“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”


"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science."


"History never looks like history when you are living through it."


""The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." ."


"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pachelbel - Canon in D

Pachelbel - Canon in D

Love it or hate it, Pachelbel’s Canon in D is one of the most famous pieces of classical music of all time, but the facts behind the composition aren’t as well known.
It’s as simple as three violins, one cello, and eight bars of music repeated 28 times. Johann Pachelbel’s Canon has risen in popularity to become one of the best-known pieces of classical music ever written.
It’s hard to imagine a time when this piece wasn’t a firm favourite at weddings, but in reality, not very much is known about Pachelbel’s most famous piece. We don’t even know exactly when it was composed, although it’s thought it was around 1680.  There are a few unsubstantiated claims that the music was written for the wedding ofBach’s brother, Johann Christoph, on 23 October 1694, but this is pretty unlikely.
The Canon’s popularity snowballed in the 1970s, after French conductor Jean-François Paillard made a recording. Since then, the music has been recorded hundreds of times, and the iconic harmony has made its way into pop songs, films, and adverts. But even before the public got hold of the piece, classical composers knew Pachelbelwas on to a good thing – Handel, Haydn, and Mozart all used the iconic bass line in some of their compositions in the following years.
It’s easy to be distracted by the tight harmonies and the three pretty violin tunes, but Pachelbel’s approach to writing the music was almost mathematical. He uses an ostinato (the same bass line repeated over and over again) and a canon (the same music repeated by the violin parts, in a round) to construct his piece. Listen out for the same music being passed between the violins.
No wonder he had such good compositional technique: Pachelbel wrote more than 500 pieces over his lifetime. He was a prolific organist in his hometown of Nuremburg, and even taught the man who became Bach’s teacher. Despite the sheer volume of his output, there’s still no system to number all of his works.
For a closer look at his style, have a listen to the Chaconne in F minor, the Toccata in E minor for organ, and his set of variations,Hexachordum Apollinis .

Listen to Pachelbel's Canon in D

Johann Pachelbel's Canon

Johann PachelbelIt is a baroque piece of music which has been interpreted by many people and has become the basis of many modern songs. Quite often, it is found in movie themes, songs and commercials. Some people actually believe it is the root of all modern music (more or less, with a pinch of humour, of course :). The melody of the Canon is easily recognizable, but the listener might not know the name of the composition or its composer. It is very popular for weddings, especially in the USA.
Johann Pachelbel lived from 1653-1706. In 1671, at the age of 18, he moved to Vienna (Austria) where he became a student. In 1692 he moved to Nuremburg where he lived until his death in 1706. The Canon was written around 1680 and it is Mr. Pachelbel’s most famous piece. The original was written for three violins with a bass accompaniment and a gigue.
What does the word “Canon” mean then? Well, it is certainly not a “cannon” (the large gun), as is often suggested. A Canon (or Kanon) is a piece of music characterized by imitation and repetition. First one instrument or vocal introduces a part of the melody. Then, after a number of tones, a second instrument or vocal starts to repeat, or imitate, the first melody, playing the exact same tones, but with a time delay. More instruments or vocals may then be added, depending on the composer’s wishes.
Canon's popularity boosted after appearing in the 1980's movie Ordinary People. It is even found as ring tones in wireless telephones.

Other work by Johann Pachelbel

Although Canon is Pachelbel's most famous work there are other worth mentioning, like for example Chaconne or Ciaccona in F minor or in C major.

Johann Pachelbel


Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706) was a German composer and organist known almost exclusively for his Canon in D.

Life and Music

  • Pachelbel is a prime example of a 'one-hit wonder'; his Canon In D dwarfs all of the rest of his output.
  • Canon in D is a firm favourite in all sorts of environments, not least as an accompaniment to the walk down the aisle at weddings.
  • Many composers wrote canons – but nobody else achieved quite the same fame for it. It’s a simple idea in which a melody is played and then imitated by one or more other instruments. The children’s nursery rhymes Frère Jacques and Three Blind Mice are often sung in a canon, sometimes called a round.
  • Although the Canon in D is pretty much all he is remembered for now, Pachelbel was massive in the world of keyboard and chamber music in the late 17th century.
Did you know?
Pachelbel’s Canon has been used in numerous films and its chord progression has been copied by countless pop and rock music songs, including The Farm’s All Together Now and the Pet Shop Boys’ Go West.

