Classical Music VI: Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840)

The legendary violinist Niccolo Paganini was not a great composer.  He was, unquestionably, the greatest violinist and performer of his age (and, perhaps, any age). Paganini pushed the boundaries of what was possible and composed works that pushed what is technically possible on a violin to its absolute limit.  It is also worth noting that … Continue reading Classical Music VI: Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840)

Schubert, Unfinished

It is the stuff of legend. A dusty manuscript lies hidden in a desk draw of Anselm Huttenbrenner, a minor composer, for 43 years. In a letter to conductor Johann von Herbeck, Huttenbrenner describes it as his most prized treasure. One look at the score and von Herbeck is convinced and gives the music its … Continue reading Schubert, Unfinished

The Most Terrible Trill in All of Music

Schubert’s late works are filled with sorrow and grief. They are portraits of loneliness, regret and despair. For all the anger and chaos that fills Beethoven’s late works, you cannot help but feel buoyed by the great man’s inherent faith in mankind. Schubert offers no such respite. He is the composer who drives me to … Continue reading The Most Terrible Trill in All of Music

The Genius that Lies Within: Schubert’s Mass in E Flat Major

Beethoven's funeral took place in 1827 at the Dreifaltigkeitskirche in Vienna and Schubert was one of his torchbearers. Despite living his entire life in the same city, this is perhaps the closest the two great composers had ever been. Following the service, the Dreifaltigkeitskirche's Society for the Cultivation of Church Music approached Schubert to compose … Continue reading The Genius that Lies Within: Schubert’s Mass in E Flat Major

The Great(est) Symphony

'I was utterly enraptured and only wished that you were my wife and that I could also write such symphonies.’ Robert Schumann (to Clara, who would soon be his wife) One of the many works that Schubert left for posterity on his deathbed was the finished score for a symphony in C. It was discovered … Continue reading The Great(est) Symphony