- GENERAL MUSIC RESOURCES
- PAST LISTENING
A selection from
Nelly Rodriguez (former Woodwind tutor, Sistema in Norwich)
Nelly was a Woodwind tutor with the Sistema in Norwich programme until 2021. She is an experienced performer, and has played in many international orchestras and ensembles such as the Ensemble Stravinsky (Switzerland), National Orchestra of Costa Rica and the National Orchestra of Honduras.
Festive Overture - D. Shostakovich (A major, Op. 96)
This was written in 1947 to mark the 30th anniversary of the October Revolution, which was the victory of the Bolsheviks over the provisional government, that had been formed after the fall of the Tsarist autocracy (the old monarchical system in Russia). It seemed to be a good idea at the time to support what in times of Dimitri Shostakovich would be the dominant political power (basically, his life depended on supporting the far-left government, and its ideology)... Hard times for him and his fellow composers who weren't quite happy with the current government, but Shostakovich (as many other music heroes) managed to keep composing, and hiding in his masterpieces his true political-social
As this piece is referred to such a crucial moment in the social-political life of Russia, it has a victorious and martial character: according to that totalitarian goverment, the main aim of all the
arts should be to promote the political ideology to the masses (quite scary, isn’t it?). Anyway, this, as many other compositions by this incredible human being, worth to be listened and studied!
Russian Easter Overture - N. Rimsky-Korsakov
Russia is a gigantic country, with a massive rich cultural heritage. One of his most relevant composers is Nicolai Rismky-Korsakov. I could say a lot of wonderful things about this genious, but let's focus on this brilliant composition of him.
The melodies in the overture are largely inspired by the Russian Orthodox liturgy. He didin't particularly believe in any religion at all, but was always attracted by the power and musicallity of the Orthodox religious celebrations. Regaring the Easter religious festivities, he mentioned in his autobiography that he was eager to reproduce "the legendary and heathen aspect of the holiday, and the transition from the solemnity and mystery of the evening of Passion Saturday to the unbridled pagan-religious celebrations of Easter Sunday morning".
This is a very joyful and at the same time solemn composition, reminding us the dawn of life in spring with the brigh soli of the violin, flute, clarinet and cello in the introduction, in counterposition by sections of brass soli which mimic the voices of the religious leaders during the Orthodox masses at Easter. Later on, the music becomes faster and more festive, as we listen to people dance, chat happily and share in this big party; instead of hearing instruments playing solo, we can appreciate the whole orchestra chanting joyfully. Basically, in this piece we can hear instruments acting as emotions, and imitating people... it’s just great!
“Hallelujah” from Messiah - G. F. Handel
Toy Symphony - W.A. Mozart
Christmas is in the air! And this piece is a must at this joyfull time of the year. The “Hallelujah” chorus belongs to a bigger musical piece called Messiah. This oratorio`s libretto (two italian words that you’ll have to search their meaning, otherwise you will always have that doubt, and won’t understand this text completely!) was taken from the Bible, based on the life of Jesus Christ.
Funny fact (not funny for him at all): Handel was in so much debt at that time of his life, that he had to ask for a huge loan to be able to compose this piece (you know, musicians also eat and pay rent, as normal people do). He was in such a rush of selling this piece that he completed this 260-page oratorio in just 24 days! That’s fast. The text for “Hallelujah” comes from the book of Revelation in the New Testament.
Open your mind and your heart to listen more than the sounds: leave yourself be transported by the music and its historical context! Is in your imagination and intelect where you will find the real sense of music.
Just to clarify, he’s the father of the incredible W.A. Mozart, the one that we hear about everywhere… I mean, they were both brilliant, but I guess his son had a better marketing advisor.
Glad you asked about the reason of the title… Well, that’s because Leopold incorporated real toys to the orchestra! So you can hear some toys from that time working as actual instruments. I think if we would have been children on that time, we would have been sooo excited listening to the same kind of toys with which we play at home, having a soloistic part in an orchestral piece! Ahhh, amazing!!!
This piece is a symphony, so that means it has movements (parts with different styles…
long story). They are:
1. Marche 04:44
2. Menuetto 04:56 (09:40)
3. Allegro 01:20 (11:00)