Johann Pachelbel Music

Classic FMListenPachelbel - Canon in D

Find out more about Pachelbel's Canon in D. Watch and listen to different recordings and download your favourite.

Franz Schubert- Serenade

Franz Schubert

Schubert's immortal "Serenade" was written in 1826. it is so familiar that it needs no analysis, nor is one necessary from any point of view. It is simply a lovely melody from first note to last, written upon the inspiration of the moment, and yet characterized by absolute perfection of finish and a grace and beauty of which one never tires. It was originally composed as an alto solo and male chorus and was subsequently rearranged for female voices only. The circumstances of its composition as told by Schubert's biographer, Von Hellborn, are of more than ordinary interest. Von Hellborn says:

"One Sunday, during the summer of 1826, Schubert with several friends was returning from Potzleinsdorf to the city, and on strolling along through Wahring, he saw his friend Tieze sitting at a table in the garden of the 'Zum Biersack.' The whole party determined on a halt in their journey. Tieze had a book lying open before him, and Schubert soon began to turn over the leaves. Suddenly he stopped, and pointing to a poem, exclaimed, 'such a delicious melody has just come into my head, if I but had a sheet of music paper with me.' Herr Doppler drew a few music lines on the back of a bill of fare, and in the midst of a genuine Sunday hubbub, with fiddlers, skittle players, and waiters running about in different directions with orders, Schubert wrote that lovely song."

Franz Schubert


Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert (1797–1828) was an Austrian romantic composer and although he died at the age of 31, he was a prolific composer, having written some 600 lieder and nine symphonies. 
Life and Music
  • Aged 10, the young Schubert won a place in the Vienna Imperial Court chapel choir and quickly gained a reputation as a budding composer with a set of facile string quartets.
  • After leaving chapel school and having completed the year's mandatory training, Schubert followed his father into the teaching profession. This was at once a calamitous move and a blessing, for it was Schubert's deep loathing of the school environment that finally lit the touchpaper of his creative genius. The same year he began teaching - 1814 - he produced his first indisputable masterpiece, 'Gretchen am Spinnrade' ('Gretchen at her spinning wheel').
  • While Schubert was still struggling to hold down his full-time teaching post, he not only composed 145 lieder (songs), the Second and Third Symphonies, two sonatas and a series of miniatures for solo piano, two mass settings and other shorter choral works, four stage works, and a string quartet, in addition to various other projects. This period of intense creative activity remains one of the most inexplicable feats of productivity in musical history.
  • Musical soirees known as Schubertiads became all the rage, during which Schubert might sing some of his own songs while accompanying himself at the piano. 
  • With little money and nothing much more than his 'groupies' to support him, Schubert began to produce a seemingly endless stream of masterpieces that for the most part were left to prosperity to discover, including the two great song cycles, Die Schone Mullerin and Winterreise, the Eighth ('Unfinished') and Ninth ('Great') Symphonies, the Octet for Wind, the last three string quartets, the two piano trios, the String Quintet, the 'Wanderer' Fantasy and the last six sonatas for solo piano.
Did you know?
During 1815 alone, Schubert composed over 140 masterly song settings - including the unforgettable 'Erlkonig' - although he was still only 18 at the time.

Franz Schubert Music

Ludwig van Beethoven - 'Moonlight'

Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ('Moonlight')

Composed between 1801 and 1802, this popular piece is one of Beethoven's best known piano works.
Discover Beethoven
Despite its nickname, in Beethoven’s mind this was never the 'Moonlight' Sonata. Instead, the rather pedestrian title of Piano Sonata No. 14 was what the composer seemed perfectly content with. But when the German critic Ludwig Rellstab described the sonata’s famous opening movement as being akin to moonlight flickering across Lake Lucerne, he created a description that would go on to outlive the composer.

