Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) composed the second of his three violin sonatas in the summer of 1886 at the picturesque Swiss resort of Thun. Influenced by the serenity of his surroundings, he wrote a work which is both playful and meditative. The second movement is unusual in that it alternates between a very lyrical theme and almost impudent faster sections. The third movement features the rich, low register of the violin and has an inspired coda.
Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) was vice-president of the Polish Composer's Union at the time of her unexpected death in l969. Bacewicz studied music in Warsaw and Paris (where she had composition classes with Nadia Boulanger) and had a career as a concert violinist for many years before giving it up to devote more time to composition and teaching. She was one of Poland's most prolific and famous composers, and streets are named in her honor in Warsaw and Gdansk. A festival of her music was held at Virginia Tech in l990.
Clara Schumann (l8l9-l896) was one of the foremost pianists of her time. She premiered new works by her husband Robert Schumann and their friends Johannes Brahms and Frederic Chopin. While she composed prolifically from the age of nine, her spectacular performing career and the responsibility of supporting seven children after her husband's early death limited her output in her later years. Three Romances, Piano Concerto in A Minor, and Trio in G Minor have recently received several fine recordings.
Bila Bartsk (1881-1945) devoted more than eight years of his life to collecting the folk music of his native Hungary, Roumania, and Slovakia, taking down on paper or on phonograph records more than six thousand folk songs. This immersion in a musical tradition which was intense, passionate, and unhibited, transformed the career of the classically-trained composer. The dances in this collection range from sensuously lyrical to violently rhythmic.
Ursula Mamlok (b. l928) fled Nazi Germany with her family in l939 and moved to Ecuador, one of the few countries still accepting refugees. Through the help of a family friend, she was able to apply to the Mannes School in New York, where she received a full scholarship in piano and composition. She worked closely with George Szell and won several national prizes in composition at an early age. She continued her studies with Roger Sessions and Stefan Wolfe. Mamlok has received many grants and commissions, and her music has had numerous performances around the world. She has taught at New York University and the Manhattan School of Music. She says, "My music is lyrical, friendly, objective, and joyful. I never plan that a piece should have a certain emotion; whatever happens just comes out naturally."
Clara Wieck Schumann (l8l9-l896) was one of the
foremost pianists of her time. She premiered new works by Frederic Chopin,
Johannes Brahms, and her husband Robert Schumann. While she composed prolifically
from the age of nine, her spectacular performing career and the responsibility
of supporting seven children after her husband's early death limited her
output in her later years. At age 14, she began work on the Piano Concerto
in A Minor. She performed the completed concerto at age l6 with the Leipzig
Gewandhaus orchestra, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. The beautiful slow
movement, with a lyrical theme for solo cello, was imitated later by Robert
Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and other Romantic composers. This concerto
and the Trio in G Minor have recently received several fine recordings,
as have many of Clara's songs and solo piano works.
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