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A Gert History of Music


The Friday Symposium: Themes and Variations

A symposium is a tightly choreographed social gathering where men drank together, conversed, and enjoyed themselves in a convivial atmosphere. Some of the more popular musical forms are equally applicable in the cocktail world. Take for example, the enduring form of theme and variation. There are many famous examples to choose from–this blog has already…

The Ultimate Desert Island Disc

For the Professor: The BBC Radio show Desert Island Discs provides a unique insight into the many composers, musicians, and other artists and illuminati who have featured as guests over its 75+ year run. In anticipation of its 75th Anniversary, the BBC crunched the numbers to find the most popular selections. In the end, six…

The Friday Symposium: Death and the Composer

A symposium is a tightly choreographed social gathering where men drank together, conversed, and enjoyed themselves in a convivial atmosphere. Franz Schubert died at 31, but he is hardly the only or even the youngest composer to die before their potential had been fully realized. Pergolesi died at 26; Bellini at 33. Mozart died just…

Death and the Maiden

Schubert was my favorite composer to play in quartet.  His music isn’t exactly easy (especially for me—I always had to practice twice as hard to sound half as good), but there is a clear melodic line in his music that is fun to toss around the group—Schubert’s gift of song is ever present in his…

The Friday Symposium: Christmas Edition

A symposium is a tightly choreographed social gathering where men drank together, conversed, and enjoyed themselves in a convivial atmosphere. Last year’s Christmas Playlist was such a hit, I decided to make two more. Taking a break from all things classical, here’s a playlist of classic songs that have been jazzed up. A traditionalist at…

A Gertus History of Music’s Top 25* Albums of 2022

The death of good music has been greatly exaggerated. Over the last year, just like in every year in recent memory, artists (and, it must be said, particularly young artists) have released so many stunning albums that keeping up with contemporary music is a practical impossibility. The following is thus an imperfect and very incomplete…

The Friday Symposium: A Schubertiade

A symposium is a tightly choreographed social gathering where men drank together, conversed, and enjoyed themselves in a convivial atmosphere. As chronicled here, Mozart exploited his remarkable talents to become the first freelance composer in history. As such, he was beholden only to those who paid for his compositions and not to any one church…

Schubert and the Concept Album

I will sing a cycle of spine-chilling songs to you. Franz Schubert Who invented the concept album? Was it Woody Guthrie with Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)? Perhpas it was Frank Sinatra in the 1950s with In the Wee Small Hours. Most settle on, as expected, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s as the first concept album in…

The Friday Symposium: Songwriting

Franz Schubert is the Father of Song, so it seems appropriate to pause to talk a little bit about songwriting. The oldest and most basic form of song is the strophic form, which derives from the Greek strophē (turn). In sum, a strophic song has repeating music (the so-called “AAA” structure in which all stanzas…

Classical Music V: Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

So great was the shadow cast by Beethoven over the musical landscape of Vienna (and so great the popularity of Rossini among the masses) that it nearly obscured another, perhaps even more tortured, musical genius roaming its streets and haunting its taverns. Franz Schubert was born, lived and died in Vienna. He studied with Salieri,…

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