Tag Archives: Mozart

Preview – Mozart, Glazunov and Cesar Franck at Nicholas Roerich Museum(3/17)


*Alexander Glazunov, Mediatation for violin and piano, Op.32
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in B flat. 454 for violin and piano
*Cesar Franck, Sonata for violin and piano

Venue: Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York, NY 10025

Performers: Marti Sweet, violin Christopher Oldfather, piano

Mozart was always supported by his father Leopold. On April 29 1784, Mozart plays the Violin Sonata k454 with Regina Strinacchi, for whom it was written at the Karntnertor Theater in the presence of Joseph II(Clive 993, 4).Mozart admired Regina who was an Italian violinist and Leopold was impressed by the she plays each note with feeling In that time just the violin was written out( 149). Mozart dedicated the first edition of the sonatas K284/205b, 333/315c and 454, published together by Christopher Toricella who was a Swiss publisher and art dealer in Vienna in 1784( 129 ).In the city of Vienna is where Mozart received better income from concerts and composed twelve of his greatest piano concerts(Davies 1989, 53).Also it is where he contracted the illness, which later caused his death. During his illness he completed the Piano Concerto in B flat(54 ). Mozart’s sonata was a lively melody, putting his most profound feelings in the rhythm. In my opinion even though sonatas are happy in this one he was going through tough moments and in his music probably he highlighted throughout the motive.

Cesar Frank, german but French at heart was leader of the French musical renaissance (Vallas 1951,194 ). Minor revolution in musical taste, Frank finished in 1886 the Sonata for violin and piano.(199) During the autumn of 1886 appeared in a wedding. The violin Sonata was played two months later in the Frank festival of Brussels (196) The program consisted entirely of Cesar Frank’s composition, interpreter Mme Bordes-Pene(196). Festival was a success, as per the Director of the Brussels Conservatoire said “You have transferred chamber music; thanks to you a new vision of the future has revealed to our eyes”(196).Cesar’s Frank music seems to be like Mozart in the enlightment,changing rythms and other tradicional features.
Written more than sixty years ago the Violin and Sonata has become Frank’s most popular work ( 9 ).” The Violin Sonata has four movements: 1st allegrato in normal form, 2nd allegro two main themes developed with personal feeling, 3rd irregular and entirely free in its musical progress recitative, quai fantasia, finale for the most part concerned with a plain and flexible canon and is directed to be played allegretto poco mosso(199). Franck produces rhythmic and melodic decoy that leads us on against our wills, he found this until he wrote on paper (199).

I would have wanted to know before going to the concert the reason of each of the compositions and their specific talent so I could have had a better understanding of what I would hear and why they had such success. History and biography are very important because the music and the instruments used are those of the time and also the compositions are done guided by the personal circumstances of each composer.


Clive,Peter.”Mozart and his Circle”United Kingdom:The Orion Publishing Group,1993
Davies J.,Peter. “Mozart in Person” New York: Greenwood Press,Inc.,1989
Vallas,Leon.”Cesar Franck”, London: first published in 1951 ed. George g. Harrap & Co.Ltd, 1951

Preview – Alexander String Quartet performs Mozart and Shostakovich (4/25)


  • Dmitri Shostakovich, String Quartet No.7 in F sharp major, Op. 108
  • Wolgang Amadeus Mozart, String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590

Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center – Newman Vertical Campus
Baruch College: 25th St. (bet. 3rd and Lexington Aves.), NYC

Performers: Alexander String Quartet

Wolgang Amadeus Mozart, String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590 was the last piece of the three quartets in “Prussian Quartets” that were composed for the King of Prussia, Frederick William II. The style of the quartet was similar to the styles of Joseph Haydn. The Quartet was played for the king on May 26, 1789. The piece is consist of four movements which are Allegro, Andate, Menuetto, and Allegro.

Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108 was composed when he was 54 years old in 1960 for his first wife Nina Vassilyevna Varzar who died in December 1954. The piece is only consist of three movements which are Allegretto, Lento, and Allegro. This was considered to be the shortest of all Dmitri Shostakovich quartets. The quartet is about 13 minutes long and was played with two violins, viola and a cello. What is really interesting is that for the performance, the Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108 will be played F sharp major instead of F major minor which would I find amusing because it can change the whole mood of the piece.


