Franz Liszt Fantasizing at the Piano (1840), by Danhauser
A superb concerto performance is one of the great emotional highs of the concert experience. Concertos can be intimate, grand, virtuosic, or downright gladiatorial. Little can beat the adrenalin rush that we feel when the soloist thunders at top speed towards a colossal musical peak, with the orchestra surging massively just behind. (Just think Rachmaninoff.)
But how did this singularly theatrical art form evolve, and why does it remain as treasured as ever with audiences?
In this 4-session course, popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin uses her unique live piano demonstrations and both historic and contemporary film clips to explore the birth of the solo concerto, glory in its great masterpieces, and consider its role in more modern times.
British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.
November 14 The Concerto Is Born
Franklin offers a brief survey of the concerto's origins, with emphasis on the magnificent inspirations of Antonio Vivaldi and J. S. Bach. Works include Vivaldi’s multi-century hit Le Quattro Stagioni and two of Bach’s mighty concerto landmarks, the fifth Brandenburg Concerto and the Concerto in D minor for Two Violins.
November 21 The Classical Masters
Franklin surveys the growth of the great classical concerto in tandem with instrument development and through the lens of the finest works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, including Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, the “Emperor.” Also featured: Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola and his Piano Concerto in C minor, K. 491.
November 28 The Romantic Age
There's a good reason why the majestic crowd-pleasers continue to be programmed in our concert halls. Dazzling virtuosity allies itself with profound emotional pull as composers in the Romantic era—Chopin, Liszt, Paganini, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorak among dozens of others—provide a platform for musical superstardom throughout the 19th century and beyond. Included: Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, Rachmaninoff’s third Piano Concerto, and many others.
December 5 Concertos of Our Time
After showcasing some of the greatest classic 20th-century concertos by masters such as Sibelius, Shostakovich and others, Franklin discusses how newer concerto writing has embraced world movements like jazz and ethnic music, while still symbolizing the powerful metaphor of the soloist as hero and champion. Included: The Elgar cello concerto; Gershwin and Ravel piano concertos; the Copland clarinet concerto; Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto; and more.
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