Music For Pleasure - past meetings
REPORT ON OUR MARCH 2019 MEETING
Nyria led us through the process whereby the piano has evolved from its forerunners; virginals, the spinet, the harpsichord and the clavichord. The piano itself was invented around 1709.
We heard all of these earlier instruments with examples from the Renaissance period by:
John Bull, William Byrd, J S Bach, Handel and Scarlatti.
Nyria then played examples of piano music from the Classical and Romantic eras. We listened to music written by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Grieg and Mendelssohn.
For the era of Impressionism there was recorded music by Debussy and Ravel. That was supplemented by LIVE playing by Nyria and Sheila of Berceuse no. 1 from the Dolly Suite, opus 56 by Gabriel Faure.
How extremely fortunate we are to have musicians in the Group who can give us live music at some of our meetings.
Our March meeting concluded with piano music by four modern composers: Ludovico Einaudi, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Rutter and George Gershwin.
REPORT ON OUR FEBRUARY 2019 MEETING
On Tuesday 26th February Ron introduced a programme of:
"Music that reflects the rural English landscape and seascape through the compositions of late 19th century and early 20th century composers."
Individual pieces were:
Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958:
- English Folk Song Suite
- Fantasia on Greensleeves
George Butterworth 1885-1916:
- The banks of Green Willow
- “The lads in their Hundreds” no.5 in 6 songs for a Shropshire Lad. Sung by Roderick Williams
- A Shropshire Lad, Orchestral Rhapsody for full orchestra.
John Ireland 1879-1962:
- A Downland Suite No 3 minuet
- Piano piece Summer Evening
Ronald Binge 1910-1979:
- The Watermill
- Elizabethan Serenade
Albert Ketelby 1875–1959:
- Bells Across the Meadow
- In a Monastery Garden
Edward Elgar 1857-1934:
- “As Torrents in Summer”
- Serenade for Strings 2nd movement
- Sea Pictures op 37, cycle of 5 songs
No1 Sea Slumber Song
Sir Henry Joseph Wood 1869-1944:
- Fantasia on British Sea Songs:
The Saucy Arethusa
Jack's the Lad
Farewell and Adieu
Home Sweet Home
See the Conqu'ring Hero Comes
Benjamin Britten 1913–1976:
Britten’s arrangement of Tom Bowling sung by Roderick Williams
(written by Charles Dibden 1745-1814)
from Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, first 2 pieces:
- Dawn; Moonlight.
Ronald Binge “ Sailing By”
JANUARY 2019 - "DESERT ISLAND DISCS"
Because of concerns about possible adverse weather (in the event totally irrelevant!) we had decided that no one member would introduce our January meeting but that we would all make personal selections of our "Desert Island Discs."
As a result we listened to an extremely wide selection of music, listed below.
The high spot of the afternoon was surely the "live music" contribution of two highly accomplished members. They played for us piano duet versions of a range of spirituals, a contribution greatly enjoyed by all.
Herb Alpert and Tijuana brass Shadow of your smile
Master of the House from Les Mis - original soundtrack
Edith Piaff Je ne regrette rien
Night on the bare mountain; Mussorgsky
Paul Simon - Hearts and Bones
John Denver - How can l leave you again
Angel Flying too Close to the Ground - Willie Nelson
Souvenir D'Alvito by Joe Brown
Adagio for strings – Samuel Barber
I love to boogie by T REX
Herb Alpert and Tijuana brass What now my love
12. Sheila B and Nyria will play spirituals 15.00
The Rose by Bette Midler
Sanctus from Faure Requiem; King’s College
Take the A train Duke Ellington
Vaughan Williams Lark ascending
Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
Iestyn Davis & Alison Balsom Eternal source of light divine
Finale Firebird Suite Stravinsky
In December we enjoyed a Christmas lunch together at The George. This was organised very efficiently by Nyria; thanks to her. The event was greatly enjoyed by all!
REPORT ON OUR NOVEMBER 2018 MEETING
John introduced our November meeting which was in two parts. In the first, called RINGERS, we heard a selection of music performed by an artist who did not perform the original recording. Part two comprised a selection of Remembrance music reflecting the date of the meeting being close to the 100th Anniversary of the WW1 armistice.
