro assai finale, Mozart returns to a general focus upon more serious moods, often given an urgent and fretful turn. In the middle of the movement, different sections of the orchestra simultaneously concern themselves with different melodic ideas, all blended into an intricate mix.

As soon as you start listening, you'll have that glimmer of recognition . . . "Oh, year, I've heard this . . . "

Here's Leonard Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra

MOZART Symphony No 40 in G minor KV550 LEONARD BERNSTEIN

 

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Discussion Starter · #106 · (Edited)
#33
"Spring" - The Four Seasons
Antonio Vivaldi
1725


It's ba-a-a-ack!

The Spring part of the Four Seasons may very well be my favorite. (Summer already made the list, way up at #6):

Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
and murmuring streams are
softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar,
casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence,
and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

Largo
On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches
rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps,
his faithful dog beside him.

Allegro
Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes,
nymphs and shepherds lightly dance
beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.


Vivaldi - Spring from The Four Seasons | Netherlands Bach Society


 

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Discussion Starter · #108 ·
I love Ballade 4!! Also Barcarolle (my favorite is the performance by Zimerman)!
There's a lot to love.

Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52
Frédéric Chopin
1842

It's the longest of the four ballades Chopin wrote. The work was dedicated to Baroness Rothschild, and is notable for its contrapuntal nature. It's a wonderful soulful piece, and unusual in the way it really pours it on in the coda.

Krystian Zimerman - Chopin - Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52


:rolleyes:

Barcarolle in F-Sharp Major, Op. 60
Frédéric Chopin
1845

Working through debilitating illness and the grinding conclusion of his unhappy relationship with the writer George Sand, Chopin published his Barcarolle, Op. 60 in the Summer of 1845, a masterpiece of his final years.

Krystian Zimerman - Chopin: Barcarolle in F-Sharp Major, Op. 60

 

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Discussion Starter · #109 ·
#34a
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ("Pastoral Symphony")
Ludwig van Beethoven
1808


Ah, yes. Here it is.

Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, of which four (the 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 9th) are considered to be some of the finest symphonies ever written.

The Sixth Symphony is one of Beethoven's few works containing explicitly programmatic content (a piece designed according to some preconceived narrative, or designed to evoke a specific idea and atmosphere). In this case it's Beethoven's hymn to nature, and his unabated love of the great outdoors.

It's in five movements, rather than the typical four, each with a programmatic title at the beginning of each movement.

I. Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande
. . . . . Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside

II. Szene am Bach
. . . . . Scene by the brook

III. Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute
. . . . . Merry gathering of country folk

IV. Gewitter, Sturm
. . . . . Thunder, Storm

V. Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare Gef?hle nach dem Sturm
. . . . . Shepherd's song. Cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm


Of course, as noteworthy as the symphony is, it's no wonder that it was used in the 1940 film Fantasia, although it was necessarily trimmed.

Edits from the first movement were featured in the death scene in the 1973 science fiction film Soylent Green.

So here's two different live versions,

1. . . . the first conducted by my "go-to" musical genius Leonard Bernstein.

But I'm also including a far newer video with

2. Christian Thielemann conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker in Vienna, as it's in HD, and is shot using several cameras.

BEETHOVEN Symphony No 6 Pastoral in F Op 68 LEONARD BERNSTEIN


.

Beethoven - Symphony No 6 in F major, Op 68 - Thielemann

 

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Discussion Starter · #110 ·
34b
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ("Pastoral Symphony")
Ludwig van Beethoven
1808

3. And, of course, the trimmed animated version from Fantasia, in 5 parts.

Posting videos to this version is again somewhat problematic, as folks continue to upload the film version with audio, and before long, Disney takes 'em down.

But if it's still here (or you find it on your own, if it's been removed), it's a rewarding visual feast inspired by one of the world's greatest Symphonies.



 

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Discussion Starter · #114 ·
#35
Requiem in D minor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1792


Again, here we are with a epic eight movement work that runs almost an hour.

And, in this case, Mozart didn't even write the whole thing, as it was unfinished at the time of his death.

So, the most popular movement of this larger work is the Lacrimosa, itself just the last of six sections of the 3rd movement:

Requiem aeternam dona ets, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat ets.


Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine on them.


Requiem Mass in D minor - Lacrimosa


:angel:

Then again, the Dies Irae, which occurs directly before the Confutatis, was recently included in one of the X-Men films, and may be the most well known opening of any of the movements.

It's Judgment Day, a massive storm hits: the terrible voices of the choir show God's divine wrath coming to man, then some attempts to soften this anger, then again cries of terror… Everything trembles in angst, fever and impatience.

Confutatis maledictis
Flammis acribus addictis,
Voca me cum benedictis.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis,
Gere curam mei finis.


While the wicked are condemned,
doomed to flames of woe unending,
Call me with Thy saints surrounded.
Low I kneel [Suppliant and prostrate],
with heart submission;
see, like ashes, my contrition;
help me in my final condition.


Mozart's Requiem in D Minor - Sequentia: Dies Irae


:rolleyes:

The Lacrimosa follows another somewhat recognizable section, the Confutatis. Here's a live version of both the Confutatis and Lacrimosa, played on period instruments by the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner in Barcelona December 1991.

The Lacrimosa section may be one of the most uniquely saddest and tearful pieces of music written in human history.

Mozart Requiem Mass in D Minor VI - Confutatis and Lacrimosa



:eek:

Ah, so, well, there's the "Best Of" Requiem, although those familiar with the Requiem may think the beautiful wistful ending should be on the short list.

And if you enjoyed those excerpts you may want to fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for the entire work.

But there are a few things that should be noted about the piece on the whole. For one, Mozart excluded what he considered to be "joyful" instruments, specifically flutes and oboes. Instead the work sports the most upfront trombone solo, and now-vintage basset horns. There are no flashy effects nor virtuoso solos.

Here's what Mozart writes to his father Leopold, four years before writing his Requiem:

"As death . . . is the true goal of our life, I have made myself so thoroughly acquainted with this good and faithful friend of man, that not only has its image no longer anything alarming to me, but rather something most peaceful and consolatory."

We can find this calm towards death throughout the Requiem, a mass for the dead that swings between terrible accents and soft melodies, both soothing and melancholic. We are in 1791, and Mozart has been seriously ill for over a year. Since he believes he has been poisoned with Aqua Tofana (a very slow poison) and thus sensing his end, he probably decides to write his own Requiem - a tribute by Mozart himself, his last confession.

But . . .
in 1791, the year of his death,
he also wrote
the wonderful and initiatory opera bouffe
The Magic Flute,
a certifiably joyful and bright work.

But here's a clean, expressive, definitive, and glorious full length live version.

I. Introitus
. . . . . . 01:00 a. Requiem aeternam
II. Kyrie
. . . . . . 05:56 a. Kyrie eleison
III. Sequentia
. . . . . . 08:19 a. Dies Irae
. . . . . . 10:17 b. Tuba Mirum
. . . . . . 14:05 c. Rex Tremendae
. . . . . . 16:01 d. Recordare
. . . . . . 21:20 e. Confutatis
. . . . . . 23:56 f. Lacrimosa
IV. Offertorium
. . . . . . 27:48 a. Domine Jesu Christe
. . . . . . 31:10 b. Hostias
V. Sanctus
. . . . . . 34:50 a. Sanctus
. . . . . . . . . . . b. Hosanna
VI. Benedictus
. . . . . . 36:36 a. Benedictus
. . . . . . . . . . . b. Hosanna
VII. Agnus Dei
. . . . . . 42:12 a. Agnus Dei
VIII. Communio
. . . . . . 46:21 a. Lux Aeterna_
. . . . . . . . . . . b. Cum sanctis tuis

Mozart Requiem Karl Bohm


:devil:

And, again, I'm somewhat torn with presenting "selections" of a larger work, when a complete work, whether it's a symphony, a sonata, or a mass, ought to be evaluated on its whole -the composer's intended purpose - and not on the individual "parts."

