There are various types of magic: love,
Houdini, astronomy (M81, Leverrier 1846), fresh warm chocolate, induction.
But the immortal composers are humanity's rarest magicians.
[See at link regarding Barbara and Dennis Rawlins' delight in establishing (2004/11/6) Baltimore's star-granite Rachmaninov Memorial.]
Baltimore's notorious agnostic
Henry L. Mencken
(American Mercury 1931 Feb) believed
that one of the greatest cultural achievements of the 18th century
was the raising of music to first place among the arts.
[H.L.Mencken was a friend of Dennis Rawlins' mother and stepfather. Her poem upon an old family-heirloom shellbox brought an appreciative 1948 November 1 letter from him, just 22 days before the stroke which tragically ended his unique career. DR yet preserves both the letter and the shellbox.]
Composers of the subsequent height of serious music wrote for great orchestras. It is ironically enlightening to realize that today great orchestras are conversely created to play these composers' enduring heritage of the most refined art.
Barbara and Dennis Rawlins
are nonmusicians whose only religion is
Their wonderfully long and harmonious
happiness has been enhanced by numerous compositions —
many of the drømantic or progromantic type
[DIO is always inventing new words] —
which are still (or previously for far too long,
perplexingly obscure, or relatively overlooked.
(A piece marked below with an asterisk has never even been stereo-CDed. Numerous others' once-available CDs have become out-of-print.)
DIO believes that a great many of these works — even though they are among the respective composers' lesser-known creations — would, if performed in a blind test, to a modern cultured audience, be preferred to those of the inertially-standard but emotionally tame “Greats” (Bach, Haydn, even Mozart), whose too-exclusive present popular identification with serious music could be partly responsible for the current decline in the audience for it. DIO encourages arrangement of such testing.
[Since Amadeus, most of the public has become convinced that Mozart is the classical composer one is Supposed to revere above all. (He is indeed among the most graceful; but, emotionally, far from deepest.) Yet it's easy to identify the sort of great music that uplifts the public: the film music that has been found (by long experience) to go to audiences' hearts isn't based on Bach or Mozart, it's derived from Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Wagner, R.Strauss, Rachmaninov.]
Regardless, it seemed worthwhile
to compile a list of insufficiently appreciated music and-or creators
[each composer's output given here in chronological order],
in hopes that readers may be curious enough to search out recordings of
at least an exploratory sampling of the inspired works cited.
[Why do the great orchestras never try occasional Sampler Concerts? — featuring not two entire symphonies but instead (in the same time) well-chosen movements from eight symphonies! In an electronic age, one can acquire recordings for hearing whole symphonies at one's leisure; so a Sampler Concert could appreciably expand the exposure of an audience to works and composers not previously known to them.]
And, regarding those works which are linked to a brief MP3 audio excerpt
(and there are no complete large works linked): simply clicking on
the bracketed artists' glowing names will take you to the music.
Appropriate software is presumed. Those with slow connexions may (perhaps depending on internet-traffic volume) have to wait a moment for downloading, before clicking on Play (the triangular symbol) will produce un-interrupted music. For some players, the Up-Down keys will control volume. For most: use “Back” or the Back-Space key to return to the main Music page.
These selections cover a huge range of tastes: from feather-gentle to ferocious, from graceful dance to growly brass. If you are drawn to a piece, please do not simply freeload-download but go ahead and purchase the larger work (as has been done here in every case) in order to appreciate the complete work, with full audio-fidelity — and more importantly, to respect and help support those behind the experience: musicians who endure years of severely disciplined work, to dedicate their lives towards achieving the skills and sensitivity that make possible the psychic uplift of so many others.
DIO must suggest consulting recordings
only because concert performances of most
of these works are extremely rare. Despite hearing ordmag 1000 works
in concert (over several decades of passing musical fashions),
B&DR have only experienced [live] ordmag 10% of those cited below.
William Alwyn: Symphony #3 [Hickox, LSO].
Kurt Atterberg: Symphony #2 Op.6 [Westerberg, Swedish RSO].
Symphony #1 Op.9 [Zinman, BaltoSO].
Violin Concerto† Op.14 [NadiaSS, LSO, Maxim Shostakovitch].
Knoxville: Summer of 1915 Op.24 [McNair, AtlantaSO, Levi].
Toccata Festiva for Organ & Orchestra Op.36.
Duke Bluebeard's Castle Op.10 [Howell, Burgess, BBCNatOrchWales, Elder].
Evocatively Arthurian Tintagel [Downes, BBC Philh].
If music can be said to have a Romantic's Romantic, it is Arnold Bax.
His magnificently WW1-enraged 1921-1922 Symphony #1 [Fredman, LPO (1971 premier recording, funded by film-maker Ken Russell, who simultaneously backed the same ensemble's premier recording of Bax' other searing symphony, 1924-1926's #2)]
Symphonic Variations‡‡, a work which was the lifetime property of pianist-vamp Harriet Cohen for whom Bax, one of the prime too-neglected geniuses in the history of romantic art, permanantly abandoned his wife — presumably apt excerpt here: the “Strife” variation [Fingerhut, LPO, Thomson].
The 1953 Liz2 *Coronation March, whose stately grand theme — the equal of Elgar — 1st appeared in Bax's WW2 Malta, GC filmscore [Gamba, BBC Philh].
Choral Fantasy [or Symphony #6.5?]
Op.80 [Grimaud, SwedRSO, Salonen]
— the 1808 duck-billed platypus of music history: part symphony, part concerto, part choral work, concluding with a theme closely presaging that of The Ninth's ultimate Ode to Joy (premiered 1824), suggesting a question as to how early he actually began mentally evolving towards the latter work.
