Arvo Part and Tabula Rasa

Arvo Pärt (born September 11, 1935) is an Estonian composer of orchestral, chamber, and sacred music, born in Paide, Järva County, Estonia, and raised by his mother and stepfather at Rakvere in northern Estonia. Pärt’s musical education began at age seven while attending music school in Rakvere and taking piano studies with Ille Martin. He started to experiment with the top and bottom notes as the family’s piano’s middle register was damaged. His first serious study came in 1954 at the Tallinn Music Middle School, but less than a year later he temporarily abandoned it to fulfill military service, playing oboe and percussion in the army band. By the time he reached his early teenage years, Pärt was writing his own compositions. While at the Tallinn Conservatory, he studied composition with Heino Eller. As a student, he produced music for film and the stage. During the 1950s, he also completed his first vocal composition, the cantata Meie aed (‘Our Garden’) for children’s choir and orchestra. He graduated in 1963. From 1957 to 1967, he worked as a sound producer for Estonian radio.

Although criticized for employing serialism in Nekrolog (1960) because of his “susceptibility to foreign influences”, nine months later Part won First Prize for the oratorio Maailma samm (Stride of the World), in a competition of 1,200 works, awarded by the all-Union Society of Composers, indicating the inability of the Soviet regime to agree consistently on what was permissible. In the 1970s, he studied medieval and Renaissance music rather than to focus on his own music. About this same time, he converted from Lutheranism to the Russian Orthodox faith. Pärt’s works are generally divided into two periods. He composed his earliest works using a range of neo-classical styles influenced by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Bartók. He then began to compose using Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique and serialism. The forbidding Symphony No. 1 (Polyphonic) of 1963 was dedicated to Professor Eller and is notable for a relatively clear twelve-tone structure, integral serialism and excursions into sonorism.

This, however, not only earned the ire of the Soviet establishment, but also proved to be a creative dead-end. After composing the Credo of 1968, when his early works were banned by Soviet censors, Pärt entered the first of several periods of contemplative silence, during which he studied choral music from the 14th to 16th centuries including plainsong, Gregorian chant, and the emergence of polyphony in the European Renaissance. The spirit of early European polyphony informed the composition of Pärt’s transitional Third Symphony (1971) which differs significantly from any previous work; thereafter he immersed himself in early music, reinvestigating the roots of Western music. However, Pärt was not yet prepared to abandon his search for his true compositional voice. In 1972, he composed a symphonic cantata, Lied an die Geliebte, and then entered again into a period of silence.

Pärt re-emerged four years later, having found the voice for which he had been searching. The first composition in Pärt’s new style was the piano piece Für Alina. It is a composition of widely spaced pitches, open intervals and pedal tones. The music that began to emerge after this period was radically different. Pärt moved to a new phase of experimenting with collage technique and is often identified with the school of minimalism and, more specifically, that of mystic minimalism or holy minimalism, of which he is considered a pioneer, along with contemporaries Henryk Górecki and John Tavener. Familiar works of this period by Pärt are Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten for string orchestra and bell (1977) and the string quintet “Fratres I” (1977, revised 1983), which he transcribed for string orchestra and percussion. Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) is a well-known example which has been used in many films.

Pärt describes the music of this period as tintinnabuli—like the ringing of bells. The music is characterized by simple harmonies, often single unadorned notes, or triads, which form the basis of Western harmony. The solo violin “Fratres II” and the cello ensemble “Fratres III” both come from 1980. Another characteristic of Pärt’s later works is that they are frequently settings for sacred texts, although he mostly chooses Latin or the Church Slavonic language used in Orthodox liturgy instead of his native Estonian language. Large-scale works inspired by religious texts include St. John Passion, Te Deum, and Litany. Choral works from this period include Magnificat and The Beatitudes.

In 1980, after a prolonged struggle with Soviet officials, Part was allowed to emigrate with his wife and their two sons. He lived first in Vienna, where he took Austrian citizenship and then relocated to Berlin, Germany, in 1981. He returned to Estonia around the turn of the 21st century and now lives alternately in Berlin and Tallinn. He speaks fluent German and has German citizenship as a result of living in Germany since 1981. Pärt’s music came to public attention in the West largely thanks to Manfred Eicher who recorded several of Pärt’s compositions for ECM Records starting in 1984. Invited by Walter Fink, Pärt was the 15th composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 2005 in four concerts. A new composition, Für Lennart, written for the memory of the Estonian President, Lennart Meri, was played at Meri’s funeral service on April 2, 2006. Pärt was honored as the featured composer of the 2008 RTÉ Living Music Festival in Dublin, Ireland. He was also commissioned by Louth Contemporary Music Society to compose a new choral work based on “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, which premiered in 2008 in Louth, Ireland. The new work is called The Deer’s Cry and had its debut in Drogheda and Dundalk in February 2008.

