The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here are 10 myths about Mozart. How many did you believe? Plus, WYSO’s Youth Orchestra Honors Recital is FREE at 7 TONIGHT at Oakwood Village West.

January 16, 2015
5 Comments

ALERT: This Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Oakwood Village West Auditorium, located on Madison’s far west side at 6209 Mineral Road, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will present the Youth Orchestra Honors Recital.

The recital will feature eight talented young musicians who participated in the Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition this past fall and were runners-up.

Tickets are FREE, but space is limited. WYSO advises getting there early for this event.

This recital will feature the following performers: Isabelle Krier – Violin; Sarah Moniak – Flute; Nikhil Trivedi – Clarinet; Thea Valmadrid – Violin; Aurora Greane – Violin; Jessica Liu – Violin; Roy Weng – Violin; and Antonia Rohlfing – Piano.

Sorry, but no word on the program.

WYSO clarinet

By Jacob Stockinger

The birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below, circa 1780 in a detail from a portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce) is coming up.

Mozart c 1780 detail of portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

The most famous of the Classical-era composers was born on Jan. 27, 1756, and died on Dec. 5, 1791, just shy of his 36th birthday.

Even in his own time, there were many myths about Mozart, about his life and his work and his death.

Our own times have added others.

Here are 10 of those Mozart Myths.

http://www.classical-music.com/article/10-mozart-myths

The Ear finds the myths interesting, both entertaining and enlightening.

What ones did you buy into?

I myself believed the one about his copying of Allegri’s famous “Miserere” after one hearing and also the so-called “Mozart Effect” that increases intelligence.

And what is your favorite Mozart work? There are so many to choose from.

Leave word in the Comments section.

My own Mozart Favorites change over time.

Right now, I favor the Piano Concerto: No. 27 in B-Flat Major, K. 595. You can hear it in a YouTube video at the bottom. It features a performance by Mitsuko Uchida and conductor Jeffrey Tate with the English Chamber Orchestra.

Did anyone ever use simple scales and arpeggios more beautifully than Mozart?

But ask me next week, and I will probably have a different choice.

 


Classical music: Can classical music cure cancer? Increase intelligence or IQ? Relieve pain? It may be worth considering at a time of New Year’s resolutions for healthy living.

January 2, 2015
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear recently came across a compilation of the health benefits of listening to classical music.

Leonardo da Vinci man

Some of it seems farfetched.

I, for one, am dubious about the claim that you can cure cancer by listening to the Fifth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven (below top) or that you can enhance intelligence and mental alertness to a specific section of a specific work, such as the “Spring” section of “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi (below bottom).

Beethoven big

vivaldi

And there are other claims relating to disease and intelligence, like The Mozart Effect for young children, that seem dubious or exaggerated.

But these studies seem to come from some prestigious journals and organizations as well as some careful studies and experiments or trials.

You can read the methods and results, then decide for yourself. Here is a link:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/802304/5-health-benefits-of-classical-music/

And here is a link to one of the works that is supposed to relieve pain — the Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia in a popular YouTube video:

Have a Happy New Year though listening!


Classical music news: Do pets respond to music? Yes, but what kind of music depends on the animal, says a University of Wisconsin animal psychologist.

March 25, 2012
11 Comments

ALERT: Word has reached The Ear of a FREE student concert, with faculty participants, worth attending today. At 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck (below) and friends will present a full performance of George Crumb‘s “American Songbook 5: Voices From a Forgotten World.”  This is the 5th installment of Crumb’s American Songbook Series, which is a seven-volume collection of American folk songs, set to Crumb’s unique and colorful orchestration.  The ensemble features two vocalists, a pianist and four percussionists, together playing over 100 instruments.

By Jacob Stockinger

Remember the so-called Mozart Effect on babies’ intelligence? Well, that pseudo-science or pop psychology seems recently to have been pretty well debunked and discredited.

But what about animals and music?

For many years, I have sworn that my cat Rosie (below) loves music, just as I do, especially piano music.

Rosie is a sweet and pretty tabby cat, and she seems to come over by the piano and sit down or lie down and roll over, or even jump onto my lap while I am playing or whenever I start practicing.

It seems to happen especially whenever I am playing Bach, Schubert or Chopin.

So I wondered: Is it me and the fact she identifies the piano sound with my presence, the same way Pavlov’s dogs responded to bells? Or is it the music?

Well, it is probably some of each, says Charles T. Snowden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher and animal psychologist.

Among his findings are that animals show some breed specificity in the music they prefer. That is, they follow their own species’ taste or preference rather than their owner’s taste or preference. That has led one entrepreneurial person even to market songs for cats, downloadable for $1.99 each (Meow-w-w-!).

But he also found that dogs respond with relaxation to classical music while heavy metal makes them more agitated.

Well is that the music or the oppressive sound? After all, I too — like most humans, I bet — become more agitated when listening to heavy metal, which seems intended deliberately to agitate the listener.

Here are some links to stories about research on pets and music:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/animals-music-120320.html

http://www.livescience.com/19156-animal-psychologists-discover-music-pets-prefer.html

http://www.petside.com/article/animal-psychologists-discover-pets-prefer-their-own-music

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46789825/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.T2y6uXjH1UQ

Some of the findings also seem to support my theory that Rosie is bothered by string instruments—especially high-pitched Baroque violins with GUT strings. I always thinks she objects to other animals, maybe even her ancestors, being used that way for human amusement and entertainment.

But maybe that is anthropomorphizing too much.

Based on his research, I suspect Snowden would probably say it is the high pitch and the fast tempo of early string music that really get to her.

Oh well, more enlightenment and obfuscation are sure to follow.

How do you pets react to music and what kid of music?

Do you have pet and music story to share?

The Ear wants to hear.


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