Music notes

String Quartet No. 9 (Shostakovich)

Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 9 in E-flat major, Op. 117, was composed in 1964 and premiered by the Beethoven Quartet. The Ninth Quartet was dedicated to his third wife, Irina Antonovna Shostakovich, a young editor he married in 1962.

Shostakovich rarely changed or revised his works, but the Ninth Quartet is one of the rare exceptions. Elizabeth Wilson writes in her biography Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, “Shostakovich finished the first version of the Ninth Quartet in the autumn of 1961. In a fit of depression, or, to quote his own words, ‘in an attack of healthy self-criticism, I burnt it in the stove. This is the second such case in my creative practice. I once did a similar trick of burning my manuscripts, in 1926.

Shostakovich took three years to complete the new Ninth Quartet, finishing it on 28 May 1964. The premiere was by the Beethoven Quartet in Moscow on 20 November 1964. The Beethoven Quartet had the exclusive rights to perform all of Shostakovich’s string quartets. Dmitri Tsyganov, the first violinist, recalled that Shostakovich told him that the first Ninth Quartet was based on “themes from childhood”, and the newer Ninth Quartet was “completely different”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quartet_No._9_(Shostakovich)

String Quartet No. 9 (Shostakovich) was last modified: December 9th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

Beethoven Quartet – Wikipedia

The Beethoven Quartet (Russian: Струнный квартет имени Бетховена, Strunnyĭ kvartet imeni Betkhovena) was a string quartetfounded between 1922 and 1923 by graduates of the Moscow Conservatory: violinists Dmitri Tsyganov and Vasily Shirinsky, violist Vadim Borisovsky and cellist Sergei Shirinsky (half brother of Vasily). In 1931 they changed their name from the Moscow Conservatory Quartet to the Beethoven Quartet. In the course of its fifty-year history, the Quartet performed more than six hundred works and recorded more than two hundred Russian and international classical works.

From 1938 it collaborated closely with the composer Dmitri Shostakovich and premiered thirteen of his fifteen string quartets, Nos. 2 through 14. He dedicated his third and fifth quartets to the Beethoven Quartet, while later quartets were dedicated individually to the members: Quartet No. 11 to the memory of Vasily Shirinsky, Quartet No. 12 to Tsyganov, Quartet No. 13 to Borisovsky, and Quartet No. 14 to Sergei Shirinsky. In addition to the string quartets, the Beethoven Quartet also premiered the Piano Quintet with the composer at the piano, and likewise the second piano trio with two of the Quartet’s players.

Fyodor Druzhinin took over from Borisovsky in 1964, giving a runthrough of the ninth quartet with the rest of the group. Sergei Shirinsky died during rehearsals of Shostakovich’s fifteenth quartet. In 1977, final founding member and first violinist Dmitri Tsyganov departed and was replaced by Oleh Krysa. The group disbanded in 1987.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beethoven_Quartet

Beethoven Quartet – Wikipedia was last modified: December 9th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

String Quartet No. 8 (Shostakovich)

The piece was written shortly after Shostakovich reluctantly joined the Communist Party. According to the score, it is dedicated “to the victims of fascism and the war“; his son Maxim interprets this as a reference to the victims of all totalitarianism, while his daughter Galina says that he dedicated it to himself, and that the published dedication was imposed by the Russian authorities. Shostakovich’s friend, Lev Lebedinsky, said that Shostakovich thought of the work as his epitaph and that he planned to commit suicide around this time. Peter J. Rabinowitz has also pointed to covert references to Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen in the Eighth Quartet.

The work was written in Dresden, where Shostakovich was to write music for the film Five Days, Five Nights, a joint project by Soviet and East German filmmakers about the bombing of Dresden in World War II.

The quartet was premiered in 1960 in Leningrad by the Beethoven Quartet. In the liner notes of the Borodin Quartet‘s 1962 recording, music critic Erik Smith writes, “The Borodin Quartet played this work to the composer at his Moscow home, hoping for his criticisms. But Shostakovich, overwhelmed by this beautiful realisation of his most personal feelings, buried his head in his hands and wept. When they had finished playing, the four musicians quietly packed up their instruments and stole out of the room.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quartet_No._8_(Shostakovich)

String Quartet No. 8 (Shostakovich) was last modified: December 9th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

String Quartet No. 8 (Shostakovich)

The piece was written shortly after Shostakovich reluctantly joined the Communist Party. According to the score, it is dedicated “to the victims of fascism and the war“; his son Maxim interprets this as a reference to the victims of all totalitarianism, while his daughter Galina says that he dedicated it to himself, and that the published dedication was imposed by the Russian authorities. Shostakovich’s friend, Lev Lebedinsky, said that Shostakovich thought of the work as his epitaph and that he planned to commit suicide around this time. Peter J. Rabinowitz has also pointed to covert references to Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen in the Eighth Quartet.