Pärt’s 2008 Symphony No. 4 is named “Los Angeles” and was dedicated to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It was Pärt’s first symphony written since his Symphony No. 3 written in 1971. It premiered in Los Angeles, California, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on January 10, 2009, and has been nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. On December 10, 2011, Pärt was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture for a five-year renewable term by Pope Benedict XVI. As of 2013, Pärt has been the most performed contemporary composer in the world for three years in a row. On January 26, 2014, Pärt’s Adam’s Lament won a Grammy for Best Choral Performance. Although his fame initially rested on instrumental works such as Tabula Rasa and Spiegel im Spiegel, his choral works have also come to be widely appreciated.

My collection includes the following works by Arvo Part:

Collage uber B.A.C.H. (1964).
Summa for Strings.
Symphony No. 3 (1971).
Tabula Rasa, double concerto for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano (1977).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Charles Hubert H. Parry and his English Suite

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (February 27, 1848–October 7, 1918) was an English composer, teacher and music historian, born in Bournemouth, the youngest of six children of Thomas Gambier Parry (1816–1888) and his first wife, Isabella née Fynes-Clinton (1816–1848), of Highnam Court, Gloucestershire. His father, a director of the East India Company, was not merely an eminent collector of works of early Italian art at a date when very few people had the taste to choose what was best, but was himself a painter and designer of no small skill. Isabella Parry died twelve days after the birth of Hubert. He grew up at Highnam with his surviving siblings, Clinton and Lucy. Thomas Parry remarried in 1851, and had six more children.

From January 1856 to the middle of 1858 Parry attended a preparatory school in Malvern, from where he moved to a Twyford Preparatory School in Hampshire. At Twyford his interest in music was encouraged by the headmaster, and by two organists, Samuel Sebastian Wesley at Winchester Cathedral, and Edward Brind, at Highnam church. From Wesley he gained an enduring love of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music, Brind gave Parry piano and basic harmony lessons, and took him to the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford in 1861. After leaving Twyford in 1861, Parry was sent to Eton, where he distinguished himself at sport as well as music. Eton was not at that time noted for its music, but his interest was encouraged. He took lessons with George Elvey, the organist of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, from whom he was at least able to have sound enough technical instruction and compose music for the choir, and composed many prentice works.

While still at Eton Parry successfully sat the Oxford Bachelor of Music examination, the youngest person who had ever done so. His examination exercise, a cantata, O Lord, Thou hast cast us out, astonished the Oxford Professor of Music, Sir Frederick Ouseley, and was triumphantly performed and published in 1867. Also in 1867 Parry left and went up to Exeter College, Oxford. He did not study music, being intended by his father for a commercial career, and instead read law and modern history. His musical concerns took second place during his time at Oxford, though during one summer vacation he went to Stuttgart and studied with Henry Hugo Pierson.

After leaving Oxford, Parry was an underwriter at Lloyd’s of London from 1870 to 1877. In 1872 he married Elizabeth Maude Herbert (1851–1933), second daughter of the politician Sidney Herbert and his wife Elizabeth. They had two daughters, Dorothea and Gwendolen, named after George Eliot characters. Parry continued his musical studies alongside his work in insurance. In London he took lessons from William Sterndale Bennett. He sought lessons from Johannes Brahms who was not available, and Parry was recommended to the pianist Edward Dannreuther. The growing success of his compositions allowed him, in 1877, to devote himself full-time to music. He joined the staff of the Royal College of Music when it was founded in 1883.

At the same time as his compositions were coming to public notice, Parry was taken up as a musical scholar by George Grove, first as his assistant editor for his new Dictionary of Music and Musicians, to which post Parry was appointed in 1875 and contributed 123 articles. Parry’s first major works appeared in 1880, including a piano concerto in F sharp major (first published in 1878), which Dannreuther premiered at the Crystal Palace, and a choral setting of scenes from Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound. The first performance of the latter has been held to mark the start of a “renaissance” in English music. Parry scored a greater contemporary success with the ode Blest Pair of Sirens (1887), commissioned by and dedicated to Charles Villiers Stanford, one of the first British musicians to recognize Parry’s talent. Blest Pair of Sirens, a setting of Milton’s “At a Solemn Musick”, suggested as a text by Grove, established Parry as the leading English choral composer of his day.

Now well established as a composer and scholar, Parry received many commissions. Among them were choral works such as the Ode on Saint Cecilia’s Day (1889), the oratorios Judith (1888) and Job (1892), the psalm-setting De Profundis (1891) and a lighter work, The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1905). Contemporary critics generally regarded Parry’s orchestral music as of secondary importance in his output, but in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries many of Parry’s orchestral pieces have been revived. These include five symphonies, a set of Symphonic Variations in E minor, the Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy (1893) and the Elegy for Brahms (1897).

In 1883 Parry wrote music to accompany the Cambridge Greek Play The Birds by Aristophanes . Parry received an honorary degree from Cambridge University in the same year. Subsequently, he wrote music for Oxford productions of Aristophanes: The Frogs (1892), The Clouds (1905) and The Acharnians (1914). He had also provided elaborate incidental music for a West End production by Beerbohm Tree, Hypatia (1893). Among Parry’s considerable output of music for the theatre, there was only one attempt at opera: Guenever, which was turned down by the Carl Rosa Opera Company.

