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14 Feb 2020

Three Love Triangle Music Stories

Valentine's Day

Every year on February 14, we keep seeing a lot of music recommendations or make up playlists ourselves for the Day of Love. One could easily get lost in the variety of romantic ambient music for the occasion but sometimes you don’t need to overwhelm yourself in the quantity. 

On this day, we decided to focus rather on the stories behind the pieces that were composed ‘because of’ and ‘for’ love, picking three pieces that speak the universal language of love. Let’s have a look at them and get inspired right now. It’s time!

Franck: Piano Quintet

No doubt many of you played this piece but how many played it without knowing the story? Franck’s quintet is one of his most intense works in terms of emotion. Learning what lead to its creation brings more meaning and awareness to the performance. The Piano Quintet was composed when César Franck was 57 years old. At that time, he worked as professor at the Paris Music Conservatoire and that’s where he met Augusta Holmès. Augusta used to be his student attending organ and composition classes. Being a young attractive woman, she was quite popular among men who surrounded her with lots of attention and care, so Franck had a lot of competitors. One of them, was another talented composer – Saint-Saëns (44 at the time) – who even proposed to the young lady a few times. Being married, Franck was definitely out of luck on that battlefield. All the emotions he felt were poured right into this piano quintet, which is dedicated not to Augusta by the way, but to his rival Saint-Saëns.

Brahms: Intermezzo No.2 from Op. 118

In that famous tangle Schumann-Clara-Brahms, there are quite a few historical speculations and guesses that will never be entirely untangled. But a sure thing was Brahms’ deep love for that woman and the mutual respect they had. "Six Pieces Op. 118", Brahms’ penultimate work for piano solo, are officially dedicated to Clara and were published in their lifetime. Clara would read the tender lines from Brahms’ letters and listen to the virtuoso piano Intermezzo in A minor. “My Beloved Clara… I should like to spend the whole day calling you endearing names and paying you compliments without ever being satisfied…

Debussy: L'Isle Joyeuse 

The origins of another lovesong is based on another love twist that actually turned into a double triangle. Emma Bardac was a femme fatale for several men including Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy who she finally chose to spend the happy life with. At the time when she was married to the banker Sigismund Bardac, Fauré worked closely with her as a soprano and couldn’t help falling in love with this woman. He later composed his ‘L’Hiver A Cessé’ (from La Bonne Chanson) for her. But the woman opted to change her life in a different direction. Emma fell in love with Claude Debussy who was also a married man at the time. Well, seems that music artists were not the most faithful of people back in time. The two started seeing each other and spent a lot of time on the Jersey Island in La Manche. That’s where “The Island of Joy” was born, a beautiful lyrical work capturing the happy carefree time of Emma and Claude. The lovers got their divorces (Emma – easier, Debussy – with more drama), gave birth to a child, got married and with time purchased an estate on that beloved island of theirs. Now when you listen to or play this music work, it’s going to be much easier to envision and truly experience the joy of love together with the couple.

We wish all those celebrating Valentine’s Day a lot of mutual love, understanding and appreciation of the moment. Do not forget that going back to the history helps to live the full of a masterpiece and enjoy every note composed even more.



20 Jan 2020

Happy Beethoven Year

Beethoven 2020

January 2020 is not just the start of a new calendar round – it marks the beginning of the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth. So we can sincerely wish you a Happy Beethoven Year!

Even out of this context, Beethoven has been one the most performed composers and his music does not need much introduction. However, 2020 is about something more global, literally – the celebration will take place on the entire Planet Earth, as countries join the program and arrange special concerts, meetings, workshops and meet-ups dedicated to the great composer.

For example, Hong Kong will be featuring Beethoven music until May, performed by such acknowledged pianists as Lang Lang, Rachel Cheung, Vikingur Olafsson, Rudolf Buchbinder, and Nobuyuki Tsukii. 

