Category Archives: Music

Video of the Week #188: My Favorite Love Song of the Year

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This video was all I needed to convince me to see A Star Is Born.

Look how beautiful Lady Gaga is with no outlandish makeup and no stupid costumes. Listen to her beautiful voice when there are no flashy visuals to detract from her talent.

Video of the Week #187: Hymn of the Cherubim

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Creative Juice #125

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Creative Juice #125

Stuff to make, thoughts to ponder.

Video of the Week #184: Transcendence​

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More about Lindsey Stirling.

More about the Landfill Harmonic.

Mozart, the Boy Wonder

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Mozart, the Boy Wonder

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. He was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died in infancy. His elder sister was Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed “Nannerl”.

When Nannerl was 7, she began keyboard lessons with her father, Leopold, who was a composer and musician, while her three-year-old brother looked on. Though she was very talented, it was soon apparent that Wolfgang was even more so. Wolfgang quickly learned how to play and by the age of five was making up his own pieces, which his father wrote down for him. When he was eight years old, Mozart wrote his first symphony, most of which was probably transcribed by his father.

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Young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Mozarts spent several years traveling around Europe. The child prodigies, Wolfgang and Nannerl, performed at multiple royal courts. During this trip, Wolfgang met a number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers. A particularly important influence was Johann Christian Bach, whom he visited in London in 1764 and 1765.

The Mozarts on Tour

The Mozarts on Tour

After returning with his father from Italy in March of 1773, Mozart acquired a position as a court musician by the ruler of Salzburg, Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo. The composer had a great number of friends and admirers in Salzburg, and had opportunities to work in many genres, including symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, masses, serenades, and a few minor operas. Between April and December, 1775, Mozart developed an enthusiasm for violin concertos, producing a series of five (the only ones he ever wrote).

In August 1777, Mozart resigned his position at Salzburg and in September ventured out once more in search of employment, with visits to Augsburg, Mannheim, Paris, and Munich. While Mozart was in Paris, he wrote his A minor piano sonata and the “Paris” Symphony (No. 31). Meanwhile, his father hunted for new opportunities of employment for him in Salzburg. Mozart reluctantly returned to Salzburg in January 1779 and took up his new appointment.

In March, 1781, Mozart was summoned to Vienna, where his new employer, Archbishop Colloredo, was attending the celebrations for the accession of Joseph II to the Austrian throne. Colloredo simply wanted his musical servant to be at hand; but Mozart had a different agenda. He wanted to audition for the Emperor.

Mozart

Archbishop Colloredo refused to permit Mozart to take on outside jobs. Mozart attempted to resign as the Archbishop’s musical director and was refused. The following month, permission was granted, but in a grossly insulting way: the composer was dismissed literally “with a kick in the arse”, administered by the archbishop’s steward. Mozart moved to Vienna as a freelance performer and composer.

His new career in Vienna began well. He performed often as a pianist, notably in a competition before the Emperor with Muzio Clementi on December 24, 1781, and he soon established himself as the foremost keyboard player in Vienna. He also prospered as a composer, and in 1782 completed The Abduction from the Seraglio, which was a huge success. Performed throughout German-speaking Europe, the opera established Mozart’s reputation as a composer.

Mozart fell in love with Constanza Weber, and they were married August 4, 1782. The couple had six children, of whom only two survived infancy.

In 1784, Mozart met Joseph Haydn in Vienna, and the two composers became friends. When Haydn visited Vienna, they sometimes played together in an impromptu string quartet. Mozart dedicated six quartets to Haydn.

Mozart-1783-lange

From 1782 to 1785 Mozart mounted concerts with himself as soloist, presenting three or four new piano concertos in each season. The concerts were very popular, and the concertos he premiered at them are still performed regularly.

With substantial returns from his concerts and elsewhere, Mozart and his wife adopted a rather extravagant lifestyle. They moved to an expensive apartment, and Mozart bought himself a fine fortepiano and a billiard table. The Mozarts sent their son Karl Thomas to an expensive boarding school and kept servants. They saved nothing.

Around the end of 1785, Mozart moved away from keyboard writing and began an operatic collaboration with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. 1786 saw the successful premiere of The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna. The opera Don Giovanni premiered in October 1787 to acclaim in Prague. The two are among Mozart’s most important works and are mainstays of the operatic repertoire today.

In December 1787, Mozart finally obtained a steady post under aristocratic patronage. Emperor Joseph II appointed him as his “chamber composer.” It was a part-time appointment, and required Mozart only to compose dances for the annual balls. This modest income became important to Mozart when hard times arrived.

Toward the end of the decade, the Austro-Turkish War caused the general level of prosperity to decline and the aristocracy could no longer support music. Mozart and the other musicians in Vienna found fewer performance opportunities and commissions. The arts struggled.

Mozart’s last year (until his final illness) was a time of great productivity. He composed a great deal, including some of his most admired works: the opera The Magic Flute; his final piano concerto (K. 595 in B♭); the Clarinet Concerto; the last in his great series of string quintets (K. 614 in E♭); the motet Ave verum corpus; and the unfinished Requiem.

Mozart's Deathbed

Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the September 6, 1791, premiere of his opera La clemenza di Tito, written in that same year on commission for the Emperor’s coronation festivities. He continued his professional functions for some time and conducted the premiere of The Magic Flute on September 30. His health deteriorated in November, at which point he became bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting.

