The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Starting off the New Year, can you identify the opening of certain works of music? Here is an NPR puzzler to open 2015.

January 10, 2015
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

What is a good way to start off the New Year musically?

There are always the New Year’s Day celebrations from Vienna with the Vienna Philharmonic. They get broadcast on PBS and also National Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Here is a link to a preview of this year’s celebrations:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/classical-music-dance-into-2015-this-morning-and-tonight-with-waltzes-and-more-from-vienna-on-public-radio-and-tv/

Golden Hall in Vienna

But this year sees another way, an intriguing and original way, to mark the new year: A quiz about how great works of classical music begin and whether you can recognize them right away.

Female Orchestra Conductor With Baton

So here is The New Year Puzzler from the Deceptive Cadence blog on NPR.

Go ahead.

Take it and see how well you do.

The Ear wants to hear.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2015/01/06/375127303/getting-off-to-a-good-start-a-new-years-puzzler

And below is a popular YouTube video, with 2.5 million hits, of one of my favorite and most inspired and dramatic openings that should be immediately recognizable:

 

 


Classical music: Dance into 2015 this morning and tonight with waltzes and more from Vienna on public radio and TV.

January 1, 2015
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Just a holiday reminder.

Today is New Year’s Day. That brings the annual “Great Performances” presentation of the “New Year’s Day From Vienna” celebration — with waltzes, polkas, gallops and more by the Johann Strauss Family – on PBS and NPR (National Public Radio).

Vienna Philharmonic

It will all be performed in the Golden Hall (below top) by the Vienna Philharmonic with former Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta (below middle) this year, along  with the usual help from the Vienna State Ballet and Broadway and Hollywood star host Julie Andrews (below bottom).

Vienna Golden Hall

Zubin Mehta

Julie Andrews 3

And it will be broadcast TWICE today:

ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO (WPR): THIS MORNING at 10 a.m.  New Year’s Concert from ViennaThe Vienna Philharmonic presents its annual New Year’s celebration.

ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION (WPT): TONIGHT from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the main channel Channel 21/Cable 600 the program will also be run, with dancers and scenic landscape shots. (The Wisconsin Channel will run it from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) It comes, by the way, after an all-day marathon that starts at 9 a.m. and  features all eight episodes of Season Four of “Downton Abbey.” Season Five starts on Sunday night.

And the concert’s typical ending is the poplar clap-along, audience-pleaser: The Radetzky March, heard below in a performance from New York’s Day in Vienna in a popular YouTube video.


Classical music: On Day 6 of its European tour, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra tours Vienna and performs a benefit concert at the city’s famed Musikverein.

July 13, 2012
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

As you may already know, the Youth Orchestra, the premiere performing group of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, is on a concert tour with conductor James Smith of Prague, Vienna and Budapest from July 7 through July 17.

The Youth Orchestra is made up of 69 musicians, age 14-18, from 19 communities in south-central Wisconsin.

(Below is a photo taken in Vienna of, from left, of Eddie Wendt, tuba; Charles Dieterle, trombone; Mikko Utevsky, viola; Ben Cordell, string bass; and Paul Sekulski, violin.

Here is a link to an earlier entry with details about the tour including venues and repertoire:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/classical-music-news-wisconsin-youth-symphony-orchestras-youth-orchestra-will-tour-in-europe-from-july-67-to-july-27-it-gives-a-free-preview-concert-at-olbrich-gardens-on-tuesday-night/

Last month, Mikko Utevsky agreed to blog for The Well-Tempered Ear from his tour, which is also his fist trip abroad.

Utevsky, as you may know from reading this blog, just graduated from East High School in Madison and will attend the University of Wisconsin and the UW School of Music this fall. He has been featured in this blog and also writes comments about its postings. (You can check him out using the blog’s search engine. He is a discerning listener and critic, and a fine writer.)

Utevsky (below), who plays viola in the WYSO group, is also the founder and director-conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO), which has already performed its first summer concert this year and will perform another on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall.

For more information about WYSO plus a link to this blog and Utevsky’s entries, visit:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/

Here is Utevsky’s fourth entry, with photos taken by WYSO’s executive director Bridget Fraser. More will follow:

By Mikko Utevksy

THURSDAY

This morning we toured Vienna by bus, including visits to the famed Hundertwasserhaus and the Schönbrunn Palace (below), the summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs.

The latter is a massively opulent Baroque building, all over gold and dripping in ornamental architecture. We were not able to tour the palace and see the fountains, but we did get to wander the extensive gardens on the estate, including a hedge maze. (Below is a photo of, from left, standing: Jinri Lee, Scott Meyer, Savannah Valigura, Naomi Black, Christie Cheng, Hattie Bestul, Yassmine Sarkarati, Rory Loo. Down in front are Ansa Seppalainen and Luke Valmadrid.)

