Tag Archives: Bartok

Hayden, Bartok and Beethoven

By guest writer Julie Berridge

On November 10, we will be enriched by the music of Hayden, Bartok and Beethoven, played by The Quatuor Arthur-LeBlanc.  Read more about the concert here – http://music-toronto.com/quartets/arthur_Leblanc.htm

Hayden

The evening opens with Haydn’s Quartet in G Major, Op. 77, No.1.  Commissioned by Prince Joseph Lobkowitz and composed in 1799, it is one of Haydn’s most modern quartets.  It’s a relaxed and light-hearted work. Sometimes unadorned. Sometimes embellished.  And from start to finish, catchy and playful.

 

Bartok

Like Many of Bartok’s pieces, Quartet No. 4 has an archlike structure.  The first and fifth movements share related themes, as do the second and fourth.  The third movement stands alone.  Movements I, III and V are approximately six minutes long, and movements II and IV are about 3 minutes long.  The first movement transitions from clusters of notes to full cords.  The second movement is quick.  Full of trills, fast scales, and vibrato.  In the third movement, we hear elements of the folk and night music that Bartok is so well-known for.  Bartok’s pizzicato, the slapping sounds of the strings against the fingerboard, resulting from the aggressive plucking of the strings can be heard in the fourth movement.  The final movement features a recast of many of the themes in the first movement.

 

Beethoven

Beethoven’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, “Rasumovsky”, opens in the first movement with an aura of mystery but soon transitions into what has been described as “party music accompanied by fireworks”.  A playground frolic with notes tossing back and forth.  The second movement is composed in the style of a Venetian boat song.  The third is delicate and beautifully intertwined, leading us to the final movement, a fast and vigorous fugue.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Composers

Quatuor Arthur-LeBlanc

Since the fall of 2005, Quatuor Arthur-LeBlanc has been the quartet-in-residence at the Université Laval in Quebec City.  The four members of the quartet – Hibiki Kobayashi (violin), Brett Molzan (violin), Jean-Luc Plourde (viola) and Ryan Molzan (cello) – all teach the art of string quartets and chamber music at the university as well.

The quartet is named after Arthur LeBlanc who was born near Moncton in 1906 and died in Quebec City in 1985.  He was a violinist and composer who spent most of his youth in Moncton and then studied and lived in Quebec.  He attended the School of Music at Université Laval in 1922, one of the first to enrol in the school.  Later in life he would also teach at Université Laval.

He had a very busy career performing concerts and teaching.  He performed overseas, in the US, and in Canada – at one point performing 26 concerts in 6 weeks.  Health reasons dictated less touring after 1953 but he continued to perform for programs on radio and television.  Some of those programs included pieces he had composed as well.

You can hear this quartet named in his honour perform live on November 10th as part of our String Series!  The evening will include pieces by Haydn, Bartok, and Beethoven.  http://music-toronto.com/quartets/arthur_Leblanc.htm

Leave a comment

Filed under Performers

Beethoven and Bartok

by guest blogger Julie Berridge

On Thursday, October 13 2016, The Juilliard Quartet performs Beethoven and Bartok.

The evening opens with Beethoven’s String Quartet in F minor, Op.95, written in 1810.

The quartet was written soon after Napoleon invaded Vienna for the second time in 1809, occupying and bombarding the city for one night. Beethoven reportedly hid in the cellar, and covered his head with pillows, during that night.

The first 8 bars of Opus 95 include tempestuous and dotted rhythms, and a chorale.  In the first movement, instruments are assigned highly changeable roles.  The second movement provides a hymn like lyrical pause between movements, and the third and fourth movements are a return to the hectic tumultuous mood of the first.

Bartok – Quartet No. 1

This quartet which actually consists of three movements has been described as one of Bartok’s “tamest” string quartets.  He composed the piece for Stefi Geyer, a violinist with whom he fell in love.  Around the same time, Bartok had rejected the Catholicism he was brought up in, and declared himself an atheist.  The opening movement is slow and somewhat subdued at the start, and then it rises to a grand climax and then ends quietly.  The second movement is energetic, though at times ethereal.  It, also ends quietly.  Not so the third movement which is fiery, even to its ending.

 

Ludwig van Beethoven

String Quartet No. 7 in F major (“Rasumovsky No. 1”), Op. 59/1

Beethoven wrote these quartets in 1806 for Count Rasumovsky.  Initially, they were not well received.

The quartet begins in an amiable manner but soon fragments into sudden shifts of mood and colour. When first written, they were described by violinist Felix Radicati as “not music”.  The cellist Bernhard Romberg is said to have thrown the music on the ground and stomped on it.

In February 27, 1807, a piece in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung was a bit kinder.  It read,

“Three new, very long and difficult Beethoven string quartets … are attracting the attention of all connoisseurs. The conception is profound and the construction excellent, but they are not easily comprehended.”

Of the quartets, Beethoven presciently said to his critics, “They are not for you, but for a later age”.  For us, they may be perfect.

Leave a comment

Filed under Composers

Juilliard Quartet

On October 13, 2017, we will open our 45th season!  The Juilliard Quartet will start off our season, joining us once again.  With a 70 year history of excellence, they have delighted our audiences several times over the years.  This time they return with new cellist, Astrid Schween.  Previously, she was a member of the Lark Quartet and had an active career as a chamber player, soloist, and teacher.