When Grove retired as director of the Royal College of Music, Parry was appointed to succeed him as director of the RCM in January 1895, and held the post until his death. In 1900 he succeeded John Stainer as professor of music at Oxford. As head of the Royal College of Music, Parry numbered among his leading pupils Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Frank Bridge, and John Ireland. Despite the demands of his academic posts Parry composed a series of six “ethical cantatas”, experimental works in which he hoped to supersede the traditional oratorio and cantata forms. They were generally unsuccessful with the public, though Edward Elgar admired The Vision of Life (1907), and The Soul’s Ransom (1906) has had several modern performances.

Following the death of his stepmother, Ethelinda Lear Gambier-Parry, in 1896, Parry succeeded to the family estate at Highnam. He was created a Knight Bachelor in 1898 and a baronet in 1902. Parry resigned his Oxford appointment on medical advice in 1908 and, in the last decade of his life, produced some of his best-known works, including the Symphonic Fantasia ‘1912’ (also called Symphony No. 5), the Ode on the Nativity (1912), Jerusalem (1916), and the Songs of Farewell (1916–1918). In the autumn of 1918 Parry contracted Spanish flu during the global pandemic and died on October 7, 1918, at Knightscroft near Littlehampton, Rustington, West Sussex, England, aged 70. At the urging of Stanford, he was buried in the Chapel of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Parry’s musical style, influenced primarily by the great German tradition, is a complex aggregate reflecting his assimilation of indigenous as well as continental traditions. Much of his output consists of choral music: oratorios, sacred and secular cantatas, motets, anthems, service music, part-songs and hymns. But he also composed four symphonies, a Symphonic Fantasia, a set of Symphonic Variations and other orchestral works; music for piano, organ and various chamber ensembles; and 12 sets of English Lyrics, an important component of the English song repertory. The English Suite and Lady Radnor’s Suite, both for string orchestra, make a useful addition to English string orchestra repertoire. Parry wrote about music throughout his adult life. In addition to his 123 articles in Grove’s Dictionary, his publications include Studies of Great Composers (1886); The Art of Music (1893) enlarged as The Evolution of the Art of Music (1896); The Music of the Seventeenth Century, (Volume III of the Oxford History of Music (1902); Johann Sebastian Bach: the Story of the Development of a Great Personality (1909), rated by The Times as his most important book; and Style in Musical Art, collected Oxford lectures (1911).

The following works by Hubert Parry are contained in my collection:

An English Suite (1915).
Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy (1893).
Symphonic Variations in EM (1897).
Symphony No. 2 in FM, Cambridge (1883).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Carter Pann and his Piano Concerto (No. 1)

Pann, Carter1

Carter Pann (born February 21, 1972) is an American composer. Born at La Grange, IL, he studied composition and piano at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. His teachers included Samuel Adler, William Albright, Warren Benson, William Bolcom, David Liptak, Joseph Schwantner, and Bright Sheng. He studied piano with Barry Snyder. Pann’s music has become known for its blend of crafty, popular-sounding idioms, subtle and unabashed humor, and haunted melodic writing. His works have been performed around the world by such ensembles and soloists as the London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, Berlin-Stockholm-Finnish Radio Symphonies, Seattle Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Syracuse Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, Chicago Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Haddonfield Symphony, Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps, many college orchestras and bands, Richard Stoltzman, the Ying Quartet, pianists Barry Snyder and Winston Choi, and the Antares ensemble, among others.

Pann has also received honors, awards, and recognition such as the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Masterprize, the American Composers Orchestra, five ASCAP composer awards, the K. Serocki Competition in Poland for his First Piano Concerto which was premiered by the Polish Radio Symphony at Lutoslawski Hall, Warsaw, in 1998, the Zoltan Kodaly and Francois d’Albert Concours Internationales de Composition, and a concerto commission Clarinet Concerto Rags to Richard for clarinettist Richard Stoltzman which was recorded by the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz. In 1997 the Czech State Philharmonic of Brno recorded four of his orchestral works under Jose Serebrier. The Piano Concerto was also nominated for a GRAMMY as “Best Classical Composition of the Year” 2001. Pann was the most featured composer at the 2009 Nationwide CBDNA conference in Austin, TX, and has contributed regularly to the explosion of new Wind Symphony works being written for the many ensembles around the country.

Other pieces by Pann, whose work is said to be “brimming with joie de vivre and enthusiasm,” include the following. Love Letters (string quartet no. 1) was commissioned by the Ying Quartet for their LIFE MUSIC commissioning project through a grant from the American Music Institute. His work Slalom for orchestra was performed by the London Symphony under Daniel Harding in 2001 and has since been widely performed throughout the United States and Europe and subsequently showcased on NPR’s Performance Today. Concerto Logic (Piano Concerto No. 2) was commissioned by a consortium of nearly two dozen wind symphonies around the country with the composer as soloist. His most recent work, mercury Concerto for flute and orchestra, was written for and premiered by fellow faculty member Christina Jennings and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston.

