Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Brahms Handel Variations and Fugue, an old favorite of mine




The Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Op. 24, by Johannes Brahms, was one of my favorite piano compositions when I was a teen.  Could I really play it? 

  
The work is known for its very formal structure, with its observation of repeats. Wikipedia offers one of the largest and detailed formal analytic writeups of the work for anything in piano literature, with the full score. The entire score will display on a Google search!  This is an example of “orchestral” piano writing.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Humpback whales compose music!


Jackie Lay (and producer Ed Young) demonstrated in a short video on Vox how humpback whales can compose music, here .

Musical elements merge into phrases and themes, just as in human music.


In the late 60s, scientists started tracing evolution of whale music mixes around Australia.

The video also shows some primate culture.

It's pretty obvious you can make a video about bird songs. But the whales seem capable of collective or collaborative composition. 

Wikipedia attribution link, photo by Wwelles, CCSA 3.0 
  
Whale watching songs link

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Reger's overwhelming piano variations and fugue on Bach


Schiff plays the 34-minute work, “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach”, Op. 81, by Max Reger.


The original melody is Bach’s Cantata #128, “Auf Christi Himmelfahrt Allein”.

The music is somewhat like Brahms’s big piano variation works, but here the scale is extraordinary.
  
 At the end the piano strives to mimic an entire orchestra.  Reger sometimes ventured into extreme chromaticism, but the entire work is in B minor with triumphant B Major close.