It’s not only about people though. This year, the specialists are planning to use the Artificial Intelligence in order to reconstruct the famous hypothetical 10th symphony, based on composer’s sketches and Barry Cooper's version – a happening that both excites and terrifies many musicians, causing a lot of intrigue and polemic.

The House of Bonn, where Beethoven lived and worked, has created a special logo for the event, and encourages to use the hashtag #BTHVN2020 in the social networks to unite all the events that will be taking place during the entire 2020.

Below is the video about the creation of the new logo and people who have worked on making this year special. 

Video: New Logo for Beethoven Brand

MusicaNeo invites you to join the world invitation too and choose your favourite Beethoven pieces to play this year. Our catalogue currently counts over 570 works that include both original compositions and contemporary arrangements for all types of instruments.

Let’s celebrate Beethoven together!

19 Dec 2019

Contemporary Christmas Music to Explore

Christmas Music

It’s that time of the year that some have been waiting for since the last season. Holiday hassle is already upon us in its overwhelming emotions and expectations. What do you wanna hear this month? What would you like to play?

Christmas music has found its way in most genres including country, rock, pop and even reggae and hip-hop. It can already be called a separate genre of its own, uniting all music works that help to create the unique spirit of a merry holiday. No mater whether you are a carol guy, or you love losing yourself in choral classics, or maybe you can’t wait to put on Mariah Carey’s hit as your main December song, there is always a little bit for someone in the boiling Christmas kettle. 

Out of all the festive diversity we picked the pieces that are most wanted in December. In case you forgot some of your regulars, have a look at this short list to fresh it up. All widely loved while some have already become Christmas standards, and deservedly so. Some of the all-time sheet music favourites at MusicaNeo are:

  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Jule Styne)
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland) 
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Johnny Marks)
  • Last Christmas (Wham!)
  • Gabriel's Message (Sting)
  • The Christmas Song/Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire (Frank Sinatra)
  • Go Light Your World (Chris Rice)
  • Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
  • Merry Christmas Everyone (Shakin' Stevens)
  • Christmas Time Is Here (Vince Guaraldi)

These are just a few win-win compositions from our online archive that manage to keep melting the hearts and causing warm smiles when played every year, even many years in a row. The list of standards keeps growing with new titles and some of them are bound to become international bangers.

By the way, “A Holy Night” still holds the title of the most sought-after Christmas composition in our catalogue. And it seems there is no such thing as ‘too soon’ for it as it stays in demand far beyond the holiday season.

We know it might be hard to find something completely new and exciting out there in all this variety, so we thought we’d suggest you a few interesting contemporary music works published by MusicaNeo authors that will serve a good addition for both your holiday playlist and ‘performlist’. Below are a few popular compositions in this genre to navigate at MusicaNeo.

1. “The World For Christmas” by Anders Edenroth

A beautiful original song to explore for both choirs and small vocal ensembles, “The World for Christmas” is a setting of the well-known poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore. It expresses the global concert for our planet. The song was originally recorded and presented by the Swedish a cappella ensemble The Real Group. The SATB score and piano part are offered separately and are fairly easy for most ranges.

Video: The Real Group sing The World for Christmas 

2. “Sã Qui Turo Zente Pleta” by Luís Henriques

Here is a choral arrangement of an old Portuguese Christmas song composed around 1647 in a monastery in Coimbra. Luís Henriques preserved the pitch of the original manuscript and made a double-choir version for advanced singers. The possible choir formations include SSTB(A) and SATB. Below is the recording of this Christmas work by L'Arpeggiata and The King Singers.

Video: Sã Qui Turo Zente Pleta by L'Arpeggiata and The King Singers

3. "Weihnachtliches: Der kleine Trommler" by Bernd Gehring

“The Little Drummer Boy” is an American Christmas song based on an old Czech folksong “Carol of the Drum”. In his mixed choir arrangement, Bernd Gehring added German lyrics by Resi Gehring. This is a very lively medium-difficulty five-part choral score with an audio recording. 