Anthems in Waves, a tribute to one of the most weathered American battleships in existence, the USS New Jersey, was commissioned by the Haddonfield Symphony through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. More recent works include Nicky’s Trio (Piano Trio No. 1) for the Amelia Trio, American Child for a consortium of 10 university wind ensembles, and Antares (piano – violin – cello – clarinet) for the Antares ensemble. Fantasy-Inventions (an extended solo piano work) was premiered in Alice Tully Hall, October 2004, by pianist Barry Snyder. Pann currently teaches composition and theory on the composition faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

My collection includes the following works by Carter Pann:

Dance Partita (1995).
Deux Sejours (1994).
Piano Concerto (1997).
Two Portraits of Barcelona (1994).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

John Knowles Paine and his two symphonies

John Knowles Paine (January 9, 1839 – April 25, 1906), was the first American-born composer to achieve fame for large-scale orchestral music and the senior member of a group of other composers collectively known as the Boston Six, who were responsible for the first significant body of concert music by composers from the United States, the other five being Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, George Chadwick, and Horatio Parker. Paine was born on January 9, 1839, in Portland, Maine, and grew up in a musical family. His grandfather was an instrument maker who built the first pipe organ in the state of Maine, and his father and uncles were all music teachers. . One uncle was an organist. Another was a composer. His father carried on the family musical instrument business, led the town band, owned the music store, and published music.

In the 1850s Paine took lessons in organ and composition from Hermann Kotzschmar, a German immigrant and local composer, completing his first composition, a string quartet, in 1855 at the age of 16. It became clear that he would need greater educational opportunities to nurture his talent—but the Great Fire of Portland destroyed the family’s business in 1856 and his father died shortly thereafter. Benefit concerts provided a solution. After his first organ recital in 1857, he was appointed organist of Portland’s Haydn Society, and gave a series of recitals with the object of funding a trip to Europe that attracted favorable critical attention from as far away as Boston and raised sufficient funds for Paine to set sail for Berlin in the summer of 1859 where he hoped to further his music education. By the time Paine departed for Europe he was already a skilled pianist, organist, and composer.
On arrival in Europe Paine studied organ with Carl August Haupt and orchestration with Friedrich Wilhelm Wieprecht at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He spent three years there and worked hard at his studies. He also toured Europe giving organ recitals for those three years, establishing a reputation as an organist that would precede his return to the United States. After returning to the U. S. in 1861, Paine decided to seek his fortune in Boston. When Harvard College needed someone to take charge of the music for its new Appleton Chapel following the sudden death of the choirmaster, the 23-year-old Paine was asked to take over. Despite his lack of a college degree, he was appointed Harvard’s first University organist and choirmaster.

In 1863 the installation of Thomas Hill as Harvard’s president gave Paine a welcome opportunity. Assembling a large chorus and orchestra, he wrote for them a setting of the traditional text Domine, salvum fac praesidem nostrum (“O Lord, make safe our president”). Meanwhile his organ variations on “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written at the height of the Civil War, were quickly published; he performed them often on the huge new concert organ at Boston Music Hall. While acting in his role as organist and choirmaster Paine offered free lecture courses in music appreciation, musical history and form, and music theory that would become the core curriculum for Harvard’s newly formed academic music department, the first such department in the United States, and to his eventual appointment as America’s first music professor. He also worked on his first magnum opus, the great Mass in D for chorus, soloists, and orchestra. He would remain a member of the faculty of Harvard until 1905, just a year before his death, serving the Harvard community for 43 years. His many notable students include composer Arthur Foote and musicologist/critic Olin Downes.

In 1866, Paine returned to Berlin for the well received 1867 Berlin premiere of the Mass in D which in the presence of Prussian royalty would give him a reputation that helped him to shape the musical infrastructure of the United States. Harvard’s next president, Charles William Eliot, granted Paine an honorary A.M. in 1869 as one of his first official acts; that meant Paine could be appointed to the faculty as an instructor. Five years later, he managed to have himself named the first academic professor of music at any American university. His pioneering courses in music appreciation and music theory made the curriculum of Department of Music at Harvard a model for American Departments of Music.

Paine’s service as a director of The New England Conservatory of Music, and the lectures he gave there, establish his place at the root of an instruction chain that leads through Eugene Thayer from George Chadwick to Horatio Parker to Charles Ives. He was the first guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the final concerts of its first season, and his works were audience favorites. He is also known for writing America’s first oratorio (St. Peter, 1872), the Centennial Hymn that (with orchestra) opened the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. He was a founder of American Guild of Organists, and co-edited of “Famous Composers and their Works.” Paine is noted for beginning American’s symphonic tradition.Paine’s first symphony, the first written by an American, debuted in 1876 to a rapturous reception. Even more ecstatic was the reaction to his Spring Symphony four years later with its premiere in Sanders Theatre.

In 1889, Paine made one of the first musical recordings on wax cylinder with Theo Wangemann, who was experimenting with sound recording on the newly invented phonograph. Paine devoted his last 15 years to composing a three-act opera, Azara. Acclaimed a masterpiece in concert performances, Azara was scheduled at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1905-06 season, the year of his retirement. He died on April 25, 1906, in Cambridge, MA. Within a few years of Paine’s death his music had all but disappeared from the concert hall, though the general resurgence of interest in early American composers during the later years of the twentieth century provided Paine with a welcome respite from his place in musical limbo. John Knowles Paine was among the initial class of inductees into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 1998. Paine Hall, the concert hall for Harvard’s Department of Music is named after him.