Though the Egmont Overture — Beethoven at his dramatic apogee — is much-celebrated, it is little known that the overture is actually the prelude section of a full 10-part Egmont suite Op.84.
[Incidental music to Goethe's very-loosely-historical work Egmont, which converts into freedom's beacon the Count of Egmont, whose actual history includes arranging the marriage of Bloody Mary to Philip 2, triggering a serial disaster culminating in the 1588 Armada — which among other consequences, ultimately caused the arrest-for-atheism and faked-death-escape (1593/5/30) of spy & already-famous playwright Christopher Marlowe, who immediately (1593/6/12) adopted as a front hitherto-unpublished, semi-literate actor-moneylender WmShakespeare and just kept on writing.]
The suite concluded with its pointedly-named 1 minute
“Victory Symphony” [Davies, Orch of St.Luke's] (reprise of familiar Overture's blood-stirringly heroic conclusion), signalling the projected triumph of liberty over the Roman church's formerly-growth-industry Spanish Inquisition (which beheaded Egmont all the way north in Brussels, Belgium, 1568) — an 1809 musical project that was so dear to non-Christian Beethoven that he (astonishingly, for him) refused payment for the score. On hearing the suite, Goethe felt that it well embodied the spirit of his work.
[Dr.Eliot's Harvard Classics included only Part 1 of Goethe's more famous Faust, but provided Egmont entire. Given such associations, it is one of the sadder consequences of passing P.C. that Mt.Egmont, the southern hemisphere's most beautiful volcano — the Mt.Fuji of New Zealand — is suffering a reversion-to-Maori de-naming.]
On the Waterfront [Bernstein, NYP].
Nero. (His uncompleted 2nd opera. Of two. Neither's principal is cuddly. Prior was the better-known Mefistofele, the only opera with bells&whistles.)
*Concerto de Mars.
Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang Op.17 #1 (women's voices, harp, & 2 horns)
[MonteverdiC, Wynne, Halstead, Rutherford, Gardiner].
Suite for Organ & Orchestra Op.88b [Mikkelson, TübingenArtOrch, Kirchmann].
(A concerto version of Op.88b, for 2 pianos & orchestra [Op.88a] was surprise-recovered 1st [c.1970] — as a result of a Baltimore posthumous auction of the effects of the once-renowned Sutro sisters duo-pianist team.)
Integral Symphony #9. See DIO 4.2  ‡8 n.1 [p.72]. Finale's completion now carried (by the Bruckner Society) far beyond that there-cited, in a version commercially available via Kurt Eichhorn's recording with Bruckner Orchester Linz.
Poem of Love & of the Sea Op.19.
Symphony Op.20 [Tortellier, BBC Philh], which worships Franck's Symphony while perhaps exceeding it — so Chausson's shade needn't be offended if we start advertising his own grand Symphony as “Franck's 2nd”?
(The old Stock-ChicagoSO 1942 recording effectively transformed into an organ version for the final minutes of the work.)
Concerto for Piano, Violin, & String Quartet Op.21.
Symphony for Organ & Orchestra — the one the premiere's conductor (W.Damrosch, NYP) said showed the composer was capable of murder.
Fantasy for Piano & Orchestra.
Songs of Bilitis (promoting a lesbian-legend hoax by Debussy's fellow atheistic Dionysiac, classicist Pierre Louys).
Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, condemned by the Archbishop of Paris on 1911/5/16 as “offensive to Catholic consciences”.
Canope (Prelude #22) [Louise Sibourd], evidently evocative of the pagan Serapic miracle-cure temple at Canopus (Egypt), where worked geocentrist astrologer Claudius Ptolemy c.160 AD. (See D.Rawlins Queen's Quarterly 91.4:969-989  p.972.)
Fritz (→Frederick) Delius:
Florida Suite [Handley, UlsterSO];
Ernst von Dohnányi:
Piano Concerto #1 Op.5.
Piano Concerto #2 Op.42 [Baranyay, BudapestSO, Györiváth].
The two concertos were composed virtually a half-century apart, premiering in 1898 & 1947, resp. The 2nd appeared shortly before Dohnanyi left Europe for the US, and a recording of it by Dohnanyi (RPO, Adrian Boult) appeared a decade after. Upon arrival here, Dohnanyi held a lifetime post at Florida State University, which now boasts DIO's Editor, Dennis Duke — who shares with B&DR an enjoyment of the music of both the world-class composers who spent considerable time in Florida: Delius and Dohnanyi.
Ariadne & Blue-Beard [Ciesinski, Chor&NewOrchPhilhRadioFrance, A.Jordan].
(DR's great aunt Gay Rawlins saw the opera performed at the Met a century ago. Her copy of the program [35¢] is preserved in the DIO Collection.
B&D Rawlins sense possible influences upon, resp, Puccini's Turandot and Florent Schmitt's Psalm 47.)
Piano Concerto Op.33 [Hayroudinoff, Ehnes, BBCP].
Snow Op.26 #1 (urged on DR by Polly Connor).
Film version (Liz1) of the beloved
“Nimrod” variation from Enigma Variations Op.36
[Wheeler, New London Consort, Pickett].
Symphony #2 Op.63 [Barbirolli, Hallé Orch]
(2nd movement: listen carefully for the conductor's transported sighs at 11m1/3).
Music Makers Op.69, which includes a choral version of “Nimrod”.
[When one thinks of noble music, Brahms & Elgar come readily to mind. Yet their first musical jobs were in, respectively, a bawdy house & a crazy house. Evidence of fortunate over-compensation?]
