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The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.

Music Inspired by Water

by Brad Eaton posted May 4 2014 12:00AM

Van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Rhone.

All this week, Brad Eaton features music inspired by water to start your morning. Tune in at 9am Monday, May 5 through Friday, May 9 to hear his handpicked selections.



Sir Arnold Bax was an English composer and poet of the late 19th and 20th centuries. His music was often a blend of romantic and impressionistic styles. He was very often inspired by the land and seascapes he observed in his many travels. "Mediterranean," originally written for solo piano, was inspired by a trip to Majorca that Bax made in the company of his brother and fellow English composer Gustav Holst. It's a waltz in 3/8 time. Sir Arnold later arranged it for orchestra, much in the manner of Maurice Ravel with his similarly Spanish flavored piece, "Alborado del Gracioso."  We'll hear the orchestral form of "Mediterranean."


The story of the first performance of Handel's "Water Music" is recorded in a very lively account bin The London Courant, a leading newspaper of the time. At about 8 o'clock on the evening of Wednesday, July 17th, 1717, King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace and set sail up the Thames toward Chelsea. Another barge provided by bthe City of London carried about fifty musicians who performed Handel's Water Music" while sailing next to the royal barge. According to The Courant, the entire river was crowded with boats and barges as Londoners sailed along, enjoying the music. The King liked the music so much he had the musicians perform it three times on the excursion. They played until after midnight, with only one break when the King briefly went ashore at Chelsea. 



Alan Hohvaness, a 20th century Armenian-American composer, was one of the most prolific composers of his time. He wrote more than 70 symphonies. One of them was his Symphony #50, which was inspired by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. Hohvaness lived in Seattle for nearly thirty years and was living here at the time of the volcanic eruption. We're going to hear "Spirit Lake," from Hovhaness's Mt. St. Helens Symphony. Before the eruption, Spirit Lake was a beautiful and popular vacation destination.




The 18th century  German composer Georg Philipp Telemann was a master of painting scenes with the sound of his music. The Water Music Orchestral Suite is a great example of this talent. It dates from 1723, during his early days in Hamburg. Hamburg was then a bustling port city on the Elbe River. The heart of the Water Music Orchestral Suite is a collection of dances that evoke varios nautical scenes on the Elbe.




Beethoven's "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" is a short cantata based on poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Beethoven, in fact, dedicated this music to Goethe. In English translation, the cantata opens with the words;" Deep stillness rules the waters, without motion lies the sea..."  "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" was first performed in Vienna in 1815.




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05/01/2014 4:06PM
Music Inspired by Water
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