From the Naxos Blog: A ram sang?
July 28, 2017
Here’s one for crossword buffs who enjoy massaging anagrams, to which the title of this week’s post alludes. We’ll outline a work for you, throwing in some audio clips, giving an anagrammatical clue as to the composer’s name, and then the challenge to also name the work. Check out your responses with the answers listed at the end of the blog; remember to scroll down to bring them into view.
This work is a set of six part-songs, written in 1895. Maybe you can detect the composer’s style in the following short extracts, one from each of the first three movements. Maybe not. The title of the work includes the area (not in their own country) where the composer and his wife used to enjoy taking holidays. The words were, in fact, written by Mrs Composer, and it’s not the only example of their co-inhabiting a piece. Mr Composer’s identity becomes clear if you’re wearing a sort of glare.
Although this is an example of his sacred music, Mr Composer was, and remains, better known for his secular vocal works. He led a colourful life, at one stage blood-red. Mrs Composer wasn’t heard from afterwards. Can you provide the missing word from the title of the work, which was published in 1603? Mr Composer was known for displaying dual egos.
Ave ________ coelorum.
You may well know of this composer through my country, in a manner of speaking. He was a major figure in the early Czech cultural flowering. His life was no stranger to tragedy: only one of his four daughters lived into adulthood; he himself suffered from a tinnitus-like affliction; and he died in an asylum in 1884. Can you supply the words that are missing from the title of the work, which was written in 1855? Mr Composer’s name might be interpreted as meant.
Piano ____ in G ____
Ms Composer is often unsympathetically caricatured as a militant, cigar-smoking, tweed-clad suffragette in an assertively cocked felt hat. Born in London, she studied with Carl Reinecke in Leipzig, where the first performance of this work was given in 1887. Can you imagine any present-day critic giving such a comment as appeared in the press following that première viz “deficient in the feminine charm that might have been expected of a woman composer”? Ms Composer can be found in the crazy version of the mad eels’ myth, if you know it. And can you complete the title of the work?
___ Sonata in A ___
This piece has become one of Mr Composer’s most performed works. He composed it in his New York apartment. He called it “the most B-flat majorish tonal piece I’ve ever written.” Unusually, the commissioning body didn’t give the first performance. You’ll be hearing acres of anniversary accolades for Mr Composer next year. Mrs Composer’s maiden name was Felicia Cohn Mentealegre. Mr Composer is known both by this extract from the featured work and his confused inner best.
Mr Composer was French. He spent the first part of his career serving in the French Navy before turning in earnest to the study of music. He reached the mature phase of his compositional style around the year 1925. The music you will hear is taken from a ballet score that received its first performance in 1930. It’s arguably one of Mr Composer’s best works. The year before its première, Mr Composer enjoyed a highly successful visit to the United States; his reputation had begun to grow outside his native country. And yet he could be considered a US loser. How can that be?
Mr Composer enjoyed the limelight in his native France as one of the most exceptional child prodigies ever. That was as a pianist; but he went on to compose some of the most popular works in the French repertoire, contributing to most musical genres. Surely he couldn’t have been sent as a sin, could he? Here’s one of his bonbons which you may recognise. It was written in 1857.
Representing a bridge between America’s Tin Pan Alley and serious music, Mr Composer enjoyed success with his light music, songs and musicals, but in a relatively small number of compositions he made forays into classical repertoire. There was no Mrs Composer, although he became close to Kay Swift, an American composer whom he would consult about his own works. Did she flap her wings for him? It would appear so. Here’s Mr Composer playing one of his own pieces. It’s the last of three in a set.
Herr Komponist became Mr Composer when he left Germany in 1933 to pursue an application for US citizenship, which he was granted ten years later. During his lifetime, Mr Composer became associated mostly with the voice of Mrs Composer and one stage work in particular. Here’s an extract from his latterly rediscovered theatrical extravaganza which was a sensation of the 1937 New York season. Mr Composer died of a heart attack, aged 50. Being ill, we revised our perception of him.
Mr Composer was one of the principal Italian composers of the late 16th century, whose style was taken as a model by later generations. The extract we’ve chosen is from a work he wrote to try and convince the Roman Catholic Church’s Council of Trent that there was still a place for polyphony in musical performances of the liturgy. Can you supply the missing words from the title of the music you hear? It identifies the Pope of the time who had expressed an intention to reform church music so that the words could easily be heard and understood. And can you reveal the composer by applying a ripe slant on his name?
Missa _____ _____
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands (8.570541).
Ave Regina Coelorum (8.550742).
Piano Trio in G minor (8.553415).
Dame Ethel Smyth.
Violin Sonata in A minor (8.572291).
Chichester Psalms (8.559456).
Bacchus et Ariane (8.570245).
Prelude No. 3 in E flat minor (8.120510).
The Eternal Road (8.559402).
Missa Papae Marcelli (8.550573).
View more posts on the Naxos Blog