Here is another photo with Mark Leiser standing left in the back row:

The Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment complex designed by the Expressionist painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It is a singularly odd building, featuring curved walls (think Gaudí’s Casa Milà in Barcelona), a grass roof, and trees growing inside the rooms. The apartments are used as low-income housing. I found it extraordinarily beautiful.

Lunch was in a downtown restaurant, as was dinner; the former was on us, and was our introduction to Viennese prices. Yikes!

Tonight was a big night: our benefit concert in the Gläserner Saal  (Glass Hall, below bottom) of the Vienna Musikverein (below top), home to the famed Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. The hall is well-named, paneled with curved golden glassy sheets that can be rotated out to adjust the acoustic of the room. It was a bit of a tight fit, but nevertheless a rewarding space to play, not the least for its history.

The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Viennese Society of Friends of Music, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Its music archive is unsurpassed, as is the concentration of world-famous musicians on its roster.

To further its mission, the Gesellschaft has founded the Vienna Conservatory, started the Wiener Singverein (a massive and extraordinarily gifted symphonic chorus) and, of course, built the Musikverein, famous for its acoustically perfect Golden Hall or Grand Hall (home to the Vienna Philharmonic, which rehearses in the hall in which we played and also performs its televised annual New Year’s Day concert in the Golden Hall).

There was a certain amount of additional pressure from playing such a remarkable venue, which kept the energy of the concert high; for many, this performance was the best yet. The Viennese audience was appreciative, and in any case, the experience of giving such a concert was its own reward.

Proceeds from the tickets, incidentally, went to benefit the restoration of one of Vienna’s most venerable landmarks, St. Stephen’s Cathedral (below bottom). With a more or less full house and tickets between 25 and 29 euros, I suspect we made a small dent in the cost.

Tomorrow we depart for Prague. I can’t wait!

Cheers,

Mikko


Classical music education: On Day 5 of its European tour, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra visits Haydn’s home and arrives in Vienna.

July 12, 2012
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

As you may already know, the Youth Orchestra (below), the premiere performing group of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, is on a concert tour with conductor James Smith of Prague, Vienna and Budapest from July 7 through July 17.

Here is a link to an earlier entry with details about the tour including venues:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/classical-music-news-wisconsin-youth-symphony-orchestras-youth-orchestra-will-tour-in-europe-from-july-67-to-july-27-it-gives-a-free-preview-concert-at-olbrich-gardens-on-tuesday-night/

Last month, Mikko Utevsky agreed to blog for The Well-Tempered Ear from his tour, which is also his fist trip abroad.

Utevsky, as you may know from reading this blog, just graduated from East High School in Madison and will attend the University of Wisconsin and the UW School of Music this fall. He has been featured in this blog and also writes comments about its postings. (You can check him out using the blog’s search engine. He is a discerning listener and critic, and a fine writer.)

Utevsky (below), who plays viola in the WYSO group, is also the founder and director-conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO), which has already performed its first summer concert this year and will perform another on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall.

For more information about WYSO pus a link tot his blog and Utevsky’s entries, visit:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/

Here is Utevsky’s third entry, with photos by WYSO’s executive director Bridget Fraser, covering the flight and arrival. More will follow:

WEDNESDAY

Today began with an early breakfast at the Hotel Budapest before we embarked on the three-hour drive to Austria.

Our first stop was Eisenstadt, home to the famed Schloss Esterházy (Esterházy Palace, below), where Josef Haydn lived and worked in the employ of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.

The highlight of the tour, which unfortunately focused more on the far less interesting Esterhazy nobles than on Haydn (a bust of the composer is below top)  was the visit to the Haydnsaal (below bottom), the room in which the man himself performed in the 1700s.

While we were regrettably not able to perform there ourselves or see any live concerts in the space, we did listen to a recording of the first movement of Haydn’s early Symphony No. 6 “Le Matin” (“Morning”) at the end of the tour.

We ate lunch in Eisenstadt at the Storchenmühle (Stork Mill), a restaurant with a stork’s nest in the chimney, accompanied by another cimbalom player whose repertoire ranged from yet another rendition of Brahms’ fifth Hungarian Dance to Beethoven’s “Für Elise” to an assortment of ragtime and show tunes.

We checked in at the well-appointed Artis Hotel Wien (below top) after lunch (and a bit of a drive into the city), and proceeded from there to Vienna’s gigantic Prater Amusement Park (below bottom).

We headed back to the hotel after a few hours of fun to get a good night’s sleep – Thursday is our benefit concert (poster is below bottom) for St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the Gläserner Saal (below top) of the famed Musikverein.

Cheers!

Mikko


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