Manuel de Falla:
Introit [Hatfield, Northern Sinfonia, Griffiths].
Symphony #5 Op.55.
King of the Jews Op.95, written for Konstantin Romanov's play — just before the end of the Romanovs.
Symphony #3 “Il'ya Murometz” Op.42.
Violin Concerto Op.28.
Choral Extended Theme, based on his “Romantic” Symphony #2 Op.30
[NMC HS Ch, WorldYouth SO Interlochen, Hanson] (easily the favorite, through all the years of DIO's blind-testing of what appeals to the public when it doesn't know whose music it's hearing).
Merry Mount Op.31, a Hawthorn-based opera (devoted to anti-Puritanism) of which — despite decades of sensational successes with audiences — only excerpts have ever been recorded (e.g., the Overture [Schwartz, Seattle Symph]).
The nordic Symphony #3 Op.33 is such an unjustly forgotten work that both its 1st [Schwartz, Seattle Symph]) and 2nd [Hanson, Eastman-Rochester Orch] movements are linked here.
Piano Concerto Op.36 [Carol Rosenberger, Seattle Symph, Schwartz].
Elegy in Memory of My Friend Serge Koussevitsky Op.44 [D.Montgomery, Jena Philh Orch].
Symphony #3 [N.Järvi, DetroitSO] (the best-remembered of a slowly-being-less-remembered deeply “American” composer's works).
Fantasy for Piano & Orchestra.
Citizen Kane (Susan Alexander's aria reminiscent of Sibelius' 1896 opera Maiden in the Tower; and see DIO 1.2  n.178).
Day the Earth Stood Still.
Gustavus von Holst (→Gustav Holst):
Choral Symphony Op.41, the finale of which slightly presages that of Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem.
Symphony #2 “Mysterious Mountain” Op.132 [Reiner, ChicagoSO].
*Fervaal Op.40, of which only the Overture [Schippers, ColumbiaSO] has been recorded.
Istar Variations Op.42 — named for an Assyrian version of Venus, this is a clever ecdysiast-reversal of the old variations-on-the-opening-theme norm: instead, as the raiment of variations lift, the lovely-lush-lullaby post-passion theme at the work's core is ultimately bared.
Symphony #2 Op.57 [DePriest, MonteCarloPO]. (A century ago, this refined symphony was damned by US critics as incomprehensibly modern!)
Summer Day on the Mountain Op.61, with an “Aurore” [Janowski, OPRF] that compares in charm if not style with the soon-after famous dawn of Ravel's Daphnis & Chloé.
Lachian Dances [Conlon, RotterdamPO].
Taras Bulba [Ancerl, CPO].
Glagolitic Mass original version.
[Janácek was one of the few genuinely scientific composers, keeping notebooks of the music that he discerned in people's ordinary speech — an approach which did not at all prevent him (why should it?) from writing in a signature dramatic-romantic style. The other composer with a scientific approach (also not at all restricting his humanity) was Vaughan Williams, who understood that non-written folk music's appeal drew from its evolution during centuries of serial-replaying's mutations, through the lethal filter of audience taste. (See his National Music . His family was related to the Darwins.) He and Holst collected folk music in rural England; meanwhile, Kodaly & Bartók did so in the countryside of Hungary-Romania — as Brahms & Remanyi had a generation earlier.]
Ludwig Irgens Jensen:
Partita Sinfonica “The Drover” [Ruud, OsloPO]
— one of the most drømantic of all inexplicably-forgotten works. (Jensen is the only one of the composers cited here who is not listed in the Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music [1994 ed].)
Cello Concerto #1‡ Op.49 [Ma, Philad Orch, Ormandy].
Piano Concerto #3 Op.50 [Stott, BBC Philh Orch, Sinaiski].
Violin Concerto†† flute version (arr. Jean-Pierre Rampal).
Concerto for Orchestra.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold:
Dead City Op.12 [with his father Julius Korngold]
(in the 1987 film Aria,
the opera's ethereal “Marietta's Song” [Hendricks, Philad Orch, Welser-Möst] was unadornedly adorned by early Hurley [Liz3]).
King's Row [Gerhardt, NatPO].
Violin Concerto Op.35.
[Korngold's earliest works appeared under Austrian Emperor Franz Josef 1&Only. But he later wrote film music (also used in the Violin Concerto) glorifying Benito Juarez [for whom Mussolini was named], who killed FJ's brother Maximilian for trying to turn Mexico into FJ's Maxico.]
Once Upon a Time Op.25 [Schønwandt, DRO&C],
concluding with Denmark's traditional annual
Midsummerfest Song [Schønwandt, DRO&C].
Disguised God Op.24 [Salonen, Swedish Radio SO&Chor]. Proof that Nielsen's aural aura survived him.
Symphony of Dances.
(The work's stately Sarabande movement [Chachereau, OrchBCalmel] appears related to the music for the 2001 film The Third Reich in Color.)
Enchanted Lake Op.62.
Fragment from the Apocalypse Op.66.
Alternate Totentanz opening (arr. Raymond Lewenthal).
Symphony #1 Op.29. [Premiered 1916 (Helsinki): occasional reverse-echoes of Hanson 2 (1930) & Shostakovitch 10 (1953)?]
Bouquet of Flowers.
Cello Concerto #2 [Fukacova, OdenseSO, Csaba].
Piano Concerto #3 [Palenicek, CPO, Ancerl].
Violin & Piano Concerto #2 [Matousek & Kosárek, CPO, Hogwood].
Piano Concerto #4 “Incantations”.
Symphony #6 “Symphonic Fantasies” [N.Järvi, Bamberg Symph].
Piano Concerto #5 “Fantasia Concertante”.
