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On This Day… October 18

Today we look at Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. Written for cellist Robert Hausmann and violinist Joseph Joachim, it was the last work that Brahms wrote for orchestra. Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Op. 102, premiered on this day in 1887. Continue reading On This Day… October 18

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On This Day… October 16

In my most recent WA Youth Orchestra concert, we performed the piece that we look at today. Our conductor talked about the special moments that we could have in our musical careers, and the Last movement of this symphony was one of them. Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique, Symphony Number 6, premiered on this day in 1893. Continue reading On This Day… October 16

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On This Day… October 15

Today we look at a piece that did a lot to introduce the magnificent instrument of the orchestra to young people. It also ended up being one of his most popular works. Benjamin Britten’s <em>The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra</em>, premiered on this day in 1946.<!–more–>

Originally written as accompanying music for a BBC documentary <em>Instruments of the Orchestra</em>, it was actually premiered on this day by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946 (the documentary used the London Symphony Orchestra, and was premiered on the 29th of November, 1946). Britten started composing this work in mid-December, 1945, and continued writing up to midnight, New Years Eve, 1945.

The piece itself consists of a theme (from Purcell’s <em>Abdelazar</em>) and variations, with each variation introducing a new instrument, and a final fugue in which all the instruments are put together. The instruments are introduced by family – winds, strings, brass and percussion. The fugue is based on an original theme, and once every instrument has entered, the brass are used to return Purcell’s original motive.

There are two different versions, one with narration and one without. The narration was written by Britten’s friend Eric Crozier, and designed to be spoken by the conductor or a separate narrator.

Today we have a performance by the London Symphony Orchestra, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

Did you like the performance? Do you prefer this, or other popular children’s pieces such as Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, or Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf? Let me know in the comments, or write a post on your own blog, linking back to this post, and I’ll add a link below.

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On This Day… October 13

The composer we are looking at today has been called one of the most important inter-war composers between World War One and Two, and the most distinguished female composer of her generation. However, most of her works remain unpublished, or only recently published. Rebecca Clarke, died on this day in 1979. Continue reading On This Day… October 13