In many ways, Beethoven was a revolutionary. More than any other composer of his day, he was responsible for pushing convention and welcoming in the Romantic era of classical music. This work is a prime example of his refusal to follow the status quo: not for Beethoven the traditional fast–slow–fast pattern of how it was then perceived a sonata should sound. Instead – and astonishingly for the time – he chose to open with a slow, hypnotic set of arpeggios (this is where the notes of a chord are broken up and played one after another, instead of all at the same time). The storm and drama certainly comes, but not until the second movement, a section audiences of the time would have expected to be reflective and calm. Just one of the ways in which Beethoven was prepared to turn the predictable on its head and create whole new forms of music.

Today, the Moonlight (or the ‘sonata in the style of a fantasia’, as Beethoven preferred to subtitle it) stands as the composer’s most famous and most loved solo piano piece.

Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata - Video

Beethoven:Piano Sonata No.14 'Moonlight' recording

Sonata in C sharp minor, op. 27, no. 2 

- First Movement (Adagio Sostenuto)

* Correction*
This is not the entire Piano Sonata No. 14 (“Moonlight Sonata”), but only the first of three movements. The second and third movements are Allegretto and Presto Agitato, respectively.

Beethoven’s 14th piano sonata, AKA “Moonlight Sonata,” was composed in the summer of 1801 in Hungary, on an estate belonging to the Brunswick family. The composition was published in 1802 and was dedicated to Beethoven’s pupil and passion, 17 years old Countess Giulietta Gucciardi. 

The Sonata is one of the most popular piano sonatas from Beethoven’s creation. It is also named “The Moonlight Sonata” by poet Ludwig Rellstab who, in 1832, had this inspiration on a moon lit night on the banks of the Lucerna River. Some biographers make the connection between the unshared love the composer held for Giulietta Guicciardi and the sonorities of the first part. Even more so, this sonata was dedicated to Giulietta, the musical theme of the first part being borrowed from a German ballad as Wyzewa observed.
The piano sonata has three parts. The parts of the sonata give the impression of a whole first of all through the elaboration of themes and motifs. Consequently, the main musical theme of the first part becomes very elaborate in the second part, and the second motif of the main theme will be encountered in the first theme of part III.

Background of the Moonlight Sonata

The original title of the sonata is “Quasi una fantasia” (Italian. almost a fantasy). The popular title of Moonlight Sonata actually didn’t come about until several years after Beethoven’s death. In 1836, German music critic, Ludwig Rellstab wrote that the sonata reminded him of the reflected moonlight off Lake Lucerne. Since then, Moonlight Sonata has remained the “official” unofficial title of the sonata.
Beethoven composed the famous Moonlight Sonata in 1801 and dedicated it to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a pupil of Beethoven. Shortly after their first few lessons, the two fell in love. After dedicating the Moonlight Sonata, it is believed thatBeethoven proposed to her. Although she was willing to accept Beethoven’s proposal, she was forbidden by one of her parents which prevented her from marrying him.

Notes on the Moonlight Sonata

The Moonlight Sonata is divided into three separate parts.
  • Adagio sostenuto
  • Allegreto
  • Presto agitato
The First Movement
The first movement of the Moonlight Sonata is easily the most well known. The famous mysterious, almost haunting melody is dark and whisper like. The form of the first movement is a sort of “condensed” sonata. In other words, it plays the main melody, develops it, and then plays it again very similar to how it was originally played.
The Second Movement
The second movement of the Moonlight Sonata is in the form of a scherzo (a comic composition, usually fast-moving and used in the place of a minuet and trio during Beethoven’s time). The key of the second movement is D flat major, which is unrelated to the overall key of c# minor.
The Third Movement
The third movement is completely different from the previous two movements. Its rapid progressions from note to note are invigorating and powerful. The third movement of theMoonlight Sonata is actually marked piano, but Beethoven’s use of sforzandos and fortissimos make the piece actually sound as if the overall dynamic was fortissimo.

