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Composers

  • One of the common dangers of studying composers’ lives is finding out that some of the people whose music we love and admire turn out to have been very unadmirable human beings.
  • Should we really care about the personal lives of the composers we admire?
  • Bach and Mozart died over two hundred years ago – – Is there anybody alive today whose music will be played two hundred years from now? It’s a tricky question.
  • I wonder what today’s voice teachers would think of the composer Gioacchino Rossini’s ideas for a vocal training curriculum. According to Rossini, learning the art of bel canto, or “beautiful singing,” should begin with many months of soundless exercises, starting no later than the age of twelve.
  • And what about those musicians—Beethoven being only the most famous of many—who can hear combinations of pitches in their heads—chords, harmonies—and can invent, just in their heads, sequences of harmonies that have never been heard before?
  • After Beethoven, all composers were seen and evaluated in Beethoven’s light, or rather in his enormous shadow.
  • What I somehow hear in Mozart, whether in his operas or his instrumental works, is a kind of fundamental optimism.
  • Franz Liszt invented the solo piano recital, and in fact he coined the term “recital,” too.
  • In addition to his own works, Lizt's recitals featured pieces by all the great composers of the day and by those he called the “classics,” including many works of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.
  • Claude Debussy often performed his own works, but he tended to get nervous, and he didn’t enjoy playing in public. And yet by all accounts Debussy was a wonderful pianist, especially noted for his remarkable “touch” at the keyboard.