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28 Jan 2015

Winter in Classical Music

Everyone has a favourite season of the year but there is obviously something to like about all the four. Charming and beautiful each in their own way – summer, autumn, winter and spring – are all loved and awaited in different spots of the planet. The Northern hemisphere is in the middle of the coldest time of the year now so let us warm up by looking at it in a different, music light. Depending on the occupation we all see the world through the prism of our interests. Composers also used to create a lot of ‘seasonal’ works, being inspired by the time of the year and the associations it brought. We have selected a few works dedicated to/inspired by winter in order to draw a portrait of this season as seen by the great composers.

As a rule, the first classical composition associated with the winter is Antonio Vivaldi’s “Winter” from “The Four Seasons”. But there’s definitely much more out there, so let’s remember the works that provide a nice music description of the frosty lady.

Winter Daydreams. Peter Tchaikovsky

It is known that this symphony cost Tchaikovsky a lot of effort, zeal and even suffering, being composed day and night and rejected a few times. According to composer himself, this creation is more substantial than his other music works. The symphony is a dedication to Nikolai Rubinstein who performed the full work in 1868 with great success. The first two movements – “Dreams of a Winter Journey” and “Land of Desolation, Land of Mists” picture an especially vivid picture of a classical Russian winter.

Movement I. “Dreams of a Winter Journey”, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev:


Winterreise. Franz Schubert

Schubert’s winter travel depicts a very different image compared to Tchaikovsky’s. This song cycle of 24 pieces based on poems by Müller is a way more somber and haunting music set. At the time of composition Schubert was sick with syphilis and his mental health was shattered too. “Winterreise” became an allegoric journey of composer’s heart. This is the poetry of love, loneliness and struggle; winter is rather pictured as a severe and cruel environment.

“Winterrise”, complete set performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel:

The Snow Maiden. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Another Russian composer who is very familiar with winter like no other. The four-act opera “The Snow Maiden” is a beautiful magic story where the forces of nature have a very distinguished musical portrait. The nature is mythically animated through the characters (e.g. ‘mother Spring Beauty’, ‘grandfather Frost’) and all that with folk motifs added make the opera very sparkling and lively.

The Snow is Dancing. Claude Debussy

“The Snow is Dancing” is one of the six pieces from the suite by Claude Debussy called “Children’s Corner”. The entire music work is meant to evoke the sweet childhood memories and the winter here is also pictured in a very soft and playful manner.

Der Schneemann. Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The ballet “Der Schneemann” (“The Snowman”) was composed by the little prodigy Korngold at the early age of only 11 years. The 1910 premier that took place at the Vienna Court Opera was a real sensation and Emperor Franz Josef himself approved the work by the young composer-genius.

Der Winter. Joachim Raff

Symphony No. 11 (“The Winter”) is the last major composition by Raff. The music was unfinished when he died so Raff’s friend Max Erdmannsdörfer completed the work and published its score after composer’s death. Music critics sometimes compare this symphony with Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Daydreams” we mentioned above.

Winter Wind. Frederic Chopin

“Winter Wind” is the name of the etude No. 11 composed by Chopin in 1836. It’s actually a technical study for solo piano aimed at developing both hands’ technique and dexterity in playing the piano.

Etude, Op.25 - No. 11 in A minor "Winter Wind" performed by Evgeny Kissin:

Snow Storm. Georgy Sviridov

In 1964, a story by one of the greatest Russian authors Alexander Pushkin – “The Blizzard” – was made into a same-named film. The soundtrack to this film was composed by a Soviet composer Georgy Sviridov who a bit later decided to turn it into a suite calling it ‘musical illustrations to Aleksandr Pushkin's story’.

The list of ‘winter compositions’ is not a short one. Besides classical authors there are a lot of contemporary composers who also dedicated a part of their creative work to seasons and the emotions triggered by them. At MusicaNeo you can find music scores to both classical masterpieces and modern music artworks.

26 Nov 2014

On the Threshold of Christmas

On the Threshold of ChristmasWhen the days in northern hemisphere become shorter and frostier, it’s the time to spark Christmas lights and start preparing for one of the warmest family holidays. Christmas is celebrated differently in various corners of the world. The streets of Europe are decorated with fir twigs and fairy lights, the windows lit up with stars and candles.

If entering a house you’ve sensed the fragrance of vanilla and cinnamon, you are sure to be treated to Christmas cookies. Just like the holidays sweets, Christmas music has its own “fragrance”. And it’s very special, varying from country to country. Sometimes it’s rather muffled as in the style of the famous “Silent Night” carol, and sometimes it’s filled with scintillating irrepressible joy like the first chords of Bach’s “Christmas oratorio”.

The spirit of the approaching festivity has seized MusicaNeo too! We invite you to visit our “Featured Sheet Music” section that is now filled with the sound of carols, choirs, vocal and instrumental music for Christmas time. For everyone to find something worthy and interesting, we have added to the list some modern music hits that occupy top positions in the music charts of USA, Great Britain and Germany: Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”, John Legend’s “All of Me”, Hozier ‘s “Take Me To Church”, Olly Murs’ “Wrapped Up”, Clean Bandit ‘s “Real Love”, David Guetta’s “Dangerous” and many other popular songs.

