Beyond Bach, Beethoven And Brahms
These three great German composers are often referred to as ":The Three B's ". Reportedly, the great 19th century conductor and pianist Hans Von Bulow coined this term . And they are among the corenrstones of the classical reperoire . Their music is ubiquitous in concert halls around the world and there are countless recordings of the masterpieces they produced from the early 1700s to the late 19th century .
There are other great composers whose names begin with B ; Berlioz, Bruckner, Bartok, for example . But there are other very worthy composers whose surnames begin with B but who have unfortunately been overshadowed by the most famous ones .Have you ever heard of such composers as Mily Balakirev of 19th century Russia , Arnold Bax , Havergal Brian and Arthur Bliss of England , or Franz Berwald of Sweden ? Unless you are really into classical music , the chances are that you haven't . But alll have written highly enjoyable works which deserve to be heard more often . There are a fair number of recordings available of their music , but your chances of hearing them live are pretty slim .
I have some CDs of their music , and I think you might find them as enjoyanble as I do . Franz Berwald (1796 - 1968) , is one of Sweden's most important composers , best known for his four vivacious and inventive symphonies . There are also tow concertos,, one for violin and one for piano , and miscelaneous smaller orchestral works etc. His music is full of quirky turns of phrase and all kinds of surprising moments . But onfortunately , outside of recordings, you almost never hear his music live , with the possible exception of his native Sweden .
If you enjoy the colorful Russian music of Rimsky-Korsakov , Borodin and Mussorgsky , you should definitely hear the music of their contemporary Mily Balakirev (1837-1910). The recent centennial of his death passed almost totaly unnoticed by the classical music world . His best-known work is the fiendishly difficult piano piece Islamey , which is based on the folk music of the Caucasus , and only the most accomplished piano virtuosos would dare to play it in public . It has also been orchestrated by the Russian composer Sergei Liapunov and th eItalian composer Alfredo Casella . Balakirev's symphony no 1 in C is a wonderfully melodious and sweeping work whic combines Oriental exoticism with evocations of of traditional Russian folk songs . A number of prominent conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Sir Thomas Beecham have recorded it, but it's puzzling that hardly any one performs it live .
Arnold Bax lived from 1883 to 1953 and wrote among other things seven symphonies and assorted symphonic poems which are highly atmospheric and full of rhapsodic abandon and Celtic flavor . His tone poem Tntagel is an evocation of the famous ancient castle in Wales which was supposedly the seat of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table . I've already discussed the gargantuan Gothic symphony of Havergal Brian, which had one of its extremely rare performances this Summer in London and was recorded by Hyperion records .
Thank heaven for recordings !