July 27, 2017
It’s the 150th anniversary of the birth of Spanish pianist and composer Enrique Granados. In 1916, Granados made player piano music rolls of some of his compositions, which is how we are able to hear the composer himself play this excerpt from Danzas Españolas.
July 17, 2017
It’s the birthday of the Father of English hymnody, Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Isaac began writing poetry at a very young age, and when he complained about the lackluster music he heard at church, his father challenged him to come up with something better. Isaac accepted the challenge, and he went on to write hundreds of hymns — including “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “Jesus Shall Reign,” “Come, Ye That Love the Lord,” and “Joy to the World.” Here is one of my favorites.
When I can read my title clear
to mansions in the skies,
I’ll bid farewell to every fear,
and wipe my weeping eyes.
Should earth against my soul engage
and hellish darts be hurled,
then I can smile at Satan’s rage,
and face a frowning world.
Let cares like a wild deluge come,
and storms of sorrow fall;
May I but safely reach my home,
my God, my heaven, my all.
There I shall bathe my weary soul
in seas of heavenly rest,
and not a wave of trouble roll
across my peaceful breast.
July 9, 2017
In honor of the birthday of the musicologist, conductor, and composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), here is “Italiana” from the third suite of Ancient Airs and Dances, composed in 1932.
July 2, 2017
In honor of the birthday of Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787), here is “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from Orfeo ed Euridice.