Pauly, Reinhard G. Music in the Classical Period. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1988. Print

Moshevik, Sofia. Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist. Canada: Mc-Grill Queens University Press, 2004

Preview – Alexander String Quartet performs Mozart and Shostakovich Baruch College (4/25/13)


  • W.A. Mozart:  String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590
  • Dmitri Shostakovich:  String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108

Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center – Newman Vertical Campus
Baruch College: 25th St. (bet. 3rd and Lexington Aves.), NYC

Performers: Alexander String Quartet

Performed at Baruch’s Performing Arts Center, the Alexander String Quartet is performing the two pieces W.A. Mozart:  String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590 and the piece Dmitri Shostakovich:  String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108.

The final string quartet of Mozart was to have been the third of six composer intended to dedicate to King Frederick William the 2nd of Prussia, a cello playing monarch.Shortly after entering the F major Quartet in his thematic catalo, Mozart told Puchberg in a further letter that he had been “obliged” to give away the quartets “for a mere song in order to have cash in hand to meet my present difficulties.” Along with its two companions, K. 590 has been generally regarded by commentators as being less successful than the great set of six “Haydn” quartets composed. Artaria’s advertisement for the “Prussian” quartets describes them as “concertante quartets. At the movement’s end, the coda restates the development, gracefully winds down, and ends on a witty high note.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108 was composed in the 1960s for the memorial of his first wife who died in 1954. It was premiered in Leningrad by Beethoven Quartet and consist of three movements with no breaks. The three movements are Allegretto, Lento, and Allegro. The String Quartet no. 7 in F sharp minor, OP 108, completed in March 1960, is the shortest of all Shostakovich’s quartets lasting only about 13 minutes.The three and a half minute second movement opens with a rising, then falling, four-note motif played on the muted second violin.


Music for silenced voice : Shostakovich and his fifteen quartets / Wendy Lesser. New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011

Recognition in Mozart’s operas / Jessica Waldoff. New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011, c2006.

Preview- Beethoven, Mozart, Messiaen, and Murail at New York Philharmonic (4/12)


  •  Messiaen – Les Offrandes oubliées
  • Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 23
  • Tristan Murail – Le Désenchantement du monde
  • Beethoven – Symphony No. 2

Venue: Avery Fisher Hall, Manhattan, NY

Performers: David Robertson, Conductor; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano



Beethovens second symphony was one of the final early Beethoven works, his deafness was already taking him so his future compositions wouldn’t be the same. Around this time in Beethovens life he had revealed his deafness, and he was also coming to terms with it. The symphony is in D major, but like other Beethoven works it didn’t fit the standard form of other symphony’s. Beethovens second symphony is one of the least performed out of all his other symphony’s.

Beethoven was  a composer during the bridge between previously dominate classical era music and to the new genre romantic music. Since he was at this bridge in genres his music didn’t fit into the standards of each period they were all in between or  even just uniquely composed to Beethovens personal preferences, and maybe that is why he ignore common structure, and this breaking away made him more unique and popular, even though not all his works are praised.

Cooper, Barry. Beethoven. Boston: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.


Preview: Beethoven, Mozart, Messiaen, and Murail at New York Philharmonic (4/11)


  • Olivier Messiaen, Les Offrandes Oubliees
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23
  • Tristan Murail, Le Desenchantement du monde
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven, Symphony No. 2

Venue: Avery Fisher Hall, Manhattan, NY

Performers: David Robertson, Conductor; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano


In the beginning of his career Olivier Messiaen participated in the Prix de Rome, a competition for classical musicians, but had failed to win (Hill and Simeone 2005, 28-29). However, he did gain positive attention from critics and it was during this time, in 1931 one year after the competition, that he had written Les Offrandes Oubliees (Offerings Forgotten) which upon completion Messiaen wrote a letter to a friend describing the work as “the music for a symphonic poem” (Hill and Simeone 2005, 30).

The piece does not follow the traditional format of classical works as does the works of composers from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic era. Upon hearing the works my initial reaction was that it was very intense and not guided by melodies but rather affect the listener by having sudden transitions, fast crescendos and decrescendos. The piece was written within a year of his completion of his studies and may be a poor reflection of his future works due to the fact that much time would be granted for growth.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had written 15 piano concertos between 1782 and 1786, some critics refer to the concertos of this period as “the great keyboard concertos” (Abert 2007, 870). Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major (K488) was completed in 1786 and was one of two concertos written in A major during this period. The concerto is described as having a “bright and sunny grace” (Abert 2007, 879) to it in contrast to his other concertos of the period which can vary from providing a feeling of serenity or even festivity.

This concerto, like many other works of Mozart, introduces new themes throughout the length of the work in the development period. In Mozart’s own words, in a letter written to his father, he describes his work of the period as “a mid-course between being too hard and too easy, they’re very brilliant, pleasing to the ear and natural, without seeming empty” (Abert 2007, 870). Like much of his work, Mozart introduces many melodies throughout the length of his work. I’m most excited to hear this piece live and experience a solo pianist play with an orchestra, particularly a piece this moving. I had found the first movement to be very relaxing and beautiful and would only describe the third movement as “bright and sunny.”