The following works by John Knowles Paine are contained in my collection:

Oedipus Tyrannus, op. 35 (1991): Prelude.
Overture to Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” op. 28 (1876).
Symphony No. 1 in cm, op. 23 (1875).
Symphony No. 2 in AM, op. 34, Im Fruhling (1879).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Nicolo Paganini and his violin concertos

Niccolò (or Nicolò) Paganini (October 27, 1782–May 27, 1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer who was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. Paganini was born in Genoa, Italy, the third of the six children of Antonio and Teresa (née Bocciardo) Paganini. Paganini’s father was an unsuccessful trader, but he managed to supplement his income through playing music on the mandolin. At the age of five, Paganini started learning the mandolin from his father, and moved to the violin by the age of seven. His musical talents were quickly recognized, earning him numerous scholarships for violin lessons. His first documented public appearance took place at the church of S. Filippo Neri on May 26, 1794.

The young Paganini studied under various local violinists, including Francesco Gnecco, Giovanni Servetto, and Giacomo Costa, but his progress quickly outpaced their abilities. It was about this time that he was indelibly impressed by the Franco-Polish violin virtuoso Auguste Frédéric Durand (later billed as Duranowski), who was a brilliant showman. Paganini and his father then traveled to Parma to seek further guidance from Alessandro Rolla. But upon listening to Paganini’s playing, Rolla immediately referred him to his own teacher, Ferdinando Paer and, later, Paer’s own teacher, Gasparo Ghiretti. Though Paganini did not stay long with Paer or Ghiretti, the two had considerable influence on his composition style.

The French invaded northern Italy in March 1796, and Genoa was not spared. The Paganinis sought refuge in their country property in Romairone, near Bolzaneto. In 1797 the violinist started his concert tours. By 1800, Paganini and his father traveled to Livorno, where Paganini played in concerts and his father resumed his maritime work. They returned to Genoa in 1801; that same year, in the company of his older brother Carlo, who was also a violinist, he went to Lucca to play at the Festival of Santa Croce. His appearance there on Sept. 14, 1801, was a brilliant success. The 18-year-old Paganini settled there, becoming concertmaster and first violin of the National Orchestra of the Republic of Lucca, but a substantial portion of his income came from freelancing.

In 1805, Lucca was annexed by Napoleonic France, and the region was ceded to Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi. Paganini became a violinist for the Baciocchi court, while giving private lessons to her husband, Felice. In 1807, Baciocchi became the Grand Duchess of Tuscany and her court was transferred to Florence. Paganini was part of the entourage, but, towards the end of 1809, he left Baciocchi to resume his freelance career. Paganini composed his own works to play exclusively in his concerts, all of which profoundly influenced the evolution of violin technique. His 24 Caprices (published in 1820) were probably composed in the period between 1805 to 1809, while he was in the service of the Baciocchi court. Also during this period, he composed the majority of the solo pieces, duo-sonatas, trios and quartets for the guitar.

For the next few years, Paganini returned to touring in the areas surrounding Parma and Genoa. It is well known that Paganini rarely practiced after his 30th birthday. Though he was very popular with the local audience, he was still not very well known in the rest of Europe. His first break came from an 1813 concert at La Scala in Milan. The concert was a great success. As a result, Paganini began to attract the attention of other prominent, albeit more conservative, musicians across Europe. His early encounters with Charles Philippe Lafont and Louis Spohr created intense rivalry. His concert activities, however, were still limited to Italy for the next few years. In 1813 Paganini became seriously involved with a singer named Antonia Bianchi from Como, whom he met in Milan. The two gave concerts together throughout Italy. They had a son, Achilles Cyrus Alexander, born on July 23, 1825, in Palermo.

Gioachino Rossini and Paganini met in Bologna in the summer of 1818. In January 1821, on his return from Naples, Paganini met Rossini again in Rome, just in time to become the composer’s substitute conductor for his opera Mathilde de Sharbran. In 1827 Paganini was made a Knight of the Golden Spur by Pope Leo XII. His fame spread across Europe with a concert tour that started in Vienna in August 1828, stopping in every major European city in Germany, Poland, and Bohemia until February 1831 in Strasbourg. This was followed by tours in Paris and Britain. His tour in 1832 through England and Scotland made him wealthy. His technical ability and his willingness to display it received much critical acclaim. In addition to his own compositions, theme and variations being the most popular, Paganini also performed modified versions of works, primarily concertos, written by his early contemporaries, such as Rodolphe Kreutzer and Giovanni Battista Viotti. Paganini was introduced to Hector Berlioz in Paris in 1833. Though Paganini also commissioned from him Harold en Italie for viola and orchestra, he never performed it

Throughout his life, Paganini was no stranger to chronic illnesses. Although no definite medical proof exists, he was reputed to have been affected by Marfan syndrome. In addition, his frequent concert schedule, as well as his extravagant lifestyle, took their toll on his health. He was diagnosed with syphilis as early as 1822, and his remedy, which included mercury and opium, came with serious physical and psychological side effects. In 1834, while still in Paris, he was treated for tuberculosis. Though his recovery was reasonably quick, his future career was marred with frequent cancellations due to various health problems, from the common cold to depression, which lasted from days to months. In September 1834, Paganini put an end to his concert career and returned to Genoa, devoting his time to the publication of his compositions and violin methods. He accepted students, of whom two enjoyed moderate success: violinist Camillo Sivori and cellist Gaetano Ciandelli.