Song of Remembrance, Piano Concerto #1.
Symphony #21 Op.51.
Symphony #25 Op.79.
Cello Concerto [Wallfisch, BournemouthS, Del Mar]. (Moeran's cellist-wife has left her rendition of this work, recorded a generation ago in his memory.)
Big Country [Bremner, PhilharmoniaOrch].
*Concertante in F.
Rêverie [Simon, Philharmonia].
“Gritzko's Dream” (arr. V.Shebalin) from Sorochinski Fair, a choral rendition of Night on Bald Mountain.
Piano Concerto version of Pictures at an Exhibition
[arr. Lawrence Leonard], starting with the “Promenade”,
and ending with the picture which lovers of Boris Godunov will bond to,
the “Great Gate at Kiev” [Ungár, Philharmonia, Simon].
Symphony #1 Op.7 [Leaper, Nat SO Ireland].
Hymnus Amoris Op.12 [Bonney, Hansen, KbhBoysCh, DNRSO, Schirmer]. (See DIO 1.1  p.48 n.26 for the [thin] connexion between Nielsen & Claudius Ptolemy.)
Saul & David Op.14 [Serov, OdenseSO].
Symphony #3 “Expansive” Op.27 [Bernstein, Royal Danish Orch].
Symphony #4 “Inextinguishable” Op.29.
Violin Concerto Op.33.
Fyn Spring Op.42 [Salonen, SwedRSO].
Maestosa Sonata sentimentale [Accardo, LPO, Dutoit], made special by concluding with a brief SWING version of Haydn's hymn, “Deutschland Über Alles” (Haydn Op.76 #3) — presumably as sacrilegious to Nazis (could Paganini have assassinated Hitler by heart-attack?) as the boisterous versions of the Roman church's holy funereal Dies Irae by Berlioz (“Witch's Sabbath” [Op.14 finale]) and Liszt's Totentanz are to VatCity.
[Berlioz' 1834 Harold in Italy Op.16 was inspired (and allegedly much funded) by Paganini (1782-1840). DR wonders if Berlioz also helped touch up the incomplete orchestration of the 1838 Violin Concerto #5 of Paganini (by then wrecked in health & finance).]
*Violin Concerto. (May have influenced Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Guitar Concerto #1.)
Concerto of Summer.
[Unavailable for over 40y on commerical recording (and thus asterisked from the outset here), this irresistible atmospheric gem finally re-emerged in 2008, thanks to Naxos, M.Michailidis, & the Thessaloniki State SO .]
ConcertoElégiaque Op.9 (arr. by Alan Kogosowski from Elegiac Trio Op.9).
Symphony #1 Op.13. [Suppressed for nearly a 1/2 century 1897-1946 after its disastrous premier, it is now recognized as a unique work (much as Copland's First), since the composer soon after went in different directions. The final movement's opening fanfare has lately been used by the St.Petersburg Symphony as its trademark.]
Piano Concerto #4 Op.40.
The composer's performance of Variation 18 from
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini [Rachmaninov, Philad Orch, Stokowski], recorded on 1934/12/24, just weeks after its Baltimore 1934/11/7 world premiere — and by the same artists.
His final work (1940) appeared in two versions:
the virtually unknown Fantastic Dances [Shelley & MacNamara] for Two Pianos Op.45.‡‡,
later orchestrated into the version (also neglected despite recordings by Ormandy & Leinsdorf — until the late-1950s release hearable here): Symphonic Dances Op.45 [Kondrashin, MoscowPO].
Symphony #5 Op.177.
Piano Concerto Op.185.
Ture Rangström (aka Ture [Sturm-und-D]Rangström):
Symphony #1 [Jurowski, NorrköpingSO].
Divertimento Elegiaco [Sundkvist, SwedishCO] — moodily Swedish Herrmann-Hitchcock ambience.
Symphony #4 [Segerstam, HelsinkiPO] — understandably included in the 1997 Finnish album, “The EARQUAKE Experience”.
Four Church Windows (also piano version of #1-#3).
Ancient Airs & Dances Suite #2 [Hickox, Sinf21].
Rossiniana [Janigro, ViennaSO] — spectacularly FUN music, based upon squirreled-away raunchy tunes by Rossini which the older composer had gotten too rich and rotund to bother orchestrating himself (having largely retired from public composition at 37, a lamentable move which Henri Duparc later duplicated much more rigidly).
Organ Concerto #1 Op.137.
Organ Concerto #2 Op.177 [Rehfeldt, KantOrch Tübingen, Ader].
Symphony #2 “Antar” Op.9.
Piano Concerto Op.30.
[The secret 1892 love-nest of Tsarevich Nicky \& prima ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska was owned by Rimsky. Yet his final opera (Le Coq d'Or) models “King Dodo” on since-crowned Tsar Nicky2.]
Joaquín Rodrigo (blind from age 3, he dictated his music
to his wife):
Three Old Airs & Dances #1.
Four Love Songs #4 (“I Come from the Elms”) [de Los Angeles, OrchSocConcConserv, de Burgos].
Pavana Real #3 “Zarabanda de Amor”.
Symphony. (Robert M. Bryce deems this prematurely-doomed depressive's lone symphony as: Mahler-ere-Mahler.)
Bacchus et Ariane Op.43 [Pretre, ONF].
Symphony #7 Op.88.
Piano Concerto #1 Op.17 [Roget, Philh, Dutoit].
Piano Concerto #5 “Egyptian” Op.103.
Pablo de Sarasate (Sherlock Holmes' fave fiddler):
Zigeunerweisen Op.20 [Kantorow, New Japan Philh, Inoue]
— a fiendishly furious finale constitutes the last 100s.
