Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

Musical Voyages II

More listening and discoveries in the world of music

In this second video about "Summer Musical Voyages," Stephanie explores some more interesting and beautiful compositions taken from the classical and modern music repertoire.

Released on August 2, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, to you all from Virtual Sheet Music. I'm Stephanie and this is the second of two videos that deal with pieces which capture, musically, the essence of various nations. Summer holidays are here after all and it's only fitting to start getting inspired as regards holiday destinations. Now if you haven't seen the last video, please make sure you do, and if you have, well, let's get going. After each piece has been introduced, just put the VSM video on hold and grab the link to the work, which is located in the video script. Take the time to listen and reflect on what you've heard and remember to get in touch. Your thoughts and comments are extremely valuable and I really enjoy interacting with you all.

So, the first destination is Russia, and we'll be listening to Rachmaninoff's "Vespers", or rather two of the pieces from his "Vespers". They are entitled, and I will have to excuse my Russian pronunciation "Slava Svyatei", and his "Priidite Poklominsya". Please don't give me a vote for that, huh?

Okay, now, as soon as a language via song becomes an element within the music, a nation's characteristics tend to shine out more clearly. Nonetheless, that these two brief numbers from Rachmaninoff's glorious "Vespers" contain an authority and seriousness that seems to derive directly from the heart of the Russian Orthodox Church itself. The initial male solos are monophony perhaps stemming from early church practices, contrasted by one clear chord from the choir. It's literally appearing like a ray of heaven. As soon as you hear it, you'll know exactly what I mean. And then immediately after a strong, stern choir, which calls for all of us to come and worship, well, there ain't no resisting that message, particularly when it comes from Russia. Put me on hold and have a listen.

Rachmaninoff's "Slava Svyatei"

Rachmaninof's "Priidite Poklominsya"

Okay, now the next destination is Egypt, and this is a piece called Akhnaten, a work called "Funeral of Amenhotep III," and this actually comes from Phillip Glass' opera, "Akhnaten". Not only does this music take you to Egypt, it's serious time travel back to the days where pharaohs ruled the brutes and life and ceremony were inextricably bound. The primitive pounding drums, the musical repetitions almost ad nauseam, in keeping, it has to be admitted with Glass' minimalist style together with that semitonal of the male chorus. Well, all of this brings to mind the idea of human sacrifice, so much a part of that oxymoronic concept of primitive civilizations. Have a listen. It may be that rather than a trip to Egypt, you decide to go to the nearest Egyptian museum, which is not a bad idea anyhow. Put me on hold and have a listen.

Philip Glass's "Funeral of Amenhotep III"

Finally, we're going to be listening to Gustav Holst's "Mercury from the Planets". Who says you got to stay on Earth for a holiday when space travel is all the rage, obviously, bank balance dependent. Okay, landing on Mercury is a no-no being the closest of our solar system's planets to the sun and we'd be fried in a nanosecond. But from the luxury of a space capsule, you can start to appreciate Holst's cleverness. The swift, busy movements of orchestral instruments alluding to the dizzyingly fast motion of objects in space. Well all this is complemented by a really thin use of the orchestra generally, which maybe represents the vast emptiness, at least as we perceive it, of space. You know, this is a busy little piece to be sure, but certainly, there are no holiday crowds here. Put me on hold.

Gustav Holst's "Mercury from the Planets"

So I hope you've enjoyed musically and destination-wise what's being offered in the last two videos. Please get in touch to offer up more suggestions regarding this theme. And remember to reach out if you're wanting me to deal with some aspect of music, somebody, anybody you feel needs to treat. See you soon. Bye.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on August 4, 2017 @3:48 pm PST
Luckily, Mercurius leads us closer to the sun, and not to some old outer planet like Jupiter, Saturn or Uranus.
Other countries we would like to visit would be Norway with of course Edward Grieg, Jean Sibelius in Finland, Chopin for Poland, ... Germany is a hard one, too many composers, Schubert and Schumann will probably be the closest to the German soul without falling in wagnerian pathos. France is equally hard, yet Satie is probably the closest you can get to French self-satyre. Sweelinck might cover Holland, and for Belgium I'd suggest Dirk Brossé, who wrote really nice pieces for orchestra besides his director's work.
Stephanie Lewis - host, on August 10, 2017 @1:46 am PST
I'm going to have to look up Dirk Brossé as I plead ignorance! Not sure I entirely agree with your formula 'nationality = national musical style'. In any case, it depends on one's perception of nation - some countries seem to have a stronger cultural identity than others and here I turn to Scotland as an example (you know, kilts, tartan, whisky, haggis, etc..). Malcolm Arnold wrote a brilliant concert overture oozing Scottishness based on Robert Burn's poem Tam 'o Shanter...but he's English. Likewise, my favourite 'Scottish' piece of all is Bruch's (i.e. German) violin concerto, the Scottish Fantasy. 'Och aye the noo' as us Scots would say. Steph
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on August 2, 2017 @5:59 pm PST
Hi Stephanie, great pieces of Rachmaninoff. Then the Funeral of Amenhotep made me think of Carmina Burana. I should look up about Orff and Glass, same period of time? I might as well look up Holst.
When I come back to you after listening to the music, your video starts all over from the beginning. Maybe it is the way my browser is set up.
Thanks for another great video.
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on August 4, 2017 @3:37 pm PST
Fulvia, you need to pause Stephanie's videos, and control click on the links she provides so the open in another tab or window. After listening, you can the come back right where you paused by selecting Stephanie's tab again in your browser. I often go wrong myself with this. And the only penalty is listening to Stephanie again, which is _not_ our worst nightmare.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on August 4, 2017 @4:48 pm PST
Thanks. Will try, and like you said, listening to Stephanie's glorious British accent is actually very pleasant! More music to my ears Smiley Face
Stephanie Lewis - host, on August 5, 2017 @9:07 am PST
Oh Paul, you are a sweetie! I think my daughter would disagree with you however!!! Steph PS Thanks for helping Fulvia out
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on August 4, 2017 @4:09 pm PST
Yes, thank you Paul, you got it right!
Stephanie Lewis - host, on August 5, 2017 @9:08 am PST
Cheers Fabrizio!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on August 5, 2017 @11:48 am PST
Hi Stephanie!
Stephanie Lewis - host, on August 5, 2017 @9:14 am PST
Hey Fulvia, yep, the Rachmaninov vespers seem to be divinely inspired. Orff and Glass are both 20th century but Glass is later (he's still alive) and a minimalist composer to boot (minimalism being oft repeated musical phrases which subtly mutate over time). Did you get a chance to listen to the Respighi? Steph
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on August 5, 2017 @5:32 pm PST
Yes, I listened to Respighi. I also hear often his music on the classical music radio station that I listen all the time.
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