Tag Archives: classical music

Claude Debussy Sesquicentennial

Note: Composer Claude Debussy’s 150th birthday was this year (August 22). And, while I can read music and play the flute, I am not a professional musician in the least! This is merely a short and unabashed tribute with music samples.

Claude Debussy (Photo source: Wikipedia)

In 199o, I saw the controversial NC-17 rated film Henry & June; in fact, I watched at least a dozen people walk out of my theater. While the movie was definitely provocative, it was the gorgeous soundtrack that sang to me. It was the first time I heard the lively and energetic “Petit Suite Ballet,” the exotic “Pour L’Egyptienne,” the romantic “La Plus que Lente,” and the haunting “Sonata for Violin and Piano.”

I was entranced.

For me, Debussy’s music always evokes images of nature, gardens, and the sea. In other words, dreamlike qualities. Indeed, he was part of an era in music called impressionism, although he himself disliked that affiliation. Just like the art period of the same name, Debussy lived in a world that also knew artist Claude Monet and composers Erik Satie, Maurice Ravel, and Gabriel Faure.

The library owns many recordings of Debussy’s works as well as sheet music and scores and books about his life and influence.

Who is your favorite classical composer? Why?

~Maria, who was dismayed to discover that Debussy’s music is very challenging for the flute!

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A Nutcracker Tribute

When I was four years old, my mother enrolled me in ballet school. It was one of those things she had always wanted to try but, as a working class child growing up in Detroit, it was a luxury her family could not afford. As a result, I was exposed to not only the classical world of ballet and the rigors of training, but also to the most beautiful music in the world. I danced parts in both  Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake (music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky) and, of course, every December, The Nutcracker. While I have grown to love and appreciate all of Tchaikovsky’s music, The Nutcracker holds a very special place in my heart.

I know it is ubiquitous during the holidays and it is tirelessly performed by both large –to my deep dismay, there is no live orchestra during this performance!–and small dance companies, but I take my holiday music very seriously; it’s one of my personal holiday traditions.

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker ballet premiered in Russia in 1892, to disappointing reviews however, in America, the music was highly praised and with good reason. With its clever nuances, dramatic melodies, building tension sequences, and ornamental highlights of different instruments (the flute being my particular favorite), my own dream is to see a major symphony orchestra perform this entire masterpiece–not highlights!–without the ballet (how about it, Pittsburgh Symphony?). It has as much drama and excitement as watching the actual ballet performance, sometimes even more. I’m not a music critic or even a professional musician, but the music of this ballet entrances me. It can be quiet and relaxing and it can be exciting and loud.

The library has many ways for you to enjoy The Nutcracker on compact disc or streaming, book, or DVD. My personal favorites are the recording with Anton Dorati and the London Symphony Orchestra and the 1977 made-for-television ballet starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland, but there are more versions than you can count of both the recording and the ballet. If you’re a musician, there is also the score and, if you want to read the story, we have that too.

~Maria,

who, from Thanksgiving until Epiphany, blissfully listens to The Nutcracker on repeat

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