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Heifetz, Piatigorsky & Rubinstein Perform Schubert, 1953

Here is a rare film of violinist Jascha Heifetz, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and pianist Arthur Rubinstein performing Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat D. 988. It was filmed in 1953.

Added to From: Chamber Music on Apr 29, 2014

Ivry Gitlis Performing With John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton & Mitch Mitchell

Here is a clip of Ivry Gitlis playing at The Rolling Stones 1968 production of Rock & Roll Circus. It’s a bit of an odd performance, I have to say, especially with Yoko Ono’s contribution to it. But it’s still very much worth watching due to all the unexpected individuals playing together.

Added to From: Violin on Apr 5, 2014

Ivry Gitlis On The Meaning Of Life

Ivry Gitlis is a pretty intense guy and one who stands out from all the other great violinists in the world, and I mean that in a good way. Here he talks about his philosophy on life.

Added to From: Violin on Apr 5, 2014

Hap-Pi Birthday To Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was an avid amateur violinist for most of his life and even in 1911 performed a recital of Mozart violin sonatas. Also I’ve always found it so fitting that Einstein’s birthday falls on March 14, otherwise known as Pi Day, 3.14. To celebrate such a day, here is an audio recording of Albert Einstein performing Mozart’s violin sonata in B-flat KV378. Einstein was a lifelong amateur violinist and also loved to play chamber music with friends and colleagues.

Hap-Pi Birthday Albert Einstein!


Okay, this apparently is NOT Einstein playing the violin and is actually Carl Flesch. The comments in this article explain how it is actually an April Fool’s joke. Ha ha ha…

Added to From: Chamber Music on Mar 14, 2014

Carlos Kleiber Documentary “Traces To Nowhere”

Carlos Kleiber was one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, no doubt. His recording, for example, of Beethoven’s 5th and 7th symphonies is the standard as well as for so many other pieces. This wonderful documentary covers his life and work, including interviews with friends and many clips of Kleiber in rehearsal, which is where one can see why a conductor is both necessary and great.

Added to From: Conductors on Mar 12, 2014

Bruno Walter Discusses Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler died in 1911 at the age of just 51 year of age, way too early in my book, even if composers have had a tendency to die at young ages. Mozart died at the age of 35, Schubert at age 31, Schumann age 46, Mendelssohn age 38, Chopin age 39 and so on. So perhaps Mahler was an elder statesman in terms of age among composers. But if only Mahler could have lived to at least the age of Haydn, 77 years, imagine the music we would have today and how famous he would have been possibly living until the age of television. But a history of bad health, not to mention a series of dark events in his life, led to his early death in 1911. This early demise and German and Austrian attempts to banish a Jewish composer to the dustbins of history, have led to Mahler the person being a mystery to most people.

In the video above, the conductor Bruno Walter discusses his friendship and professional work with Mahler earlier in his career. It’s a valuable record to learn more about what Mahler was like.

Added to From: Conductors, Interviews on Mar 11, 2014

Leonard Bernstein & The Vienna Philharmonic Perform Brahms 2nd Symphony

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic often appeared on PBS performing Beethoven and Mozart symphonies and, as seen here, all of the Brahms symphonies. Also performed were concertos of Brahms for violin, piano and the double concerto for violin and cello. I used to video tape these concerts, watching them over and over again until the music warbled due to the increasingly damaged video tape.

The video above is Brahms 2nd symphony in D major, Op. 73 performed at the Musikverein in Vienna, arguably the greatest concert hall in the world. In addition to these concerts on PBS, each episode in this series often had Bernstein himself discussing the music for that night’s program, all in his typical style of humor, sarcasm and musical brilliance (seen after after the jump).

While serving as director of a chamber music festival I founded in Austria several years back, we were fortunate to be close enough to the town of Pörtschach near the Carinthian capital of Klagenfurt in the south of Austria, a popular vacation spot for various composers in the 19th and early 20th centuries such as Gustav Mahler, Hugo Wolf, Alban Berg and Johannes Brahms. Brahms spent the summers of 1877–79 in Pörtschach and composed some of his most famous works there, including the second symphony. One should know that “summers” spent in places like this were not from June to August, like today, but more like five to six months until October, plenty of time to crank out works like this.

