Piano Lessons from the Past
Thursday, October 25, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | history
Looks a bit different than today's lessons!
This photograph was taken in 1899, and shows a young girl taking Piano Lessons. When I was a little kid, they made everyone take piano lessons. Yep, I had to take piano lessons . . . I really do not know why. I did try pretty hard, but I could never make any progress. You see, I could only think about one finger at a time. When it got to the part where lots of different fingers had to be doing different things at the same time, that is where I had lots of trouble. Anyway, after a couple of months, the teacher politely told my parents that they were wasting their money on the lessons, that I was not going to be a piano player.
From Old Picture of the Day: Piano Lessons
Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt!
Monday, October 22, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | composers
Franz Liszt was born in Raiding, near Ödenburg, October 22, 1811 and died in Bayreuth, July 31, 1886. He was a Hungarian composer and pianist who was a major influence during the romantic period. Liszt was an outstanding pianist at seven, composed at eight and made concert appearances at nine. In addition to being a piano virtuoso, he was also a critic, conductor, city music director, literary writer and transcriber of the works of other composers. He transcribed Beethoven's Symphonies for the piano.
Franz Liszt began his career as the outstanding concert pianist of the century, who, along with the prodigious violinist Niccoló Paganini (1782-1840), created the cult of the modern instrumental virtuoso. To show off his phenomenal and unprecedented technique, Liszt composed a great deal of music designed specifically for this purpose, resulting in a vast amount of piano literature laden with dazzling, and other technical marvels. In this vein, Liszt composed a series of virtuosic rhapsodies on Hungarian gypsy melodies, the best-known being the all too familiar Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2. Liszt developed the rhapsody as a form of serious music. This kind of music is worlds apart from the generally more introspective, poetic music of pianist-composer Frédéric Chopin.
Liszt was wildly handsome and hugely talented. He was extremely popular in Paris during the 1830's. It is said that women actually fainted at his piano recitals. He was the first to position the piano so that its lid reflected the sound and the audience could see his profile as he performed.
Liszt was the first to write a tone poem, which is an extended, single-movement work for orchestra, inspired by paintings, plays, poems or other literary or visual works, and attempting to convey the ideas expressed in those media through music. Such a work is Les Préludes, based on a poem in which life is expressed as a series of struggles, passions, and mysteries, all serving as a mere prelude to . . .what? The Romantic genre of the symphonic poem, as well as its cousin the concert overture, became very attractive to many later composers, including Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Sibelius, and Richard Strauss.
anniversary of Liszt's death
Listen to Liszt's transcription of Meyerbeer's Hellish Waltz from Robert du Diable, which probably caused more public commotion than any other piano piece in history.
Read quotes by and about Liszt
Liszt was the first recitalist
In Praise of Pianos and the Artists Who Play Them
History of the Piano
The Cool Bass Clef
Monday, October 22, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | theory
An educational parody of Meghan Trainor's music "All About That Bass" that teaches the notes of the bass clef.
Learn the notes of "The Cool Bass Clef" by watching this cool animated video. Music by Karl Hitzemann. Animation by Bill Belongia. The song originally appeared in Music K-8 magazine, Vol. 22, No. 3.