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During 2010, the anniversaries of Chopin, Mendelssohn and Schumann are being commemorated. Please click on their names to view Naxos’s extensive discographies for these three famous composers of the Romantic period.

This month, we also mark several anniversaries of composers both famous and less well known, from the Medieval to the contemporary.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710–1784) - 300 years

The eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann was born in 1710 in Weimar and was taught by his father, after 1723, when the family moved to Leipzig, becoming a pupil at the Thomasschule. He spent four years at the University of Leipzig, before finding employment as organist at the Sophienkirche in Dresden and subsequently, with unhappy results, at the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle. From 1764 until his death twenty years later he held no official position, although he had been widely recognised as one of the most distinguished organists of his time and had mastered very thoroughly the lessons taught him by his father. His own tendency to the freedom of thought of the Enlightenment had not endeared him to his Pietist superiors in Halle and independence of character rendered him gradually less employable, within the restrictive circumstances of his time.

Featured Album:

WF BACH Keyboard Works Vol 2 - Fantasias and Fugues
Julia Brown, harpsichord

The eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach was hailed as the greatest organist in his time. Living in a time of transition, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach forged his own highly original style, combining the traditional writing learned from his father with new elements of the “expressive and sentimental” period. Among his most famous compositions, the Eight Fugues, Fk 31 are miniature jewels. His Fantasias are wonderful examples of the freedom of expression in the new style of Empfindsamkeit.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Biography & Discography

Samuel Barber (1910–1981) 100 years

Samuel Barber is widely known for his famous Adagio for Strings, the slow movement of a string quartet he wrote in 1936. Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1910, he was one of the first students at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied piano, conducting, singing and composition. Awards allowed subsequent study in Rome. He taught briefly at the Curtis Institute, but soon withdrew, sharing a house with his former fellow student Menotti. His music remained neo-romantic in idiom, although not without contemporary influences.
Featured Album:
BARBER Choral Music
Choir of Ormond College • Douglas Lawrence, conductor

Setting texts for chorus or solo songs occupied Samuel Barber throughout his creative life. In particular he sought out English and Irish writers, many of whose melancholic and nostalgic texts aptly matched his own musically romantic persuasion. A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map is a disturbing setting of a poem by Stephen Spender describing the death of a soldier in the Spanish Civil War, during which the poet had spent time in Spain. The elegiac and now extraordinarily popular Adagio for Strings is heard in the composer’s own choral version, Agnus Dei, to words from the Latin Mass. God’s Grandeur is one of Barber’s most ambitious and advanced unaccompanied settings.

Samuel Barber Biography & Discography

Ernö von Dohnányi (1877–1960) - 50 years

The work of Ernő Dohnányi has in recent years been unduly neglected, although at one time his Variations on a Nursery Theme for piano and orchestra, at least, formed a regular element in concert programmes. In part this neglect was due to political circumstances and in part to changing musical fashions in which the overt nationalism of a younger generation of Hungarian composers was favoured, rather than the German late Romanticism that characterized Dohnányi’s work. While Bartók and Kodály had recourse to Hungarian folk-music as a source of inspiration, often expressed, in the case of the former, with a certain astringency, Dohnányi belonged much more to the German tradition in which he had largely been trained.

Featured Album:

DOHNÁNYI Variations on a Nursery Song, Symphonic Minutes, Suite
Eldar Nebolsin, piano • Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
JoAnn Falleta, conductor


Ernő von Dohnányi had a long career as an important composer, pianist and teacher. Deeply indebted to the Germanic Romantic tradition, the works on this disc showcase his love of scintillating orchestral tone-colour—notably of brass, wind and percussion—and his fascination with Classical forms such as the variation. His Variations on a Nursery Song traverses several musical styles in a tour de force of good-humoured virtuosity, while the Symphonic Minutes and the Suite in F sharp minor cultivate a lush, romantic mood with characteristic dashes of suavity.

Ernö von Dohnányi Biography & Discography

Alfred Hill (1870–1960) - 50 years

The Australian composer Alfred Hill studied in Leipzig in the late 1880s, continuing, as a composer, the traditions in which he had been trained, but later with an Australian flavour, with occasional use of aboriginal melodies. His ten numbered symphonies, the last written in 1958, suggest the work of a latter-day Australian Dvořák.
Featured Album:
HILL String Quartets Vol 3 – Nos 5, 7 & 9
Dominion String Quartet

The Dominion Quartet continues its exploration of the string quartets of Alfred Hill, an Australian-born composer who studied in Europe and lived for much of his life in New Zealand. The Fifth pays tribute to France, America, Italy and Britain, nations that were allies during World War I. In the Seventh, hints of the music of Debussy, Ravel and Dvořák coexist within Hill’s own Late Romantic idiom. The Ninth, with its touches of Iberian colour, Impressionist passages and Czech harmonies show Hill as a musical citizen of the world.

