Christmas music trivia

New music for an old instrument: 20th century composers who wrote works using a harpsichord included Ernst Krenek, Carl Orff, Rudolf Moser, Bohuslav Martinů, Wolfgang Fortner, Darius Milhaud, Hugo Distler, Lou Harrison, Vittoro Rieti, Florent Schmitt, Iannis Xenakis (Komboi), György Ligeti (Continuum) Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt, and of course Francis Poulenc, and Manuel de Falla. Additions to this list please using the comments facility.

Old music in the New World: John Frederick Wolle conducted the first American performance of Bach's B minor Mass in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1900, one hundred and fifty-one years after the composer's death

Music to be terrorised by: In the 1936 'Hitler' Olympics young gymnasts in the opening ceremony performed to music by Carl Orff scored for a large ensemble of recorders and percussion. At the 1972 Olympics, which were overshadowed by a terrorist attack, Orff arranged the medieval canon 'Sumer is icumen' for choir and a mixture of early and modern instruments.

Strange but true: Edgar Varèse (above) studied at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, and conducted performances of early music for many years. In New York in 1947 he conducted a programme titled 'Modern Music of the 16th and 17th century' which comprised works by Grigny, Couperin, Monteverdi, Charpentier, Frescobaldi, Schütz and Grandi. Other students at the influential Schola Cantorum, which was a leading force in the 20th century early music revival, included Albert Roussel, Erik Satie, Isaac Albéniz, Joaquín Turina, Bohuslav Martinů, Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, and Quincy Porter.

Image credits: Header - Pliable, taken on Nikon F50 SLR on 200 ASA film using built-in flash. Berlin Christmas 2005. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk.
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Diary for evening of 12th May 2005


SJZ said…
Alec Wilder, the brilliant genre defying American composer, wrote a set of octets for wind instruments and harpsichord. They are a real delight and feature such unusual titles as 'Neurotic Goldfish'. Have a listen!
Ben.H said…
Do multiple harpsichords count? Then you can include John Cage and Lejaren Hiller's HPSCHD for seven harpsichords and fifty-one tapes, and Karel Goeyvaerts' Litanie V for multi-tracked harpsichords. Oh, and I've written a piece for fourteen virtual harpsichords.

Pliable said…
Ben, of course multiple harpsichords count.

The more the merrier, it's Christmas!

A virtual bottle of champagne to you for setting the mark with fourteen virtual harpsichords.

Any higher bids?
Ben.H said…
Thankyou, much appreciated. I'm now virtually drunk anyway.

Scott said…
I'm fairly positive Rodney Rogers wrote a piece for amplified harpsichord, but I can't find any record of it right now.
Anonymous said…
Doesn't Stravinsky use harpsichord in "The Rake's Progress"?

Also worth noting in the New Music for Old Instruments catagory, but senza harpsichord, is Mauricio Kagel's "Music for Renaissance Instruments"
Pliable said…
Jacob, yes you are quite right, a harpsichord is used by Stravinsky in 'The Rake's Progress', see this link.

It is interesting that almost forty years before Stravinsky composed 'The Rake's Progress' Richard Strauss apparently contemplated using a harpsichord in the divertissement he wrote for Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, but finally opted for a piano.
Pliable said…
As Overgrown Path is an inclusive blog I should open this up to jazz and rock. The UK band Mysterious Barracudas are fine classical musicians who include a harpsichord in their jazz ensemble line-up!

If that sounds unlikely follow this link.

And in the rock field Mannheim Steamroller
use a harpsichord somewhere in the mix.
Anonymous said…
What about Rochberg's "Nach Bach?"
Anonymous said…
Moisei Vainberg scored his seventh symphony for strings and harpsichord - and very effectively, too! Andrei Eshpai wrote several pieces including the instrument, too.

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