Mozart was nursed in his final illness by his wife and her youngest sister, and was attended by the family doctor. He was mentally occupied with the task of finishing his Requiem. (Tradition claims it was completed by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr. Despite the story suggested in the movie Amadeus, no foul play was suspected, and Mozart did not dictate passages to Antonio Salieri.)

Mozart died in his home on December 5, 1791, at age 35. In his brief lifetime he composed more than 600 works, many of which are acknowledged masterpieces of symphonic, chamber, choral and operatic music.

 

 

2018 in Review

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2018 in Review

This time last year, I dreamed that ARHtistic License would grow from 350+ to 600 subscribers. As of this writing (Wednesday afternoon), we’re almost there. If you haven’t yet joined our subscribers and you like what you see on ARHtistic License, please help us out by hitting the “Follow” button on the sidebar. Thanks, and welcome to our artistic community!

My hope for 2019 is that ARHtistic License will pass the 1,000 follower mark. It would mean a lot to me if you’d help out by spreading the word, sharing your favorite articles on your social media.

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My Top Ten Posts of 2018 tabulated by number of views. Have you seen all of these?

  1. #DC350 Rimana Heart String—This post (and the next five) includes my entry to the Diva Challenge, a weekly Zentangle challenge. I don’t participate every week, but Zentangle devotees are a very generous group who encourage each other by visiting each other’s blogs, Instagram, Flicker, and Pinterest accounts.
  2. #DC379 Holidaze
  3. #DC364 Puf
  4. #DC360 Shattuck vs. Tripoli
  5. #DC362 Somnee
  6. #DC346 Phicops & Huggins
  7. 12 Best Quilting Blogs—in my opinion.
  8. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web—again, in my opinion. I’ve stumbled across some more fabulous ones since I published this list; I’ll have to update it eventually.
  9. NaPoWriMo Day 21—My poem for Day 21 of National Poetry Writing Month (April) was featured on the challenge’s official website the next day, sending lots of traffic to ARHtistic License. The downside: it was not one of my better poems for the month. I much prefer this one or pretty much any other poem I posted that month.
  10. Hawaiian Quilting with Pat Gorelangton—I wanted to write about Hawaiian quilts and had the good fortune to find a website that featured Gorelangton. I contacted her and asked if I could write about her work, and she generously consented to be interviewed via email and sent me images of her quilts to use in the article. Not only did my article get lots of views from quilters and people interested in the art of Hawaiian quilts, but Gorelangton is beloved in Hawaii, and her fans found the article, too.

But an article I wrote in 2016 got even more views this year than the Gorelangton interview. Jan van Eyck’s The Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee received 543 views in 2018 and 870 views since it was published.

 

Other older articles that were heavily viewed in 2018:

2. Ballet Feet—what ballet dancers suffer for their art.

3. How to Practice the Piano: Doh! Dohnányi—If you’ve ever practiced these exercises, you know what I mean.

4. How to Make a Meme on a Mac—step by step instructions.

5. Yarn and Beads—about the art of the Huichol people of Mexico.

6. Escaping the Khmer Rouge: Review of Beautiful Hero by Jennifer H. Lau—This autobiographical book has won 5 awards.

7. Happy Anniversary!—wherein I celebrate the first three months of the existence of my blog.

8. Phoenix Art Museum—what my daughter Katie and I saw on a Mother’s Day excursion.

I also contribute guest posts to A Writer’s Path. Here are some of my top articles there:

1.     12 Worst Blogging Mistakes. 808 views.

2.     For Bloggers: How to Post Every Day. 543 views.

3.     20 Tools Every Writer Needs. 478 views.

4.     21 Inspirational Quotes for Writers. 416 views.

As I review my creative goals for 2018, I see that I didn’t completely achieve them, but I did make general progress.
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I did a run-through of my God of Paradox manuscript with my bible study group, got some excellent feedback, and discovered some real problems that needed to be corrected. I’m almost finished with the rewrite. I’m going to see if my pastor or someone with a theology degree will read through it for me, then I’ll maybe do another rewrite if necessary, or a quick polishing, and start submitting in 2019.

The Unicornologist has been on the back burner, but never far from my thoughts. I’m hoping to solve all my plot problems and do a thorough final rewrite, then seek representation in 2019.

 

I’ve really stalled on recorder and guitar, hardly practicing at all in the last six months. I’ve been more faithful about piano.

 

I’ve written some poetry; if I can write and rewrite enough poems in the next couple of weeks, I might enter another chapbook in a contest.

I’ve made some artwork, illustrations and Zentangle. Here’s my New Year’s wish for you. Patterns used: poke leaf, fescu, chainlea, leaflet variation, brayd, herzlbee, cuke variation, verdigogh.Zentangle, hope

 

I had a hip replacement in July. For eight months before the surgery I suffered enough pain that I could not dance. (Heck, I could barely walk.) I am happy to say I am dancing once again and helping to teach dances in my international folk dance group.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you’d like to see more of on ARHtistic License. What art- and creativity-related topics would you like me to cover? Which artists, musicians, and composers would you like profiled? Which of my articles and features do you like best? Please share in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to ARHtistic License, to hit the “Like” button below, and to share your favorite article (find links to my most popular articles above) on all your social media. Thank you, and have a happy New Year!

Monday Morning Wisdom #186

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jesus christ figurine

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar.
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.

~Joseph Franz Mohr