Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Classical Cheat Sheet so Asians Won't Think You're Just Another Uneducated American

This probably won't be useful in America because Americans have mostly given up on classical music. The great performers now come out of Korea and China, but you could become attracted to someone from one of those backgrounds and have to show that you're just not another uneducated American.

A couple of years ago I saw a violin competition in Southern California for elementary school children. Every kid was Asian. Asian parents think a child should either learn the violin or the piano. They will make sure their child practices. Whites spend their days extolling the values of Donald Trump.

So here's a quick bit of information that may pull you through what otherwise will be a tough conversation.

The first period of classical music you would be expected to recognize is the Baroque. The two big shots in that period were Johan Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. Bach composed a lot of great pieces including two long pieces that look like symphonies (one was used in the movie Love Story). Some of the other famous pieces included the Anna Katerina notebook.  Vivaldi"s most famous composition was the Four Seasons(in fact the Japanese have a marvelous version of it played on the Koto and the Shacuhachi, Japanese instruments. Handel is another guy who composed in this period (Hallelujah).

The next period is the classical. Hadyn wrote 104 symphonies while Mozart wrote 41. Papa Hadyn made it all happen, but Mozart was an even greater talent. He had so many beautiful compositions. I can't begin to name them in the small space I'm given here.

By the time Beethoven wrote his third Symphony (The Eroica) the romantic period was upon us. Beethoven wrote nine symphonies and his last one included a chorus. It is spectacular. I love about everything he wrote except for his string quartets, which mostly confuse me.

Some other great composers In the Romantic period included Johannes Brahms, who wrote four symphonies, Variations on a Theme by Haydn, and the Academic Festival overture. That beautiful piece was constructed from German student drinking songs.

Tchaikovsky was great and the Classical period didn't end until the start of the 20th century with the death of Sergei Rachmaninov. Some of the other great composers were Schumann and Schubert, whose Fiorellen (Trout) quintet can brighten the darkest day.

Okay, that's all I can do for you in this short blog. If you screw up, excuse yourself after saying you're Canadian.

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