MONDAY, February 10, 2020
How the piano concerto developed…
This is something I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time. But where do we start? How do we decide which composers to include?
It usually starts with Bach…
We can go back as far as we wish, but JS Bach seems like the right place to start.
The harpsichord concertos, BWV 1052–1065, are concertos for harpsichord, strings and continuo. The one in D minor is the most famous, so I think it is a good place to start. At first I thought of starting with the idea of Romanticism, which is usually taught to have started around 1800, but I find that idea terribly stiffling and limiting. When we think about what it is to be “romantic”, that’s pretty hard to define. Perhaps it is better to focus instead on creativity, originality and the power of the music, and this concerto by Bach has been something I’ve loved since I was quite young. If anything has changed, it is that I like it even better today, Now, how many “concertos” did Bach write? It depends on how many you label as concertos, and this alone is not agreed upon or standardized. My answer: a lot of them.
Which is the best Mozart concerto to start with? Let’s start with the “Elvira Madigan”.
There are over 20 over them, but just how they are numbered and counted is weird. If anything, the point (if there is one) is that over time great composers started writing less of these as they got more serious about leaving a legacy.
He wrote only five of them, and Beethoven more or less set the pattern for all later composers. Each of his concertos are amazing, and every major composer who came later was aware of the importance and quality of Beethoven’s writing, so they composed very carefully knowing that all others would be compared to Beethoven, the titan.
He was a German composer, conductor and pianist and critic, and was one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. Weber wrote two concertos.
He was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He wrote two piano concertos.
He was a German composer, pianist, and influential music critic. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He wrote only one piano concerto.
He was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He wrote two piano concertos in his late teens and early 20s.
He was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, and organist of the Romantic era. He wrote two piano concertos.
He was a German composer, pianist and conductor, a leading representative of late Romantic music. He wrote two piano concertos.
He was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era.
He was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. He wrote two piano concertos, but the 2nd is almost never played because it is far inferior to the first.
He was a Czech composer, one of the first to achieve worldwide recognition. Following the Romantic-era nationalist example of his predecessor Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed rhythms and other aspects of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. His piano concerto, the only one, is not well known and is not one of his popular works.
He was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions brought the music of Norway to international consciousness. He wrote only one piano concerto.
He was an American composer who wrote in the style of earlier European composers. His 2nd Piano Concerto is by far his most famous and most popular work.
She was another American composer who also wrote in the style of earlier European composers.
He was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century. He wrote only one piano concerto.
He was a Russian composer, virtuoso pianist, and conductor of the late Romantic period. The influence of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, and other Russian composers is seen in his early works, later giving way to a personal style notable for song-like melodicism, expressiveness and rich orchestral colors. He wrote four piano concertos.
He was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France’s greatest living composer. He wrote two piano concertos, but one of them was only for the left hand.
He was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary’s greatest composers. He was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology. He wrote three piano concertos.
He was a Russian Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous music genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. He wrote five piano concertos.
He was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. He wrote only one piano concerto.
He was an Italian-American composer and librettist.