The pieces we heard were:
PART ONE - RINGERS
|SONG||PERFORMER||ORIGINAL RECORDING DATE|
|SONGBIRD||All Angels||Fleetwood Mac 1974|
|THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU||Johnny Mathis||The Stylistics 1974|
|AMERICAN TUNE||Eva Cassidy||Paul Simon 1973|
|IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT||Freddy Fender||The Five Satins 1956|
|THEY LONG TO BE CLOSE TO YOU||The Carpenters||Richard Chaimberlain 1963|
|I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF||Ronan Keating||Tommy Hunt 1962|
|PERHAPS LOVE||Aiza Sequerra||John Denver & Placido Domingo 1981|
|AND I LOVE YOU SO||Colin Raye||Don McLean 1970|
|I KNOW HIM SO WELL||Barbara Streisand||Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson 1984|
|THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT||Westlife||Fred Astaire 1936|
|SWAY||Raul Malo||Pablo Beltrain Ruiz 1953|
|MISS YOU NIGHTS||Art Garfunkel||Dave Townsend 1974|
|YESTERDAY||Mat Monro||The Beatles 1965|
|I WILL||Alison Krauss||The Beatles 1965|
|PUTTIN ON THE RITZ||Gregory Porter||Harry Richman 1930|
|THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE||Leona Lewis||Peggy Seeger 1957|
|ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM||Hayley Westenra||Everly Brothers 1958|
|ALWAYS ON MY MIND||Michael Buble||Don Gibson 1958|
|VINCENT||Dana Winner||Don McLean 1972|
|WALK AWAY||Mat Monro||Udo Jurgens 1964|
|.||PART TWO - REMEMBRANCE||.|
|BAND OF BROTHERS REQUIEM||London Metropolitan Orchestra||Michael Kamen|
|DIES IRAE||St Petersburg Phil. Orchestra||Verdi (Requiem)|
|KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING||Ivor Novello||Ivor Novello|
|NOEL DES ENFANTS QUI N’ONT PLUS DE MAISONS||Ute Zimmer||Claude Debussy|
|PIE JESU||Katherine Jenkins & Steffan Hughes||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|LE TOMBEAU DE COUPERIN||SWR Symphony Orchestra||Maurice Ravel|
|NIMROD||Band of the Coldstream Guards||Edward Elgar|
|ABIDE WITH ME||Kings College Choir||Will Henry Monk/Henry Francis Lyte|
REPORT ON OCTOBER 2018 MEETING
At our October meeting, introduced by Sheila B., we heard examples covering the full range of human voices, plus some combinations of parts.
The voice parts, the singers performing and the pieces being sung were as follows:
BASS – Patta Burchuladze – Aria from Eugene Onegin by Tchaikowsky
BASS-BARITONE – Bryn Terfel – Aria from Don Giovanni by Mozart
BARITONE – Christopher Maltman – The Vagabond by Vaughan Williams
TENOR – Juan Diego Florez – Aria from the Daughter of the Regiment by Donizetti
COUNTERTENOR – James Bowman – Stabat Mater by Vivaldi
BOY TREBLE – St Paul’s Choristers – St Nicholas by Benjamin Britten
CONTRALTO – Nathalie Stutzmann Aria from Julius Caesar by Handel
MEZZO-SOPRANO – Frederica Von Stade – Songs of the Auvergne by Canteloube
SOPRANO – Emma Kirkby – Nulla in Mundo by Vivaldi
COLLOATURA – Luciana Serra – Aria from The Magic Flute by Mozart
DUET – Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel – Don Giovanni by Mozart
TRIO – Three Little Maids from School – Gilbert and Sullivan
THE KING’S SINGERS – Blackbird by Lennon and Mc Cartney
CHOIRS AND SOLOISTS – War Requiem by Benjamin Britten
REPORT ON SEPTEMBER 2018 MEETING
Guicomo Puccini was the subject of our September meeting, introduced by Sheila S.
Sheila entertained us with ranging programme of excerpts from his operas, played in chronological sequence. We listened to and discussed examples from:
Manon Lescaut – first performed in 1893
La Boheme - first performed 1896
Tosca - first performed 1900
Madam Butterfly - first performed 1904
Giana Schicci - first performed 1918
Turandot – first performed 1926
REPORT ON AUGUST 2018 MEETING
At our meeting on 28th August (kindly hosted by Ron) David introduced a programme of music played on brass instruments.
The first half was mainly classical pieces and included some very early instruments including the serpent, sackbut and cornett. We also listened to fantastic trumpet playing and some dances played by His Majesty’s Sackbuts and Cornettes.
The second half was somewhat of a contrast! We heard music played by brass bands which included tributes to Abba, The Beatles, Elton John, Herb Alpert and Glen Miller. Rossini and Gilbert and Sullivan also featured as did music played on the tuba and the saxophone.
Some members were close to dancing when The Brighouse and Rastrick brass band played YMCA and many sang when that same band concluded our programme with On Ilkley Moor Bah’tat.
REPORT ON JULY 2018 MEETING
On July 24th Barbara and Ray introduced a real treat for all who were there; a great selection of duets. In the first half it was a wide range of musical duets. The second half was a selection of operatic duets spanning a wide range of the operatic repertoire.
Specific details are:
STRANGER IN PARADISE from Kismet
I WANNA BE LIKE YOU from Jungle Book/
PEOPLE WILL SAY WE’RE IN LOVE from Oklahoma
ALL I ASK OF YOU from Phantom of the Opera
WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE from High Society
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO from Annie Get Your Gun
WE’RE A COUPLE OF SWELLS from Easter Parade
IF I LOVED YOU from Carousel
THE LAST NIGHT OF THE WORLD from Miss Saigon
LES PECHEURS DES PERLES by BIZET
LAKME by DELIBES
PAGLIACCI by LEONCAVALLO
LA BOHEME by PUCCINI
LA BOHEME by PUCCINI
ANDRE CHENIER by Giordano
LA TRAVIATA by VERDI
NORMA by BELLINI
Once again many were on the edge of joining in and some did not resist the temptation!
REPORT ON JUNE 2018 MEETING
On 26th June we met ate the home of Sheila H.many thanks for her hospitality.
She had prepared a very special programme for us covering the full range of music composed by Gabriel Faure.
First we listened to a selection form the over 100 songs he composed sung by artists with contrasting voices and we discussed the merits of those.
We the heard some chamber music and a selection from Faure's Dolly Suite.
After a break there was piano music and the afternoon concluded with a performance oh his highly emotional and sublime setting of the Requiem Mass.
The programme had obviously been prepared with great thought and sensitivity and was enjoyed by all.
Thank you Sheila.
REPORT ON MAY 2018 MEETING
On 22nd May we met at Maureen and John's home; many thanks for their hospitality.
John introduced UN POMERIGGIO ITALIANO (an Italian Afternoon)
His selection included music many well known composers and singers. First there was La donna e mobile from Rigoletto by Verdi, sung by Luciano Pavarotti. The programme finished with the wonderful duet Con Te Partiro sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. In between there was music by Pucinni, Mozart, Andrew Lloyd Weber and many others. Singers included Enrico Caruso, Renata Tebaldi, Mario Lanza, Cecilia Bartoli, Al Martino and The Gypsy Kings.
It was the "usual story" for our meetings: enjoyed by all and satisfying a range of musical tastes.
REPORT ON APRIL 2018 MEETING
The theme of the music played was SPRING
1 SPRING FROM VIVALDI FOUR SEASONS
2 IT WAS A LOVER AND HIS LASS from Birthday madrigals by John Rutter
3 IT WAS A LOVER AND HIS LASS by George Shearing
4 SPRING REPRISE sung by Cleo Laine
5 ON HEARING THE FIRST CUCKOO IN SPRING by Frederick Delius
6 SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP by Barbra Streisand
7 AUGURS OF SPRING from Rite of Spring by Stravinsky
8 IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING by Nina Simone
9 SPRING SYMPHONY by Schumann; first movement
Then an interval for refreshments (many thanks to Maureen)
10 SPRING SPRING SPRING from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers by Jane Powell and Virginia Gibson
11 SPRING SPRING SPRING by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire
12 PASTORAL SYMPHONY by Beethoven; first movement
13 SPRING FEVER by Elvis Presley
14 RUSTLE OF SPRING by Christian Sinding
15 HERE COMES THE SUN by the Beatles
16 HERE COMES THE SUN sung by the Kings’ Singers
Unfortunately the spring weather that we had all enjoyed the previous week had vanished but, hopefully, the theme of the music played was a foretaste of things to come!
REPORT ON "MARCH" 2018 MEETING (held on Tuesday 3rd April)
Prynhawn plesserus iawn. Diolch yn fawn i Nyria.
The title of the meeting, introduced and hosted by Nyria, was:
CROESO – Music by Welsh Artists and Composers for St David’s Day, 1st March (for unavoidable reasons the meeting was postponed from the planned March date).
The pieces played were:
Fanfare with variants by Alun Hoddinott
Toreador Song from Carmen, sung by Bryn Terfel
You’ll never walk alone, sung by Tom Jones
a selection of harp music played by Osian Gwynn Ellis
Diamonds are for ever, sung by Shirley Bassey
Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck, sung by Aled Jones
Adiemus by Karl Jenkins
Time to say goodbye, sung by Katherine Jenkins
a 92 years old recording of Keep the Home Fires Burning by Ivor Novello
We finished with a selection of pieces sung by Welsh Male Voice Choirs.
Not for the first time several members were “almost” joining in some of the well-known choir songs!
It was a very imaginary programme and was much enjoyed by all who were there.
Nyria has been thanked above!!
Our February meeting was cancelled due to adverse weather.
REPORT ON JANUARY 2018 MEETING
Our first meeting in 2018 was very special indeed! It was a variation of our normal format. Everyone was asked to nominate in advance a piece, or pieces of music that created a “tingle” for them. There was no constraint; it could be an instrument, a voice or any piece of music, classical, jazz or pop.
The first 15 minutes or so of the afternoon’s session were brilliant, magical and, for several of us, emotional. Nyria and Sheile B. played the piano to us; real live music! The pieces they played were:
- Norwegian Dances by Grieg
- Melody in F by Rubinstein
- Largo by Handel
- Entr’acte from Rosamunde by Schubert
- Langzame Foxtrot by Hengeveld
- Climb every mountain from the Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Their playing was subtle, sensitive and uplifting; and received an appropriate reaction!
The photo shows our two maestros in action was reproduced, with their agreement, in the MU3A Newsletter.
How could we possibly follow that!?
Well, we did our best; and certainly listened to an extremely wide range of music. This list is not comprehensive but the selection included, on the classical side, Gounod, Mozart, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Vivaldi, Bruch, Elgar, Bacurisse, Khachaturian, Bizet and Bellini, plus Emma Kirkby. We also heard Paul Simon, Dave Brubeck, Ella, Nat King Cole, Joe Brown, Crystal Gayle, Sidney Bechet, Buddy Holly and the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.
5th DECEMBER 2017
This was the date of our celebration Christmas lunch; many thanks to Maureen for making all of the arrangements for this. It is the third time we have enjoyed this occasion and once again we all ate well and chatted a lot!
REPORT ON NOVEMBER 2017 MEETING
On November 28th we met at Pat’s home.
Pat’s programme of music was in two parts.
Following a brief introduction to the Strauss family, Pat played a selection of 6 well-known waltzes by Johann Strauss the younger.
