Friday, 29 November 2019 00:00

Famous Composers: Frederic Chopin

Frederic Chopin was born at the village of Zelazowa Wola, near Warsaw; whether the date was 1809 (as some authorities maintain) or 1810 (officially accepted) matters little. What does matter is that his father, although bred in Lorraine (which had close historic ties with Poland), had been a Polish citizen since 1787 and earned a fair living as private tutor to the sons and daughters of the nobility; that his mother, gentle and well educated, was one hundred per cent Polish; that he himself was Polish not only by birth and upbringing but also by outlook and temperament.

Published in Posts
Monday, 11 November 2019 00:00

Famous Composers: Gioacchino Rossini

Gioacchino Rossini was born on 29th February 1792. One doubts whether his parents deliberately planned that their first and only child should be a leap-year baby and therefore able to celebrate his birthday only once in every four years - or, indeed, whether they wanted a baby at all. (Five months previously there had been what is nowadays called a shotgun wedding.) They lived in Pesaro, occupying two small rooms in the house numbered 334 via del Duomo (later renamed via Rossini1).

Published in Posts
Tuesday, 15 October 2019 00:00

Famous Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven

When I was a small boy the master who had to correct my fortnightly ‘essays’ used to insist that they should stress only the best features of the subject under discussion, skirt round any defects and avoid deleterious comparisons. But I think I was unconvinced then as I am now that an essayist should necessarily be an advocate. The putting forward of all points pro to the exclusion of those con has a proper function in any mutual exchange of views between the knowledgeable few, but when standing alone is liable to produce a false impression on the uninitiated many, who may never hear the other side of the argument and cannot be expected to read between the lines or recognize the significance of what counsel for the defence has (purposely) left unsaid. The reputations of many painters, poets, authors and composers have on balance lost more than they have gained through such well-intentioned but unthinking advocacy, often misinterpreted as implying adulation and thereby laying itself open to superficial counter-attack.

Published in Posts
Thursday, 19 September 2019 00:00

Famous Composers: Johann Sebastian Bach

During the second half of the sixteenth century and the whole of the seventeenth and eighteenth, the musical life of Thuringia (an area of central Germany roughly bordered by the rivers Werra, Unstrut and Saale) was dominated by the Bach family. No fewer than thirty-eight of the clan - the eldest born in 1520 and the youngest in 1759 - have earned separate articles in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians', the first 60,000 or so words of Philip Spitta’s standard but unwieldy biography of Johann Sebastian Bach (published in 1880) were devoted to the achievements of his great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncles and other senior relatives; three of Sebastian’s own sons (Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philip Emmanuel and Johann Christian) distinguished themselves as composers and all-round musicians.

Published in Posts
Thursday, 15 August 2019 00:00

Famous Composers: Joseph Haydn

JOSEPH HAYDN was born on 31st March, 1732 at the village of Rohrau, thirty miles east of Vienna on the verge of that low-lying region round the Neusiedlersee (Ferto Tava) which has always been a bone of political contention between Austria and Hungary. Rohrau, although typically Hungarian in lay-out (single-storied cottages set far back from the grass-lined road), was - and is - on Austrian territory, but the border was not far away and the inhabitants were of mixed racial descent; nor were the elements exclusively Austrian and Magyar, for during the seventeenth century there had been a surge of immigrants to this indeterminate no-man’s-land

Published in Posts
Wednesday, 31 July 2019 17:01

Famous Composers: Antonin Dvořák

Observant tourists with a bent for sociology may have noticed that in many continental countries the village pub is often combined with a retail shop of some sort: in Italy one finds perhaps an osteria/alimentari, in central Europe more likely a Gasthaus/Metzgerei - or a hostinec/feznicky. Giuseppe Verdi was the son of the innkeeper-grocer of Roncole; Antonin Dvořák was born on 8th September 1841 to the innkeeper-butcher of Nelahozeves on the banks of the river Vltava - by trunk road no. 8 about eighteen miles north of Prague. He showed early promise in music but when the family moved to Zlonice, a nearby mining village, he was obliged to work as assistant butcher-cum-bartender, since his father (despite musical inclinations) did not take his artistic aspirations very seriously.

Published in Posts
Wednesday, 12 June 2019 00:00

Famous Composers: Felix Mendelssohn

Almost alone among famous composers Felix Mendelssohn underwent no struggle to achieve fame or fortune. Born in 1809 in the outskirts of Hamburg and brought up in Berlin, he was the son of Abraham Mendelssohn, a wealthy banker who was better placed than the impecunious Franz Weber to attend to the requirements of a child prodigy in the Mozart class. Whereas in boyhood Carl Maria von Weber had picked up hints from strolling musicians, young Felix Mendelssohn was sent to the most expensive teachers in Berlin and Paris - and moreover was supplied by his fond parents with a private orchestra which he could conduct whenever he wished; he was soon composing sonatas, symphonies, cantatas, operas even, some of which are still preserved in manuscript.

Published in Posts

In the 1750s when Joseph Haydn, expelled from school, was still a struggling Viennese street-busker, there lived a hundred and fifty miles away to the west at Salzburg (on the third floor of the house now numbered 9 Getreidegasse) a worthy musician named Leopold Mozart and his wife Anna Maria, nee Pertl. Of their six children only two survived for more than a few months: one was a girl, the other a boy. The girl, born in July 1751 and christened Maria Anna, was a clever child who had already learnt to play the harpsichord by the time her brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart joined the family circle on 27th January 1756.

Published in Posts
Thursday, 11 January 2018 12:05

Famous Composers: Camille Saint-Saëns

Chronologically speaking CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) was a ‘bridge figure’: he began to compose music during the lifetime of Luigi Cherubini - who was only five years younger than Mozart - and was still hard at it after the death of Claude Debussy in 1918. In no other sense, however, did he build a bridge or even venture to cross one, preferring to remain in a comfortable tent on his own side of the stream; he took careful note of the activities on the opposite bank of such eminent contemporaries as Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, Cesar Franck and Gabriel Faure (one of his own pupils), but he felt no inclination to join in them

Published in Posts
Thursday, 10 August 2017 00:13

Please Support

It's a challenge to maintain a listener supported radio station that’s free of the endless promotional messages and advertisements we usually endure.

At sonatica, we pride ourselves on our commercial free schedule so our listeners can enjoy great classical music without constant interruptions. Nevertheless, it’s a costly business keeping our broadcast on the air, which means we frequently only just perform above our operational budget. Since all of our revenue is provided by our listeners, we rely entirely on you to keep us broadcasting.

Published in Posts
Page 1 of 2