Moonlight Sonata Recommended Recordings

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

The Moonlight Sonata was composed in the summer of 1801 in Hungary, on an estate belonging to the Brunswick family. The composition was published in 1802 and was dedicated to Beethoven’s pupil and passion, 17 years old Countess Giulietta Gucciardi.
       The Sonata is one of the most popular piano sonatas from Beethoven’s creation. It is also named “The Moonlight Sonata” by poet Ludwig Rellstab who, in 1832, had this inspiration on a moon lit night on the banks of the Lucerna River. Some biographers make the connection between the unshared love the composer held for Giulietta Guicciardi and the sonorities of the first part. Even more so, this sonata was dedicated to Giulietta, the musical theme of the first part being borrowed from a German ballad as Wyzewa observed.
       According to Fischer, this image has no connection with Beethoven’s intentions. He rather attributes this atmosphere to the feeling that overwhelmed the composer when he took watch at the side of a friend who prematurely left the world of the living. In one of Beethoven’s manuscripts there are several notes from Mozart’s Don Juan, notes that follow the killing of the Commander by Don Juan, and lower, this passage is rendered in C sharp minor in absolute resemblance to the first part of the sonata in C sharp minor. Analyzing and comparing, one could realize that it cannot be the case of a romantic moon lit night, but rather of a solemn funeral hymn.
The piano sonata has three parts:
  1. Adagio Sostenuto
  2. Allegretto
  3. Presto Agitato
The parts of the sonata give the impression of a whole first of all through the elaboration of themes and motifs. Consequently, the main musical theme of the first part becomes very elaborate in the second part, and the second motif of the main theme will be encountered in the first theme of part III.
Part I – Adagio Sostenuto- is based on an accompanying motif in triplet rhythm that, together with a accented notes motif, creates the impression of a grave, meditative state of mind. The composer adds the following direction at the beginning of the first part: „ Si deve suonare tutto pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino” which means that the performer should play the part with great delicacy and without dampers. It is also true that the modern piano has a much longer sustain time than the instruments of Beethoven's day. Therefore, his instruction cannot be followed by pianists playing modern instruments without creating an unpleasantly dissonant sound.(Wikipedia, The Moonlight Sonata Page)
Excerpt from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Part I
The second part- Allegretto- is very small in size which leads to the idea that it was conceived more as a connection between the first and third part, rather than a part all by itself. The feeling is now denser in consistency, and the fairly meditative character of the first part gradually fades away, preparing the tumult of the third part.
Excerpt from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Part II
The third part – Presto Agitato- is twice as long as the first two parts. Fischer felt this part as being the representation of a storm. A very impetuous storm, if we take into account the fact that at the time when he was composing the sonata, Beethoven was madly in love with Giulietta with whom he had hopes of getting married. The listener can distinguish two themes in this part: a tempestuous one built on arpeggios and strongly accented notes and a second theme, more lyrical in form which comes into contrast with the first one. Both themes are magnificently interlaced and create the impetuous storm emotion Fischer experienced.
Excerpt from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Part III, first motif
Excerpt from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Part III, first motif
This is one of the most well known piano sonatas by Beethoven. The Moonlight Sonata was written in 1801 and today, more than ever, it remaines one of the most popular pieces of piano music in history.
Download Part I of the Moonlight Sonata
Download Part II of the Moonlight Sonata
Download Part III of the Moonlight Sonata
Other pages on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
Read more about Beethoven's Piano sonatas :
  1. Sonata in F minor, op. 2, no. 1
  2. Sonata in A major, op. 2, no. 2
  3. Sonata in C major op. 2, no. 3
  4. Sonata in E flat major, op. 7
  5. Sonata in C minor, op. 10, no.1
  6. Sonata in C minor, op. 13, “Pathetique”
  7. Sonata in A major, op. 10, no. 2
  8. Sonata in D major, op. 10, no. 3
  9. Sonata in G major, op. 14, no. 2
  10. Sonata in B flat major, op. 22
  11. Sonata in E flat major, op. 26
  12. Sonata in E major, op. 14 no. 1
  13. Sonata in E flat major, op. 27, nr. 1
  14. Sonata in C sharp minor, op. 27, nr. 2 “The Moonlight Sonata”
  15. Sonata in D major, op. 28 “Pastorala”
  16. Sonata in G major, op. 31, no. 1
  1. Sonata in D minor, op. 31, no. 2
  2. Sonata in E flat major, op. 31, no. 3
  3. Sonata in G minor, op.49, no. 1
  4. Sonata in G major, op. 49, no. 2
  5. Sonata in C major,No. 21 op. 53 “Waldstein”
  6. Sonata in F major, op.54
  7. Sonata in F minor, op. 57, “Appassionata”
  8. Sonata in F sharp major, op. 78
  9. Sonata in G major, op. 79
  10. Sonata in E flat major, op. 81 a
  11. Sonata in E minor, op. 90
  12. Sonata in A major, op. 101
  13. Sonata in B flat major, op. 106, “Hammerklavier”
  14. Sonata in E major, op. 109
  15. Sonata in A flat major, op. 110
  16. Sonata in C minor, op. 111

