Moonlight Sonata and Adieu to the Piano Ludwig van Beethoven Well, unfortunately today’s Covid news is not any better since yesterday, but today we do have something momentous to celebrate! Today it has been 250 years since Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany. He is one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music. Here are links to two of his many popular compositions. I guess I started playing Moonlight Sonata in high school many years ago, and it has given me memories of many hours of peaceful tranquility. Adieu to the Piano is a more recent addition for me, and works perfectly as a ‘Weiss Music Minute.’ Thanks for the memories, Ludwig! Moonlight Sonata (4:30) https://www.drweiss.com/2019/03/29/moonlight-sonata/ Adieu to the Piano (1 minute) https://youtu.be/VqLksqpskT4 Enjoy, Dr. Weiss Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever played!!
Robert Schumann was a German composer and pianist. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Kinderszenen, or “Scenes from Childhood", Op. 15, is a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano written in 1838. Movement No. 7 of the work, Träumerei or “Dreaming”, is one of Schumann's best known pieces. This short piece is a little tricky to play, because if you follow closely you’ll notice that there are sections where the melody alternates between the right and the left hand. Anyway, it all comes out sounding pretty dreamy, and I suppose it sounds pretty romantic also! This performance is dedicated to Tom S, Takuya N, David P, and Stevie W Enjoy, Dr. Weiss PS Another 2 minute tune! Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!
Chopin was yet another child prodigy. He completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland for Paris at the age of 21. Thereafter—in the last 18 years of his life—he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon! This beautiful little piece was published after his death. Just think - Chopin could never listen to this masterpiece as we can, because the pianos that we play now were not yet made. Chopin died in 1849, and it was not until 1855 that Steinway & Sons introduced the first square piano with a new scale that revolutionized the sound quality and was adopted by all future manufacturers. Once the most successful components of the various grand piano designs were established, many manufacturers began patenting their own combinations and changes to construction. In 1859, Steinway & Sons contributed to this evolution of the grand piano with the introduction of their full iron frame with fan-shaped strings and overstrung scale. In my mind, Chopin prefigured the impressionists who revolutionized painting starting shortly after Chopin’s death. I have the following impressions in my mind as I’m playin this song: a fluttering candle, the [...]
Liebesträum (German for Dreams of Love) is a set of three solo piano works by Franz Liszt, published in 1850. This is the hauntingly beautiful theme for the third of these piano solos. The poems on which the songs are based depict three different forms of love; exalted love (saintly or religious love), erotic love, and unconditional mature love (the subject of the current theme.) Liebestraum No. 3 is the last of the three that Liszt wrote, and the most popular. What’s really interesting and somewhat unusual about this section of the piano piece is that the melody frequently changes between the hands. See if you can follow my fingers as the melody alternates between my right and left hands. Particularly starting at around the 1 minute mark, I am constantly amazed at how the melody seems to be kind of drifting up between my hands even as I’m playing it! To quote Gary Myers (a great artist from the NY state finger lake region who has graciously allowed me to use his beautiful painting of the same name to match the mood of the piece) talking about his painting (but his impressions also apply to the music) : “ [...]
This is just another example of the musical point that I have been trying to make with Weiss Music Minutes in various genres: very many complete and satisfying musical ideas can be stated in 60 seconds or less (also look out for Weiss Medical Minutes.) In any case, this little recording of the first 16 bars (with a two bar intro) of Debussy’s Reverie is a perfect example. (Moreover, not only can this dream-like introductory section stand on its own, it is so unique and has such resonance that many people will hear this section once and remember it for the rest of their lives!) This performance was inspired by seeing Hershey Felder as Debussy at the Laguna Playhouse recently. If you haven’t yet seen him perform, remember his name, look him up on google, and see him somewhere. He performs all over the world, but comes to Laguna at least once a year. Enjoy, Dr. Weiss P.S. A few other Debussy-related performances: Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder, Happy Mother's Day 2018 Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing [...]
On This Day (March 31) in 1685 Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest composers of all time, was born in present-day Germany. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn and Schumann were all fans and were strongly influenced by Bach. Bach’s Inventions (and Sinfonias), 30 short keyboard compositions in all, were originally written as musical exercises for his students, to help them learn how to play two voices clearly. A bit more about Bach. One of his most enduring legacies was a collection of two sets of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, which he called the Well-Tempered Clavier. This collection is regarded as being among the most important works in the history of classical music, sometimes called the Old Testament of keyboard music. Although I had seen the phrase ‘well-tempered’ I really never knew what it meant. Well-tempered refers to the employment of a tuning system that would work equally well in all keys—a circumstance rare in Bach’s day. In 1722, the scale in use today (equal temperament, where the octave is split into 12 equal steps that we call semi-tones) had not yet been codified. There were unequal intervals between the notes within an octave. What [...]
Moonlight Sonata (the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op, 27, No. 2) is a piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven completed in 1801. The piece is one of Beethoven's most popular compositions for the piano. The name "Moonlight Sonata" comes from remarks made by a music critic 5 years after Beethoven's death, that likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne. I can see that. Well put! Berlioz said that it "is one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify". This sonata was very popular even in Beethoven's day, to the point of exasperating the composer himself, who once remarked, "Surely I've written better things." I guess even back in the day, musicians could never tell which of their songs would be hits! This performance of the first movement of Moonlight Sonata is dedicated to the over 40 people who have requested it, including Lisa M. Thanks. I really enjoy playing it! Dr. Weiss Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. [...]
On this day (March 26) in 1827, Ludvig van Beethoven, one of our great classical composers, died in his apartment in Vienna at the age of 56 during a thunderstorm (and there reportedly was a peal of thunder at the moment of death!) I didn’t realize that Beethoven apparently had a sense of humor. His last recorded words were "Pity, pity—too late!", as the dying composer was told of a gift of twelve bottles of wine from his publisher. Adieux to the Piano was one of the greatly popular parlor pieces for the piano during much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Although attributed to Beethoven, there is some controversy. During the 19th century unscrupulous publishers (so the music business is the same more than 200 years later!) would frequently attempt to improve sales of their works by slapping Beethoven's name onto them. However, it is listed in the library of congress by Beethoven. In any case, there is a simple meditative peacefulness to this song, and it’s fun to play! Beethoven also wrote the popular "Moonlight Sonata", which clocks in at around 4 minutes (I play it a little faster than usual.) It's a fun piece and I'd love to share that with [...]
Minute Waltz On This Day (March 1) in 1810 Frederic Chopin was born in Warsaw, Poland. Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars, his association with political insurrection, his high-profile love-life, and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era. He was a child prodigy (giving public concerts by the age of 7), and at the age of 21, settled in Paris where he lived for the last 18 years of his short life. He died at the age of 39, probably of pericarditis aggravated by tuberculosis (Mozart, another child musical prodigy, was born about 50 years earlier and also died at a tragically young age - 35.) The Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1, has long been known as the "Minute" Waltz. Its nickname was intended to mean "small" in the sense of a "miniature" waltz. Chopin never intended for this waltz to be played in just one minute. A typical performance of the work will last between 1½ and 2½ minutes (this one clocks in at about 2 min, 20 seconds), but sounds great to me when played even slower! Chopin got the inspiration for this waltz as [...]
Mozart began writing dances when he was five years old! The minuet was slightly old-fashioned by Mozart's time. It was of aristocratic origin, elegant and stately. Mozart passionately loved dancing, and never missed the public masked balls in the theatre or his friends' domestic balls. Although a short piano piece, this is a good example of the simplicity of Mozart’s genius. Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!