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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Is It Time To Bid The Compact Disc Farewell?


Aidin Vaziri from the
San Francisco Chronicle thinks so. With the recent Sony BMG spyware scandal it looks like the nails in the compact disc's coffin may have been placed.

Digital music sales are quickly outpacing the sales of compact discs. See Apple iTunes in the top 10 record sellers list. Now there is a near infinite amount of free and
legal music to be found online.

Vaziri points out plenty of alternatives to what he calls the "
awkward polycarbonate plastic-coated disc."

His Top 10 list of alternatives includes:

1.
Digital Music Services: I have extolled the virtues of my affiliate eMusic multiple times on this site. You simply cannot beat their free-trial offer giving away 50 free, non-restricted mp3s. A staggering amount of music can be found in their catalog now with the entire Naxos catalog, a must see for Classical afficionados. Besides iTunes, there are plenty of other choices. Check out: eMusic and Napster.

2. Online Radio: There are plenty of sites to choose from that offer free streams many with little or no commercials. Whether you are looking for Classical (which you probably are if you are reading this blog) or punk rock, you can find a station for you. Look at: BBC Radio and Live365.

3.
MP3 Blogs: It seems that one of the new trends in the blogosphere is blogs that direct the reader to free music. Many of the blogs even have nice little reviews to help the prospective listener make use of the vast amount of free music available. Sites to explore: The Tofu Hut, Sixeyes, The Hype Machine among many others.

4. MySpace: He points out that the online community of MySpace is catching out with the music industry. There are hundreds of independent bands there looking for listeners. Even more mainstream bands are beginning to use the online portal to outreach to fans.

5. Satellite Radio: While you do have to pay for this one (I know, it is a bummer), the sheer variety to be found may make up for it. Sirius and XM are the ones to go with. Offering hundreds of channels of every interest, you are sure to find something you like. Great for listening to in the car when you are stuck on the road.

6. iTunes music store: While restricted, its ease of use and exclusive content seems to have helped it gain an advantage in the music download business.

7. Check out your local clubs: Depending where you live this may or may not be a good idea. If you live in a swinging city, maybe you have plenty of choices and are sure to hear the latest and greatest in da club.

8. BitTorrent: Illegal, but darn powerful. You can find anything to download with BitTorrent no matter how large or small the file size. I'm sure you will use your better judgement on what is legal and what isn't, ha!!

9. Amazon.com free downloads: Yet another new feature from Amazon to further improve your life, they are now offering hundreds of free downloads to entice you into buying something. With all the downloads they offer, maybe you won't need to buy anything!

10. Break out the LPs: Was there every anything better than the old days of Vinyl? Well many people don't think there was. Go to any garage sale and you are sure to find a goldmine of extremely cheap, great music. You know what they say: One person's trash, is another's treasure or something to that effect.

[From The San Francisco Chronicle]


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Comments on "Is It Time To Bid The Compact Disc Farewell?"

 

Blogger The Complimenting Commenter said ... (1:16 PM, December 01, 2005) : 

You have a great point with this post. It seems that things are definitely on the brink of the next step. Great blog.

 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Robert Schumann's Kreisleriana - 8 Fantasies for Piano


(Note: While you are reading this, be sure to download the many different recordings of this work with eMusic's free trial. You get 50 mp3s for free no matter what with no obligations.)

It only took Robert Schumann 4 days in April of 1838 to write Kreisleriana, 8 Fantasies for Piano, Op. 16. In the score, Schumann dedicated the work to Chopin. However, like many of his compositions, Kreisleriana is really a testament of his love to Clara Wieck.

Schumann wrote of Kreisleriana that "the title is understandable only to Germans. Kreisler is a figure created by E.T.A. Hoffmann ... an eccentric, wild and clever Kapellmeister." The piece has all of those qualities that Schumann described of Kreisler, but it is also, at times, very tender and passionate.

The first fantasy is titled "Ausserst bewegt" which translates as "Extremely moving." It begins with a wild section in the key of D minor. Soon there is a transition into a lyrical B flat major central section. The movement concludes with a return to the key of D minor.

