I'm sure that those of you who have had in-person lessons recently have noticed the colorful posters decorating my studio. This month we'll listen to one piece of music by each of the composers whose posters hang on our classroom walls!
Clara Wieck Schumann
Clara Schumann was one of the most celebrated musicians of her day! She was well-known as a composer and pianist, but overtime the reputation of her husband, Robert Schumann, grew and her music was not often heard.
A Nocturne is a piece of music meant to sound like an evening serenade, with a melody in the style of a song over the top of chords that are meant to sound like the strumming of guitars.
Barbara Strozzi was a remarkable woman who forged her own path in life. She was born in Venice in 1619 and never knew who her parents were. Despite the challenges of her childhood, she became one of the most successful composers of the day, even though people spread mean-spirited rumors about her.
Do you hear the harpsichord in this performance. This is the instrument that the piano evolved from!
The Spirit of America
Margaret Bonds took the musical traditions of African Americans and merged them with the traditions of European Classical music to create her own distinctive musical voice as a composer. Can you hear the influence of Jazz and Spirituals on the piano part in this song?
Isn't music a wonderful way to experience the culture and spirit of different people!?
St. Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard's music is some of the oldest music ever written that we can still hear today! Hildegard was a nun who lived in the 1100s in what is now Germany. She wrote about medicine, religion, and composed music, mostly music for voices singing in Latin.
Do you notice that one of the singers in this video is blind and is using her finger to read music notes in Braille?
By the Still Waters
Amy Beach is an important American composer. In fact, she was the first American woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra!
This is a lovely piece for piano, meant to sound like rippling water. I performed this piece in our classroom. Do you recognize the piano?!
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Songs of the Year
Fanny Mendelssohn (who changed her name after she married Mr. Hensel), was an extremely gifted musician whose musical career, like that of Clara Schumann, was overshadowed by the fame of a male family member. In Fanny's case, it was her brother, Felix Mendelssohn, whose name became famous.
Fanny Mendelssohn composed many pieces, including a set of 12 pieces, one for each month of the year. This video shares a performance of "December" on a keyboard that is about 170 years old! Pianos in the early 1800s were called "Fortepianos" and are different from modern pianos in several ways. Notice that the instrument is smaller and that it creates a gentler, more "plinky-plunky" sound!