Wednesday, September 21, 2016

10 Songs for Fall

Thursday, September 22nd, is the Autumnal Equinox – the first day of Fall. We’ve compiled our listening list! Have you?

From yearning for the changing colors of the seasons to sadness about the end of a blissful summer, here are ten songs for the onset of Fall. Did we miss anything? Let us know!

Monday, September 19, 2016

10 Piano Pieces for Beginners

Have you been playing scales, arpeggios, and other piano exercises? Looking for some actual music to sink your fingers into? There’s a lot of music out there. Some pieces are amazing to listen to, but technically challenging and beyond the reach of many pianists. Other works are easy to play, but perhaps lacking in musical aesthetic.

Here’s a list of works that are approachable, but also fun. Some will require more practice and skill than others, but none should be out of reach of pianists who are learning their craft and diligent in improving their skills:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Top 5 Beethoven Piano Sonatas

There are few collections of musical compositions more important that Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. These are the transitional works that signaled the end of the Classical era and the onset of Romanticism. They influenced innumerable composers following Beethoven – their innovative structures, use of counterpoint, dynamic contrast, and general mastery of craft all forever changed the direction of music. Several of Beethoven’s works were so visionary that they would not be appreciated literally for decades after the composer’s death.

Each Sonata is unique, and all have elements and history that make them remarkable. Here are five that have stood out in the test of time:

This is a popular work from Beethoven’s “early period,” reflecting considerable influence from Mozart and Haydn. It portends the dynamic contrasts that would define many of Beethoven’s works throughout his life. It includes a rare instance of hundred twenty-eighth notes.

Arguably the most recognizable of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, “Moonlight” features a highly evocative melancholy first movement. Although this movement sets the tone, the piece is unusual in that the structurally most important movement is placed at the end of the work.

Piano Sonata No. 23 is remarkable for its stark contrasts in dynamics and tone as well as structural innovation. It is a very challenging piece to play, and arguably the most difficult Beethoven wrote until he completed Piano Sonata No. 29.

Regarded as the most technically demanding Piano Sonata Beethoven wrote, “Hammerklavier” is long, complex, and relentless. Like many works in Beethoven’s “late period,” it is highly contrapuntal and includes an extraordinary fugue in the final movement.

This is Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata, and one of few with only two movements. The second movement is a series of variations on a theme, and the third variation in particular is notable for its ragtime or boogie-woogie-like sonority.