When I was a child, my mother read to me sweet bedtime stories, and I did the same when my two daughters were little. But, as a parent I had something my mother did not, and that was a portable CD player in my children’s rooms so I could play them nighttime classical music to help ease them to sleep.
Over the years there have been many musical albums designed to bring both children and adults peaceful sounds into the evening hours. I remember turning the lights down so that the moonlight would shine through the window, with music playing to enhance the beauty of the moonlight. Pianist Jenny Lin’s new album of nighttime piano music is entitled, “Night Stories – Nocturnes,” and proves to be the perfect gentle evening companion for both the young and not so young.
Jenny Lin is an outstanding artist comfortable with many genres, most notably from the Romantic, Impressionism and mid 20th century Modernism, all represented here. Beginning with Claude Debussy’s iconic “Clair de Lune,” the tone is immediately set for a splendid hour of musical nocturnal delights from the likes of Schumann, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Faure, Chopin, Grieg, Turina, Griffes, Paderewski, Glinka and Liszt. Many of the selections may not seem familiar, but their gentle beauty will definitely warm your senses and inspire your imagination as you spend the evening gently easing away the tensions of the day gone by. Whether or not the music elicits memories of childhood storytelling, this program is a perfect coda to a peaceful evening spent with Jenny Lin’s Night Stories.
Ted Weiner is a WDAV veteran. This San Francisco Bay Area native became WDAV’s Music Director in 1991 and has been maintaining the WDAV recording library and choosing much of the music we hear ever since. Night owls and early birds can hear Ted Weiner on WDAV from midnight until 5 each morning on WDAV’s Early Shift on 89.9fm or online.
Celebrate the World Cup winners – as well as the second-place team – with a little Classical 101, Germany and Argentina editions.
Classical 101: Germany
German classical music and German classical musicians have played a major role in the development of the genre, with a significant contribution to orchestral works and operas. Mozart’s Die Zauberföte, for example, remains among the most beloved operas, and Beethoven’s symphonies are considered prime examples of the Romantic era. Robert Schumann is also credited with the creation of lied, a mixture of romantic poetry and music.
In honor of yesterday’s victory, get to know the biggest composers from this World Cup-winning country:
Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Johann Sebastian Bach was a Baroque composer who Beethoven described as “the original father of harmony.” Although he was not recognized as a great composer during his lifetime, Bach’s fame developed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is famed for his more than 300 cantatas (of which close to 100 have been lost) as well as his music’s intellectual depth and beauty. An example of this can be heard in his Christ lag in Todesbanden.
Born in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven is perhaps the most famous German composer of all time. Despite his hearing loss during the later stages of his life, he became a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic musical periods, and remains one of the most influential of all composers. One of Beethoven’s most famous works in his Symphony No. 9.
Robert Schumann was born in 1810 and brought forth a new type of music called lied. After a hand injury ended his dreams of becoming Europe’s finest pianist, Schumann turned his energies to composition and is now recognized as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Listen to his Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 to hear the composer’s prowess.
Richard Wagner was born in 1813 in Leipzig and is known for his operatic works. His compositions are known for their complex textures and rich harmonies. Arguably his most famous work is his Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). It’s famous “Ride of the Valkyries” can be heard below:
And to honor the second-place winner in the 2014 World Cup…
Classical 101: Argentina
Argentina’s contribution to classical music does not match that of Germany’s, but this should not detract from their legacy. Argentinians have contributed widely to many forms of classical music. Opera must be considered one of the main areas of classical composition. The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is considered one of the best opera houses in the world and represents the counties dedication to the art form. The country is less known for producing romantic and conservative compositions such as orchestral and piano works.
Alberto Williams, born in 1865 in Buenos Aires, is known as a pianist, conductor, and a pedagogue. While he was in Paris as a young man, Williams took lessons in composition from César Franck, who supposedly became fond of Williams. He is known for his orchestral works with his Symphony No. 2 in C Minor being one of the most popular.
Carlos Guastavino was born in 1912 in Santa Fe Province and is considered one of the most prominent Argentine composers of the twentieth century. He generated 500 compositions throughout his life and many were based on Argentine folk songs. He is sometimes referred to as the “Schubert of the Pamapas” and his songs Pueblito, mi pueblo, la rosa y el sauce (“The Rose and the Willow”) and Se eqivovó la paloma(“The Dove was Wrong”) have now become national favorites.
Born in 1916 in Buenos Aires, Alberto Ginastera became a peer of Guastavino and established himself as another of Argentina’s great twentieth century composers. He is famously known for his composition of the opera Don Rodrigo, but is also known for his orchestral works.