February 2015

The music of Zoltán Kodály

February 16, 2015 14:11

Yesterday, I decided to use Pandora Radio again, since I barely use it anymore; I used to listen to Tchaikovsky Radio all the time (if you've used the site, you know you can create a "station" based on a composer you like and you'll get similar music by other composers). So I was listening away to the beautiful sunrise section from Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" with a new piece, "Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song", came up, by a Hungarian composer named Zoltán Kodály.

kodalyHe lived very near Ravel's life from 1882 - 1967 and learned to play the violin as a child. With Bartók, whom I've studied on piano and hope to get on with listening to some of his orchestra stuff, Koldály studied and collected several folk songs that he used in his music, which was a Romantic style all to himself. His orchestral writing is somewhat similar to Ravel's Impressionalistic style, yet it has a distinct separate quality that is much more Romantic. His string and brass writing is very well done, his solo violin sections especially. Additionally, his flute and piccolo writing, I've heard in several of his works, his flowing with fast notes, in a very similar manner to what Ravel did in his "Daphnis et Chloe". He's written a large number of orchestral works, a symphony, a couple string quartets, a duet for violin and cello, and even a couple cello sonatas. I've heard three separate pieces by him now, and I think he's a composer I will begin blending in inspiration from with my own music.

String Quartet No. 1 (1908)

Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song (My favorite part (Var. XII - Var. XIV) of the piece:

Concerto for Orchestra. Contrast this with Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, which both have similar finales to the finale of Ravel's Pictures at an Exhibition".

What's cool is that both composers were influenced by Debussy and these French composers, they were both Hungarian, and they continued to drive their unique style of music into the 20th Century. All types of music that have really influenced me within this past year! Must be why I automatically connected with him.

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5 replies

The Music of Toru Takemitsu

February 8, 2015 09:50

This morning has been dedicated to finishing revising the piece “Into the Forest”, for string orchestra and piano, so we can rehearse it with the orchestra and play it for the March 2015 concert, which I’m very excited for and spent a lot of time fixing and replacing harmony with different chords, completely rewriting a section of music, sketching it out at the piano, that gives it a much more Ravel-esque feel, and trying to make the parts themselves more interesting. The other main thing I’ve been working on is motivic development. I had to force a motif into the piece from when I wrote it (quite literally) a year ago, and I was able to add and repeat it throughout the piece. I spent all weekend on it, and I think I’m just about ready to extract all the parts and send them off to be copied so we can play through it again next week!

During one of my breaks at 10am, I discovered, while trying to find some Finzi scores because he writes great strings music, the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, who, within the 1960s, wrote a piece called “November Steps”. It’s a very intriguing piece. One of his goals was to combine elements of Japanese (traditional) music with Western music that he enjoyed, and in “November Steps”, he added the biwa (a Japanese lute) and a shakuhachi to the orchestra, which create a very Japanese feel to the traditional orchestra. As I listened to the piece, performed by the New Japan Philharmonic, I could picture the picturesque mountains and countryside of the country, as if I were in a calm and tranquil Japanese village, and it created an exotic sonic experience that was very cool and inspiring. It is a very 20th Century-style of composition, and I believe we actually discussed some of his music at my camp last summer. Perhaps since listening to this, I will gain new ideas for my own piece. In any case, I just wanted to briefly share this composer with you. He was also particularly interested in Debussy Impressionistic style as well, which is cool because he is one of my influences personally. I hope you enjoy him!

He once stated, “My music is like a garden, and I am the gardener. Listening to my music can be compared with walking through a garden and experiencing the changes in light, pattern, and texture.”

"November Rain and be sure to look at some of his other stuff, too! :) At about 7:20 in the video, there is a cool, high violin moment along with the Japanese instruments which is kind of cool, complete with glissandi and everything.

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ILMEA Experience in Peoria

February 1, 2015 11:14

After school Wednesday, January 28th, I bussed with all my All-State friends on instruments to head to Peoria, Illinois, for the ILMEA All-State event, and left mid-day on the 31st. Throughout our stay, while they auditioned for which orchestra and seat and rehearsed for their concerts, I was in my own composing world, taking a few sessions on motivic development, melodic ideas and counterpoint, and harmony with the other composition winners for the contest. They were cool, but I had already learned all of it in AP Music Theory two years ago, so it wasn’t much new. I also was able to listen to both orchestra’s practicing; the Honors orchestra played the first movement of Mahler 2 with a rather eccentric conductor, and it was fun following the score on my computer. I even got to stand at the front of the orchestra with the other teachers and students who were observing, which was cool. Friday morning was a lot of fun; because I had nothing to do until 3pm, I spend 8am-10am composing away! I finished a piano sonatina, inspired by Ravel’s harp stuff in his beautiful piece “Introduction et Allegro”, and continued revising “Into the Forest”, the piece we will play for the March concert, based on suggestions from my teacher and classmates, as well as some of the things I heard while listening to the sessions. Overall, this three-day experience was a ton of fun. It was fantastic to be surrounded by music every day, so much so that I completely forgot about basically everything else in the world. I could just compose away! I didn’t bring my violin with me, so I never really played anything, but it’s cool to have brought this stuff back with me to perform by myself and with the orchestra on piano and violin in the next couple days. I can think, as I play, how I was inspired by being surrounded by music. :) In any case, I just wanted to write a few things on that! It'll be great to get back into my instruments again. I did see the director for Shrek: The Musical I did over the summer, and I'm hoping I can do it again this summer. He's going to send out an email and we shall wait and see what happens! :)

And below, you can find a link to the piece that won (3rd place) for the contest. It’s a section from “Birds of Prey” that I think was one of my best sections. Click back to September and back through the summer for more info on my very musical summer when I wrote this, and what kinds of influences (especially with what I was practicing on my violin at the time) where there.

Click here to take a listen!

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