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Leonard Bernstein: What Does Music Mean?

Thursday, January 18, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | composers

On January 18, 1958 Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean?  The series ran for 53 programs.  Some of the episodes can be found below:

Part 1 What is Classical Music?

Plot: Bernstein conducts Handel's Water Music and cites it as an indisputable example of classical music. "Exact" is the word that best defines classical music, Bernstein says and he demonstrates with musical illustrations from Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, Mozart's Concerto No. 21 in C Major and The Marriage of Figaro, and Haydn's Symphony No. 102.

The decline of classical music at the end of the eighteenth century is tied to Beethoven's innovations and the Romantic movement, and Bernstein conducts Beethoven's Egmont Overture.




Part 2 What is Melody?

Plot: Bernstein discusses the different forms melody can take, including tune, theme, motive, melodic line and musical phrase. He illustrates by conducting the orchestra in excerpts from Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms.




Part 3 What is a Mode?

Plot: Bernstein discusses scales, intervals, and tones, and analyzes several pieces, including Debussy's Fêtes, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, and music from the Kinks and the Beatles, to illustrate different modes.

An excerpt from Bernstein's ballet Fancy Free is also performed.



 

Happy Birthday, Gene Krupa

Monday, January 15, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | birthday

krupa

 

Eugene Bertram "Gene" Krupa lived from January 15, 1909 to October 16, 1973.  He was an American jazz and big band drummer, actor and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.

One of my all-time favorite non-piano songs is Sing Sing Sing. Krupa joined Benny Goodman's band in 1934, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on their hit "Sing, Sing, Sing" were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.



The Benny Goodman big band playing Sing Sing Sing, featuring Gene Krupa at the end. We get the added benefit of hearing Mr. Harry James play a trumpet solo.

~~~



Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich: Famous Drum Battle

How Steinways are Made

Thursday, January 11, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | piano




The making of a Steinway piano is a time-honored process involving the hands of many skilled craftspeople over the course of almost a full year. Steinway & Sons pianos are built in just two factories worldwide - one in Astoria, NY and one in Hamburg, Germany.

Both factories have been building pianos for well over a century, and although Steinway has always been at the cutting edge in utilizing and perfecting the latest technology where it could make the piano better, we have found that certain things are simply better when done by skilled craftspeople than by a machine.

For that reason, many parts of the process in building a Steinway have remained essentially unchanged for generations. So much so, that we were able to take decades-old audio from a narrated factory tour by the late John H. Steinway (great-grandson of Henry E. Steinway, who founded our great company in 1853) and use it as the narration for footage shot at the Steinway NY factory in 2011 by Ben Niles, producer of the documentary film "Note by Note" (http://www.notebynotethemovie.com).

Enjoy this look inside the Steinway New York factory, narrated in detail by the late, great John Steinway.

To learn more about Steinway & Sons, visit http://www.steinway.com.