4. “Coventry Carol” by Joan Yakkey 

Joan Yakkey’s arrangement of the Advent “Coventry Carol” is based on the 1591 manuscript of the work. The setting offers various possibilities for choral singers (SSA, children or ladies) and instrumentalists (flute, oboe, recorder, viola, violin). The piece is scored for choir and trio and comes with a performance license and a sample recording of the work by SAB choir. You can also have a look at another interesting Christmas arrangement by Joan, just search the catalogue for her SSA version of “Riu, Riu, Chiu” if you want something upbeat and cheerful to play.

Video: Coventry Carol SSA arrangement by Joan Yakkey

5. “O Tannerbaum” by Michael Silverman 

Michael Silverman is known for his worldwide-played piano compositions in a mix of classical, jazz and folk styles. His piano version of “O Christmas Tree (O, Tannenbaum)”, which is one of the most popular carols in the German- and now English-speaking world too, is also among the most downloaded pieces at MusicaNeo. Have a listen to this pure instrumental holiday sound in the audio accompanying the sheet music. We also suggest checking out Michael’s peaceful arrangement of “Away in a Manger” also available in our catalogue.

6. “This Is The Life” by Adrian Webster

Adrian Webster composes inspirational piano solos under the name CrusaderBeach. This is one of his most popular original works that was meant to become a universal composition to embellish a number of occasions including Christmas. If you want something in the style of New Age to accompany your Christmas days, this is the solo for you.

Video: Adrian Webster playing This Is Life 

7. “Four Christmas Carols for Recorder trio” by Annie Helman

Recorder lovers will be glad to discover Annie Helman’s set of arrangements of some the most loved Christmas carols. “O Come All Ye Faithfull”, “Angels We Have Heard On High”, “Away in a Manger”, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” – all are there ready to bring joy to your families. The songs are arranged for two soprano and one tenor recorders.

Video: Four Christmas Carols for Recorder Trio by Annie Helman

8. “Christmas Album for Piano Four Hands” by Lena Orsa

If you want to share the joy of playing Christmas music with someone at the piano, there’s hardly a better set of curious pieces to find. This is a set of 10 original pieces for piano by Lena Orsa that are not hard to learn and are a lot of fun to play with a colleague, a friend, or a family member. All pieces can be listened to at Lena’s YouTube channel and downloaded as separate music scores at MusicaNeo.

Video: Red Cat from the Christmas Album by Lena Orsa

The sheet music to these and other contemporary Christmas pieces can be found in the special section of our catalogue that already sounds over 2K items ready to become part of your holiday atmosphere. In case you might need a different score version, feel free to get in touch with the author of the music directly through the contact form at the site, they are always eager to help and provide the type of score you want along with the midi files, if needed. More contemporary Christmas sheet music selections are also presented in the Featured Sheet Music section at the main page of our website, don’t hesitate to check them out too.

We do hope you will find the necessary ingredients for a perfect Christmas season. Our team at MusicaNeo wishes you bright holidays and new music discoveries ahead! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Image: REETZ at Pixabay

09 Aug 2019

It’s Raining Classical


Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.

̶  said Roger Miller, American composer and musician. 

Whether it is a light shower or a heavy storm, there is definitely something spirit-stirring about the water falling from the sky. If you go to YouTube in search of some music for ‘relaxation, study and concentration’, it is highly likely that the search engine will suggest you some 10-hour tropical rain set among other meditative options. The force of nature has been stupefying people for centuries and the water is among its most magnetic elements.

We love summer rains, do you? Warm and powerful as they may get. Getting inspired by the phenomenon ourselves, we decided to track the influence of rain in the creative work of some classical composers. There must definitely be something in it that brought these people of art to sit down and pen a piece or two. Below we put together a short selection of really ‘wet’ classical compositions that could be a perfect alternative for your YouTube search request. The way rain is pictured in this music is a special sort of pleasure. 

Depending on the mood, you can indulge yourself with a playful embodiment of water in music, or let in a bit of melancholy and summertime sadness. Recommended to listen to during the rainfall or instead of it. Enjoy!

