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Rachmaninoff’s Cinematic Romanticism

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) is not only one of my personal favorite composers but also a general favorite of audiences worldwide. Rachmaninoff’s unique place in history, at the culmination of the Romantic period and the dawn of the 20th century, gave him a choice: would he continue in the Romantic tradition, already expounded by his forbearers, … Continue reading Rachmaninoff’s Cinematic Romanticism

The Romantic Era in France, part 1

I must admit I have been looking forward to these next few entries for several weeks. Some of my all-time favorite music comes from Romantic-era France. Many music scholars paint a grey but significant line between “German-Style” and “French-Style” music as general categories. Even music from other countries such as Spain, Italy, the Scandinavian countries … Continue reading The Romantic Era in France, part 1

Italian Opera in the Romantic Period

Italy has a unique personality during the mid-and late Romantic period in that its compositional output is strongly associated with one particular genre: opera. Although other genres were present in Italy too, I associate Romantic-era Italy with Rossini, Verdi and Puccini. All of these composers are associated almost exclusively with opera, and they are responsible … Continue reading Italian Opera in the Romantic Period

Romantic Music in Scandinavia

Scandinavia has many great composers to talk about, and these Northern countries take particular national pride in their Romantic composers. These composers took their native Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish folk song to heart and developed a sound distinct from the rest of Europe. In countries where there previously were no national “schools,” or styles, … Continue reading Romantic Music in Scandinavia

Slavic Music in the Romantic Era

Moving away from Germany/Austria, consistently a hotbed for classical-style composition, we will look today at a few examples of music from another musically fascinating part of Europe. In central Europe, Czech-speaking composers Bedřich Smetana, Antonin Dvořák and Leoš Janáček among others, capitalized on folk melodies in their compositions, as well as setting vocal compositions in their … Continue reading Slavic Music in the Romantic Era

Baroque Instrumental Music: Trio Sonata and Concerto Grosso

All of the Listening Club entries so far have focused on vocal music, and there’s a reason: music that has words is usually more accessible to the untrained ear. Word painting is a powerful technique that anyone can appreciate if made aware of it. With no words to paint, instrumental music is easy to listen … Continue reading Baroque Instrumental Music: Trio Sonata and Concerto Grosso