The work was written in Dresden, where Shostakovich was to write music for the film Five Days, Five Nights, a joint project by Soviet and East German filmmakers about the bombing of Dresden in World War II.

The quartet was premiered in 1960 in Leningrad by the Beethoven Quartet. In the liner notes of the Borodin Quartet‘s 1962 recording, music critic Erik Smith writes, “The Borodin Quartet played this work to the composer at his Moscow home, hoping for his criticisms. But Shostakovich, overwhelmed by this beautiful realisation of his most personal feelings, buried his head in his hands and wept. When they had finished playing, the four musicians quietly packed up their instruments and stole out of the room.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quartet_No._8_(Shostakovich)

String Quartet No. 8 (Shostakovich) was last modified: December 9th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

Spinto soprano

A spinto soprano (also lirico-spinto, spinto lyric soprano or “pushed lyric”) is a type of operatic soprano voice that has the limpidity and easy high notes of a lyric soprano, yet can be “pushed” on to achieve dramatic climaxes without strain. This type of voice may possess a somewhat darker timbre, too, than the average lyric soprano. It generally uses squillo to “slice” through the sound of a full orchestra, rather than singing over the orchestra like a true dramatic soprano.

Spinto sopranos are also expected to handle dynamic changes in the music that they are performing with skill and poise. They command a vocal range extending from approximately middle C (C4) to “high D” (D6).

The spinto repertoire includes many roles written by Verdi, by the various verismo composers, and by Puccini. Some of these roles are extremely popular with opera audiences. Certain Wagnerian heroines such as Elsa, Elisabeth and Sieglinde are also sung by spinto sopranos. The fact that spinto sopranos are uncommon means that parts that are ideal for their voices are often performed by singers from other classifications, and more than a few lyric sopranos have damaged their voices singing heavier spinto roles.

The spinto tenor is the spinto soprano’s male equivalent among operatic voice types.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinto_soprano

Spinto soprano was last modified: October 1st, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

The Beggar’s Opera

The Beggar’s Opera is a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay with music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today. Ballad operas were satiric musical plays that used some of the conventions of opera, but without recitative. The lyrics of the airs in the piece are set to popular broadsheet ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes of the time.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beggar%27s_Opera

The Beggar’s Opera was last modified: February 15th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

Ballad opera

The ballad opera is a genre of English stage entertainment that originated in the early 18th century, and continued to develop over the following century and later. Like the earlier comédie en vaudeville and the later Singspiel, its distinguishing characteristic is the use of tunes in a popular style (either pre-existing or newly composed) with spoken dialogue. These English plays were ‘operas‘ mainly insofar as they satirized the conventions of the imported opera seria. Music critic Peter Gammond describes the ballad opera as “an important step in the emancipation of both the musical stage and the popular song.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballad_opera

Ballad opera was last modified: February 15th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) is a “play with music” by Bertolt Brecht, adapted from a translation by Elisabeth Hauptmann of John Gay‘s 18th-century English ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera, and four ballads by François Villon, with music by Kurt Weill. Although there is debate as to how much, if any, Hauptmann might have contributed to the text, Brecht is usually listed as sole author.

The work offers a socialist critique of the capitalist world. It opened on 31 August 1928 at Berlin’s Theater am Schiffbauerdamm.

Songs from The Threepenny Opera have been widely covered and become standards, most notably “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” (“The Ballad of Mack the Knife“) and “Seeräuberjenny” (“Pirate Jenny“).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Threepenny_Opera

The Threepenny Opera was last modified: February 15th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians. Along with the German-language Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, it is one of the largest reference works on western music. Originally published under the title A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and later as Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, it has gone through several editions since the 19th century and is widely used. In recent years it has been made available as an electronic resource called Grove Music Online, which is now an important part of Oxford Music Online.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Grove_Dictionary_of_Music_and_Musicians

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians was last modified: January 14th, 2020 by Jovan Stosic