Saturday, May 19, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
The music of Gustav Mahler was placed into obscurity, as was the case with the music of many of the worlds great composers following their deaths. It has only been in the last few decades that the music of Mahler has become a part of regular concert seasons the world over. Mahler’s music is very German and very Jewish due in part to his concept of nationalism. These two ideas can be clearly seen in each of his Symphonies, each an individual work of genius.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was characterized by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli.
It wasn't until the late 19th century that his works were acknowledged; since then his work has been seen to represent that ofEarly Renaissance painting, and The Birth of Venus and Primavera rank now among the most familiar masterpieces of Florentine art.
|Birth of Venus|
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
During his 17-year scholarship - the longest ever awarded by the academy - he made his concert debut as a soloist at the age of 11 and was fronting renowned symphony orchestras while still an adolescent. A fulfilling career of classical recitals and university master classes might have beckoned but for the artist's innate sense of humour and flair for self-promotion. After service in an overseas entertainments unit during World War II, he played and sang in club dance bands and it was during a residency at the Wunderbar in Warsaw, Wisconsin, that he was first introduced as "Liberace". At New York's Persian Rooms, an experiment whereby he performed counterpoints to records - including his own one-shot single for the Signature label - played on the venue's sound system, was curtailed by a Musicians Union ban. A happier season in a Californian hotel resulted in a Decca Records contract, for which he was visualized as a second Frankie Carle. However, wishing to develop a more personal style, he moved to Columbia Records where, supervised by Mitch Miller, he recorded a flamboyant version of "September Song" which, supplemented by an in-concert album, brought Liberace to the attention of a national audience.
By the early 50s, his repertoire embraced George Gershwin favourites, cocktail jazz, film themes ("Unchained Melody"), boogie-woogie and self-composed pieces ("Rhapsody By Candlelight"), as well as adaptations of light classics such as "The Story Of Three Loves" - borrowed from a Rachmaninov variation on a tune by Paganini. Nevertheless, Liberace struck the most popular chord with his encores, in which doggerel such as "Maizy Doats" or "Three Little Fishies" were dressed in arrangements littered with twee arpeggios and trills. He also started garbing himself from a wardrobe that stretched to rhinestone, white mink, sequins, gold lam‚ and similar razzle-dazzle. Crowned with a carefully waved coiffeur, he oozed charm and extravagant gesture, with a candelabra-lit piano as the focal point of the epic vulgarity that was The Liberace Show, televised coast-to-coast from Los Angeles; the show established a public image that he later tried in vain to modify. His fame was such that he was name-checked in "Mr. Sandman", a 1954 million-seller by the Chordettes, and a year later, starred (as a deaf concert pianist) in a film, Sincerely Yours, with brother George (future administrator of the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas) as musical director. Another spin-off was the publication of a Liberace cookbook.
Following the celebration of his quarter century in showbusiness with a Hollywood Bowl spectacular in 1956, Liberace crossed to England (where a vocal outing, "I Don't Care", was lodged in the Top 30) for the first of three Royal Command Performances. While in the UK, he instigated a High Court action, successfully suing the Daily Mirror, whose waspish columnist Cassandra had written an article on the star laced with sexual innuendo. During the next decade, a cameo in the film satire The Loved One was reviewed not unfavourably, as was one of his early albums for RCA Records in which he aimed more directly at the contemporary market. This, however, was a rare excursion, as his work generally maintained a certain steady consistency - or "squareness", in the words of his detractors - that deviated little from the commercial blueprint wrought in the 50s. Nonetheless, Liberace's mode of presentation left its mark on stars such as Gary Glitter, Elton John and Queen. Although attendant publicity boosted box office takings on a world tour, embarrassing tabloid newspaper allegations by a former employee placed his career in a darker perspective. When the singer died on 4 February 1987 at his Palm Springs mansion, the words "kidney complaint" were assumed to be a euphemism for an AIDS-related illness. For a 75th Birthday Celebration in 1994, fans from all over America gathered to pay their respects at Liberace Plaza in Las Vegas.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Being a highly prolific composer, Monteverdi composed in both the sacred and secular genres, as well as opera. His most celebrated work, Vespers of 1610, was part of a volume of sacred music published in 1610 entitled, Sanctissimae virgini missa senis vocibus as ecclesiarum chorus as Vespere pluribus decantandae-cum nonnullis sacris concentibus ad sacella sive principum cubicula accommodata. Monteverdi is especially known for his contributions to opera. One of his most famous opera compostions is L'Orfeo. Monteverdi wrote his last opera when he was 75 years old--just one year before he died!
Monday, May 14, 2012
Iturbi’s talent was recognized at an early age. He started piano lessons at age 3, and graduated with first prize honors from the Valencia Music Conservatory at 14 years old. Iturbi received a scholarship to study at the Paris Music Conservatory where he spent his days as a serious student and his nights playing in a Paris café in return for one meal a day, a space to sleep in the café store room after hours, and a few francs. Iturbi always tried to find ways to make ends meet. No matter how difficult times were, Iturbi was determined to remain in the greatest cultural center of Europe – Paris.
|Gene Kelly, José Iturbi, Frank Sinatra|
Anchors Aweigh (1945)
Throughout his long career, José Iturbi concertized to adoring fans and sold-out audiences in every corner of the world. It was commonplace at Iturbi’s concerts for the overflow audience to be seated on stage. This remained his standard from the 1920’s and for the next five decades through the 1970’s! Excitement always accompanied Iturbi on his concert tours!
Sunday, May 13, 2012