Fire, Spirit, and Life

These are the qualities W. A. Mozart discerned in the compositions of a man known to the world as Il Boemo (the Bohemian). In his music, Josef Mysliveček (1737-1781) was able to channel this fire and spirit into musical forms of exquisite beauty. In his life, alas, those same fires seemed to burn in lessContinue reading “Fire, Spirit, and Life”

The Heavenly Round

Addressing our Creator, the poet marvels at the order with which he has “tuned” the heavens and the earth: Thou tun’st this World below, the Spheres above,Who in the Heavenly Round to their own Music move. For his part, the composer demonstrates the ability of music, fashioned by a creature made in the image ofContinue reading “The Heavenly Round”

Unwinding Unwisdom

An old and erroneous nugget of unwisdom has it that the English word tedium originates from the Latin Te Deum—the Church’s hymn of thanksgiving, attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan, rehearsing on earth the divine praises we hope one day to sing in heaven. To those who have difficulty sitting through a sermon or sacredContinue reading “Unwinding Unwisdom”

Free Samples of Perfection

If Dear Reader is like Little Clovis, he may never have heard of Leopold Koželuch (1747-1818). Born Jan Antonín Koželuh, in a town outside of Prague, like many Bohemians of the time he Germanized his surname; and he adopted the Christian name Leopold to distinguish himself from his cousin, also a musician, and also aContinue reading “Free Samples of Perfection”

Finding Free Music

Crucial as the lending library is to the maintenance and advancement of civilization (though like any institution it is eminently corruptible), there is something to be said for the physical possession books of one’s very own. When it comes to music, some have similar notions about vinyl. Reactionary as I tend to be, and despiteContinue reading “Finding Free Music”

The Spirit of Haydn

It’s easy to imagine that I have a lot in common with Helmut Müller-Brühl (1933-2012). A student of philosophy and theology as well as musicology, he seems to have shared a similar set of interests, though with the difference that he did so much more about it! I happened to discover this blessed soul earlyContinue reading “The Spirit of Haydn”

(Not) Butchering Beethoven

Arthur Schoonderwoerd is an accomplished pianist and conductor of the French classical ensemble Christofori. As with many of my favorite musicians, he and his colleagues play on period instruments, and otherwise strive to recapture the way the music they play would have sounded at the time it was composed. Perusing Schoonderwoerd’s recordings of Mozart andContinue reading “(Not) Butchering Beethoven”

Representing Reality

Luigi Boccherini never published this composition during his life, calling it “absolutely useless, even ridiculous, outside Spain, because the audience cannot hope to understand its significance, nor the performers to play it as it should be played.” I’m pretty sure Bremer Barockorchester is outside of Spain, but they pour their hearts into this rendition ofContinue reading “Representing Reality”

Treasures New and Old

Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) was the eighteenth child of the great J. S., and his youngest son. He learned music from his venerable dad, and from his big brother Carl Philipp Emanuel. J. C. eventually settled in London, but launched his musical career in Italy, after converting to the Catholic faith. I intend to discussContinue reading “Treasures New and Old”