In 1835, Paganini returned to Parma, this time under the employ of Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, Napoleon’s second wife. He was in charge of reorganizing her court orchestra. However, he eventually conflicted with the players and court, so his visions never saw completion. In 1836, Paganini returned to Paris where he befriended the 11-year old Polish virtuoso Apollinaire de Kontski, giving him some lessons and a signed testimonial. A critical illness in Oct. 1838 led to the loss of his voice. At Christmas of 1838, he left Paris for Marseilles and, after a brief stay, travelled to Nice for his health where his condition worsened. On May 27, 1840, Paganini died from internal hemorrhaging at Nice, France. Paganini wrote a number of works for violin and orchestra for his own concert use. These include five numbered concertos, the second of which, the Concerto in B minor, contains the movement ‘La campanella’, borrowed later by Liszt. Sets of variations for violin and orchestra include I palpiti, based on an operatic aria by Rossini, and Le streghe, based on a theme from an opera by Mozart’s pupil Süssmayr.

My collection includes the following works by Nicolo Paganini:

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in DM, op. 6.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in bm, op. 8, La Campanella.
Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Rossini: Fantasia for Double Bass and Orchestra.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Ignacy Paderewski and his Piano Concerto

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (November 18, 1860–June 29,1941) was a Polish pianist and composer, and also a politician, and spokesman for Polish independence, born to a well-off, cultivated family in the village of Kurilovka (Kurilivka), Litin uyezd in the Podolia Governorate, then part of the Russian Empire. The village today is part of the Khmilnyk raion of Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine. His father, Jan Paderewski, was an administrator of large estates. His mother, Poliksena (née Nowicka), died several months after Paderewski was born, and he was brought up by distant relatives. From his early childhood, Paderewski was interested in music while living at the private estate near Zhytomyr where he moved with his father. However soon after his father’s arrest in connection with the January Uprising in 1863, he was adopted by his aunt. After being released, Paderewski’s father married again and moved to the town of Sudylkov near Shepetovka.

Initially Paderewski took piano lessons with a private tutor from an early age. At the age of twelve, in 1872, he went to Warsaw and was admitted to the Warsaw Conservatorium to study piano, harmony, and counterpoint. After graduating in 1878, he was asked to become a tutor of piano classes at his alma mater, which he accepted. In 1880 Paderewski married one of his pupils named Antonina Korsakówna, and soon afterwards, their first child was born. The following year, they discovered that the son was handicapped; soon afterward, Antonina died. Paderewski decided to devote himself to music, and in 1881 he went to Berlin to study music composition with Friedrich Kiel and Heinrich Urban between 1881 and 1883 while moving in the social orbit of the greatest musicians of the day, including a young Richard Strauss and the lionized Anton Rubinstein. In 1884 he moved to Vienna, where he was a pupil of the great Polish pianist and pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky. During this period he also taught at the Strasbourg Conservatory. It was in Vienna that he made his musical debut in 1887. His piano concerto was composed in 1888. He soon gained great popularity and his subsequent appearances in Paris in 1889, and in London in 1890 were major successes. His brilliant playing created a furor which reached to almost extravagant lengths of admiration. His triumphs were repeated in the United States in 1891. His name at once became synonymous with the highest level of piano virtuosity.

In 1896, Paderewski donated $10,000 to establish a trust fund to encourage American-born composers. The fund underwrote a triennial competition that began in 1901 called the “Paderewski Prize”. Paderewski also launched a similar contest in Leipzig in 1898. In 1898 he settled at Riond Bosson near Morges in Switzerland, and the following year he married Helena Gorska, Baroness von Rosen. He was also a substantial composer, including many pieces for piano. He became world famous for the Minuet in G, Op. 14/1, part of a set of six pieces that are otherwise forgotten. In 1901 his sole opera Manru received its world premiere at Dresden, then it had its American premiere in 1902 at the Metropolitan Opera. To this day it remains the only Polish opera by a Polish composer ever performed there. Paderewski, his second wife, entourage, parrot and Erard piano gave concerts in Australia and New Zealand in 1904, in collaboration with Polish-French composer, Henri Kowalski. In 1909 came the premiere of his Symphony in B minor “Polonia”, a massive work lasting 75 minutes, given at Boston, and in that same year he became director of the Warsaw Conservatory. It would be his last composition, apart from a hymn for male chorus written in 1917. He was also active in pursuing various philanthropic causes. In 1910 he funded the erection of the Battle of Grunwald Monument in the city of Kraków, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the the victory of the Poles over the Teutonic Order.