Finally, the performance will close with Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. In response to Beethoven’s earlier work Mozart had once said, in a letter to his father, “keep your eye on him; he will make the world talk about him someday” (Biancolli and Peyser 1954 ,154). When the 2nd symphony was composed Beethoven’s hearing had deteriorated dramatically since the writing of his 1st. He had written the symphony in a tourist village called Heiligenstadt which he felt was so boring that he would have “taken his own life but for his determination to consecrate himself with new courage to art” (Biancolli and Peyser 1954 ,159).

Beethoven was known to liberally bend rules of the symphony and this was apparent at the early stages of his career. Regardless, the symphony was well received by critics and described as “extravagant and enigmatic” (Biancolli and Peyser 1954 ,160).When listening to the symphony I had found that the work seems very tame relative to his later symphonies. This may in fact be a sign that during his earlier years as a composer Beethoven was not as daring to make a bold impression amongst European high society. Symphonies such as the 5th, 7th, and 9th I had found were more complex in nature and varied in moods. They had provided moments of lound intensity and calm serenity, this is not felt to the same degree in the 2nd symphony.


Abert, Hermann, and Cliff Eisen. W.A. Mozart. New Haven, NJ: Yale UP, 2007

Biancolli, Louis, and Herbert F. Peyser. Masters of the Orchestra. New York: Greenwood, 1954

Hill, Peter, and Nigel Simeone. Messiaen. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2005

Preview – The Marriage of Figaro at the Frederick Loewe Theater (04/05)


  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro, adapted by Tony Britten

Venue: Frederick Loewe Theater, New York, NY

Performers: NYU Steinhardt, Music and Performing Arts. Cast: Eric Alexieff, Jacob Carll, Will Evans, Lisa Figel, Amanda Hoffman, Kevin Miller, Asha Nelson-Williams, Catie Shelley, Nick Volkert

Le nozze di Figaro (the Marriage of Figaro) was the first of Mozart’s three major and famous opera collaborations with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. It was translated from the French play, La folle journée ou le Mariage de Figaro, by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, to Italian. Mozart’s patron, the Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II, had many failed attempts with operas in German, due to a lack of good poets and musicians willing to write for it since Italian opera at the time was “the most popular and cosmopolitan of contemporary genres” (Steptoe 1). Also, opera buffa was quickly rising in popularity at the time, due to the Enlightenment.  The original opera took surprisingly a long time to produce (Steptoe 2). Maybe it was because this would be Mozart’s first opera buffa after arriving in Vienna from Salzberg and his first commission from the Emperor, and he realized he needed to make a great first impression, and make a name for himself.

Mozart composed the opera knowing the “importance of writing with the capabilities of particular singers in mind and with an eye and ear for stage effect and the dramatic and expressive possibilities of tonality and of instrumental writing” (Carter 4). Therefore, he tweaked the music to suit different vocalists. However, this adaptation by English composer, Tony Britten, is in English. I’m definitely interested to see how the English libretto will sound for a piece composed for an Italian libretto. Mozart adapted the play to fit the popular operatic style at the time of having only two acts. However, de Potnte and Mozart did it in unusual way, he decided to cut out some events and modify others, and turned the five act play into a four act opera. Then, they put the major finales at the end of Acts II and IV, so it essentially became two ‘two act’ operas (Carter 25). Being a living composer, there were not any books written about Tony Britten, and I could not find any recordings of this adaption. However, after reading reviews of this adaption online, I read that he has modernized the story, and made it more dramatic and theatrical, with more acting. Therefore, I wonder what changes Mr. Britten has made to the composition, if he has decided to modify or cut out certain events, and more importantly, if he changed any delivery methods like from aria to recitative.

Sources: Steptoe, Andrew. The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas. The Cultural and Musical Background to Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988. Print.

Carter, Tim. W.A. Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Print.

