Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection” (3)

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Many considered the Finale of Mahler’s Second one of his most powerful movements ever written. While this may have attributed significantly to the programmatic aspect of the work (that is, the message Mahler conveys in the movement), the power of … Continue reading

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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection” (2)

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Sitting between the monumental opening movement and the gigantic Finale is a the three lighter movements. These movements not only provide contrast and balance to the high drama presented in the opening and finale movements, but also fulfill the desired … Continue reading

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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection” (1)

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Mahler started working on his Second Symphony in 1888, the same year he finished his First Symphony (“Titan”). However unlike the First, which “gushed out of” him as “mountain river” as he once wrote, it was completed 5 years later … Continue reading

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Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D major

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We don’t know exactly when the work of Malher’s First Symphony started, partly because much material were “borrowed” from earlier works of his own and other composers like Liszt. Based on Mahler’s own accounts in his correspondents, it seems evident … Continue reading

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 “Choral”

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Beethoven completed his Ninth and last symphony, aka “Choral” symphony (in D minor Op. 125), in 1824, two years after he started it. The work is considered the first to incorporate human voice into the symphony form, with four soloists … Continue reading

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93

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Blogging all Beethoven’s symphonies here (one more to go!) in sequence helped me gain some more understanding of this great genius, one aspect of which is the vast variety and originality of his works. One after another, each symphony is … Continue reading

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 was composed in 1812, four years after his “Pastoral” symphony. What’s extraordinary about this work, in Sir George Grove’s words, is in “the originality, vivacity, power, and beauty of the thoughts, and in a certain romantic … Continue reading

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, “Pastoral”

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Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (No.6 in F major) was composed around the same time period of his Fifth Symphony. The work was completed in 1808 and premiered on the same day, December 22nd, together with his Fifth Symphony and some other … Continue reading

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

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Ludwig van Beethoven started working on his C minor symphony in 1804, right after his Erioca Symphony, but only completed it four years later. The long gestation was partly due to the interruption of his efforts on other works, including … Continue reading

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B♭ major, Op. 60

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 is far much less known to general public, and less commented by scholars over the years. After his groundbreaking Eroica the Third, what Beethoven immediately started working on was actually this C minor symphony, the great … Continue reading

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Understanding Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, S.178 (Part 3)

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Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor is such a magnificent and famous piece that huge number of recordings have been made over decades, let alone countless recitals by so many pianists. It is an interesting exercise to compare performances of the … Continue reading

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Understanding Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, S.178 (Part 2)

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Kenneth Hamilton provided a detailed narrative of Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, combing through the entire score. One important point he had made was on how the themes are closely linked together through the technique of repetition. As we all know … Continue reading

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Understanding Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, S.178 (Part 1)

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Not that many classical composers write a single piece of composition that turns out to be a crown jewel of that genre in history. Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor was composed in 1853, soon after he ended his career as … Continue reading

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” in E-flat major, Op. 55

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Just as Beethoven’s Eroica marked the transition between the Classical and Romantic era, the time of this work’s composition also marked a defiant turning point during the years of tormenting pain when he started his hearing loss in late 1790’s. … Continue reading

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Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a

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Brahms wrote two versions of this Variation on a Theme by Haydn, one for orchestra, Ops. 56a, and one for two pianos, Ops. 56b, despite that it was actually composed first. This orchestral work is considered an important milestone marking … Continue reading

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