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Gerontius, Elgar, and the Task of Setting a Vision to Music

Sir Edward William Elgar  (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934)

Sir Edward William Elgar (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934)

Edward Elgar is perhaps best known in the United States as the composer of “Pomp and Circumstance,” the tune to which our high school and college graduates regularly march on the way to the podium to receive their diplomas.

More formally, there are six “Pomp and Circumstance Marches,” and the bit used for graduations is the “Land of Hope and Glory” passage … Continue Reading

Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr., R.I.P

Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. (12 July 1934 - 27 February 2013)

Harvey Lavan (“Van”) Cliburn, a classical pianist who has been world famous since 1958, died on February 27th of this year. We at JustSheetMusic bid him a fond farewell.

Cliburn was in a direct chain of succession from the 19th century master Franz Liszt, a chain with only two intermediate links. Van’s mother, Rildia Bee (nee O’Bryan) Cliburn, had been a student of Arthur Friedheim, who had been a student of … Continue Reading

William Alwyn

Born 7 November 1905. William Alwyn was an English composer, music teacher and conductor.  Beside his musical talent he was also a polyglot, poet and artist.

In 1920 William Alwyn started studying the flute and compositions at the  Royal Academy of Music in London and after this study he served there as professor of composition until 1955.

From 1941 till 1962 he wrote over 70 sheet music titles for films, some of those are.

4 Simple Steps to Learn How to Sight Read

be49cd3cdf512015a04321593bea9172_FotorSight reading is an essential technique in learning how to play piano and it will improve your piano playing skills by leaps and bounds. Learning to sight read piano pieces will help you start to understand music theory and will improve your ability to read notes and pieces just by playing it one time. All-in-all, it will make you a more well-rounded piano player.

However, what is sight reading? Sight reading is being able to look at a piece of music and play the notes and rhythms the whole way through, without … Continue Reading

A Composer Who Understands Fractals: Charles Peter Wuorinen


I recently read The Fractalist , a memoir of the late Benoit Mandelbrot, the great geometer who pioneered our understanding of fractals and their significance in nature and human society.

The usual way to consider fractals is to start with the Mandelbrot set, an exceedingly complicated geometrical configuration (as left) that arises from a very simple initiating formula.

As Mandelbrot himself wrote, in his groundbreaking 1982 book, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, “Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not … Continue Reading

A Brief Performance History of Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Simone Dinnerstein - JS Bach Goldberg Variations

The standard account of Johann Sebastian Bach’s composition of his famous ‘Goldberg Variations’ comes from a biography of Bach, by Johann Nikolaus Forkel, which first appeared in 1802. Forkel says that Bach wrote these works as an insomnia cure for a patron, Count Keyserlingk. Specifically, he wrote them for the performances of a former student of his, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, in the Count’s employment.

They seem to have worked! Goldberg would play them in the … Continue Reading

The rise of Clint Mansell

Mansell with the Sonus Quartet

If you are a movie enthusiast, the name Clint Mansell should definitely ring a bell or two in your head. There are very few people who have seen movies like ‘Black Swan’, ‘A Requeim for a Dream’, ‘The Wrestler’, ‘Moon’ and do not know Clint Mansell.

This English Music composer started off his career as the lead singer and guitarist for the band “Pop Will Eat Itself”. The young Mansell showed a lot of promise … Continue Reading

Hector Berlioz: Bearer of Romanticism’s Torch: Part II

Hector Berlioz as child

We discussed Berlioz’ operas in the last entry. One obvious point about opera as an art form is that the music must integrate with a story. Berlioz’ career, though, makes us look at that obvious point in a not-so-obvious context.

Can music tell a story without lyrics or performers? How much narration can instrumental music alone accomplish? Can or should music tell a story sketched out in an extra0-musical way, as through a program of notes provided concert goers?

To begin … Continue Reading

Romanticism and Beethoven: Part One

Return of the Repressed?

In this year, 2011, we might take a moment to mark an important event in music history, one that took place 230 years ago. For it was at some time in 1781 that Ludwig van Beethoven, who was then 11 years of age, came under the tutelage of Christian Gottlob Neefe.

Neefe, the composer for example of the Allegretto in C Major played by a 5 year old girl in a charming video here, was the court organist … Continue Reading

Friedrich Daniel Rudolf Kuhlau

Born 11 september 1786 in Germany. Friedrich Kuhlau was known as a composer and concert pianist.  He started studying the piano in Hamburg  where he also made his debut as a pianist in 1804.

In 1813 Friedrich Kuhlau became a Danish citizen after he fled to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Army.  One year later he had his breakthrough with a singspiel called “The Robbers’ Castle” (Danish: Røverborgen) at the Roayal Danish Theatre.

Kuhlau had his success in 1828 when he wrote the music (Op. 100)  for ‘Elves Hill’ (Danish: Elverhøj) which … Continue Reading