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Added to From: Concert Hall, Orchestral on Mar 8, 2014

Americans For The Arts – “Brahm’s Breakfast”

This is a pretty clever ad. I wish it was a Super Bowl ad.

Added to From: Humor on Mar 8, 2014

The Making Of Amadeus

I doubt there are many classical music fans that have never seen the movie Amadeus. Besides being a great story and having a great cast, I also think it’s the best Hollywood movie with actors looking like they’re playing their instruments. I believe Tom Hulce had some piano background prior to acting in this movie and the orchestra members at the Royal Opera must be musicians extras. But it’s certainly nice not having to close my eyes when seeing people play throughout the movie.

Here is a really wonderful documentary on the making of the movie, one that was not made at the time it was filmed, as is common for many big movies. Those who made the movie have had many years to ponder their experiences of making this movie.

Added to From: Movies on Mar 8, 2014

Julia Fischer & Gordan Nikolić Perform Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante

I have to say this performance by Julia Fischer and Gordan Nikolić of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra is one of the most gratifying performances I’ve seen in a long time. Not only is the performance first rate but the attitude and lightness of the performance is really wonderful to behold. The playfulness and nimbleness of it is something you don’t see often enough in performances of Mozart.

It appears the video is not the actual session that made it onto the released CD with one or two mistakes in the performance. And a little birdie told me that champagne was served during the session breaks. So perhaps that helps add to the looseness and vibrancy of the performance. I wish I could see more of this session.

The CD is available on Amazon.

Added to From: Soloists, Violin on Mar 7, 2014

Bach Cantatas BWV 179, 191 & 113, St. David’s Cathedral, Dyfed

In the year 2000, conductor Sir Eliot Gardiner, The Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Solists embarked on what was called the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, an ambitious 52-week project of performing all of Bach’s cantatas in churches around Europe and culminating in New York City. The tour was to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death in 1750.

Here Gardiner and his ensemble performs with soloists Magdalena Kozená and William Towers cantatas BWV 179, 191 & 113 at St Davids Cathedral, Dyfed in the United Kingdom.

I really hope that we don’t have to wait until Bach’s 300th anniversary of his death or 400th birthday for the next pilgrimage. Gardiner won’t be around until then.

Added to From: Concert Hall on Mar 6, 2014

Jacqueline du Pre Performs The Elgar Cello Concerto

There are many great recordings of Elgar’s cello concerto, whether it be Pierre Fournier or maybe even today with Alisa Weilerstein. But in my mind, nothing tops the performance(s) given by Jacqueline du Pre, which the world lost at too early an age. I would have loved to hear how du Pre would have grown with this piece over the years, like a maturing bottle of red wine. But instead we have frozen in time those performances from earlier in her career. Here she performs with her husband Daniel Barenboim conducting. I am not aware of which orchestra she performs with. And can I just say that I think du Pre had the best pizzicato technique of anyone in the world. I have yet to hear someone equal the power and ringing that she was able to produce.

Added to From: Concert Hall, Soloists on Mar 6, 2014

Leonard Bernstein Rehearses Mahler 5 With The Vienna Philharmonic

Leonard Bernstein was a key player in helping make the music of Gustav Mahler a mainstay in concert halls around the world. Here is a clip from the TV documentary ‘Leonard Bernstein Rehearses Mahler‘ from 1975 where he rehearses the first movement of Mahler’s 5th symphony. By the looks of it, the rehearsal seemed to be a bit of a slog, bringing the older members along with the music. The music of Mahler was virtually non-existent in Germany and Austria after his death until the 50s and 60s.

Added to From: Concert Hall, Orchestral on Feb 13, 2014

András Schiff Discusses Performing Bach

András Schiff is one of the world’s leading performers of the piano works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Here he discusses The Well-Tempered Klavier at an interview in New York City.

Added to From: Piano on Feb 6, 2014

Bach: A Passionate Life, With John Eliot Gardiner

The conductor John Eliot Gardiner is one of the foremost experts on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Under both groups that he founded, The English Baroque Soloists and The Monteverdi Choir, he has recorded all of Bach’s cantatas, motets and just about all of Bach’s vocal works. Gardiner has recently released the book Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven and the documentary seen here, Bach: A Passionate Life, accompanies that book’s launch.

Added to From: Choral, Composers, History on Feb 3, 2014