In 1913, Paderewski settled in the United States. On the eve of World War I, and at the height of his fame, Paderewski bought a 2,000-acre property, Rancho San Ignacio, near Paso Robles, in San Luis Obispo County, on the central coast of California. A decade later he planted Zinfandel vines on the California property. He was extremely popular internationally, to such an extent that the music hall duo “The Two Bobs” had a hit song in 1916, in music halls across Britain, with the song “When Paderewski plays”. He was a favorite of concert audiences across the globe; women especially admired his performances. During World War I, Paderewski became an active member of the Polish National Committee in Paris, which was soon accepted by the Entente as the representative of the forces trying to create the state of Poland. He became a spokesman of that organization, and soon also formed other social and political organizations, among them the Polish Relief Fund in London. It was then that he met the English composer Edward Elgar, who used a theme from Paderewski’s Fantasie Polonaise in his work Polonia written for the 1916Polish Relief Fund concert in London, the title no doubt recognizing Paderewski’s Symphony in B minor .

In April 1918, Paderewski met in New York City with leaders of the American Jewish Committee in an unsuccessful attempt to broker a deal whereby organized Jewish groups would support Polish territorial ambitions in exchange for support for equal rights. However, it soon became clear that no plan would satisfy both Jewish leaders and Roman Dmowski, head of the Polish National Committee, who was strongly anti-semitic. Paderewski also played an important role in meeting with President Woodrow Wilson and others in obtaining the explicit inclusion of independent Poland as point 13 in Wilson’s peace terms, the Fourteen Points. At the end of the war, with the fate of the city of Poznań and the whole region of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) still undecided, Paderewski visited Poznań. With his public speech on December 27,1918, the Polish inhabitants of Poznań began a military uprising against Germany, called the Greater Poland Uprising. He worked hard to get Dmowski and Józef Piłsudski to collaborate, but Piłsudski won out.

In 1919, in the newly independent Poland, Paderewski was appointed by the provisional president Piłsudski as the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (January 1919 – December 1919). He and Dmowski represented Poland at the Paris Peace Conference. He signed the Treaty of Versailles, which restored the territories of Greater Poland and Pomerania around the City of Gdańsk to Poland. Although this fell short of what the Polish delegates had demanded, these territories provided the core of the restored Polish state. After being abandoned by many of his political supporters, Paderewski resigned as foreign minister on December 4, 1919, and took on the role of Polish Ambassador to the League of Nations. In 1922 he retired from politics and returned to his musical life. He never revisited his native country. His first concert after a long break, held at Carnegie Hall, was a significant success. He also filled Madison Square Garden’s 20,000 seats and toured the United States in a private railway car.

Soon Paderewski returned to Morges in Switzerland. After Piłsudski’s coup d’état in 1926, Paderewski became an active member of the opposition to Sanacja rule. In 1936 a coalition of members of the opposition was signed in his mansion; it was nicknamed the Front Morges after the name of the village. By 1936, two years after the death of his wife, Paderewski consented to appear in a film presenting his talent and art on the screen. This proposal had come at a time when Paderewski did not wish to appear in public. However, the film project did proceed, and the selected film script was an opportunity to feature Paderewski. The film Moonlight Sonata was filmed throughout 1936. In November 1937 Paderewski agreed to take on one last pupil for piano. This musician was Witold Małcużyński, who had won second place at the International Chopin Piano Competition.

After the Polish Defensive War of 1939 Paderewski returned to public life. In 1940 he became the head of the Polish National Council, a Polish parliament in exile in Paris formed with Gen. Władysław Sikorski as prime minister. After the French capitulation in 1940, he went to the United States. The eighty-year-old artist also restarted his Polish Relief Fund and gave several concerts, most notably in the United States, to gather money for it. However, his mind was not what it had once been. Scheduled again to play Madison Square Garden, he refused to appear, insisting that he had already played the concert, presumably remembering the concert he had played in the 1920s. During one such tour in 1941, Paderewski was taken ill on June 27. Nothing was discussed with his personal secretary or entourage. But at the initiative of Sylwin Strakacz, physicians were called in for consultation and diagnosed pneumonia. Despite improving health and signs of recovery Paderewski died in New York City, NY, on June 29, 1941, aged 80. He was given a hero’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington Virginia, near Washington DC. In 1992, his body was brought to Warsaw and placed in St. John’s Archcathedral.

The following works by Ignacy Paderewski are contained in my collection:

Fantasie Polonaise su des themes originaux, op. 19 (1893).
Piano Concerto in am, op. 17 (1888).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Johann Friedrich Fasch and his Concerto in DM for Trumpet

Johann Friedrich Fasch (April 15, 1688–December 5, 1758) was a German violinist and composer, born on April 15, 1688, in Buttelstedt near Weimar, in Thuringia, Germany, the first child of school principal Friedrich Georg Fasch (died 1700) and Sophia Wegerig (or Wegerich), daughter of a Lutheran minister. Soon after Johann’s birth, his father took a position as teacher and Cantor at the Henneberg Secondary School in Schleusingen. In 1691 the Fasch family relocated to Suhl, where Fasch’s father had been appointed principal of the local Secondary School. In 1697, Fasch sang in the soprano (discant) section during performances of sacred music in Suhl. After his father’s death, Fasch was raised by Gottfried Wegerig, one of his mother’s brothers, a chaplain in Teuchern. A relative of Fasch’s family, Andreas Scheele, a chamber musician and tenor soloist at the court of Weissenfels, arranged for Fasch to become a choral scholar there.