Psalm 47 Op.38.
Tragédie de Salomé Op.50.
Piano Quintet Op.51.
[Recordings (1930 & 1935, resp) survive of both the latter works, with Schmitt conducting (1930) and soloing (1935), resp. Salomé impressed the young Stravinsky. The Quintet has debts to Chausson's Concerto.
In 1958 Summer, the last symphonies of Schmitt (age 87) & Vaughan Williams (age 85) were premiered. Both composers died that August.]
*Serenade for Strings.
Manfred entire Op.115.
*A Year Is Worth a Lifetime (paean to Karl Marx).
Symphony #11 “Year 1905” Op.103.
Kullervo Symphony Op.7.
Press Celebrations of 1899 resistance to Czarist censorship (before Finland separated from Russia in 1917), concluding with the immortal Finlandia Op.26 #7; the intermediate revised finale is little known, yet may be the most effective of all the versions: [Vänskä, LahtiSO].
King Christian Op.27.
Belshazzar's Feast Op.51 [Paasikivi, LahtiSO, Vänskä].
Symphony #5 Op.82 (1915 orig. ed.).
Symphony #6 Op.104.
Gone With the Wind.
[Well-known (no need to link) but few recordings and even fewer concert-hall performances.]
Three Fantasies Op.11 #1 [N.Sivelöv].
Richard (is there any other?) Strauss:
Zueignung Op.10 #1 (Strauss' earliest hit in original 1885 piano-accompaniment arrangement, but his 1940 orchestration [Mattila, LSO, Thomas] was unknown for decades after).
Aus Italien Op.16 (supercharged “Funiculi, Funicula” at close [Kosler, SlovakPO]).
Love of Danae (Symphonic Fragment) Op.83.
Japanische Festmusik Op.84 [Strauss, BavarStateOrch] — the 1940 first (and last?) recording, by the composer himself of his brandnew Heil-Hirohito glorification of the Axis' 1940 Anti-Comintern Pactmate and (the alleged 2600th anniversary of the line of militarist-deities culminating in) the Emperor who was by then top war criminal of the east: in-on every genocidal globalist decision by Tojo's “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”.
The Brook Op.88 #1 [Schwarzkopf, LSO, Szell]. Dedicated to Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Near the song's close (from 1m1/3 to 1m3/4 in the sensitive rendition here by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Hitler's fave soprano and Stormin' Norman's auntie), almost a half-minute is given over to a lingering triple repetition of the phrase, “mein Führer”.
[Strauss' most sensational prank was to produce his Domestic Symphony Op.53 (depicting mommy, daddy, baby, etc frolicking at his home) back-to-back with his Salome Op.54, chronicling Wilde times in Herod's family: incest, ecdysiasm, murder, necrophilia — climaxing with Salome high-pitching her love at the severed head of John the Baptist. Presumably, it was such deliciously audacious incongruity that moved Mencken in 1912 to sum up Strauss' music as: “Old Home Week in Gomorrah.”]
Josef Suk (Dvorak's son-in-law, whose music won 1st-prize at the 1932
Los Angeles Olympics):
String Serenade Op.6 [Krcek, Capella Istropolitana].
Four Pieces for Violin & Piano Op.17 (the center of the Appassionato movement [Josef Suk (the composer's violinist-grandson) & Jan Panenka] briefly presages the sylvan ballerina of the later Fantasy).
Fairy Tale Suite Op.16 [Pesek, CPO].
Under the Apple Tree Op.20 [Pesek, CPO].
Fantasy for Violin & Orchestra Op.24 [Suk, CPO, Neumann] — the exquisite Andante is Suk's self-confessed drømantic vision of a maiden glide-dancing through the Czech woodlands — so effectively brought to artistic life that he needn't have confessed.
Fantastic Scherzo Op.25 [Belohlavek, PragSO]: irresistible.
Symphony #2 for Large Orchestra “Asrael” Op.27. Suk's life-creativity sadly crested in this vast 1907 opus. Named for the Angel of Death, its first 3 movements commemorate his mentor Dvorak (d.1904), and the last 2 recall his prematurely-deceased wife, Dvorak's daughter Otilka (d.1905). The final movement [Neumann, CPO] ends with a memorably loving aural resurrection chimera.
Otar Taktakishvili: Piano Concerto #1.
Symphony #2 [N.Järvi, DetroitSO]. A (later) Harvard composer-in-rez at play.
Rapsodia Sinfónica for Piano & Strings Op.66.
Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Songs of Travel*** [Tear, BirminghamSO, Rattle].
Sea Symphony (set to Whitman) [Marshall, PhilharmoniaO&LSC, Hickox].
London Symphony [Boult, LPO].
Two Piano Concerto [Vronsky&Babin, LPO, Boult] (premiered [inadequately] by Harriet Cohen in its original  one-piano version).
Symphony #5 [Boult, LPO].
Dona Nobis Pacem (set to Whitman, John Bright, etc).
Pilgrim's Progress (the libretto-edit [from J.Bunyan] for which was partly accomplished [entire “Vanity Fair”] by his 2nd wife, Ursula Wood, at whose amiable home B&D Rawlins enjoyed a lively afternoon tea in 1975 — and who died only in 2007 Oct, just after RVW's 135th birthday):
Paradise of 1943 BBC version [Leggate, BBC NorthernSO&Singers] (thanks to R.Bryce for alerting us to this rendition);
Paradise of 1951 Cambridge version [ex-physicist John Noble, LPO&LCO, Boult].
Symphony #5 (which shares music with Pilgrim's Progress).