Frederik Chopin, Raindrop Prelude

This is the 15th piece out of the 24 Chopin’s preludes under Op.28. A clear association with the rain is established from the start – composer adds the repeated A flat into the piece’s pattern that can’t but produce the effect of heavy raindrops. Chopin, however, did not like the fact that his work was called an imitation of the rain. According to George Sand, his lifelong partner, he even got angry at such a comparison. Rather, he called it a translation of nature’s energy through his artistic genius. The woman recalls a dream that he shared with her: a vision where he was in a lake and the raindrops fell heavily on his chest inspired him for creating this work. The Raindrop Prelude is the longest in the set. It is also believed to be deeply introspective and quite intimate for Chopin, something way more than just a rainfall on the roof.

Video: Raindrop Prelude

Benjamin Britten, Noye’s Fludde

In this opera for children, Benjamin Britten tells the Biblical story of Noye’s Ark. The rain here is not created by the musical means but is produced with the help of simple domestic utensils. It was Gustav Holst’ daughter Imogen who was Britten’s assistant at the time. She was the one who showed him the experiment she made during teaching percussion to women at wartime. The sound of the raindrops was reconstructed with the help of the mugs hanging on a string and a big wooden spoon hitting them. The rain that we hear in the opera precedes a heavy storm, both natural and musical.

Video: Noye’s Fludde

Claude Debussy, Jardins Sous la Pluie

The third movement of Debussy’s solo piano piece “Estamps” is translated as “gardens in the rain” and couldn’t be titled better. The rain can be heard in all its forms here, from the soft touch of the first drops to the massive storm over Normandy. The story takes place in a garden of a small community of Orbec. Debussy masterfully interweaves two popular French nursery songs into this episode, and in general, the influence of childhood dreams can be clearly traced through many of his works. The rain here is illustrated with sparkling vividness and anyone playing the work on the piano can perfectly feel the rapid spring shower ‘fall down’ on the keyboard. The composition closely reminds a toccata in technique and requires good hand coordination skills to play it well.

Video: Jardins Sous la Pluie

Judith Weir, The Welcome Arrival of Rain

Composing this work, Judith Weir looked much further into the essence if the rain rather than just imitating its meditative sound. The idea was to highlight the life-giving power of this water and the growth it provides in so many ways. The Welcome Arrival of Rain is thus a renewal metaphor set to music. The piece was inspired by an extract from a Hindu text about the coming of monsoon rains to India and bringing new life to all living things. Just listen to the delicately captured sense of the fluid and trembling downpour. 

Edvard Grieg, Spring Rain

One of the six songs from Op.49 (Seks Digte) by Grieg is fully dedicated to rain. The lyrics of the entire set are in the Danish language and were written by the poet Holger Drachmann. The Spring Rain song is an example of a glorious marriage of music, lyrics and voice. The flowing vocal line portrays the way of the water drops down to the earth through the cascade of trees. It is not among composer’s most performed works but it nevertheless is unique in its charm.

Video: Spring Rain

Other notable ‘rainy’ pieces include:

  • Grieg’s Spring Rain from Op.49 (the raindrops portrayed through the falling chords)
  • Wagner’s Die Walküre (the moment Siegmund emerges from the storm incredibly conveyed through the strings only)
  • Britten’s Peter Grimes (with the timpani signaling about the ominous storm)
  • Strauss’ Alpine Symphony (with the full-orchestra thunder blast)
  • Shubert’s Rain of Tears (a poignant love song about a farewell before the rain)
  • Frede Grofe’s Cloudburst (about the growing storm over the Grand Canyon) 
  • Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (the fishermen sheltering from September tempest in Act II)
  • Ravel’s Jeaux d’Eau (the sounds of cascading waters, not the rain but the after-rain)

Set your playlist ready for a rainy day and dive in. In case after this article you’ve had a sudden desire to perform any of the above compositions yourself, note that most of them can be learnt here at MusicaNeo. Just print the needed score and go practice your rainy classic!