Preview- Janacek, Mozart, and Schumann at Carnegie Hall (4/10)


  • MOZART Piano Concerto No. 13 in C Major, K. 415
  • JANÁCEK Concertino for Piano and Chamber Ensemble
  • SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44


  • Zankel Hall, Manhattan, NY


  • Jonathan Biss, Piano
  • Elias String Quartet: Sara Bitlloch, Violin, Donald Grant, Violin, Martin Saving, Viola, and Marie Bitlloch, Cello
  • Carol McGonnell, Clarinet
  • Eric Reed, Horn
  • Brad Balliett, Bassoon

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.13 in C major consists of three movements: allegro, andante, and allegro. The first movement starts with a burst of energy. Although it begins in piano with the violins and violas and basses, the orchestra join in shortly after with a fanfare theme signaling its dominant presence. The second movement is more of a lyrical melody with focus on a ternary form. The last movement incorporates many musical techniques that extend the finale. It contains an adagio, repetition of themes for reinforcement, and even a recapitulation. Eventually it ends, and does so in a way that shocks the audience. “When the audience demanded the final rondo by way of an encore, he surprised everyone by offering them a free improvisation that was loudly applauded. the emperor, too, remained to the end, not leaving his box until Mozart had left the platform” (Albert 713).

Janacek’s Concertino for Piano and Chamber Ensemble was composed in the spring of 1925. This piece is separated into multiple movements with each one representing a very specific aspect. Movement 1 suggests the setting, spring, and the introduction of a hedgehog. Movement 2 reveal a squirrel running and jumping from tree to tree. It is a scene of happy playful spring animals. Movement 3 introduces an owl. The last movement combines all the animals together and features a climatic theme (Zemanova 108-110).

Schumann was one of the first few composers to successfully experiment with the piano combined with the string quartet. Piano Quintet in E- Flat Major, Op. 44 utilizes the brilliance of the two groups, piano and string quintet.  The piece is in 4 movements and quickly establish the creativity and potential of the two groups.


Albert, Herman. “Engagement and Marriage.” In W.A. Mozart. Edited by Cliff Eisen. 713. Yale University: Yale University Press, 2007.

Chissell, Joan. Schumann Piano Music. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1972

Zemanova, Mirka. “Concertino.” In Janacek’s Uncollected Essays on Music. Edited by Mirka Zemanova. 108-110. Great Britain: Marion Boyars Publisher, 1989.

Preview– Alexander String Quartet at Baruch Performing Arts Center (4/25)


  • W.A. Mozart:  String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590
  • Dmitri Shostakovich:  String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108

Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center – Newman Vertical Campus
Baruch College: 25th St. (bet. 3rd and Lexington Aves.)

Performers: THE ALEXANDER STRING QUARTET- Zakarias Grafilo Violin 1, Frederick Lifsitz Violin 2, Paul Yarbrough Viola, Sandy Wilson Cello

Mozart was a composer that was in debt a lot and constantly asking people to lend him money, so he would compose pieces for people that would pay him. Mozart composed, “six quartets for King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia,” (Hildesheimer 1981, 25) and one of the six quartets was String quartet No. 23 in F Major K. 590. Since String quartet No. 23 is one of the pieces I will be listening to, so now I am expecting the piece to be upbeat and glorifying the King of Prussia. Also Haydn, a composer from the Classical period like Mozart, produced many string quartets and “in Vienna, Haydn and Mozart became close friends and influenced each other’s musical style” (Kamien 1998, 155).

Shostakovich composed, “two of his most highly personal works,” (Wilson 1994, 332) and one of them is String quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor.  This piece was, “dedicated to his late wife, and written to commemorate her fiftieth birthday,” (Wilson 1994, 332) so I would assume he wrote about how he misses her and the good times they had. It is interesting that Alexander String quartet will be playing the string quartet in major instead of minor. So I think it will make it interesting and maybe more livelier than the original.


Hildesheimer, Wolfgang. Mozart. New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, c1981.

Wilson, Elizabeth. Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1994.

Kamien, Roger. Music An Appreciation. Boston, Mass. : McGraw-Hill, c1998.


W.A. Mozart:  String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590

Dmitri Shostakovich:  String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108

Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center – Newman Vertical Campus
Baruch College: 25th St. (bet. 3rd and Lexington Aves.), NYC

Performers: The Alexander String Quartet

String quartet No. 23 was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last string quartet.  It was one of three that “was dedicated to the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhem II”(Kenyon,228).  The three string quartets dedicated to the king where No. 21 in D K575, No. 22 in B flat K589,and No. 23 in F K590.  These were otherwise known as the “Three Prussian Quartets” (Kenyon 228). The king was a cellist, therefore Mozart intended to give the king a starring role in the pieces where he can play the cello, capturing the audiences attention.  Mozart purposely introduced the cello later in the piece where it is “high in its register, so it could hardly fail to be noticed”(Kenyon, 228). Mozart added roles for the king in the tenor to show off his skills(Kenyon, 228).