The next fantasy is "Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch" (Very inwardly and not too quickly). It begins with a slow, reflective B flat major section. This leads into a quick Intermezzo in G minor followed by a return to the opening section. After the recap of the opening section, another Intermezzo in G minor appears this time in a more passionate guise. The Intermezzo moves into dark chromaticism that finds its way back to the final appearance of the opening.

"Sehr aufgereg" (Very agitated) also contains another lyrical slow movement in the key of B flat major that is flanked by two outer quick section in G minor that are very similar to those of the first movement.

"Sehr langsam" (Very slowly) is once again in B flat major. This is one of the most lyrical and poetic of the eight movements. The movement sets a tranquil atmosphere reflective of Schumann's love for Clara.

Next comes "Sehr lebhaft" (Very lively). Consists of two trios in G minor in triple-time. In this Scherzo-like movement, the first trio is capricious and merry while the second builds to a powerful climax.

Another "Sehr langsam" movement follows. This movement, the essence of Kreisleriana, starts in with another sweet melody in B flat major but soon transforms into a spirited C minor and then back to the the B flat major section.

The most fiery of the set, "Sehr rasch" (Very Fast) comes next. In C minor, the movement heightens to a feverishly-pitched fugato until it finally resolves into a calm conclusion.

The set concludes with "Schnell und spielend" (Fast and playful). In the key of G minor, the right hand zips along with a sprightly melody while the left hand accompanies with slow octaves that are slightly out of time. The set comes to a slightly uncertain end with a slow, quiet descent into the lower reaches of the keyboard.

Like the dual personalities of Kreisler, Schumann's Kreisleriana also seems to alternate personalities. At times it is wild, eccentric and clever like Schumann described of Kreisler. However, it is equally tender, lyrical and romantic at other times.

See also: Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes

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Anonymous Uzee said ... (10:33 PM, November 29, 2005) : 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Is That Why Opera Singers Become Fat?

Have you ever wondered why a large percentage of opera singers are quite rotund? Well, Peter Osin, a consultant at London's Royal Marsden Hospital has formulated a scientific theory that sounds pretty convincing to me the Biology major/Classical Music lover.

Osin suggests that lung cells are able to release certain hormones including leptin, the number-one suspect attributed to obesity. The hormone leptin is responsible for regulating appetite and when there is an abundance of it, we eat, eat, eat.

Operatic singing is extremely strenuous on the lungs and it seems that the lungs respond by releasing hormones including leptin. Thus, weight gain seems to be a natural side-effect of opera singing.

Osin admits that the general lifestyle of opera singers, that is, late meals, hotel stays, travel through time zones could also be to blame.

Certainly an interesting theory in my opinion.

[From the Los Angeles Times]

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Anonymous Jacked Tunes said ... (1:00 AM, November 29, 2005) : 

A very interesting theory. I think I ... agree!

 

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Happy Thanksgiving to all of my devoted readers!!!

Now would be a good time to give a listen to some American composers. So get out your Ives, Barber, Bernstein and Copland. Be thankful for all of their wonderful music.

Perhaps listening to Dvorak Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" would be pretty appropriate.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day,

Chad

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Apple iTunes in the Top 10 Record Sellers List


For the first time, Apple iTunes has made the list of the top 10 US record sellers. According to NPD, iTunes came in at number seven, beating Tower Records, Sam Goody and Borders.

NPD claims that iTunes moved onto the list within the last three months. Russ Crupnick of NPD says that he sees it possible for iTunes to move up even more on that list in the future.

Digital sales of music accounted for 4 percent of the market during the first half of 2005. In the first half of 2004, this figure was at 1.5 percent. This shows a pretty significant growth rate.

This is actually pretty surprising to me as I have always found the .99 cents per song a little too pricey. Not to mention the fact that iTunes are so restricted in their usage. In my opinion, music downloaders should check out eMusic, which provides non-restricted mp3s for download which can be burned to CD and used on any player including the iPod.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

The Healing Power of Music in Dresden


Dresden was one of the most damaged cities after World War II. One of the biggest losses was the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). Bach played organ at this church on multiple occasions. Also, it was the site of the premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 on October 9, 1920.

Not until 1990 did the people of Dresden decide to rebuild the famous church. They were painstakingly accurate in their restoration. The initiative was heralded as the "Call from Dresden." Fifteen years were needed to rebuild the church with it being reconsecrated on October 30th.