The magic of Christmas inspires many composers of our musicians’ community for creating new music pieces. We should note that from year to year some authors keep composing and publishing new music specially for this holiday. Only within the last month our sheet music catalogue has been complemented with over 100 music compositions in this category. And this means it’s time to take another look at our Christmas sheet music collection!

Among Christmas gifts, there is always one that immediately captures your attention. Be it the colorful package or a perfectly tied bow – everything about it says “Open me now!”. Let that special gift be the amazing video “The World For Christmas” by the Swedish vocal quintet “The Real Group”. At the personal MusicaNeo site of its founder Anders Edenroth you can download the sheet music to this beautiful Christmas composition right now!

If you haven’t decided on the holiday concert program for Christmas and New Year 2015 celebrations, have a look at the Top-15 of Christmas songs that are the most popular at our site. Sheet music to all of the works can be easily found via the site’s search engine.

  1. А. Adam. O, Holy Night
  2. Sting & Robert Sadin. Gabriel's Message
  3. Chris Rice. Go Light Your World
  4. Gloria Shayne & Noël Regney. Do You Hear What I Hear
  5. Johnny Marks. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  6. F. X. Gruber. Silent Night
  7. James Horner, Mariah Carey, Will Jennings. Where Are You Christmas?
  8. Jule Styne. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  9. R. Fisher Boyce. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
  10. Jim Boothe, Joe Beal. Jingle Bell Rock
  11. John Williams. Somewhere in My Memory
  12. Johannes Brahms. Cradle Song form the “Five Songs” cycle, ор. 49
  13. Alfred Burt. Some Children See Him
  14. R. Alex Anderson. Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas in Hawaii)
  15. Ryuichi Sakamoto. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

MusicaNeo invites everyone to immerse in the wonderful fairytale world of Christmas music. Let it fill with joy every day in anticipation of the holiday!

The Real Group - Silent Night (from "The World for Christmas")

Photo: Advent wreath, First Advent Sunday by Micha L. Rieser. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adventskranz-1.Advent.jpg

27 Oct 2014

Free Sheet Music Archive at MusicaNeo Counts 31000 Music Scores!

We would like to voice this impressive figure because it’s now a huge sheet music library that is available to MusicaNeo users from every corner of the world at any time of day and night, and what’s most important – they can use it without spending a penny. To gather such an extensive sheet music collection at home one would need to put in a lot of effort, resources and time. We have analyzed what music scores in MusicaNeo catalogue are free of charge and would like to share our observations with you in this article.

What Music Scores Can Be Downloaded for Free?

Among those whose music works can be most often found for free in this 30 000+ list are the names of the most popular composers of classical music – Bach, Liszt, Shuman, Haydn, Handel and other great musicians of the past. Most widely presented are free music works for guitar, piano, violin and cello – both solo and in accompaniment with other instruments, as well as part of chamber ensembles. There are also a lot of song scores, choral and symphonic music works. All free sheet music can be downloaded in PDF format (in some cases in archived ZIP files).

But we would especially like to draw your attention to contemporary composers who published their works at MusicaNeo and offer them for free download. It’s important to note that the number of such authors is pretty big. We would not like to offend anyone, therefore, please excuse us those whose names were not mentioned in this article for objective reasons: over 1200 authors publish their compositions at MusicaNeo and a half of them offer sheet music for free.

Free Sheet Music by Contemporary Composers

Here are the TOP-10 authors who uploaded all or almost all of their music works for free access. The sheet music of the composers mentioned below can be easily found with the help of the search service line above. (The following list was created by the number of the uploaded items in descending order at the moment of writing the article)

  1. Oleg Kopenkov (714 scores)

    Oleg Kopenkov

  2. André Hüller bei DiBaB (489 scores)

    André Hüller bei DiBaB

  3. Alexander Zatynchenko (244 scores)

    Alexander Zatynchenko

  4. Svetlana Vetushko (102 scores)

    Svetlana Vetushko

  5. Oleg Trunnikov (94 scores)

    Oleg Trunnikov

  6. Sergej Kolgan (85 scores)

    Sergej Kolgan

  7. Ken Morrison (65 scores)

    Ken Morrison

  8. Sviataslau Vitkouski (57 scores)

    Sviataslau Vitkouski

  9. Friedrich Gross (52 scores)

    Friedrich Gross

  10. Pierre-Paul Daneels (52 scores)

    Pierre-Paul Daneels

On behalf of MusicaNeo community we would like to thank the above mentioned composers for offering their music, and would also like to express our gratitude to the following authors who, along with a big sheet music collection for sale, offer a great part of their music scores for free: OLC Barcelona Sheet Music, Maurice Verheul, Flore Touin, Vladimir Malganov, Vladimir Polionny, Norbert Sprave, Mikhail Gogolin, Oleg Bogdashin, Arthur Orenburgsky, Michael Reichenbach, Bernd Gehring, Yvonne Johnson, Yury Pronin, Hans-Jürgen Philipp and other users not mentioned in this article but whose names can be found in MusicaNeo catalogue.