I calm my fears by realizing that it really doesn't matter. An edit of a larger work may stand on its own, and the larger work is not diminished by listening to excerpts from it. While there are plenty of examples of this in Classical music (e.g. The Queen of the Night Aria from The Magic Flute, Mars, the Bringer of War from The Planets, Prelude and Fugue in D minor from The Well Tempered Clavier), there are also examples in Progressive Rock that can serve to understand the concept:

Soon from The Gates of Delirium
Leaves of Green from The Ancient from Tales From Topographic Oceans
Color My World and Make Me Smile from Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon
Pinball Wizard from Tommy
Comfortably Numb from The Wall

It's no longer the 1750s, or the 1880s. As human beings we do not have the lack of distractions afforded us even a hundred years ago, when entertainment wasn't available at the touch of a button. But even in the 1970s, only 40 or 50 years ago, I somehow enjoyed the luxury of listening to long, massive, expansive, and epic works of music.

If I skip the 2nd and 3rd movements of Beethoven's Sonata in C# minor, Mr. B has still brought me inestimable joy with just a single movement.
 

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I have created a playlist to listen to these on my iPod. I'm up to Mozart's 41st Symphony - but I have already heard that one. I really enjoyed Holst's Planets - can't believe I've never heard it before.

I'll have to add Mozart's Requiem - I remember something vaguely about it from watching Amadeus way back when. I'm also involved with the Weekly String Quartet thread, and this week I'll likely be busy with Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1.
 

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Discussion Starter · #116 ·
I have created a playlist to listen to these on my iPod. I'm up to Mozart's 41st Symphony - but I have already heard that one. I really enjoyed Holst's Planets - can't believe I've never heard it before.

I'll have to add Mozart's Requiem - I remember something vaguely about it from watching Amadeus way back when. I'm also involved with the Weekly String Quartet thread, and this week I'll likely be busy with Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1.
The String Quartet thread is great.

My list is actually quite lacking in chamber music, including string quartets. There's some other 'lacks' as well . . . Vocal works works are scarce so far.

As I compiled the list, I was certain that I was neglecting "newer" works as well, only to find that I have included six works written in the 1900s in my Top 20 (although the newest of these is still 83 years old). 8 works in the Top 22; 9 in the Top 25. That's actually a fair representation, considering there are centuries of music to ponder over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #117 ·
#36
The Blue Danube, Op. 314
Johann Strauss II
1866-1867


1867. Austria had just lost the war with Prussia, and America's civil war had just ended.

I used to play this on the piano when I was a kid, before it had a second life by being used prominently in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Here's Pop Classical sensation André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra live at Empress Sisi's castle; Schonbrunn Palace Vienna

I know that some fans of Classical music find that Rieu just an opportunist, the Kenny G of Classical. And strangely enough, some view Johann Strauss with similar disdain.

And, just for the record, he and his orchestra have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring act, as successful as some of the biggest global pop and rock music acts, as can be seen in the following video. Rieu plays a 1667 Stradivarius violin. The fact that Rieu's focus is on highly accessible, enjoyable repertoire is not an argument against his solid musical credentials.

But that's an even better reason to match Rieu and Strauss together . . . The Blue Danube is populist Classical, and Rieu is dead serious about the extraordinary joy he displays when performing it. It's just so damn happy!

Here's something else I actually like about Rieu . . . he's actually a good violinist, and an above average conductor. But more than that, he is personally invested in choosing music that resonates with audiences . . . people LOVE the pagentry, the over-the-top showmanship, the tugging at the heartstrings.

For those well acquainted with the common Classical "Classics", I suggest watching and listening to this without pretense. Rieu is sincere in his love for Strauss, and this video of this performance is just such innocent joy.

The Beautiful Blue Danube - André Rieu


.

So . . . it's odd how Kubrick chose to use this waltz for his film . . . but the original concept was far more "normal". Hollywood composer Alex North was contracted to provide the score . . . after having worked previously with Kubrick on Spartacus and Dr. Strangelove. However, during postproduction, Kubrick chose to abandon North's music in favor of the now-familiar classical pieces he had earlier chosen as "guide pieces" for the soundtrack. North did not know of the abandonment of his score until after he saw the film's premiere screening.

Here's how it worked in the film . . .

Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (widescreen)


.

