Let Us Now Praise Great Bluesmen : Blind Willie Johnson, who died today, 1947, in Beaumont, Texas

Allmusic.com Biography by Joslyn Layne Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. He most often sang in a rough, bass voice … Continue reading Let Us Now Praise Great Bluesmen : Blind Willie Johnson, who died today, 1947, in Beaumont, Texas

The String Quartets of Krzysztof Meyer : a major achievement of the second half of the 20th century

Krzysztof Meyer (born 11 August 1943) is a Polish composer, pianist and music scholar, formerly Dean of the Department of Music Theory (1972–1975) at the State College of Music (now Academy of Music in Kraków), and president of the Union of Polish Composers (1985–1989). Meyer served as professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik … Continue reading The String Quartets of Krzysztof Meyer : a major achievement of the second half of the 20th century

Brahms violin sonatas receive fine performances in new recording : Tetzlaff & Vogt

Recently, the question was posed on a popular online music discussion forum: “What are your eight favorite chamber works?”  My answer was that I could easily answer the query using only works by Johannes Brahms.  Brahms was a master of chamber music and wrote more than one work in all of the traditional forms: instrumental … Continue reading Brahms violin sonatas receive fine performances in new recording : Tetzlaff & Vogt

Haydn: Sonata ‘Un piccolo divertimento’

“Haydn’s piano music is often complicated and formally wayward: its beauties do not, on the whole, lie on the surface. It is music whose appeal is primarily intellectual, requiring both thought and explanation.”  (H.C. Robbins Landon) Haydn composed the Variations in F minor, Hob.XVII:6 in Vienna in 1793 for the talented pianist Barbara (‘Babette’) von Ployer, … Continue reading Haydn: Sonata ‘Un piccolo divertimento’

Guillaume Du Fay: The Tenor Masses (Les messes à teneur)

What did it mean for Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1397-1474), chameleon-like expert in every musical genre of his day, to compose four settings of the Mass Ordinary toward the end of his life? Looking back from the vantage point of the next generation, when the polyphonic mass reigned supreme, it might be tempting to interpret … Continue reading Guillaume Du Fay: The Tenor Masses (Les messes à teneur)

American Roots Music : Three Bands/Artists

American Roots Music, is what I am calling what the three artists make whom I will highlight today. I took the classification from American Roots Music, a 2001 multi-part documentary film that explores the historical roots of American Roots music which, in the PBS film, includes Folk, Country, Blues, Gospel, and Bluegrass.   Common elements are … Continue reading American Roots Music : Three Bands/Artists

New from Hyperion : Machaut and Conductus

A couple of recent and noteworthy recordings from Hyperion: more Machaut by The Orlando Consort, and the final installment from John Potter, Christopher O’Gorman and Rogers Covey-Crump, of the Conductus genre, the first experiments towards polyphony—the kind of sound we associate with Pérotin. A Burning Heart, Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377) Formed in 1988 by the … Continue reading New from Hyperion : Machaut and Conductus