Monday, March 27, 2017

Carter and Tymoczko

Elliot Carter (1908-2012)
Today in class we heard two major works for brass quintet: Elliot Carter's Brass Quintet (1974), as recroded by the American Brass Quintet and Rube Goldberg Variations for Brass Quintet and Prepared Piano by Dmitri Tymoczko, as recorded by the Atlantic Brass Quintet. 

Both works are extremely unique, so I have asked you to blog about your thoughts on each piece by answering the following questions about each piece:
  1.  What is the overall affect of the piece? How does it make you feel? How does the composer achieve that?
  2. List three remarkable or noteable aspects of the piece. Include measure numbers or rehearsal numbers or letters and explain your answer.
  3. Comment on the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic language used. What are some of the challenges presented in the performances of this work created by these languages?
  4. Finally, compare and contrast both works. What are their similarities? What are their differences?
I look forward to reading your responses in your blogs and be sure to reach each others' blog post replies.

To listen to the Tymoczko again, click on the links below:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Arnold Symphony for Brass and Tomasi Fanfares Liturgiques

Tuesday we listened to two great original works for brass choir: Malcolm Arnold's Symphony for Brass and Henri Tomasi's Fanfares Liturgiques.

Sir Malcolm Arnold
The recording of Sir Malcom Arnold's Symphony for Brass was done by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. The piece was written in 1978 with the PJBE standard instrumentation of four trumpets, one horn, four trombones and one tuba. Arnold was born in Northampton, England in 1921 and after hearing Louis Armstrong play, he decided to learn the trumpet at age twelve. He attended the Royal College of Music and studied trumpet with Gordon Jacob. In 1957, Arnold won an Academy Award for the music to epic film The Bridge on the River Kwai. According to Music Academy Online: 

Malcolm Arnold moved to Ireland in 1972, where he reveled in the lush scenery and lively Celtic music. Here, however, his behavior became increasingly erratic and, in 1977, his second marriage collapsed and he returned to England, exhausted and unable to work for several years. Significant works eventually emerged during this unhappy period, such as the Trumpet Concerto, Symphony for Brass and the Eighth Symphony.

Oral history of Glyndebourne opera

Oral history of Glyndebourne opera
For more information about the PJBE, here is a link to the book The Odyssey of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble by Donna McDonald available at Editions BIM.

Henri Tomasi
The recording of Fanfares Liturgique, by Henri Tomasi, was made by Grand Ensemble de Cuivres et Percussion des Hauts de France, with Alexis Malotchkine & Bernard Calmel. As you heard, it is a very powerful and well-crafted composition. The names of the movements are translated below, and as we discussed, the genre seems to be an "instrumental oratorio" - that is, a sacred brass choir version of a liturgical work. Of course there is no text sung, but the orator could be represented by the trombone solo of the second movement. Note also the return of the triumphant first theme, possibly a motif for the Christ figure, returns in the final movement. I also was reminded in several passages of the works Stravinsky, Respighi, Bach, and Dukas.
This work was originally called "Fanfares Concertantes" and was part of his opera Don Juan de MaƱera. 

  • I. Annonciation (Annunciation is the term describing the moment when the angel Gabriel declared Mary to be the mother of God)
  • II. Evangile (Gospel, or the word of God)
  • III. Apocalypse (Apocolypse, or revelation?) Four Horsemen who are listed as Pestilence (disease epidemic), War, Famine, Death
  • IV. Procession du Vendredi-Saint (Good Friday Procession, a Christian celebration commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus)
For more information about Tomasi, go to the Tomasi page and for more listening, go to Tomasi on Naxos.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Arfen Owen Lecture

Today, we had the great pleasure of hearing famous Tenor Horn solosit Arfen Owen speak about the history of the British Brass Band tradition. It was a very enlightening lecture, especially when we learned that the origins of the British Brass Band included keeping mill workers out of trouble and to discourage unionization. 

Here are the YouTube videos we listened to:


I encouraged each of you to blog about your notes on the lecture, so I look forward to reading your impressions online. Check out this brief article on Four Bars Rest about Mr. Owen.