And . . . here's something a little more artistic, with a ballet choreographed to the music. The dancing starts about 1:30 into the video.

Wiener Philharmoniker, Riccardo Muti - Blue Danube Waltz

 

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Discussion Starter · #118 · (Edited)
#37
Capriccio Italien, Op. 45
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
1880


Technically it's a "fantasy for orchestra", and was originally called Italian Fantasia. Tchaikovsky started sketching out the work will vacationing in Rome during Carnival, incorporating folk music and street songs. The opening trumpet fanfare was heard each morning from a barracks next to the composer's hotel. Technically, what makes this whimsical pop classical piece so impressive is Tchaikovsky's astonishing orchestration skills. Frankly, he's showing off.

So, understand, Tchaikovsky, although he travelled regularly, is from Russia, where the winters are long, cold, harsh and miserable, and Italy must have seemed a paradise: Sunny, warm, beautiful, and welcoming. And all expenses paid for three months by his patroness Nadezhda von Meck.

Here's the Moscow City Symphony "Russian Philharmonic" conducted by Michail Jurowski.

P.Tchaikovsky. Italian Capriccio


So, I nicked the following paragraph from "God Knows Where" on the internet . . . some blog somewhere most likely, judging from the grammatical mistakes, incorrect word usage, and sloppy punctuation. But I'll share it anyway, as it exemplifies just how deeply this somewhat superficial work can affect people. Even bad Tchaikovsky is good:

Tchaikovsky is a genius at orchestration. He arranged brass and string voice as muted for constructing musical spatiality as if sounds coming from a distant italian seaside town. Though with many pauses between the italian melodies, he still managed to make it more coherent and dramatic than capriccio espagnol or other orchestral pieces containing folksongs. Tchaikovsky didn't want to show you a symphonic picture of italian town but he wanted to show you what he feeled when he was in Italy. His melancholy, his joyness with italian festivity and folkmusic ...... everything that is personal but also in every moment influenced by tht outside world. You will see a tormented soul living in this melancholic world, not bombastic folkmusic with chauvinistic imagination.
 

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Discussion Starter · #119 · (Edited)
#38
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: "Scherzo after a ballad by Goethe"
Paul Dukas
1897


OK, here we go with another programmatic "symphonic poem", this one based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1797 poem. Of course, it's current widespread popularity can be directly traced back to Disney's 1940 film Fantasia. That's not to say it wasn't a popular concert piece prior to that; it's simply that Fantasia gave it a much larger audience.

This piece is even more programmatic than others, closely following the events in the poem.

I find it interesting that amongst the instruments for which he scored it, the contrabass sarrusophone is included, although a plain old bassoon is regularly substituted. The sarrusophone is rarely called for in orchestral music, and was invented mostly to be played in wind ensembles to replace bassoons and oboes, which are quieter instruments.

From left to right: A subcontrabass sarrusophone, a contrabass sarrusophone, and a bassoon. For the uninitiated, contrabass instruments are one octave lower than the regular ones. Sub-contrabass are two octaves lower. No one even writes music for these things anymore, making it one of the most pointless instruments in the world.

Musical instrument Suit trousers Wind instrument Sleeve Woodwind instrument


.

But for a while it WAS a thing. Here's a WWII era college band sarrusophone section - soprano to contrabass:

Musical instrument Musician Guitar Guitar accessory String instrument accessory


.

But I digress. Stokowski's version for the soundtrack of Fantasia remains one of the most famous. Although too early for high fidelity, the performance was recorded using multi-tracks and was the first use of stereophonic sound in a film. It is the only part of the film for which Stokowski conducted a studio orchestra, rather than the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The popularity of this version led to its encore inclusion in Fantasia 2000, and was used a basis for Disney's 2010 live action film The Sorcerer's Apprentice, starring Nicholas Cage, with a soundtrack scored by Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin.

A sequel, Sorcerer's Apprentice 2: Chernabog's Revenge, was planned (even before the first one premiered), but appears to have been shelved because the first film didn't make enough of a profit .

Anyway, for your enjoyment, here's Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Unless, of course, Disney has yanked it. And you'll have to go to the Disney website.

Sorcerer's Apprentice - Fantasia

 
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