Spanish Dance for a Hot Friday

September 9, 2016 at 10:30 am

Sergei Diaghilev, head of the Ballet Russes (a French organization, despite its name and artistic director), is responsible for the creation of the finest works of the early 20th century. While the most famous production is no doubt Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, you can read the list of other works which the company commissioned here – and it’s pretty amazing.

One of those works is The Three Cornered Hat by Manuel de Falla. The music, derived from traditional Spanish dances, is nothing groundbreaking. However, being composed just after the end of World War I in 1919, it does demonstrate how the conflict triggered a sudden return to a more conservative musical style. (More proof of this can be seen in Stravinsky; he caused quite a ruckus with The Rite in 1913, but composed the docile, neoclassical Pulcinella in 1920.)

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Stop and smell the roses

May 16, 2016 at 10:00 am

Spanish composer Joaquín Turina’s most famous work is Danzas Fantasticas, a suite of three dances that contain great Spanish flair. The suite was inspired by a novel, from which Turina included quotations for each movement. The third movement, Orgia (ooh, you’re making me blush!), was inspired by these particularly flowery, aromatic words:

The perfume of the flowers merged with the odor of manzanilla, and from the bottom of raised glasses, full of the incomparable wine, like an incense, rose joy.

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Le Sigh

May 11, 2016 at 10:30 am

One has to deeply admire Hilary Hahn, not just for her amazing playing, but for her dedication to new music. She gets called all over the world to perform the great violin masterpieces (IE, the old, tried-and-true pieces by dead composers), then turns around and commissions new music for the instrument. The album “In 27 Pieces” is filled with these pieces – 26 encores that she commissioned herself, and 1 final piece which she reserved for a winner of an open contest that received over 400 entries.

This piece, titled “Third Sigh” is from one of the composers Hahn commissioned – Antón García Abril.

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