Antarctic Symphony [Boult, LPO] (1951, from the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic) [ideal music for planetaria].
Oboe Concerto [Indermühle, OrchBretag, Schnitzler].
Symphony #9 (at age 85) [Previn, LSO].
Four Seasons flute version (arr. Jean-Pierre Rampal).
Siegfried Prelude. [Solti, VPO]. [Used, to great effect, throughout the 9hour 1983 film Wagner, which successfully elevated his post-1848 life to a music drama in itself.
The intense effect of the Ring of the Nibelungs is due to the same secret that made Turandot pre-eminent among Puccini's work: the superficially-inconsistent interweaving of love's purity with heroism's power.]
Richard the Third [Marriner, ASMF].
(Some of the music is an upgrade of Walton's WW2 Spitfire Prelude.)
Symphony #5 for organ [Daniel Chorzempa] (played at the conclusion of the 1993 funeral of DR's stepfather).
Lyric Symphony Op.18 [J.Johnson, SWF-SO, Gielen].
† The unexceedably-romantic
of Samuel Barber (who belatedly received an honorary doctorate
at DR's Harvard graduation) was premiered in 1941.
The person who commissioned the work abandoned it.
Though B&DR have had a special affection for it
from their earliest days together,
its recordings languished for decades in little-label-land.
An occasional lp came&went (e.g., Louis Kaufman & Rob't Gerle);
but, by the time of Barber's 1981 death,
40 years after the work's creation (& for years thereafter),
exactly one commercial recording was available (Stern-Bernstein-NYP).
Now, when it can do Barber no good,
his concerto is regularly recorded by the leading soloists of the world
and is probably the most-performed of any US violin concerto.
(For Hanson's happier-ending, see DIO 1.1  pp.18-19. His 1930 “Romantic Symphony”'s music graced the highly popular 1979 film Alien, while he yet lived.) [Critics' bedazzlement by ephemeral “progressive” rages such as 12-tone music needlessly discouraged such romantics as Barber.
In truth, the artificial (artistically-indefensible) 12-tone non-repeat rule (which relates to the brain's mathematical not musical sense) actually restricts a composer's freedom — about 29 times more than sticking to a key, since 7 to the 12th is 28.9 times bigger than 12 factorial. (More exactly: larger by a factor of 29 − 7108457/68428800.) Has this startling (perhaps amusing) ratio been previously computed and published?
Of course, 12-tone music is sublime art compared to the commercial ear-beer which has increasingly become the enforced exclusive fare of most youngsters today, thanks to corporate greed's bottom-line fixation on ephemerality. (And unit-cost profit-edge, in nations [such as the US] with large culturally-primitive populations.) Result: most children end up exposed to 100.0000% lowest-common-denominator aural-kleenex. Must our eventual recourse be establishment of anti-monopoly legislation, to protect the underaged from censorial elimination of refinement from the product unrelievedly blasted at children? — forceable assault upon their ears and taste? I.e., can the mob-affiliated (via L.Wasserman et ilk) “music” industry be indicted for statutory rap?]
What separates deeply inspirational music from the old soporifics?
[Haydn even put a joke tutti-fortissimo into the Andante of his 94th (“Surprise”) Symphony — just to wake those listeners who'd dozed off after getting the general idea (of Haydn's intentions) from the previous 93…. (When published in 1994, this DIO remark drew some expected outrage.)]
The great pioneers of music each introduced or hyper-refined an element that augmented the separation: Beethoven, drama; Berlioz, mystery; Wagner, fire; Mussorgski, evil; Debussy, hedonism; Sibelius, depth.
(DIO 4.2  ‡9 §K4 [p.82]. See also note DIO 2.1  ‡1 §D4 [p.6].)
Sibelius is perhaps the most unique of all these composers; Stokowski astutely noted that, if he had left nothing but the Swan of Tuonela (for cor anglais & orchestra) [question: why speak of the english horn in French and the french horn in English?], Sibelius would have been remembered forever for that work alone. And his & Bax's 1st and 2nd are among the most searingly dramatic of symphonies.
‡‡ Bax's sprawling, typically ultra-romantic
has been almost exclusively the domain of lady pianists. It was originally
the property of Harriet Cohen.
(Bax's longtime mistress; and friend of Elgar, Busoni, GBShaw,
HGWells, and Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald.)
The current CD is by Margaret Fingerhut. But the 1st lp (1970)
was by Joyce Hatto, lately notorious for perpetrating for decades
the most successful series of music-recording frauds ever,
palming off performances by largely obscure pianists as her own,
and drawing raviews from “critics”
and the growth of a cult of admirers.
(Presumably libel laws inhibited wide recognition of the truth.
It looks indicative that exposure occurred not long after her death.)
The most penetrating comment published so far is by New Zealand
fellow-freethinker Denis Dutton (International Herald Tribune
2007/2/26 p.6); more detail at his
There was a similar incident in the 1960s, when a “long-lost” recording of Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto, allegedly by Dinu Lipatti (who had died prematurely in 1950) was released, to some ecstatic reviews.
High Fidelity (1966 Dec, H.Goldsmith): “a major addition to the scant legacy of one of music's lost generation …. The performance is one of pristine distinction, indeed one of Lipatti's best recorded mementos. This artist had the uncanny ability to set a line in flexible motion, avoiding affetuoso nuance on the one hand and brittle aloofness on the other…. A disc not to be missed.”
The New Republic (1966/10/29 B.Haggin): “It's as though one of the art galleries had put on view a newly discovered Cezanne … a performance of Chopin's Concerto No.1 by Dinu Lipatti which was unknown until now …. Lipatti's marvelous playing — so simple-hearted, as one listener observed, and at the same time so sophsitcated in its elegance and subtleties of melodic and rhythmic inflection … make it the finest playing of Chopin I know.”