How to Return Thanks to the Authors?

  • If you liked the work you downloaded, do not forget to leave a comment to the sheet music at the bottom of the page. Your every positive review is a tangible reward for the author’s time and efforts, and your support inspires for creating new music masterpieces.
  • If composer’s creative work seems close to you, maybe you’ll get interested in other works offered for sale at his/her personal site. Believe us, composer is happy about every purchased music score as it means special interest in his/her music.
  • Share the link to free sheet music with your friends-musicians (e.g. using the social networks share buttons). They might be in search of new interesting music too.
  • And the most important: perform your favourite compositions at the concerts, competitions, in class, among friends. Inhale life into the music encrypted in the note signs so that as many people as possible could hear these works. That is what every composer aspires to, after all. Let’s help to make it happen together.

In conclusion, we’d like to note that the sheet music archive is constantly growing with new music pieces. Drop by more often not to miss the most delicious!

10 Oct 2014

Music by Famous Non-Composers

Music by Famous Non-ComposersSome of the greatest figures in history are vividly remembered for the achievements they made in a certain sphere of life. And the association with it is usually so strong that we may be surprised to find out that this or that person had left some legacy in other spheres too, maybe less known and not so impressive but it is still there and is worth our attention. As practice shows, a creative person can be truly many-sided and succeed in a few things at once.

Today we would like to focus on some of the music heritage left by people who were quite far from professional music composing. Those are some geniuses who are rather known as poets, philosophers, astronomers and so on, but who at a certain period of their life sat down to create a music piece (or a few) of their own. Music lures everyone, after all.

Leo Tolstoy. It turns out that the famous Russian novelist was good in binding not only words but music sounds too. Although all he composed is just one and only waltz in F major but that is a remarkable piece of music for an amateur composer. The short one-minute waltz was composed in Tolstoy’s early youth years and was shyly played by Tolstoy to his friend Alelksandr Gol'denveizer and other guests in 1906. It is believed that it was then that Sergei Taneev, a composer, pianist and musicologist with phenomenal musical memory, silently went out of the room and wrote the composition down on a music sheet in order to save it for the future generations. The waltz created by the author of “War and Peace” could have remained unnoticed but for modern musicians who keet it ‘alive’. In 2004, Lera Auerbach, a Russian-born American pianist and composer, recorded the waltz for BIS, together with baritone Chiyuki Urano.

Friedrich Nietzsche. The 19th-century bright mind Friedrich Nietzsche besides philosophizing had a hand in composing as well. Unlike Tosltoy’s waltz that was pretty much to everyone’s liking, Nietzsche’s music was much more controversial. In fact, it caused a lot of criticism. So much criticism that Wagner once stood up and left the room while “The New Year's Echoes” piano duet by Nietzsche was performed, and conductor Hans von Bülow on seeing philosopher’s music score politely asked “Have you no better way to kill time?”. But there were approving reviews too, emphasizing the genius of Nietzsche trickling through his somewhat odd music works. Here is an example of a piano composition by the philosopher – “Heldenklage” (1862).

William Herschel. Astronomy and classical music? Sure. We know William Herschel first of all as a ground-breaking astronomer who discovered Uranus (1781), infrared radiation and built a spectacular telescope, among other accomplishments. But besides that, he left some musical legacy and it’s not just a piece or two: it’s an entire collection of 24 symphonies, a number of concertos and church music pieces! Herschel also used to play a few music instruments – cello, violin, organ, harpsichord and oboe. Though Herschel’s music is not among the popular classics often heard in the music halls today, there are still a few professional recordings of it, like the ones by “The London Mozart Players” or “The Kapellsolisten of Dresden”. Below is Herschel’s Symphony No.8.

Charlie Chaplin. The one of a kind comedian, actor and filmmaker of the silent era had obvious music composing talents that were even rewarded in 1952. Though Chaplin was never able to actually read music, he was still good at composing it. In fact, music to most of his films was composed by Chaplin himself. And the original music to the film “Limelight” even won an Oscar for the Best Film Score. Have a listen to the theme from the “Limelight” movie composed by Charlie Chaplin:

The list of amateur composers is not at all that short and the names of bright ‘unlikely’ composers can be traced throughout the history in all possible spheres. Thus, a few more examples of compositional activity include:

  • Benjamin Franklin (a string quartet for 3 violins and cello)
  • Henry VIII (a significant number of secular songs and instrumental compositions of Renaissance music, including “Greensleeves”)
  • Richard Nixon (a piano solo performed by Nixon himself for the audience in 1961)
  • Sir Anthony Hopkins (a classical music album “Composer”)
  • Prince Albert (a number of music works dedicated to his wife Queen Victoria)

And the list goes on!

We hope you enjoyed reading about these outstanding figures and the musical side of their lives. It’s never too late to try yourself in something new. Who knows, maybe you have some hidden talents buried somewhere deep inside you. We wish you a lot of inspiration and encouragement in new endeavors, be it music or astronomy!

 
   
 
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