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  • 2017 December 31: Beethoven Op. 110

    December 31, 2017 22:30

    Beethoven almost never dated his compositions. This morning's prelude is an exception, dated December 25, 1821. 

    Much has been made of his ability to compose 'in his head' without having to 'pound it out' on a piano, but that is in fact a commonplace skill. I don't know of a composer of note (including contemporary) who can't do this -- even *I* can! It's something like learning to write English: when you were in 1st grade you probably had to say the words out loud as you wrote them. But with time and practice you didn't need to anymore --- you could hear the words in your head. Same with music.

  • 2017 December 24: Silent Night

    December 19, 2017 15:37

    On December 24th 1818 then assistant priest Joseph Mohr at the newly established parish of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf gave the organist Franz Gruber (also school teacher in Arnsdorf) a poem, asking him to write a melody for two solo voices, choir and guitar. Later that day Gruber gave Mohr his composition. Mohr liked it, and included it in the Christmas mass that evening. Mohr sang tenor and provided accompaniment with guitar, while Gruber sang bass. According to Gruber, the song was met with "general approval by all" — mostly shipping laborers, boat builders and their families.

  • 2017 December 17: Huygens

    December 17, 2017 10:30

    Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) was an important mathematician (writing the first treatise on probability), physicist (proposing the wave theory of light) and astronomer (discovering Saturn's moon Titan). He also invented the pendulum clock — the most accurate timepiece for four centuries until the 1930s. Christiaan’s father was wealthy, which afforded him a lifetime of liberty to pursue scientific research, and Christiaan was also brilliant, which afforded him entré to other great minds of his day, including mathematicians Mersenne and Fermat, and the philosopher/mathematician Leibniz. Christiaan also played the harpsichord.(more )

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