(Note well that the final superlative applied not just to this concerto but to our entire Chopin recording heritage!)
But the performance eventually turned out to be by Halina Czerny-Stefanska (Czech Philharmonic, Václav Smetácek), whom critics hardly noticed before or since. Anyone who has taken the trouble (as DR has for decades) to scientifically test his preferences for performers by blind-testing will find it a humbling experience. The extent to which an artist's reputation rests upon glamour and hype (as against genuine ability, interpretation, and sensitivity) can be difficult to extract-out from the relation one has to a particular performance.
Popular-journal critics are justly suspect in any field.
[On controversial matters in DR's areas of expertise, pop-writers are largely just careerist echo-chamberpots for gurus — at best worthless (and easily-replaceable), often outright damaging to truth and pioneers therein. Only a forum as totally independent as DIO can laugh at them (through the scathing sardonic scorn they merit) and survive their power-asserting vindictive ire.]
But in the sphere of music, where we are dealing with matters of taste — trying to measure the immeasurable — it should not be surprising that runaway imagination and even corruption are often on the loose. (Though happily less so in music than in the world of paintings which is now corrupted beyond all reason by mega-money: we note that it has long since become the norm at auctions that the biggest applause is not for the paintings but the sale-price's magnitude.)]
DIO 2.3  ‡1 §A1 [p.91]: “In 1990, rich Japanese businessmen purchased a Van Gogh [$80,000,000], a Renoir [$50,000,000.], and Peru.
Peru was cheapest.”
[The Van Gogh cost over $80,000,000; the Renoir, over $50,000,000. The bill for winning Peru's Presidency was not reported, but the (over-the-table) cost of a Presidential campaign in the much larger US is  only a few hundred million dollars, so a Peruvian election probably costs just a few million. Japanese may occasionally have paid more for another of their favorite Western land-acquisitions: US golf-courses.]
There's a wise saying that sums up the state of the art scene:
nobody pays a hundred million dollars for a painting because he thinks it's beautiful.
Cello Concerto #1
was recorded by Daniel Shafran — way back in the platterday 1950s.
(It then lacked a number, since #2 was 1964: dedicated to Shafran.)
Kabalevski's 1959 conducting of the work with the Boston Symphony
at Symphony Hall, when he and Shostakovitch appeared there together
(B&D were outside, part of a dense mob of ticketless disappointeds),
was such a sensation that the dark-song 2nd movement was actually repeated.
(Time 1959/11/23 p.72.)
Immediate reaction: the 2nd commercial recording
[Ma, Philad Orch, Ormandy]
was rushed to market, about 3 decades after Shafran's — in 1983.
(Partial causes: ColdWar; pre-digital limitations; Ma was 4 years old in 1959.)
remarkable achievements: he became a composer
despite not reading music until his late teens.
(At the same age, Shostakovitch was already world-famous
for his amazing Symphony #1 Op.10.)
DR has heard K scorned all the way from the Harvard Music Dep't to
detective fiction. Raymond Chandler The Long Goodbye Chap.12:
“at three A.M. I was walking the floor and listening to
Khachaturyan working in a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto.
I called it a loose fan belt and the hell with it.”
DR's mother, a sensitive poet & novelist, did not read Chandler, but she
(who didn't like violin works, anyway) agreed with him on K and requested
the Fanbelt Concerto's absence from the family's home music collection.
Years later, DR snuck it back in by the expedient of giving her
a recording of the Rampal flute-transcription of the same work.
Only when she exclaimed how delightful it was did DR confess the subterfuge.
Fortunately, she was a tolerant parent.
Which should surprise no DIO reader.
[Though purists predictably have seizures at the very idea, re-doing composers' works has a long and often fruitful history. (DR's attitude: if one doesn't like a revised version of a work, he can simply ignore it and access the original — or his own preferred revision. Where is the harm in bold experimentation? — which is, after all, the very spirit and process that made Beethoven and Wagner immortal….) Present-day performances of major orchestral works by, e.g., Schubert, Schumann, Chopin [&Hummel?], Dvorak, and Mussorgski routinely and profitably use non-original versions. Mahler even questioned the perfection of our most sacred symphonic heritage — and altered the orchestration of Beethoven's major symphonies. The young pianist Hélène Grimaud's 2005 recording of Rachmaninov's Sonata #2 melds portions from each of his 2 versions of that much-neglected opus, fearlessly selected according to her personal artistic judgement. (Earlier, Horowitz arranged his own personally-arrived-at versions of the same work, both before and after the composer's death — the former approved by him.) Rachmaninov's friend Fritz Kreisler re-did Paganini's Violin Concerto #1 his way, etc, etc. In a similarly probing and helpful spirit, one might try improving the flagrantly awkward ending of Sibelius' otherwise dextrous Symphony #5 by occasionally experimenting: using, e.g., the original 1915 version's ending. (Or just trying the effect of skipping most or all of the work's last chords, chords which initially may indeed seem curiously jarring — but which simply become tedious upon repeated hearings.)]
‡‡ Symphonic Dances was Rachmaninov's final work,
written on Long Island in 1940, while his health was declining.
[By a remarkable coincidence, the best childhood friend of DR's mother (the late Patsy Taylor, who worked at Fort Dietrich for many years) was in Long Island in 1940 and accidentally encountered Rachmaninov, who amiably took her for a spin in his motorboat! She recalled that he mentioned to her that he was composing a new work.]