In the second half we listened to The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. That music is always relaxing and the session was much enjoyed by all who were there.
REPORT ON OCTOBER 2017 MEETING
On Tuesday 24th October we all met for another foot-tapping session with many of us on the verge of bursting into song!
In the first part Maureen and John had set us a quiz. We listened to twelve songs, mostly well-known, by composers including Burt Bacharach, Carly Simon, Paul Anka, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Sedaka. The quiz question was “what links all the composers?” Numerous things were suggested but the answer wanted was that they had all made recordings in the same building in New York, The Brill Building (this knowledge could be useful in a pub quiz one day!)
In the second half we heard songs from Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, The King and I, Carousel and Me and Juliet. Although we knew the song from Me and Juliet, No Other Love, none of us were familiar with the show. Apparently it was not a success!
After we had listened (and almost joined in) we recalled many memories from the days when we went to see the shows.
Many thanks to Maureen and John for compiling the programme and for their hospitality (and great biscuits!)
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 28th November, starting at 14.00. The venue is the home of one of our members.
REPORT ON SEPTEMBER 2017 MEETING
On Tuesday 26th September we met at Sheila S’s and there is no doubt that an extremely enjoyable afternoon was had by all!
In the first half we listened to (and reminisced over) a selection of mostly well-known songs sung by Nina Simone.
After some splendid refreshments we tapped our feet, and were close to dancing and singing to a great selection of tunes played by the original Glen Miller band. In The Mood, Moonlight Serenade, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, Little Brown Jug, Pennsylvania 650000 were just five of Sheila’s choices.
It was a very happy meeting and brought out many memories for all.
REPORT ON AUGUST 2017 MEETING
On Tuesday 29th August we met at Linda Mei’s home where we listened to a selection of extracts from concerts performed by the Andre Rieu orchestra. These included a wide range of music styles including the European wind band playing bagpipes.
Linda Mei (assisted by Philip) had done some background research and explained to us how Andre Rieu had become such a renowned international phenomenon.
As always, everyone enjoyed the session.
REPORT ON JULY 2017 MEETING
On Tuesday 25th July we were taken on "A Musical Journey" by our guide Jill. We started in the former Czechoslavakia represented by Ma Vlast by Smetana. We then heard music representing London, Scotland, Africa, America, Italy, Spain and Norway. The selections that Jill had selected were certainly eclectic, ranging from "St. Louis Blues" and "Limehouse Blues " played by Django Rheinhardt and Stephan Grappelli to movements from symphonies by Dvorak and Mendelssohn.
We finished with "Scarborough Fair" and "America" by Simon and Garfunkel.
It was an imaginative programme that was immensely enjoyed by every member lucky enough to have been there.
REPORT ON JUNE 2017 MEETING
On Tuesday 27th June we met at Ron's home and he introduced an interesting and varied programme. His 3 part theme was: 1 - overtures; 2 - interludes and 3 - finales.
The specific pieces he played were:
Wagner Overture to “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg”
Mozart Overture “The Abduction from the Seraglio “
Patrick Doyle Music for “Much Ado About Nothing”
Noel Coward “Some Day I’ll Find You” “Private Lives”
Verdi Prelude and introduction “La Traviata”
Dvorak Symphony No 7. Scherzo Vivace
Lloyd Webber “Memory” from “Cats”
Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds “Salad Days” (reprise)
Mascagni Intermezzo from “Cavelleria Rusticanna”
Gilbert & Sullivan Finale Act 1 “The Mikado”
Ivor Novello “My Dearest Dear” “The Dancing Years”
Thomas Arne “Alfred” Rule Britannia
James Horner “Titanic” “Hymn to the Sea”
Mendelssohn “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Finale
It was clear that some of these brought back memories for some group members and at times some were very close to joining in with the vocal items!
In the break between parts 2 and 3 we were served up delicious strawberry sponge cake.
A good afternoon was certainly had by all present!
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we did not meet in May 2017
REPORT ON APRIL MEETING
On April 25th we met at the home of Barbara and Ray and enjoyed a varied programme of Film Music. Because of the range of films and the time span covered, the full text of the handout of the day is reproduced below.
Before the 1930s films were silent but started to be accompanied by a piano or organ or orchestra. Apart from the sound of the music the added benefit was that it helped to cover up the noise of the projector. With the advent of talking pictures this started to change and in 1933 you saw the first completely original score composed by Max Steiner for King Kong.
Film music is original music written specifically to accompany a film with the aim of enhancing the drama and emotional aspect of any scene. The scores encompass an enormous variety of styles of music. Since the 1950s electronic elements have appeared and more recently digital technology has become more involved.
A selection of film scores follows –
1 Max Steiner – Gone with the Wind 1939
Austrian born composer who composed over 300 film scores in America, most famously King Kong in 1933 and Gone with the Wind, which won 10 Oscars – but not for music. He actually won 3 Oscars for his film scores and was referred to as ‘the father of film music’.
2 EW Korngold – The Sea Hawk 1940
Austrian born composer who was a child prodigy in Vienna and wrote sonatas and operas before going to the USA in 1934 to write film scores. He wrote 16 scores and won 2 Oscars.
3 Anton Karas – The Third Man 1948
Austrian born musician. A zither player who was asked by the film’s director to compose the film music – which he had never done before. The film and the music was a gigantic success. Karas remained a musician touring the world and did not compose again.