To celebrate the event and to also provide a way of healing, a work by British composer Colin Matthews entitled Berceuse for Dresden was premiered on November 17th. The work featured German cellist, Jan Vogler, performing with the New York Philharmonic with Lorin Maazel conducting.

To conclude the program, the orchestra played Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, a very appropriate work for the occassion. The event was indeed symbolic of a transfiguration and also a sign of healing. It proves once again that music has a power to heal and bring people together.

[From The Gramophone]

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No Black Make-up At The Royal Opera

Now I think this is kind of silly. Mezzo-Soprano Stephanie Blythe was to play a black woman in the Royal Opera's production of Un Ballo in Maschera (The Masked Ball). For the rehearsal she was "blacked-up" as the expression goes. Seems pretty reasonable to me as she is a white woman who was playing a black woman.

However, novelist Philip Hensher wrote that he was schocked to see this at the rehearsal. He wrote in The Independent that "To see a revival of 'blacking up' in the opera house, in 2005, is just beyond belief... We couldn't stop laughing at the ludicrous sight."

I just can't see the big deal about it. However, the Royal Opera obviously felt it was an issue of concern as the singer appeared without the make-up on the Thursday premiere at Covent Garden. The company claimed that they were trying to be "sensitive to issues of racism." Absurdity in my book!

[From The Independent]

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Playing Music Is Good For The Brain

Research done by Stanford University has shown that musical training can help the brain to process the spoken word increasing children's reading ability. The study proved that musical training helps to distinguish rapidly changing sounds which is key to language development. The study solidifies the notion that musical training can help increase cognitive abilities.

"What this study shows, that's novel, is that there's a specific aspect of language ... that's changed in the minds and brains of people with musical training," said researcher John Gabrieli, a former Stanford psychology professor now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Especially for children ... who aren't good at rapid auditory processing and are high-risk for becoming poor readers, they may especially benefit from musical training."

Of course, there is still much research to be done, but the results so far do indeed look promising. The reasearch also showed that musicians were better at recognizing pitch differences and had a better verbal memory than non-musicians did.

Researchers now plan to study children with language and reading defeciencies to see if a summer of musical training will increase their abilities.

[From The San Francisco Chronicle]

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Woman to conduct Vienna Philharmonic


History will be made this Sunday when for the first time ever a woman will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic. Australian Simone Young will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide, Aaron Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra and excerpts from Gustav Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Robert Schumann's Symphony Number Four.

The Vienna Philharmonic, a 156 year old orchestra, still only has one permanent female member, harpist Anna Lelkes. They decided to admit her after intense pressure to drop their male-only rule. The change to allow women was such a giant issue that when it was first announced in the Austrian Parliament.

Young has worked with some of the finest ensembles including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, the Opera Bastille in Paris and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She is now head of the Hamburg State Opera and general musical director of the Hamburg State Philharmonic.

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Anonymous allan said ... (2:27 PM, November 10, 2005) : 

My Questions are borne of ignorance.

Did she select the pieces to be performed?

Is the selection made by Young or by the Vienna Philharmonic; or perhaps it is a combined decision?

Are these works generally compatible with Vienna audience tastes and expectations?

Congratulations to Simone Young and the Vienna Philharmonic in either case.

 

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Monday, November 07, 2005

eMusic is now offering entire Naxos catalog


eMusic has now established itself as the leader in the digital music competition at least in terms of Classical Music. Naxos, a leading classical music label with over 4,000 albums to their name, has partnered with eMusic. The entire Naxos catalog is now available for download from eMusic.

eMusic is the only major digital music service to deliver music in the universally compatible MP3 format, the most popular and versatile digital file format. eMusic is the only service that offers the usage flexibility that avid music fans demand -- unlimited CD burning along with the ability to transfer music to any desktop, portable music player and digital device (including the market leading iPod).

Best of all, eMusic offers the best free-trial program there is. Sign up for a no obligation free trial and download 50 free mp3s. You are free to not sign up for the program, but the mp3s are yours to keep no matter what. You can even burn them to CD or put them on your iPod. So what are you waiting for?!
Get 50 FREE Music Downloads for your iPodĀ® or any MP3 player!

