This easy study in triplets is taken from Giuseppe Gariboldi's Vingt petites études, or Twenty Studies. Play this piece evenly, and mind your articulation and phrasing.
This Irish folk song came to be known as an Irish rebel song in the early 20th century. In its original form, known as “Séarlas Óg” (meaning “Young Charles” in Irish), the song refers to Bonnie Prince Charlie and dates back to the third Jacobite rising of 1745.
The song has been sung widely by ballad groups such as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Dubliners, The Cassidys and the Wolfe Tones. There is also a classical orchestral version by the Irish Tenors.
This Valse lente, or “Slow waltz”, is played at the beginning of Act I of Delibes's sentimental comic ballet Coppélia, premiered in 1870. The story of Coppélia concerns a mysterious and faintly diabolical inventor, Doctor Coppélius, who has made a life-size dancing doll. It is so lifelike that Frantz, a village swain, is infatuated with it, and sets aside his true heart's desire, Swanhilde, who shows him his folly by dressing as the doll and pretending to come to life.
Thanks to Anyesha for suggesting this piece!
Here is another duet by Italian composer Ernesto Köhler. This common-time duet in D major is No. 11 of the first volume of his Forty Progressive Duets. The main theme is introduced by the first flute and then repeated by the second flute; in the central part, however, the second flute is relegated to an accompaniment function.
This lively Allemande is the second movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's third Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. It is the only movement in the suites that has an upbeat consisting of three sixteenth notes instead of just one.
This piece can sound very beautiful if you choose your articulation carefully.
This reel was written by William Marshall (1748–1833), one of the greatest composers of Scottish fiddle music. He had four sons in the military, two of whom attained the rank of Captain or above. It is thought that this tune was dedicated either to John Marshall of the 16th Foot who died of cholera in Madras, India, or to his older brother, who rose to the rank of Colonel in the 79th Cameron Highlanders.
This waltz was published in 1847, together with the famous Minute Waltz. Strikingly Slavic in tone, this piece is marked “Tempo giusto” (“at the right tempo”), but one hardly ever hears this work played without a heavy dose of rubato. The “veiled melancholy”, as critic James Huneker called it, of the primary melody is unrivaled among Chopin's works.
The piece consists of three main themes: a tempo giusto with a walking pace feel, a faster theme stated in running eighth notes, and a slower theme in D-flat major.
Here is the first movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's fourth Canonic Sonata for two flutes. From a rhythmic point of view, this “Vivace ma moderato” may sound a little strange, because it is in 3/4 time but starts off giving the impression of being in 6/8.
This étude is No. 18 of Ernesto Köhler's 25 Romantic Studies, Op. 66. It is a study in chromatic scales, so be careful to play all 32nd notes evenly. Also remember to play with dynamics, to imitate the blowing of the wind!
This Irish march is probably as old as the late 16th century, and commemorates Hugh O'Donnell, the leader of Ireland's native and Catholic clans in the wars against Protestant Elizabethan troops in the 1590s. According to some sources, however, the tune was composed in the early part of the 19th century by Joseph Haliday, a bandmaster from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary.
Thanks to Brian for suggesting this tune!
What we have to offer today is the very first movement of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. In its original setting, this cheerful curtain raiser has a very unique sound to it, because it is scored for winds and high strings only, without cellos and double basses.
Thanks to Jeffrey for suggesting this piece!
This wonderful Marziale for two flutes in E minor is taken from Ernesto Köhler's collection of progressive duets, Op. 55 Vol. I. The first flute plays a “large”, songful theme, while the second flute is assigned a restless accompaniment mostly made up of sixteenth notes. At the beginning and at the end of the piece, however, the two flutes play in octaves, so play close attention to your intonation!
This is one of a number of pieces of doubtful authorship from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, a collection of keyboard pieces given to her by her husband J.S. Bach. This Minuet in D minor is quite simple and straightforward, quite at odds with the style of J.S. Bach, though he cannot absolutely be ruled out as the work's author. It is reflective in its elegance, intimate in its gracefulness, and quite catchy in its simple, melodic charm.
The words and music to this ballad were written by James L. Molloy (1837-1909), a native of County Offaly in the Irish Midlands who moved to England and lived there most of his life.
As I'm sitting all alone in the gloaming,
It might have been but yesterday
That we watched the fisher sails all homing
Till the little herring fleet at anchor lay.
Then the fisher girls with baskets a swinging,
Came running down the old stone way.
Every lassie to her sailor lad was singing
A welcome to Bantry Bay.
Thanks to Michael from Bantry Bay, Ireland for suggesting this song!
This popular march was written in the 1880s by Josef Franz Wagner, who is not to be confused with the more famous Richard Wagner. Josef Wagner, also known as “The Austrian March King”, was a military bandmaster in the service of the Habsburgs. The “double eagle” referred to in the title was the symbol of the conjoined state of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That said, it is evident that the long-held notion that “Under the Double Eagle” has some historical significance as an icon of American patriotism is in error.
Josef Wagner composed over 400 works, mostly marches, but only a few of these pieces have ever appeared in the United States. Under the Double Eagle made its American debut in 1894; it was quickly picked up by Sousa's Band and became immediately popular, being widely distributed on early sound reproduction devices, such as primitive phonograph records, pianolas and music boxes. To this day “Under the Double Eagle” has remained a staple of small-town brass band literature, and is commonly played as a circus march.