4 Charlie Chaplin – Limelight 1952 ( and 1973)
British born comic who was a musician from an early age playing the piano, violin and cello. He wrote the music for most of his films, though not a trained musician he had the assistance of arrangers and orchestrators. He won an Oscar for this film on its re-release in 1973.
5 Maurice Jarre – Lawrence of Arabia 1962
French composer and conductor who composed several concert works but is best known for his film scores. He won 3 Oscars.
6 Elmer Bernstein – The Great Escape 1963
American composer and conductor (no relation to Leonard). Though receiving 14 nominations he only won one Oscar – for Thoroughly Modern Millie.
7 Maurice Jarre – Doctor Zhivago 1965
Won an Oscar for this film score. Lara’s Theme became a massive hit when converted to the song ‘Somewhere my Love’.
8 Nino Rota – The Godfather (Part II) 1974
Italian composer and conductor who wrote more than 150 film scores and received an Oscar for this one.
9 John Williams – Star Wars 1977
American composer, conductor and pianist. Prolific writer for highly popular films having 50 Oscar nominations, winning five. He has composed 8 film scores in the top 20 top grossing films.
10 John Barry – Out of Africa 1986
English composer and conductor. In his 20’s formed his own band and developed an interest in composing and arranging music. He wrote the scores for 11 James Bond films up to 1987. He won 5 Oscars.
11 Ennio Morricone – The Mission 1992
Italian composer and conductor. He composed over 500 film and TV scores as well as some 100 classical works. Nominated for 6 Oscars he only won one.
12 Trevor Jones – The Last of the Mohicans 1992
South African composer of film and TV scores. This score was not eligible for Oscar nomination as part was written by the American composer Randy Edelman.
13 James Horner – Braveheart 1995
American composer and conductor. His score for the film Titanic is the best selling film soundtrack of all time – for which he won his only Oscar.
14 Hans Zimmer – Gladiator 2000
German composer who spent the early part of his career in the UK before moving to America. He has composed over 150 film scores having received his only Oscar for the Lion King.
On Tuesday March 28th we enjoyed music based on the theme "SOUNDS OF SHAKESPEARE."
For each of the plays we listened to extracts from music associated with the play.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Prokofiev - ballet music
Bernstein - West Side Story
Tchaikovsky - Fantasy Overture
From the Verdi opera
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Mendelssohn - incidental music
Britten - opera
Purcell - The Fairy Queen
Vaughan Williams - Full Fathom Five
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
Vaughan Williams - Serenade to Music
William Walton - Incidental Music
This varied selection was enjoyed by all members there.
On Tuesday 28th February we had a very interesting meeting based on the title "A TASTE OF SONDHEIM."
Stephen Sondheim was born in New York in 1930. His parents divorced when he was 11 years old. Oscar Hammerstein 2nd was a family friend. He became a father figure and mentor to Sondheim until he died.
Sondheim says there are 3 principles necessary for a lyric writer:
1 Content dictates form
2 Less is more
3 God is in the detail
All in the service of clarity.
There were 4 main phases in his musical life and for each a brief talk was illustrated by examples from key compositions on which he worked.
1 HIS EARLY CAREER, FEATURING COLLABORATIONS
WEST SIDE STORY: 1957; book – Arthur Laurens; music Leonard Bernstein; lyrics SS
This was, supposedly, the first blending of book, music, lyric and dance. Until then dance was based more on ornamentation or diversion.
GYPSY: 1959; book – Arthur Laurens; Memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee; music Jule Styne (New York Jewish composer); lyrics SS
Rose – the burlesque queen and driven mother of 2 daughters, wanting to turn one of them into a vaudeville star. The score is redolent of vaudeville and old fashioned character-driven musicals.
2 INDEPENDENT SHOWS
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM; 1962; book – Bert Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, based on plays by Plautus
Plot – Pseudolus, a conniving slave aiming to gain his freedom by solving his master’s love life.
Extracts played: Comedy Tonight; Love is in the Air
A man on his 35th birthday with no emotional ties, re-assess his life, reviewing his relationships with married friends and girlfriends.
3 MUSIC AS OPERETTA
FOLLIES; 1971 a musical
The Weismamm Theatre in New York was about to be pulled down (1941). This was a party for the living performers that were remaining.
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC 1973
Weekend party in the country, mixed romantic relationships, young wife, older husband with other associations.
SWEENEY TODD 1979
England 1849 – barber of Fleet Street unjustly convicted and sent to Australia escapes and is determined to avenge himself with the help of his landlady Nellie Lovett, he plans to go away and wants to avenge himself on the world.
4 A WORLD OF EXPERIMENT
SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE ; 1984
The painting by George Seurat (1859- 1891) “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte.
The Pointilism style of the painting is reflected in the music. No one in the painting is looking at each other.
James Lapine, his friend and director collaborated in this creation.
INTO THE WOODS; 1987
Another collaboration with James Lapine, last seen here in 2010 in Regent’s park.
Based on folk tales involving childless baker and his wife meeting Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk and the Giant.
HIS LATER LIFE
Sondheim carried on writing in the 90’s and well into the 20’s (2008 and 2011)
On Tuesday 24th January we visited the Handel/ Hendrix House/ Museum in central London. Our excellent guide gave a short general introductory talk and then led us around the different rooms in the part of the museum occupied by G F Handel when he lived and composed in London in the first half of the 18th century. He provided a fascinating insight on the various paintings in the house as well as the music scene in London of the time.
Jimi Hendrix, the iconic and extremely talented guitarist, lived in the flat next door while in London in the 1960s.In 2016 the wall between the two properties was demolished and a combined museum established. The Hendrix flat has several interesting interactive displays and members enjoyed seeing those after our guide had again given a brief introduction.
After the visit most members went on to a splendid Chinese meal in Chinatown. This was very special because our visit also coincided with the Chinese New Year.
We did not meet in December.
On Tuesday 29th November we met up for our festive-season group lunch, kindly organised by Maureen. An enjoyable time was had by all!!
REPORT ON OCTOBER MEETING
We met on Tuesday 25th October when John introduced a wide-ranging programme of music sung by a variety of different types of choir. This included G&S by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company,Ladysmith Black Mambazo,a London Gospel Choir, Spem in Alium by the Choir of King's College Cambridge and the Morriston Orpheus Choir singing their version of Cwm Rhondda.
REPORT ON SEPTEMBER MEETING
We met on Tuesday 27th September when the topic was Franz Schubert.
Nyria gave us a fascinating insight to the life and works of this composer who only lived for 31 years and continually felt himself in the shadow of Beethoven. Full acknowledgement of his genius only came after he died. He was a "bridge" between the classical and the romantic eras.
Despite his short life, he composed 9 symphonies, 1 concerto, 147 piano pieces, 77 other instrumental works, 10 operas, 185 choral works and 580 songs. Many of those are rarely performed but many are famous and regularly heard in concert halls around the world.
We listened to a mix of pieces, the main themes of some of which were played for us by our talented host!
After the "listening" stage of the meeting, we enjoyed lively discussion over tea/ coffee and splendid cakes/ biscuits!
REPORT ON AUGUST MEETING
We met on Tuesday 23rd August when the topic introduced was the Russian composer Shostakovich. The hand out for the session was the following:
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH; RUSSIAN; 1906-1975
Some say greatest composer of 20th century; certainly among the most misunderstood!
OUTPUT: 15 symphonies (all substantial except 1st), 6 concertos; 48 film/ theatre scores (many still played regularly); 21 chamber pieces; 4 operas; 4 ballets and 12 “official” pieces.
Despite extensive, regular conflict with Soviet authorities he stayed in Soviet Union (unlike many Russian composers including Prokofiev and Stravinsky) maybe chain smoking linked to that conflict!
Complicated love life; qualified football referee; very talented children; a fantastic host; served as fireman during siege of Leningrad.
Best known wortk probably his 5th symphony; 7th symphony also very significant.
MUSIC PLAYED AT MEETING
PIANO CONCERTO NUMBER 2; 2ND MOVEMENT
JAZZ SUITE 2
Resembles Vienna and Johann Strauss. Style of suite 2 stretches definition of jazz and is better described as a “suite for Promenade Orchestra.
SYMPHONY No. 5; 4TH MOVEMENT FINALE
Premiered 1937; controversial; sub-titled “A Soviet artist’s practical, creative reply to just criticism”. He had been in very serious trouble with Soviet authorities after 1936 extremely controversial opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” (theme was multi-family murders!). The authorities demanded “simplicity” and “optimism;” hence the sub-title. But ambiguous (?his view of the regime??)
Of this “apparently optimistic finale”; he wrote: “It’s as if someone was beating you with a stick and saying “your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing.”
SYMPHONY NUMBER 7; sub-titled “Leningrad.” described as: “one of the most astonishing stories in the history of music.” EXTRACT FROM FIRST MOVEMENT
The CONTEXT of composition (Leningrad siege) of fundamental importance.
Result of a competition and illustrates his incredible memory and recall (akin to that of Mozart).
Tea for Two was a number in the Vincent Youmans musical “No No Nannete) 1st performed in 1924.
A bet was placed that Shostakovich could not, after hearing it for the first time, orchestrate the piece in less than an hour! HE DID IT IN 40 MINUTES
REPORT ON JULY MEETING
U3A Music for Pleasure meeting on Tuesday 26th July 2016
We met at Sheila’s and she introduced a delightful selection of some of her favourite piano music. The pieces played were all relatively short as she specifically omitted the well-known, but lengthy, major concertos such as those of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.
Chopin was well represented with 4 items, Rachmaninov with 2 and there was one each for Liszt, Saint Saens, Mozart, Dvorak, Debussy and Satie.
With one exception and excluding Sheila, members at the meeting recognised many of the compositions (which were mostly well known) but found it difficult to name them. One person was designated the expert of the afternoon!
Everyone there found the experience very relaxing. Many thanks to Sheila for the work she put into compiling the programme and for her hospitality.
REPORT ON JUNE MEETING
Ron introduced a very interesting meeting on 23rd June with the title:
British Composers' works with a Royal Connection
We listened to and discussed the following programme:
Henry Purcell 1659 – 1695
Overture to King Arthur
Alisom Balsom Trumpet
Sound the trumpet, Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary 2nd
Iestyn Davis countertenor
Thou Knowest Lord, Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary 2nd 1695
George Federick Handel 1685 - 1759
Eternal source of Light Divine, written for the Birthday of Queen Ann
Zadok the Priest Coronation of George 2nd 1727
Sir Arthur Sullivan 1842 - 1900
Overture to Yeoman of the Guard.
Sir Hubert Parry 1848 - 1918
I was Glad Royal Weddings etc
Sir Edward Elgar 1857 - 1934
Pomp and Circumstance March No 4 in G Major.
Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872 - 1958
Fantasia on Greensleves, Original by Henry 8th ??
Albert Ketelby 1875 - 1959
In a Persian Market
Sir William Walton 1902 - 1983
Crown Imperial Coronation of George 6th 1937
Vivian Ellis 1903 - 1996
Coronation Scott 1937
Patrick Doyle b.1953
Music for film Henry 5th
Non Nobis Domine
This list includes some particularly interesting pieces, in some cases by little known composers.
REPORT ON OUR MAY MEETING
At our meeting on Tuesday 24th May Pat introduced an afternoon of very relaxing music selections. This included pieces by Albinoni, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Puccini, Faure, Bizet, Grieg, Elgar, Carl Orff, Samuel Barber and Eric Satie.
Many of the pieces were well known and often heard; others were less so; all were enjoyed by everyone! Many thanks are due to Pat. It takes a lot of time to prepare such a varied compilation and the brief background notes provided were very interesting.
REPORT ON OUR APRIL MEETING
Our April meeting on 26th was hosted by Sheila. She introduced us to a BBC2 TV recording, from November 2015, of a live performance of Carlos Acosta’s personal adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen, one of the most successful operas ever written. This exciting adaptation, based on Bizet’s original score, is a new dance for the Royal Ballet with spectacular set designs. Unusually for ballet, it includes on-stage roles for the ROH chorus and a flamenco musician.
Based directly on the opera, the ballet tells the tale of the sultry Carmen and her seduction of the soldier Don José. He falls madly in love with her and sacrifices everything to be with her. However, when Carmen becomes infatuated with the handsome toreador Escamillo, she loses interest in Don José whom she eventually betrays in the arms of Escamillo. Don José’s love turns to violent jealousy and he tracks Carmen down and murders her.
The concert marked the final performance on stage at Covent Garden of Carlos Acosta, Principal Guest Artist of The Royal Ballet, after almost 20 years with the company. Originally from Cuba, he has become one of the most famed dancers in the world.
Sheila also highlighted key facts about Bizet. He had a short life (1838-1875) and is principally remembered for Carmen and The Pearl Fishers, though he also composed many other orchestral pieces.
Carlos Acosta adapts Bizet’s opera for dance in his new work for The Royal Ballet, with sand a new orchestration of Bizet’s score by Martin Yates
Carlos Acosta adapts Bizet’s opera for dance in his new work for The Royal Ballet, with spectacular designs by Tim y and a new orchestration of Bizet’s score by Martin Yates
Carlos Acosta adapts Bizet’s opera for dance in his new work for The Royal Ballet, with spectacular designs by Tim and a new orchestration of Bizet’s score by Martin Yates
REPORT ON OUR MARCH MEETING; TUESDAY 22nd
Gustav Holst (1874-1934), the subject of our March meeting, is a prime example of a composer almost universally associated with just one composition, The Planets Suite. And he was not happy about that because he felt it diminished interest in, and undermined the merits of, his other compositions.
He was also unhappy about the fame that was attributed to him for that work and the associated publicity. He was at heart a very quiet, modest, unassuming man who just wanted to focus on composition and his teaching work at St Paul’s School in West London and at Morley College.
In reality most of his other compositions are little known or performed with just three exceptions, two of which are Christmas Carols: In the Bleak Mid-Winter (in a poll this was voted as the nation’s favourite carol) and Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day. The third is his St. Paul’s Suite, dedicated to his long-term relationship with that education establishment.
At our meeting we listened (by unanimous agreement!) to both of the Christmas Carols, one movement of the St Paul’s Suite and to three of the seven parts of The Planets; Jupiter, Mars and Neptune. The work is based on astrology rather than astronomy, an interest acquired on a holiday to Spain and later described, by Holst, as his “pet vice”. Each movement is intended to convey ideas and emotions associated with the influence of the planets on the psyche.
He came from a very musical, mixed nationality family and was christened with a very Germanic sounding name, Gustavus Theodor von Holst. Having been unfit for active service in WW1, he volunteered to work in France immediately after the war but a condition of that happening related to his name; which he consequently changed, by deed poll, to just Gustav Holst.
Apart from his actual music, he made a lasting contribution, through his educational work, to the evolution of musical education for girls and women.
His view of music is demonstrated by his own words:
“Music, being identical with heaven, isn’t a thing of momentary thrills, or even hourly ones. It’s a condition of eternity.”
REPORT ON OUR FEBRUARY MEETING; TUESDAY 23rd.
Our February meeting was hosted by Maureen and John.
John introduced the session and made us work really hard!; but it was great fun! He had set up a quiz based on musicals from the 1940’s to the 2010’s. He played 15 songs. We were asked for each to suggest the name of the song, the show in which it featured and the decade in which the show was launched.
Two members present did very well but it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t officially keep a tally of the results! The meeting was very enjoyable and, despite the cerebral effort, was relaxing.