Alfred Hill Biography & Discography

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941) - 150 years

Paderewski, trained in Warsaw, later became a pupil of Leschetizky in Vienna, embarking then on a distinguished international career as a virtuoso pianist. He abandoned his career as a musician for three years, from 1918 to 1921, when he held the positions of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Poland, in continuation of his fight for Polish independence. This struggle he had resumed at the time of his death in 1940, during the course of a visit to the United States of America to arouse support for his cause.
Featured Album:
PADEREWSKI Victor Recordings (selections) (1914-1941)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski, piano

Ignacy Jan Paderewski enthralled the world with his artistry for more than half a century. Immensely popular as a recitalist (he played in Madison Square Garden to 20,000 people), he came to recording as late as 1911, leaving an important legacy. These recordings, mostly from the 1920s and some unpublished on 78rpm, show Paderewski as a uniquely eloquent interpreter of Beethoven, his compatriot Chopin, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Wagner, Rachmaninov, Debussy and his own compositions. Whether performing in grand Romantic style, with scintillating virtuosity yet many wonderful subtleties, or as if confiding intimate secrets, Paderewski possessed what Henry James memorably described as “exhilarating goodness”.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski Biography & Discography

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736) 300 years

Pergolesi was a composer of considerable importance in the development of Italian comic opera in the early 18th century, making a singular contribution during a remarkably brief career. Born in 1710, he studied in Naples and became maestro di cappella there to a member of the viceregal court in 1732, later entering the service of another nobleman, after the Bourbon restoration. He died in 1736.
Featured Album:
PERGOLESI Stabat Mater, Salve Regina in C minor
Jörg Waschinski, Soprano • Michael Chance, Counter-tenor
Cologne Chamber Orchestra • Helmut Müller-Brühl, conductor


The 18th century French writer, Charles de Brosses described Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, completed as the composer lay dying, as ‘the master work of Latin music’. Although this is music of great tenderness and sombre beauty, the work also includes chromatic sequences, sighing passages and dramatic dissonance straight out of the operatic style that had first made Pergolesi famous. Pergolesi’s Salve Regina in C minor, also from the composer’s last few months, is written in a similarly expressive style.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Biography & Discography

Perotinus Magnus (Pérotin) (1160–1205) - 850 years

Pérotin was a successor of the composer Lonin in later 12th century Paris, active in his revision of the latters Magnus Liber and in the composition of organum, discant and conductus, as polyphonic practices in Western music developed.
Featured Album:
SEIZED BY SWEET DESIRE - Singing Nuns and Ladies,
From the Cathedral to the Bed Chamber

Musica Ficta • Bo Holten, conductor

Until recently the rôle of women as composers and performers of both sacred and secular music during the Middle Ages has been seriously underestimated. This disc, sung by the all-female group Musica Ficta, reveals how well suited to women’s voices are music from Notre-Dame in Paris and the songs of many trouvères (the northern counterparts of the troubadours of Languedoc). The latter songs, for instance, often feature female protagonists and present different perspectives on love and life to those by their male counterparts.

Pérotin Biography & Discography

Carl Reinecke (1824–1910) - 100 years

Nowadays Carl Reinecke is remembered in musical circles for his cadenzas to the concertos of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, while a wider public may perhaps know the flute sonata Undine, yet in the second half of the nineteenth century he was respected as one of the most influential and versatile musicians of the time, and as one of the most highly esteemed composers.
Featured Album:
REINECKE Octet, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe
(From the Cradle to the Grave), Sextet

Members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Chamber music purely for wind ensembles was largely overlooked by Romantic composers and as a result Carl Reinecke’s genial Sextet and Octet for wind loom rather large in a sparse landscape. They are substantial, handsomely crafted works in which Reinecke’s skill for scoring yields a sonority at once rich, noble and beautifully balanced. Reinecke’s cycle of sixteen piano pieces Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe, here arranged for flute and piano by Ernesto Köhler, is a homage to his contemporary Robert Schumann yet loses nothing of the composer’s originality and vitality.

Carl Reinecke Biography & Discography

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725) - 350 years

Alessandro Scarlatti, a native of Palermo, made his principal career in Naples, where he was instrumental in the development of 18th-century Neapolitan opera. He wrote more than a hundred operas and some 600 cantatas, a considerable amount of church music, and a smaller number of purely instrumental works. An important and influential composer, the nature of his compositions – particularly next to changed fashions in opera and less appetite for cantatas, serenades and oratorios of this period – has led to otherwise unjustified neglect, in spite of Scarlatti’s extreme fecundity.
Featured Album:
A SCARLATTI Euridice dall'Inferno,
La Concettione della Beata Vergine

Ars Lyrica Houston

For its Naxos début Ars Lyrica presents première recordings of two of Alessandro Scarlatti’s vocal works: Euridice dall’Inferno and La concettione della Beata Vergine. The Houston-based early music ensemble has gained praise for its “zestful music-making” (Houston Chronicle). Its period instrument performances reveal the brilliance and depth of Scarlatti’s expressive and highly theatrical music, which is enjoying renewed interest as the composer becomes increasingly recognised as the peer of Baroque masters such as Handel and Vivaldi. Supplementing these are two equally accomplished instrumental pieces.

Alessandro Scarlatti Biography & Discography

For more music by great composers performed by some of the world’s leading artists, why not try this wonderful 2-CD set?

THE A TO Z OF CLASSICAL MUSIC (3rd Expanded Edition, 2009)
The A–Z of Classical Music 3rd edition has been expanded to include even more composers and 150 bonus music tracks. The 930-page illustrated book details the lives of hundreds of composers, from Aaltoila to Zwilich, via Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and others. Like the range of Naxos recordings itself, this set highlights the extraordinary breadth of classical music and its masters across the centuries; it is a rich and inspiring resource for everyone!

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