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Polar Music Prize awarded to Valery Gergiev


Moscow-born conductor Valery Gergiev has been awarded the Polar Music Prize worth one million Swedish Crowns (about 130,000 dollars). The award was founded by Stig Anderson, the publisher, lyricist and manager of Abba.

The chairman of the award committee, Ake Holmquist said, "The 2006 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev for the way his unique, electrifying musical skills have deepened and renewed our relationship with the grand tradition; and for how he has managed to develop and amplify the importance of artistic music in these modern, changing times."

Each year, the award recognizes two artists from various genres. Previous recipients from the classical music genre include Gyorgy Ligeti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mstislav Rostropovich and Pierre Boulez.

The other recipient of the award was Led Zeppelin. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will award the prize May 22 at a cermony in Sweden.

[From The Gramophone]

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Paganini's violin auctioned off at Sotheby's


On Tuesday, the Violin Art Foundation, a Moscow-based organization, bought a rare violin that was owned by famed 19th century violinist Nicolo Paganini. The violin was auctioned off by Sotheby's in London and fetched a price just short of one million dollars.

Winners of the foundation's annual prestigious violin competition will have the privelige of playing the violin for a year. The violin dates from about 1720, one of only about 50 violins still in existence made by Carlo Bergonzi, considered to be one of the greatest violin craftsmen along with Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu.

The violin was one of 20 passed down to Paganini's son, Achille, upon his death in 1840. The auction price for the violin is a new record for a Bergonzi instrument.

[From BBC News]

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100 Million Dollar Donation for Yale's School of Music


Yale announced that it has received a donation in the amount of 100 million dollars for its graduate music school from donors who wish to remain anonymous. The donation will be spread out over several years.

The donation, one of the largest to date, will allow students to attend the school free of tuition beginning in 2006. This puts it in the same league as Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music which also charges no tuition.

Yale's graduate music program currently has an enrollment of 211 students. Yale says the money will also help to fund other programs such as internet broadcasts of Yale music programs as well as outreach into the New Haven, Connecticut community.

[From The Gramophone]

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A New Detterent to Crime: Mozart


I've never thought of using Classical Music to prevent crime, but apparently some stores in England think it is quite a good idea. They have been trying to think of ways to keep the loitering youth away from their stores and thereby prevent crime.

Their solution: they pipe classical music around the store. It seems that the troublesome youngsters don't appreciate the music of Mozart, Brahms and Bach and are taking their crime elsewhere.

Storekeepers say they have yet to experiment with different types of music to discover what works the best, but think that the result are quite promising.

[From The Guardian]

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A New Template For Classy Classical

I have to mention a big note of thanks to Thur's Templates for the new template design for Classy Classical. As you can see, I now have a three-column blog! This gives me a lot more room for different things that I will be adding down the line. A big step in the evolution of Classy Classical to be sure! Thanks Thur!

P.S. If anyone has any suggestions on what they would like to see added to Classy Classical, I am always ready to hear them!

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Blogger KaliTime said ... (9:04 PM, November 07, 2005) : 

Great design!

 

Blogger Chad Hille said ... (9:06 PM, November 07, 2005) : 

Thanks, KaliTime!!!

 

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

London Philharmonic Orchestra's High-Tech Fashion

Have you ever been at a Classical Music concert and noticed how the members of the orchestra seem to get pretty overheated during the course of the night? I have often thought that I wouldn't want to be under those lights in a full tuxedo playing the intense music that they do.

It seems that the London Philharmonic Orchestra has found a solution. The Independent Online reports that they have partnered with Marks and Spencer in the testing of their new dinner jackets made from CoolMax material. CoolMax is a special lightweight fiber that wicks moisture away from the body.

First violinist of the LPO, Bob St. John Wright, swears by the new threads saying, "We do nearly 70 performances a year in the pit during Glyndebourne and it gets incredibly hot. Even with air-conditioning in the theatre, the audience were in shirt-sleeves this summer and we were in dinner suits, slaving away playing Verdi. But this suit feels half the weight of what we usually wear. It's a real bonus."