John played them in a random order but in date sequence the music played was:
People will say we’re in love; from Oklahoma; 1940’s
You’ll never walk alone; from Carousel; 1940’s
Sit down you’re rockin the boat; from Guys and Dolls; 1950’s
If ever I would leave you; Camelot; 1960’s
Hello Dolly; from Hello Dolly; 1960’s
Any dream will do; from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat; 1960’s
Another suitcase another hall; from Evita; 1970’s
Stars; from Les Miserables; 1980’s
I know him so well; from Chess; 1980’s
All I ask of you; from Phantom of the Opera; 1980’s
Love changes everything; from Aspects of love; 1980’s
Can you feel the love tonight; from The Lion King; 1990’s
Super Trooper; from Mama Mia; 1990’s
Dawn; from Jersey Boys; 2000’s
Will you love me tomorrow; from Beautiful; 2010’s
REPORT ON OUR SECOND MEETING 26th JANUARY 2016
CARMINA BURANA by Carl Orff on DVD
The hand-out to members about our second meeting was as follows:
CARMINA BURANA IS UNIQUE! - no other music quite like it!; also applies to the words!
Opening, O Fortuna, regularly used at celebratory events; also featured in advertisements, films and TV programmes; but the other parts relatively much less known. It has become one of the most widely performed works in the whole choral repertory.
Carmina Burana (songs of Beuren; an ancient monastery in Bavaria); a collection of vivid, colourful, bawdy, profane poetry and songs sung by medieval (11th, 12th and 13th century), hedonistic students and travelling monks celebrating their riotous pursuits and their joys of the tavern, nature, love and lust. The words are a combination of Latin, Middle High German and Old Provencal (French.) Described as “infectious vulgarity interspersed with moments of genuine, serene beauty.”
Carl Orff (1895-1982) a controversial man because of dubious associations with the Nazi regime. He was commissioned by the regime to compose an “alternative” version of music for A Mid-summers Night's Dream because the well known version was by Mendelssohn and he was a Jew. Post-war, he escaped the process of “de-nazification” because he claimed to have worked for the resistance group, a somewhat dubious claim!
Carl Orff is generally known for this one piece only. He wrote others (CB itself is part of a trilogy) but they are rarely heard. After the extremely successful première of Carmina in 1937, he said to his publishers “Everything I have written to date, and which you have, unfortunately, published, can be destroyed.”
He had a major influence on 20th century music and dance education for all age groups throughout the world, particularly young children. He made arrangements of many children's songs, for example Three Blind Mice and The Grand Old Duke of York.
The underlying basis of Carmina Burana is the idea of a turning fortune wheel; joy to bitterness; hope to grief (this is illustrated on the cover of the score).
There are 25 sections, starting and finishing with O Fortuna, a poem about Fortune. Other parts are spring songs, love songs, drinking songs, a mock liturgy, a song from a roasting swan and a song of a medieval female sex worker. Some are highly suggestive!
The DVD was of a live performance by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, a Japanese Chorus (all singing from memory!) and soprano, tenor and baritone soloists .
The soprano soloist is another controversial figure, Kathleen Battle. Her initial international career was a spectacular success. However, due to behaviour that evolved from “difficult” to “demanding” and then to “paranoid” she was fired by the New York Metropolitan Opera company in the 1990s and, although she has continued to perform, her activities have been limited.
REPORT ON OUR FIRST MEETING: SATURDAY 5th DECEMBER
The format for our first meeting was our version of “Desert Island Discs”. Members had submitted their selections and the result was a very mixed bag! There were a few duplicates and some of the suggestions provided good ideas for future meetings.
So we all relaxed and listened to individual pieces of music by classical composers ranging from Handel to Shostakovich, to jazz from Dave Bruebeck, Chet Baker and The Blues Brothers, to Gilbert and Sullivan and to Glen Miller and to a well-known hit of Elvis but in a different format.
There was lively conversation about the music played and some items clearly represented a journey back in time. Reactions to individual items varied but there was no doubt at all that everyone enjoyed the afternoon.
The range of styles and forms covered by members’ choices underlined again the extremely wide interests of the group and this will be reflected in our 2016 programme.
Future meetings are likely to focus on specific aspects but within that the potential scope is great.
The only “requirements” to join our group are an interest in music and enjoyment of just relaxing and listening to music.
So if you feel like joining us, make contact via the Groups section on the web page.
INITIAL MEETING AT BLUE COW CAFE; TUESDAY 27th OCTOBER 2015
At our initial meeting we discussed our musical interests and expectations from the group. A very wide cross-section emerged including a range of classical, choral, jazz, Country and Western, a variety of opera from Verdi to Gilbert and Sullivan, theatre and cinema music and pop music of the 1950's 60's and 70's.
Horizons are clearly wide and everyone showed an interest in extending their musical interests and knowledge. While meetings will be the main format for the group, visits to concerts or shows are also possibilities. In meetings there will be no musical boundaries in terms of what we cover.
It was agreed the first “real” meeting would be based on a Desert Island Discs approach. Members will let David know, by email, individual selections (up to 5 pieces) and he will format a programme from those selections. The selections will only be sent to David and, as a result, the content of the meeting should be a surprise for all. On the day, members will say a few words about their selections including any special associations of the music.