Frederic Chopin - Nocturnes

Chopin - Nocturnes

Chopin's Nocturnes form a central collection in the romantic piano repertoire, and with good reason. But just how did the inspiration for such an epic set of piano pieces come about?
Chopin Piano
Frederic Chopin's Nocturnes for the piano are probably one of the romantic period's best-known relics. Pianists live and die today by their ability to tackle the core repertoire, and the Nocturnes are no exception - the list of pianists still committing their interpretations to tape is evidence enough that these really are hardy perennials.

But what you might not realise is that these Nocturnes were heavily influenced by the work of one John Field, an Irish composer and pianist who was frequently compared to Chopin. Indeed, because of their distance from each other, Chopin was often compared to Field as well. Field was responsible for giving Chopin the idea for a series of Nocturnes, after developed the initial form for the genre.

Chopin's 21 pieces in the set are gorgeously melodic, with a huge focus on catchy tunes and very rhythmic accompaniment. He wasn't afraid to break free from those rhythms, though, and it's very common to hear performers interpret them in a number of different ways and speeds.

Chopin was apparently a big fan of John Field's, but unfortunately Field couldn't muster the same enthusiasm for his Polish equivalent, describing him as a 'sickroom talent' after hearing his Nocturnes. History has, however, been rather more kind to Chopin's Nocturnes - Field's piano work is practically unheard when compared to Chopin's towering piano repertoire.

Video: Yundi Li plays Chopin


Frederic Chopin

The Fast and Friendly Guide to Chopin


Frederic Chopin
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of French-Polish parentage. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music.

Life and Music

  • Frederic Chopin was born in Poland, west of Warsaw, on either February 22nd or March 1st 1810 - local records differ with when Chopin's parents claimed he was born.
  • Chopin was composing and writing poetry at six, and gave his first public concerto performance at the age of eight.
  • In 1822 Chopin came under the personal supervision of Jozef Elsner, the founder-director of the Warsaw Conservatory.
  • He became a leading advocate of 'absolute music', producing some of the earliest Romantic pieces and arguably the finest body of solo music for the piano.
  • Chopin dedicated his second piano concerto (1830) to Delfina Potocka, with whom he hit the headlines during the 1940s when a sensational series of highly erotic (forged) love letters were discovered.
  • In 1836 Chopin met the novelist George Sand (alias Aurore Dudevant), and so began one of the most famous love affairs in the history of music. The pair split up in 1847.
  • Chopin's Funeral March, one of the piano repertoire's most famous works, was composed in 1837.
  • By 1841, both sets of Chopin's Etudes had been published. They went on to become indispensable tomes for piano students everywhere.
  • Among the most famous of his works was composed late in his life - The Minute Waltz was finished in 1847.
  • Chopin's health began to deteriorate rapidly and he left for England at the invitation of his Scottish piano pupil, Jane Stirling.
  • He returned to Paris, where, despite gifts of money and many kind attempts to comfort him, he died on 17 October 1849.

Did you know?

Chopin paid for his expensive lifestyle by giving piano lessons to rich people in Paris. He never liked the idea of asking them for money, so would look away while they left the fee on his mantelpiece.

Frederic Chopin Music

chopinWatchChopin - Études

How did Chopin's three sets of Études become one of the piano repertoire's most enduring and defining works? Find out with our handy guide…

Chopin PianoWatchChopin - Nocturnes

Chopin's Nocturnes form a central collection in the romantic piano repertoire, and with good reason.