Before creating these three quartets, “Mozart gave a concert on May 26, 1789” ( Kenyon, 228).  This concert was not a complete success.  Therefore, after meeting the some cellist and the King, he came up with the string quartets including the king.  These three quartets succeeded and brought more fame to Mozart.

I found it quite unusual and rather interesting that we would hear the cello clearer instead of it being in the background. The melody seems to be embraced by the sound projected by the cello and of course this is to show the kings talent. But, it is interesting and it does create a rich sound because the cello is woody, the pitches are moderately low, and sounds very strong and royal.  I would definitely find more enjoyment listening to the music because it gives me a chance to imagine a story that goes along with the piece; Although, Watching the performance would give me the pleasure to watch the performers and how they interject emotion into the piece.


Dmitri Shostakovich is a soviet russian composer and pianist, who was born in 1906 and died in 1975.  One of his popular string quartet was No. 7 opus. 108.  Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this specific one for his first wife Nina.  This piece intends on capturing his memories of his wife, although “it is short, it was one of his most poetic works” (Moshevik, 161).  Although, this was a beautiful piece, it “had a spooky characteristic” (Moshevik, 161).

This piece is very interesting, it gives a mysterious and spooky feeling.  There is a lot of suspense, which makes the string quartet No. 7 so exciting. When the piece begins playing the second theme, it is pleasant and soft.  I found it very unusual and special that there was pizzicato in this piece. For this specific string quartet, I would like to watch the performance live rather than listening to it.  This is an intense and exciting performance, and watching the performers playing and their emotions would make the experience and the music more entertaining and memorable.


Kenyon, Nicholas. The Pegasus Pocket Guide to Mozart. New York: Pegasus Books LLC, 2006. Page 228.

Moshevik, Sofia. Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist. Canada: Mc-Grill Queens University Press, 2004. Page 161.


Preview – Mozart and Shostakovich at Alexander String Quartet (April 25th)


  • Wolgang Amadeus Mozart, String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590
  • Dmitri Shostakovich, String Quartet No.7 in F sharp major, Op. 108
Venue: Engelman Recital Hall (at Baruch Performing Arts Center), New York, NY 
Performers: Alexander String Quartet
  • Zakarias Grafilo – violin 1
  • Frederick Lifsitz – violin 2
  • Paul Yarbrough – viola
  • Sandy Wilson – Cello

Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23 (K. 590) was one of the last quartet he composed. This piece is known as the “Prussian Quartets” with other 2 quartets (K. 575 and 589) which Mozart wrote and dedicated them to the King of Prussia: Frederick William II, a cellist. (Pauly 1988, 167). These quartets were written with solo sections for the cello as well as the other instruments (Rosen 1998, 281), somehow allowing the cello to become a melody instrument which proves that Mozart was thinking  how the king could show his prowess.

Knowing this, I believe that this piece would definitely sound bright since it is a composition for a king; if it were dark and mysterious many would question what is wrong with the king, land or if the composer has something against the king. I will look forward to hear the cello solo parts, will all instruments play the accompaniment? will their timbre over ride the sound of the cello?

Sources: Rosen, Charles. The Classical Style: Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven (Expanded Edition). New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998. Print.

Pauly, Reinhard G. Music in the Classical Period. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1988. Print.


Dimitri Shostakovich wrote his Seventh Quartet between 1959 – 1960, “[dedicating it] to the memory of his first wife Nina” and being a 3 movement piece, it is the shortest composition of all his Quartets, lasting roughly 12 minutes (Kuhn 2008, 50 – 51). In this piece, the “harmonic tension” of the movement keys are not resolve until reaching the recapitulation since there is no development. (Kuhn 2008, 51). Although the piece is written in F sharp minor, F sharp major is noted “in the endings of the first and third movement” (Kuhn 2008, 51), the same key used in his opera: Lady Macbeth symbolizing “love,” an opera dedicated to his first wife as well.

The fact that it was written in a decade where Shostakovich lost his mother and first wife (Fairclough 2008, 279), I believe that this piece should make me feel sad but since it will be performed in a different key, it might change my perspective. In the original composition, F sharp major is noted at the end of first and third movement, what will this performing Quartet do: will it remain the same key? or not? The fact that this piece first movement has a “sonata form” without a development makes me wonder how the conflict is resolved since most of the sonata forms I’ve learned and listened are complete (exposition, development, recapitulation and coda).

Sources: Kuhn, Judith and Paulina Fairclough. “The String Quartet: In Dialogue with Form and Tradition” and “Slava! The ‘Official Compositions.’” In The Cambridge Companion to     Shostakovich. edited by Pauline Fairclough and David Fanning. 50-51, 279. New York:     Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.