Fasch joined the Court Chapel of the Duke of Weissenfels in 1699 as a choir boy, where his teacher was Johann Philipp Krieger, a musician of wide culture well versed in the Venetian, Bolognese, Neapolitan, Florentine and Roman schools, acquainted with the musicians of old Bohemia and a pupil of Pasquini. His influence on young Fasch was of considerable importance. Next, Fasch studied theology, law and music at the famous Thomas-Schule or St. Thomas School in Leipzig from 1701 to 1707, the latter under Johann Kuhnau, and became a member of the Thomaner Choir. Fasch taught himself how to play the violin and keyboard instruments, and composed his first vocal works, setting to music texts by Menantes. Fasch founded a second Collegium Musicum, an orchestral force consisting of secondary school and university students, at the University in that city, the birth of which caused a grave conflict between the young composer and his old master Kuhnau. This seems to have been the ancestor of the ‘Grosse Concert’ and so of the Gewandhaus concerts. He wrote overtures suites for the society modelled after those of Georg Philipp Telemann, and composed three operas commissioned by Duke Moritz Wilhelm of Sachsen-Zeitz for the Peter and Paul Fair in Naumburg and for the Court of Zeitz. Fasch also composed numerous incidental works.

In 1711, Fasch’s application for the position of Cantor at St. Jakobi at Chemnitz was not successful. He requested financial support for a study trip to Italy from the Duke but received a recommendation to the Court of Gotha instead. After finishing his studies in Leipzig, Fasch then traveled a little and visited many cities and courts throughout Germany and Central Europe eager to widen his knowledge, and composed all the while. He undertook a musical study trip through the southern and western parts of Germany, ending up in Kassel, having passed through Zeitz, Gera, Gotha, Eisenach and Mühlhausen. He spent much of spring of 1714 in Kassel, eventually travelling through Marburg, Giessen and Frankfurt-am-Main to Darmstadt where had 14 weeks of complimentary composition with his former St. Thomas’s School prefect, Court Kapellmeister Christoph Graupner and from his concertmaster Gottfried Grünewald.

Upon returning to Saxony Fasch visited his mother in Suhl, before departing for a second trip that took him to the court of Oettingen via Bamberg, Nürnberg and Ansbach. His hopes of going to Italy remained unfulfilled, so he accepted employment as a violinist with the orchestra at Bayreuth in 1714 during the Carnival season, and on that occasion he composed the opera “Die königliche Schäferin Margeris.” In 1715 he accepted a position as an official “secretary and administrative assistant” in Gera. On November 16, 1717, he married Johanna Christiane Laurentius, a minister’s daughter, in Roben near Gera. In 1719 he took a position as town clerk and organist in Greiz, where his father-in-law Georg Michael Laurentius served as archdeacon. In 1720 Fasch’s wife passed away, after giving birth to a son. The following year Fasch left Greiz for personal and professional reasons and accepted a position as “Componist” to Count Morzin in Prague for whom he continued to compose works throughout his career.

In 1722, after leading a wandering life for some years, Fasch received a recommendation from his friend and colleague in Gotha, G. H. Stölzel, and was appointed Kapellmeister at the court of Zerbst, a post he held until his death. The organist Johann Ulich was his assistant. It was in that same year, so tradition has it, that he refused to compete against Johann Sebastian Bach for the post of Cantor at St. Thomas’ of Leipzig. The works of Fasch, in manuscript, are dispersed among numerous libraries throughout Europe. He is credited with at least one Passion setting, a Requiem, 14 Masses, 2 Credo, 4 Psalms, some 100 church cantatas and motets, 4 serenades, 4 Operas, about 60 concertos structured like Antonio Vivaldi’s, about 90 overtures or orchestral suites, plus a quantity of trios, sonatas, symphonies, and chamber music. None of his pieces were printed in his lifetime, and a large number of his vocal works, including the four operas, have been lost. In the collection of music left by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a whole set of church cantatas by Fasch.

Fasch was held in high regard by his contemporaries. Johann Sebastian Bach made manuscript copies of a number of his pieces and copies of five Suites by Fasch found among Bach’s manuscripts. Though Fasch belongs time-wise firmly in the baroque period, his lifespan closely paralleling that of Bach and Georg Frideric Handel, today he is considered an important link marking the transition from baroque to roccoco or early Classical periods. Fasch died at Zerbst, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, on December 5, 1758 at the age of 70, leaving the legacy of an extremely engaging musician. His daughter Johanna Friedericka arranged his “quiet” funeral. He was the father of Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch (1736-1800), also a musician of note. Fasch’s modern reputation rests on his overtures, symphonies, concertos, and chamber music.

My collection includes the following works by Johann Friedrich Fasch:

Concerto in DM for Trumpet, 2 Oboes, Strings, and Continuo.
Symphony in GM for Strings and Continuo.
Symphony in AM for Strings and Continuo.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources