A to Z: Z is for Zacara da Teramo

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is the 26th and final day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempted to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I curated a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).The last composer in this series is Zacara da Teramo (estimated birth between 1350 & 1360 and death between 1413 & 1416).

Though Antonius Berardi Andree de Teramo is the composer’s Latin name, he was referred to, though not by himself, as “Zacara.” This is kind of sad, considering Zacara means “a small thing of little value,” which was a cruel reference to his small stature. He rose to great heights, however, composing music that was the bridge between Medieval and Renaissance music. He came from Teramo and seems to have composed all his life. In mid-life, he went to Rome where he became a Papal secretary to Pope Boniface IX until 1404. He served the next two Popes, Innocent VII and Gregory XII during the Western Schism. His music shifted around this time and in addition to sacred music, he also wrote secular pieces that were highly satirical.


Another odd fact about him was that he only had a total of 10 digits on his two feet and hands. This is documented in a painting and in certain documents.


Here are two pieces to round out the month. Enjoy.

Ciaramella by Zacara de Teramo




Zachara : Credo Deus Deorum




The composer’s Wikipedia entry: Zacara da Teramo

A to Z: Y is for Polly Young

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 25 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Polly Young (1749-1799).

Polly Young came from a well-known British musical family and was born in Covent Garden. A prodigy in voice and harpsichord, I guess that would have made her “Young Polly Young.” Sorry.


At the age of 6 she traveled to Ireland with her aunt Cecilia who was married to the composer Thomas Arne, and made her debut singing in an opera, Eliza, by her uncle.

Cecilia Maria Barthélemon – Sonata in E, Op. 1/3



The composer’s Wikipedia entry: Polly Young

A to Z: X is for Spyridon Xyndas

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 24 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Spyridon Xyndas (1812-1896).

Spyridon Xyndas came from the island of Corfu and after completing his music studies there, he moved to Naples and then Milan where he continued. Returning to Corfu he was one of the founders of the Philharmonic Society of Corfu, where he taught for many years. He composed operas, but only one is extant, the rest of his work purportedly “destroyed during the 1943 Luftwaffe bombing of the Municipal Theatre of Corfu.”

DIMITRI PLATANIAS singing “The poor soul sat sighing” by Spyridon Xyndas



The composer’s Wikipedia entry: Spyridon Xyndas

A to Z: W is for José Silvestre White (Lafitte)

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 23 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is José White (Lafitte) (1836-1913).


White hailed from Cuban where he was born to a Spanish father and an Afro-Cuban mother. His father was an amateur violinist who taught to play. Visiting American composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, accompanied White on his first public performance–at the age of 18. Gottschalk advocated that the youth study violin further in Paris, and he raised funds for White to do so. He studied at the Paris Conservatory and caught the attention of Rossini.


Afterward he moved to Brazil where he was the head of the Imperial Conservatory of music. He had a rich career and returned to Paris where he lived his final days.

La Bella Cubana ( Edison recording 1924) by José White (Lafitte)



The composer’s Wikipedia entry: José White Lafitte

Explaining “S.D.G.”

kurtnemes:

That’s humility.

Originally posted on 2pluslovemakes1:

This is a letter to Radio Classique in Paris, where an announcer did not understand “S.D.G.”.
There are 2000 works attributed to Bach.  Every one of these works is signed S. D. G.
One of these works is a cantata called, ” Adam must be crucified with Jésus so that New-Man might be born.”
Here, Bach is showing to the world, with no shame, that he understands and lives eternal life.
In the New Jerusalem, where Bach evidently lived, the harmony of the universe must always be maintained. Something that the world can never understand is this law of the universe, because life in the world is not ever affected by this law.
Let me repeat that: the harmony of the universe must always be maintained.  The life of the world is so completely isolated from the universe, out of respect for man, which is the result of love, and…

View original 518 more words

A to Z: V is for Albena Petrovic-Vratchanska

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 22 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Albena Petrovic-Vratchanska (b. 1965).


Petrovic-Vratchanska hails from Sophia, Bulgaria and appears to be an amazingly prolific composer. She’s completed over 600 works in various forms and has been awarded for her compositions.

Crystal Dream by Albena Petrovic-Vratchanska



The composer’s Wikipedia entry: Albena Petrovic-Vratchanska

A to Z: U is for Vincenzo Ugolini

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 21 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Vincenzo Ugolini (ca. 1580 – 1638).Ugolini came from Perugia and started out at one of my favorite churches in Rome, San Luigi dei Francesi as choirmaster. He also held that position at other places like the Cathedral at Benevento, Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, and the Capella Giulia in San Pietro.

Quae est ista 3 by Vincenzo Ugolini



The composer’s Wikipedia page Vincenzo Ugolini

This is A Piece on San Luigi dei Francesi I wrote a few years ago for a now-defunct website:

San Luigi Dei Francesi

Seat of the cardinal of Paris in Rome and the heart of the city’s French community, San Luigi dei Francesi houses three outstanding paintings by Michelango de Merisi, known as Caravaggio. It is also a riot of Roman baroque art.

History

Cardinal Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici (later to became Pope Clement VII) ordered a church to be built in 1518, not only to serve the French community living in Rome but also as the seat of his cardinalship. The French connection came in the form of Catherine de Medici, great niece to Giulio and wife of King Henry II of France, who donated funds for its construction.

The site chosen was a small church named Santa Maria owned by Medici family. Santa Maria had been built on the ruins of the Baths of Nero and the Baths of Agrippa, and had long served the French community in Rome, which operated a hospital for the infirm on the site.

Cardinal Giulio commissioned the architect, Jean de Chenevière, to build the church, based on plans by Giacomo della Porta, who had built Santissima Trinità dei Monti (the church at the top of the Spanish Steps). Construction of the church was halted in 1527, when Rome was sacked by troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Building was resumed in 1580 under the direction of the architect Domenico Fontana, who had completed the Dome of Saint Peter’s.

Since the patron saint of France is King Louis IX, the church was dedicated to him, hence San Luigi. The French kings Henry II, Henry III and the latter’s mother, Catherine de’ Medici, donated funds for its completion. It was consecrated in 1589, the year Catherine died.

What to See

Façade
Credit for the façade goes to Giacomo della Porta, who also designed the façade of Il Gesu. Carved from lovely white travertine marble, the façade has two levels (or orders), on top of which sits a small peak. The coat of arms at the top belongs to the Valois Family, and carvings of salamanders represent King Francois I of France, who was the French monarch when the foundation was laid. Four statues depict Charlemagne, St. Louis, St. Clotilde (5th century Queen of the Franks), and St. Joan of Valois (daughter of Louis XI).

Interior
The plan of the church is a basilica, that is, a rectangular shape without a transept. Originally a Counter-Reformation church, it would have been quite austere. However, the wealth of the Medicis and the French kings resulted in its subsequent lavish decoration. A number of famous Italian and French artists worked on the interior. Charles Joseph Natoire, whose works also adorn Versailles palace, painted the ceiling fresco (1754), which depicts San Luigi ascending into heaven. It is surrounded by one of the richest and most ornate coffered ceilings in Rome.

The Polet Chapel, to the right of the altar, contains a cycle of frescoes (1612-14) by Domenichino, student of Caracci of the Bolognese school. The bright frescoes recount the dramatic events in the life of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians and church music. Legend has it that as Cecilia lay dying, three days after her throat was cut, she continued to sing “in her heart to the Lord.” Above the main altar hangs a painting by Francesco Bassano entitled The Assumption.

Contarelli Chapel and Works of Caravaggio

Amazingly, some descriptions of this church fail to mention that it contains three of the greatest and most influential paintings ever produced in Italy. Perhaps this has to do with the shadowy life of the man who painted them, Michelango di Merisi, known as Caravaggio, who later killed a man in a duel and spent the last four years of his
life on the lam.

Then again, perhaps it has to do with the ambivalence of his paintings, which, though covering famous religious subjects, do not exactly inspire faith, either because of the dramatic content – decapitations, crucifixions, depositions from the cross, etc. – or because Caravaggio often used his friends as models, including prostitutes, card sharps, and other folk of dubious morals. One early travel guide to Rome says of him: “He painted chiefly plebian types.” What is true is that Caravaggio’s three paintings in the Contarelli Chapel changed the way that people looked at painting and influenced countless artists who followed.

The artist Cavalier D’Arpino received a commission to decorate the chapel for theFrench Cardinal Matteu Contreil (in Italian, Matteo Contarelli). Caravaggio was working as an apprentice for D’Arpino at the time, and when D’Arpino became too busy to complete the decoration, Caravaggio’s patron, Cardinal Francesco del Monte, helped attain the commission for the artist.

Contarelli’s will stated that the chapel contain works depicting the life of St. Matthew, Contarelli’s namesake (Matteo is the Italian form of Matthew). The will was quite specific as to what should be painted – Saint Mathew’s calling by Jesus; his divine inspiration to write his gospel; and his martyrdom.

Caravaggio had never worked on such large canvasses before, and X-rays reveal he reworked the paintings a number of times.

The painting on the left, The Calling of St Matthew, takes place indoors where Saint Matthew, then a finely dressed moneychanger, sits with a group of common types. Jesus has just entered the dark room, raised his arm, and uttered the words “Follow me,” (Matthew 9:9). The saint looks up, incredulous with an expression as if to say, “Who, me?” The composition contributes to the drama of the scene. A source of light above and behind Jesus’ head slashes the darkness and slants down to illuminate the saint’s face. As in many of his religious works, Caravaggio’s subjects are depicted at the moment of a miraculous event. However, the contrast between the light of the illumined figures and their surroundings, which become almost indistinguishable as they recede into the dark, increases the dramatic tension of the work. This play of light and dark in painting is called chiaroscuro, and Caravaggio’s particular form became known as tenebrism (tenebre meaning “shadow” in French.)

On the opposite wall hangs The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. The scene shows St. Matthew, who had just been celebrating Mass, seconds before a soldier sent by the King of Ethiopia plunges a sword into him. Legend has it that St. Matthew converted the Ethiopian royal family to Christianity, but when Matthew preached a sermon on the virtues of virginity shortly before a prince’s wedding, it so enraged the bridegroom that he ordered St. Matthew executed. At the moment of death, an angel appears before Matthew, and extends a palm frond toward him, reassuring the saint of his place in heaven. Contarelli wished to show the effect of the martyrdom on the onlookers. One flees, turning look back with an expression of terror on his face. Others stagger back or cower in fear. One figure to the left of the angel is actually a self-portrait by Caravaggio, notable for the look of sadness in his eyes. One scholar described the look this way: “[he is] contemplating and searching himself for responses to the scene to which he is witness.”

 

images

The third painting, above the altar, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, is not the painting Caravaggio originally created for this location. His first submission, entitled The Angel and Saint Matthew, hung in the chapel only a few days before the priests took it down. The reason? The priests said it had “neither the decorum nor the appearance of a saint.”

In this painting, the saint sits with his legs crossed and his bare left foot extending out toward the viewer. An angel, a winged young boy, whispers into Matthew’s ear while guiding his hand in writing his gospel. Sadly, this work survives only as a black and white photograph. The original perished in a museum in Berlin at the close of World War II.

Caravaggio took the rejection hard, but created another masterpiece to replace it, along his robes to the ground.  These three paintings, Caravaggio’s first major church commission, cemented his reputation, and he continued to work constantly until his death in 1610 at the age of 38.

Getting There

From the Colosseum, walk up Via dei Fori Imperiali to Piazza Venezia, turn left on Via Del Plebiscito. This turns into Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. Continue past the Largo Argentina and turn right on Corso Del Rinascimento. Turn right on Via del Salvatore. At Via della Scrofa, turn left and the church is immediately on your left.

A to Z: T is for Joan Tower

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 20 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Joan Tower (b. 1938).


Tower’s family moved to Bolivia when she was nine. Her father was a mineralogist, and also insisted she take music lessons. Returning to the States she studied at Bennington, and then earned her doctorate in music from Columbia University in New York. She started out composing in the Serialist tradition, but thank God, moved on. She’s been described as one of the most important American female composers.

Concerto for Flute by Joan Tower


Tower tips to hat to Stravinsky with this work called “Petrushskates.”

The composer’s Wikipedia page Joan Tower

A to Z: S is for Vahram Sargsyan

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 19 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Vahram Sargsyan (b. 1981).


Wikipedia doesn’t say much about Vahram Sargsyan except on that he’s from Yerevan, has composed choral and piano music, and now lives in Montreal, Canada where he’s studying composition. These two pieces show off his exquisite choral composition ability. The first sounds a bit like Gregorian chants and probably was influenced by his Orthodox Christian background.

Vahram Sargsyan: Stilles Licht

Here is another interesting piece, called “Tribulationes.”

The composer’s Wikipedia page Vahram Sargsyan

A to Z: R is for Einojuhani Rautavaara

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 Today is day 18 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Einojuhani Rautavaara (b. 1928).

I love doing this A-Z Challenge about composers going by last name. It’s so serendipitous: I just scroll through the list of composers by name on Wikipedia and under the letter of the alphabet for that day, I skim the list until someone catches my eye. Today, Rautavaara’s name rose above the others and I was delighted to have found this Finnish Composer I’d never encountered before. He studied at the Sibelius Academy in his native Helsinki and after graduating studied at Julliard and later at Tanglewood with Aaron Copland and Roger Sessions. He’s explored almost every type of 20th Century musical forms, and has synthesized them into something unique. Here are two pieces which show his versatility. The piano concerto sounds delightfully discordant while the concerto for birds is lush, rhapsodic and engaging. Quite a find, I’d say. Very grateful to discover him, today.

Piano Concerto #1 First Movement by Einojuhani Rautavaara

Here is another interesting piece, called Concerto for Birds and Orchestra. The composer taped the birds and then composed the work to accompany them.

The composer’s Wikipedia page Einojuhani Rautavaara

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