Symphonic Dances survives (almost uniquely for Rachmaninov) in both a two-piano edition and the now far better-known orchestral version. The latter was completed with an indeterminate amount of assistance from the world's then-#1 professional orchestrator, Robert Russell Bennett. (Some orchestration-help in a composer's illness-debilitated last years is neither unusual [e.g., Debussy & Nielsen] nor regrettable.)
Several of Rachmaninov's other works have been orchestrated in some degree since he left them to us; e.g., the Elegiac Trio, both two-piano suites, five Etude-Tableaux (by Respighi), and at least three Preludes. But by far the best such opportunity has yet to be seized.
It finally dawned on Dennis Rawlins (2005/5/18) that anyone who has listened carefully to both versions of Symphonic Dances will long to experience a wedding of the former's agility and the latter's power.
[Some may object that the very title implies a purely symphonic work. Yet the original title was Fantastic Dances. But, even if one grants the point, we know that other works for solo instrument and orchestra which have been regarded as overly symphonic, are classics nonetheless — e.g., Berlioz' Harold in Italy and Brahms' Piano Concerto #2.]
So, we await the musician(s) who will at last fuse the already-written piano-version with the already-written orchestra-version of the Symphonic Dances, and thereby leave to the world an inevitably memorable artistic high — perhaps among the most potent of all profound piano-orchestra works:
And, given Rachmaninov's original title, it could be legitimately nicknamed
If the arrangement is ever accomplished, one can hope that the premiere will be at the theatre which has for a century been Baltimore's parallel to NYC's Carnegie Hall, as well as the site of all five of Rachmaninov's Philadelphia Orchestra performances in Baltimore — the Lyric Opera House.
[DR still recalls his 1st adult visit to the Lyric: the Eugene Ormandy concert included Isaac Stern doing Bruch 1 & Lalo on one program. Also Bizet's Symphony. (No one [and, yes, I've heard of Mozart] ever wrote a more appealing work at age 17.) Either the same evening or shortly after, following a Philad Orch concert, DR and a date were waiting at Baltimore's Penn Station (so he could catch a train north back to Harvard), where
And he didn't even have to bend over.
(Ormandy was well under 5ft tall, shorter even than Leonard Bernstein.)
Ormandy took over the Philadephia after the renowned Stokowski but
— armed with Rachmaninov's favorite orchesta
and his own prodigious brain — swiftly grew out of LS' shadow.
[He was born in Hungary without his later-famous name. Ormandy said he named himself (U.G.Normandy?) after the ship that brought him to the US: the French luxury liner Normandie. (Which later burned in NY harbor while France was occupied.) There used to be a rumor-tale that he was originally named Gene Goldman, but changed his name to Eugene Ormandy because it rang classier. Not a rumor: US-born nordic-heritage polar-explorer-promoter-writer-realtor (& Gingerichesque establishment-operative disguised as Mr-Judicious-Neutral) Bill Stephenson did change his name to Vilhjalmur Stefansson to sound more nordic-arctic.]
Ormandy shone for nearly a half-century at the Philadelphia's helm, and is one of the indelible memories which several generations of music-lovers will be ever grateful for.]
** Though Baltimoreans take for granted that Mencken & DR are unbelievers, many religious folk would be shocked (since music is seen as a “spiritual” experience) at the high percentage of composers — including almost all of the writers of the most beloved masses & requiems — who were religiously unorthodox, heretical, deistic, or frankly atheistic. (As also most famous explorers and most of the US' founders.) Though a few of the great composers were fervently pious (esp. Franck, Bruckner, d'Indy, & Elgar), the majority seem to have been as individualist in philosophy as in creativity. Among these: Beethoven (deist), Berlioz, Bizet (atheist), Brahms, Debussy (atheistic classical aesthete), Delius (atheist), Holst (eastern-mystic), Janácek (atheist, whose last words are said to have been to a Roman-churchly attendant-nurse [who was trying to rack-up a deathbed-conversion on her own celestial scorecard] — Janácek told her: “you obviously don't know who I am”), Mahler (who, when forced to convert to Christianity to keep his job as head of the Vienna Opera, confided to friends that the transformation was as deep as putting on a new suit), Meyerbeer (whose operas The Huguenots & The Jew were described [1907/1/30] by Saint-Saëns as virtual legal briefs against the Roman church), Mozart (Freemason), Nielsen (agnostic→Platonic deist), Prokofiev, Schubert (atheist), Scriabin (erotic mystic), Shostakovitch, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan-Williams (“Christian agnostic”), Verdi, Wagner (self-deified).
*** Along with “Silent Noon”,
Songs of Travel is
Ralph Vaughan Williams' earliest enduring music, based upon late
— though both artists' creations occurred in their thirties.
(RVW lived nearly twice as long as RLS.)
Song #15 of the RLS set is “Bright Is the Ring of Words”
an appropriately touching, slightly vain, and un-slightly sentimental
consideration of the survival and ever-renewed vitality of emotions
in music and poetry — long beyond the passing of the creator.
Published in vol.16 (1900) p.216 of the Thistle edition
(Scribner's 1898-1901) of the complete works of RLS,
it soon after became RVW's choice as finale of his original 8-song selection
(posthumously augmented to the present 9-song rendition),
fortunately one of three he orchestrated — and the music is magical
in the depth of its sharing of Stevenson's perception and feeling:
Bright is the ring of words
When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs
When the singer sings them.
Still they are caroled and said —
On wings they are carried —
After the singer is dead
And the maker buried.
Low as the singer lies
In the field of heather,
Songs of his fashion bring
The swains together.
And when the west is red
With the sunset embers,
The lover lingers and sings
And the maid remembers.