To make a great deal even better, the tux is even machine-washable! A very convenient feature indeed for performers who wear the outfit almost every night of the week. The CoolMax suit is an exclusive Marks and Spencer product and can now be found in 130 of their stores.

[From The Independent]

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Comments on "London Philharmonic Orchestra's High-Tech Fashion"

 

Anonymous Jennifer Grucza said ... (9:45 AM, November 04, 2005) : 

Women are lucky - we can wear whatever we want, so long as it's all black. :)

 

Blogger Chad Hille said ... (11:07 AM, November 04, 2005) : 

You're right Jennifer, but they don't get to wear the nifty CoolMax outfits!

 

Blogger Free at Last! said ... (8:03 PM, November 08, 2005) : 

found a vilion for my niece from a Google ad,never dreamed there would be ads for vilions!Thanks for having the right keywords,I quess is what I am saying.
I needed something to cheer me up,and finding that for her did ithe trick,so thought you deserved some of the credit

 

Blogger Chad Hille said ... (8:23 PM, November 08, 2005) : 

Wow, I'm really glad to hear that!!! You visited at the right time as my post about the Paganini violin has been having google put up lots of violin ads.

The click made me some money and you also found a violin. A win-win for everyone!!!

I hope you will be a regular reader and look forward to your comments in the future.

 

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Is Toccata and Fugue in D Minor not actually by Johann Sebastian Bach?!


We all know how it goes. I just added it as a selection on my Halloween playlist posting. However, apparently there is a lot of debate as to whether Toccata and Fugue in D minor, what most people consider Bach's most recognizable work, is actually a composition by Bach at all.

According to the Post-Gazette article, the piece just does not fit as something Bach would have written stylistically. Peter Williams writes that, "It is a little worrying when literally the first and last notes of a piece of music raise doubts." Bruce Fox-LeFriche points out that "No other Bach fugue contains such feeble part-writing, complete absence of contrasting rhythm, contrary motion or a least a few notes that don't slavishly follow the subject."

In fact, the Toccata and Fugue doesn't resemble anything Bach ever wrote for the organ. Some scholars actually believe that the piece may be a transcription of a piece originally written for violin.

Whatever the case, I am certainly a little bit shocked to find this out and can't believe I hadn't heard anything about it before.

[Thanks to The Electric Commentary]

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

No Free Complete Bach Downloads This Christmas from BBC

The BBC made quite a stir in June when for 2 weeks only the complete symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven were available for free download. They were downloaded 1.4 million times from users around the world. As to be expected, record companies were not happy, feeling that this bit into their sales figures.

It seems that the BBC does not want to draw the wrath of the angry labels again, or so MediaGuardian reports. BBC Radio 3 will be airing a 10-day Bach extravaganza in December and had originally planned to release some complete downloads of Bach's music for free. However, after consulting with the British Phonographic Industry and others, they have decided that they will scrap this plan and only make snippets available, and maybe not even that. However, some record companies do not mind snippets being distributed as they feel this might help record sales rather than hinder them.

One alternative proposed is to offer limited downloads that would expire after 7 days. Regardless of what they do, it is great that they offered the Beethoven downloads and would be fantastic if they offered Bach downloads, too, as it would be a much needed shot of new life for Classical Music around the world.

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From Hyperion Records: Schubert: The Complete Songs on CD

Ok, this small record label out of England has to be one one of my favorites. First, Hyperion Records released the complete solo piano music of Franz Liszt as excellently played by pianist Leslie Howard (Which I am almost done buying!). Now they have finished with yet another mammoth recording endeavor: Schubert's complete songs.

The recordings encompass 40 CDs and took 18 years to complete. The project involved 60 soloists including some of the most revered lieder singers out there. Graham Johnson is the pianist for the entire span.

The discs were originally released seperately as they were finished, but they can now be bought as a big set with the option of also purchasing a book with complete texts, history and analyses. What is most extraordinary is the circumstances under which Hyperion has managed to release this project. Hyperion was recently involved in a bitter legal battle over a copyright dispute of a recording of little-known composer Michael-Richard de Lalande. Their legal costs were enormous and they are even appealing for donations to help them continue to bring unrecorded music to the forefront. For the sake of Classical Music fans everywhere, let's hope that they survive and continue to bring us such excellent recordings!

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