Most people know Andrew Lloyd Webber for his mega-blockbuster musicals, but did you also know he wrote a Requiem? Here's the "Pie Jesu" section performed by Sarah Brightman, Paul Miles-Kingston, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Winchester Cathedral Choir, conducted by Lorin Maazel (in a music video created in 1985):
Hurricane Matthew has gotten me (and many others) in a rather stormy frame of mind, so I thought it was appropriate to feature the "Storm" section from Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes (extracted from the opera Peter Grimes). I think it has to be the best musical representation of a storm in all of classical music. This performance is by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Paavo Järvi:
Yma Sumac (1922-2008) had a name as exotic as her voice and career. The Peruvian soprano became an international success based on her extreme vocal range, said to be well over five octaves at the height (pardon the pun) of her career. She had a bit of a resurgence in the 1990s, thanks to her song "Ataypura" being featured in the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. Here's Yma singing "Gopher Mambo" (Capitol Records 1954):
If you watch a lot of movies and TV, you've probably heard the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and didn't even know it. The Russian composer was born on this date in 1906 (d. 1975) and was one of the giants of 20th century classical music. Despite his tortured life that pitted him against the Soviet Union, his music lives on in ways he probably couldn't even have imagined (although one of Shostakovich's songs was sung by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin over the radio from his spacecraft to Mission Control down on earth). You can check out this list of movies/shows that have used his music.
Here's the watlz from the Second Jazz Suite, which was used in Stanley Kubrick's movie Eyes Wide Shut:
And here's the composer himself playing the Andante movement form his Piano Concerto #2, excerpts of which were used most recently in the Cold War film Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks:
Well, it certainly doesn't feel like autumn in these parts, but perhaps this piece will get you in the mood just in time for the Vernal Equinox this Thursday, September 22. It's the first movement of the "Autumn" concerto from Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, featuring violinist Joshua Bell with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields:
Today is the birthday of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, born on this date in 1935, and to celebrate, here's a short haunting, ethereal piano piece called "Für Alina" considered to be part of his Tintinnabuli or "chant like" style. (Note, I used this in a trailer for Played to Death - with the image in my mind of Scott Drayco playing it.)
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of French composer Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 - March 25, 1918), the famous French impressionist. Here's one of the composer's best-known works, the ethereal piano piece, "Clair de lune" (referenced in my second Scott Drayco novel, Requiem for Innocence), as played by French pianist François-Joël Thiollier:
In celebration of the Olympics in Rio, it seemed fitting to feature Brazil's most famous composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959). He was quite prolific, with over 2000 orchestral, vocal, and chamber works, many inspired by Brazilian folk music mixed with European traditions, most notably Bachianas Brasileiras, a series of nine suites written for various combinations of instruments and voices.
Here's Festa no Sertão ("Party in the Country"), played by Brazilian-born pianist Clelia Iruzun:
And here's arguably the composer's best-known work, "Aria" from the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, sung by Anna Moffo:
Einojuhani Rautavaara died on July 27. Although not as much of a household name as Jean Sibelius, Rautavaara has been called the greatest Finnish composer since his more famous predecessor. Some more traditional classical fans might have been turned off by his earlier twelve-tone experimentation, but his later works were more of a neo-Romantic style with mystical overtones.
To give you a little taste of his works, I've included a piano piece titled Passionale (I'll have to ask Scott Drayco if he's played this one), followed by the short choral piece Credo, and finally the fourth movement from what many consider to be his best-known work, the Symphony No. 7, "Angel of Light."
Passionale Credo Symphony No. 7, fourth movement - Pesante Cantabile