Thanks to Zyx for suggesting this piece!
Joseph Bodin de Boismortier was a prolific French composer of the Baroque period. His Opus 22, now known as 55 Easy Pieces in 18 Keys, or 55 leichte Stücke in 18 Tonarten, was first published in Paris in 1728. The Prélude in D major we present today is the very first duet of the collection.
Here is another easy study from Giuseppe Gariboldi's Vingt petites études, or Twenty Studies. This Allegretto in waltz time starts off with a succession of eighth notes marked “deciso” (determined, resolute), which gives way to a lighter, graceful theme.
Performance of sword dances in the folklore of Scotland is recorded from as early as the 15th century. In Gillie Callum, the dancer crosses two swords on the ground in an “X” shape, and dances around and within the 4 quarters of it.
This is the tune generally played as a strathspey and reel for the Highland sword dance, and the melody is today familiar in association with a dance in which great care is taken not to displace the crossed swords during the exercise. The origins of the tune are not well documented; its earliest written record is in a manuscript dating back to 1734.
Gaspar Sanz was an Aragonese composer, guitarist and organist of the Baroque period. This lively composition for solo guitar is one of 90 pieces of varying complexity to be found in the composer's masterpiece collection Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española y método de sus primeros rudimentos hasta tañerla con destreza (“Music instruction manual on the Spanish guitar and method on the first rudiments that concern playing with dexterity”), published in three volumes between 1674 and 1697.
As indicated by the title, this piece is a dance from the Canary Islands, a Spanish possession off the southeast coast of Spain.
Thanks to Cidiclei for suggesting this piece!
Here is another duet from Joseph Bodin de Boismortier's 55 Easy Pieces, Op. 22. This is a light binary-form piece in D major.
The Sarabande from Johann Sebastian Bach's third Suite for unaccompanied cello is characterized by a series of triple and quadruple stops, which are rendered as broken chords in the present transcription. These arpeggios offer the player plenty of room for gutsy expressiveness, and at the same time outline the implied polyphony that so fascinates those who hear these works.
The name of this tune commemorates the Battle of the Boyne (named for the Boyne River in County Meath, eastern Ireland), fought in 1690, in which the English monarch King William III defeated the Irish forces under King James II.
Some scholars believe that this tune was composed in the 17th century as a vocal air, rather than as an instrumental piece. However old it actually is in oral tradition, the earliest printed appearances of “Boyne Water” can be found in William Graham's Lute Book of 1694, as “Playing Amang the Rashes”. The melody remained in popular usage throughout the British Isles for well over two hundred years. Robert Burns set three songs to it, and Sir Thomas Moore used the melody for his circa 1825 song “As Vanquished Erin”. The air was also widespread in American usage, often heard as the tune the popular song “Barbara Allan” was sung to.
This Adagio constitutes the first movement of Johann Joachim Quantz's Sonata No. 1 in A minor for flute and continuo. It is one of the many works for flute that Quantz composed for his student and patron Frederick II, King of Prussia.
Thanks to Blas from Spain for suggesting this piece!
Today's piece is a lively gavotte in D major, duet No. 3 from Joseph Bodin de Boismortier's 55 Easy Pieces, Op. 22. Its title, “L'Enhardie”, might be translated from French as “the bold, audacious one”.
This étude is No. 16 of Ernesto Köhler's 25 Romantic Studies, Op. 66. Its title, “Cantabile alla Moderna”, could be literally translated as “singable piece in the modern style”.
This tune is a Scottish reel, which is generally not played as fast as the traditional Irish reel. Duncan Gray was a carter in Glasgow during the early 18th century, and is supposed to have composed the tune; the story goes that the tune was written down from his whistling by a Glasgow musician, and later appeared in James Oswald's The Caledonian Pocket Companion, published in 1751. Fiddler David Johnson, however, thinks that the tune may have originally been an English march in trumpet style. In 1798 Robert Burns added words to the tune, and the song has been popular in Scotland for a long while. Burns called it “that kind of light-horse gallop of an old air which precludes sentiment. The ludicrous is the leading feature.”
This piece is No. 8 of the Abdelazer Suite, written in 1695 by English Baroque composer Hanry Purcell. As a country dance, this hornpipe is also known under the title The Hole in the Wall; you might have heard its tune played in the 1996 A&E production Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale.
This Hornpipe in B-flat major should not be confused with the Rondeau in D minor from Abdelazer, which is also a Hornpipe.
Here is another duet from Joseph Bodin de Boismortier's 55 Easy Pieces, Op. 22. It is titled “La Molesse”, or “The Softness”.
Thanks to Paolo for contributing this piece!
This pair of Bourrées constitutes the “galant” element of Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suite No. 3 in C major. You may notice that the second Bourrée, though in C minor, has only 2 flats in its key signature. This notation, common in pre-Classical music, is sometimes known as a partial key signature.
With less than a month until Christmas it's time to start posting some carols!
“Sing We Now Of Christmas” is the English title of a 15th-century traditional French carol known as “Noël nouvelet”. English translations of this carol appeared as early as the 17th century, and many different hymns are now sung to this tune, including “Now The Green Blade Rises” and “Welcome, Happy Morning!”.
You may notice that, while the tune is in F minor, it has a D-natural in it. That's because this tune, like many other old tunes, is a modal tune, and more precisely, a Dorian-mode tune.
Thanks to Sarah for suggesting this tune!