I like to stay organized, although you wouldn’t always know it from the status of my home workspace or living room. My work desk (the one people see) is always pristine though. I digress. The blog is (obviously) very much a reflection of how I think, hear music, what I’m interested in. I’ll present music I’m not necessarily fond of if it’s a well-known piece that fits in somewhere.
And that ‘somewhere’ is exactly what we’re talking about here. No matter what I’m learning, and this has to be quite common, I’m eager to break things up into chunks, and the result of that on the blog has been series, groups of works with a common theme, like the composers’ backgrounds, a specific time period, form or instrument, and while these little collections are by no means comprehensive, I try my best to take a chunk out of whatever topic is being addressed.
Thing of it is, they can’t all be listed in that Series menu of the blog, and there’s only going to be more of them. Why not put them here? It’s similar to the listening guides, but a bit broader in scope, with a different kind of concept running through the pieces. Have a look at some of the old collections we’ve been through:
(Note: Not all the works featured on the blog are part of a formal series, so if it’s not included below, that doesn’t mean it’s not here. Do a search and see what you find. Current and more recent series will still appear under the Series link on the homepage)
- The French Symphony– (currently in progress)
- The Human Voice– A small series of vocal works from various eras and styles, for piano, orchestra, with string quartet, you name it. Some really interesting stuff here, in at least three languages.
- The Horn– Concertante and chamber or solo works for one of the most beautiful instruments in the ensemble. It’s more versatile than you may have thought.
- The English Symphony– Something I’d looked forward to doing for a long time, with a long history of astoundingly powerful music. There’s a lot of war here, but the music these men and women produced is exceptional. It’s not just Britten and Vaughan Williams.
- 20th Century Opera– No powdered wigs here. Opera is so much more than pretty arias and love stories, or stuffy, dry polite music with Italian love songs. All of these works date from the 20th century, are in various languages, and deal with dark, heavy, sometimes enormously tragic ideas, works which might make you reconsider your impression of opera.
- America’s Next Top Mahler (aka the American symphony)– In keeping with the English-speaking composers, we finally address the American composers I’d been wanting to discuss for so long.
- The Finnish Symphony– More than just Sibelius. Some great stuff here from a country you may not associate with a fantastically rich tradition of classical music.
- The Symphonic Poem– A very large chronological series of some famous and not so famous symphonic poems, starting in the early 19th century working up into the 20th
- Darmstadt: The Beginning– July has come to be a special month for the blog, and 2016’s was devoted to the early-ish works of the Darmstadt school and the people who inspired or influenced them
- Swedish Symphonies– You guys, Sweden. I was so overwhelmed with the amount and quality of music from Swedish composers, so this one was only a month long, but it got a little out of hand. Amazing stuff here.
- Russian Piano Works– Calling back to the previous year’s Russian series that began in October, a month of something different in among all the symphonies, solo piano (and chamber) works from Russian composers.
- New November– a sort of un-series. It ended up being a hodgepodge of things from composers who’d never been featured on the blog, some really well known stuff, and some quite obscure, but all enjoyable.
- Danish December– The Swedes had their turn in September, and next in line was the Danes. There’s (much) more to Danish music than just Carl Nielsen (and Niels Gade). Check it out.
- Summer Piano Series– An entire stinking month of daily piano works. It ended up being an all-out cram session on the earliest opus numbers of some of the most famous composers for the instrument, including Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann (x2), and Brahms, everything from small solo works to concertos.
- The Russian Symphony– The biggest thing I’d done so far. Thankfully (maybe), I hadn’t started the String Quartet Series yet, or there’d have been at least twice as much music here, and I hadn’t started doubling up on posts mid-week, but this gargantuan series lasted three months and spanned about 100 years, from teacher to student to student down through history.
- German(ic) Symphony– It’s Germanic because they’re German and Austrian. While there’s tons more obviously not included in this series, it follows a sort of narrative (at least up through Mahler) of teacher-student interactions, friends, colleagues, kinship, betrayal, and lots of music history and drama.