In addition to performing, all of the members of the quartet are dedicated teachers.  The JSQ is the String Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School and all of the quartet members are faculty members devoting time to teaching string and chamber music.  Each May, the school hosts the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar where quartets receive intensive coaching from the JSQ.  To find out more about the application process, check out this link – http://www.juilliard.edu/youth-adult-programs/summer-programs/juilliard-string-quartet-seminar   It looks like applications are not yet open for the 2017 session but bookmark it and check back soon if you are interested.

Giving the average person an in-depth experience of quartet playing, in 2015, the quartet released the app “Juilliard String Quartet – An Exploration of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden”.  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/juilliard-string-quartet-exploration/id958257688?mt=8

You can find out more about the Juilliard by reading our previous blog entry from when they were on our stage in December of 2014 – https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/the-juilliard-quartet/ – or by going to their website – http://www.juilliardquartet.org/

Join us on October 13, 2016 to hear them live in Toronto with an evening of Beethoven and Bartok – http://music-toronto.com/

Leave a comment

Filed under Performers

Bela Bartok – part 1

Bela Bartok was a Hungarian composer born in 1881. His parents were Bela Sr. and Paula (nee Voit). You can read our previous blog on his mother here. https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/paula-voit/    Bela started playing the piano quite young. His father passed away unexpectedly when Bela was 7 and over the next few years, Bela, his mother, and his sister moved a couple of times, ending up in Pozsony. This is where he gave his first recital for the public which included a piece he had written himself.
From 1899 to 1903, Bartok studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. It is here that he met Zoltán Kodály. They would become lifelong friends. A 1904 summer trip to a resort sparked his interest in folk music and in 1907, Kodály introduced him to the music of Debussy. Both would influence Bartok’s works in the years to come.
1907 was also the year that Bartok started to teach piano at the Royal Academy. In 1909, Bartok married Márta Ziegler. He was 28 and she was 16. In August of 1910, their son Bela III was born. After 15 years of marriage, they divorced and Bartok married Ditta Pásztory in 1923. She was 19 and he was 42. 1924 saw the birth of their son, Péter.
During this time of his life, he continued to compose. He wrote his opera, a ballet, quartets, and several other pieces. He continued to travel and gather folk music though his travels had to stop when WWI broke out. We will leave him here for this week and look at the later part of his life in our next blog!

1 Comment

Filed under Composers

Paula Voit

We continue our look at some of the women connected to composers this week with Paula Voit, the mother of Bela Bartok. Paula was her son’s first music teacher. He displayed an interest and talent for music from a very young age and she started teaching him piano at the age of five.

Paula was born in 1857 to parents Moritz and Terezia in what is now Slovakia. Her parents both died when she was young and by sixteen she was on her own. She trained as a teacher and was a pianist as well. With her teacher training complete, at the age of 19 she moved to the south of Hungary to take a teaching position. Her decision to move there was partly influenced because her brother lived near to where she would be teaching.

Bela senior was the director of an agricultural school and connected with Paula’s brother. Paula taught piano lessons to Bela Sr. sisters. At the age of 23, in 1880, Paula and Bela senior were married. Eight years later, in 1888, Bela senior died. At 31 years of age, Paula was left to raise two young children on her own, the oldest being Bela junior at the age of 7. An influential figure in young Bela’s life, she would impress upon her family the importance of personal integrity and modesty.

This resilient woman lived until 1939, passing at the age of 82 in Budapest.

1 Comment

Filed under Mothers of Composers

Dénes Várjon

by guest contributor Julie Berridge

Dénes Várjon opens with Beethoven’s Sonata in G Major, Op. 14, No. 2 composed in 1798 and 1799. It’s a lyrical, lively and often humorous Sonata.

Schumann’s Fantasiestucke, Op. 12 is a set of eight pieces, the title of which was inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Fantasiestücke in Callots Manie. The composition was also inspired by fictional lives that Schumann created based on the real lives of his friends and enemies. For years Schumman developed these fictional characters in his diaries and letters to friends. He then began using these characters in his work as a music critic. In 1837, these characters became the inspiration for Fantasiestucke, Op. 12.

The composition is both passionate and dreamy. It begins with “Des Abends” (In the Evening). It is a “gentle picture of dusk” followed by followed by a parley between passion and dreams. It ends with what Schumann described as the combining of wedding and funeral bells. In a letter to his wife Clara he wrote, “At the time, I thought: well in the end it all resolves itself into a jolly wedding. But at the close, my painful anxiety about you returned”.

Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit is Surreal and hallucinatory. It is based on a poem by Aloysius Bertrand which features a mermaid a monster and a corpse.
Gaspard de la Nuit is comprised of 3 movements. The first movement Odine, is the tale of a mermaid who is trying to seduce a man by singing to him about her magical and fantastic would. The man tells Odin that he is married and he rejects her. Odin’s reaction is at first stormy, followed by quiet acceptance and then laughter. All of this is delightfully conveyed by Ravel.

In the second movement Le Gibet, Ravel paints a musical picture of a solitary corpse. The sounding of a B flat throughout the movement sustains the lonely and desolate musical landscape of this piece.

The third movement Scarbo conveys grandeur as much as it conveys horror. In the poem, Scarbo is an evil dwarf who makes frenzied appearances at night, sometimes hiding – waiting to pounce and scare. Ravel captures all of this.

Bartok’s Out of Doors is a set of five pieces, each of which are a depiction of Hungarian peasant life. In these five pieces we hear rocking melodies, drumbeats, and the nocturnal sounds of crickets and frogs.

Bartok fell in love with folk songs when he heard a peasant girl singing a Transylvanian tune in 1904. After hearing the girl, he said to his sister, “I now have a plan. I will collect the most beautiful Hungarian folksongs and raise them to the level of art songs”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Composers, Performers