E. Munch – The Scream (1893-1910)

The Scream – The Scream of the Nature
Edvard Munch (Norway), 1863-1944.

The Scream is another icon of modern culture. It consists of four different paintings of the same scenario painted in oil, tempera, pastel and cardboard, being the oil version the most popular. The inspiration to paint these works came to Munch while walking along a path. Later, he wrote a poem out of a part of the diary that described it.

I was walking along the road with two friends
the sun was setting
suddenly the sky turned blood red
I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence
there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city
my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety
and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

The Scream

The three other versions of the painting can be found here.

 

S. Barber – Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 (1936)

Adagio for Strings, arranged for the second movement of String Quartet, Op. 11.
Samuel Barber (United States), 1910-1981.

Featured in films, adapted in other musical styles, it is known as “the saddest classical composition”, and it is often played in funerals given its slow and sad movement.

C. Debussy – Suite Bergamasque (1905)

Suite bergamasque
Achille-Claude Debussy (France), 1862-1918.

It is perhaps my favourite classical piece, specially the Clair de lune movement. Debussy started composing it in 1890 and finished it 1905. It consists of four movements: Prélude, Menuet, Clair de lune and Passepied.

Full Suite Bergamasque

Clair de Lune

L. van Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata (1801)

Sonata in C sharp minor, op. 27, nr. 2 “The Moonlight Sonata”.
Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany), 1770-1827.

Beethoven is one of the most names of classical music in popular culture, together with Mozart and Bach. Perhaps one of the most well known characteristics of Beethoven was his deafness, which appeared in the final stage of his life.

Sonata No.14 is one of the most popular piano works by Beethoven. The name “Moonlight Sonata” was put after Beethoven’s death by a German music critic.

W.A. Mozart – Requiem (Sequentia) (1791)

Requiem Mass in D Minor K. 626 (Sequentia)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Holy Roman Empire, now Austria), 1756-1791.

The Requiem is a mass composed by Mozart. Given that he died before completing the piece, the missing parts were finished by Süssmayr, following Mozart indications where available. While it is known that Sanctus and Agnus Dei were fully written by Süssmayr, for the rest of the parts Mozart either finished them (e.g., Introitus) or left drafts (Kyrie or Dies Irae and Lacrymosa).

It consists of 7 parts, each of them divided into its own movements. Next I detail Sequentia movements only:

  • Introitus
  • Kyrie eleison
  • Sequentia
    • Dies irae
    • Tuba mirum
    • Rex tremendae
    • Recordare
    • Confutatis
    • Lacrymosa
  • Offertorium
  • Sanctus
  • Agnus Dei
  • Communio

P. Cézanne – The Bathers (1906)

Original title: Les Grandes Baigneuses.
Paul Cézanne (France), 1839–1906.

The Bathers is the most well-known painting by Cézanne, considered the father of 20th century painting, by bridging post-impressionism to the new era, and of specially of cubism, which would later have Picasso and Metzinger as main exponents. Cézanne painted it between 1898 and 1905, being the largest of a series of paintings with the same title. More info in wikipedia and analysis here.

The Bathers

G.F. Händel – The Messiah (1741)

The Messiah HWV 56
Georg Friedrich Händel (Duchy of Magdeburg, now Germany), 1685-1759.

Today I visit another Baroque composer, this time with a very long piece (more than 2h) with a chorus. It features a very well popular chorus, “Hallelujah”, which in fact only corresponds to a small scene of one of the three parts of the piece. It mainly contains arias, extracting the texts from the Bible.

It is divided into three parts, each one relating a part in the life of Jesus: Birth, Passion and Resurrection. Each part contains several scenes, as in any oratorio.

J.S. Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis 565
Johann Sebastian Bach (Saxe-Eisenach, now Germany), 1685-1750.

One of the popular compositions out there, by perhaps the best of all classical composers. I am not not specially fan of this composition, but it is a must. It is an organ composition that is usually linked to horror movies, specially since the film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera.

P. Picaso – Guernica (1937)

Pablo Picasso (Spain), 1881-1973.

Guernica was painted in response to the air bombings by German and Italian forces in the village of Guernica, in the Basque Country. It depicts the tragedy and suffering of people and animals, some of them with strong symbolisms such as the bull, the horse, the mother and child, that the attacks brought to the village. It was painted by Picasso in Paris, and did not visit Spain until 1981, once democracy ruled in Spain. More info in wikipedia.

Guernica

A. Vivaldi – Summer (1725)

Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, “L’estate”.
Antonio Vivaldi (Rep. of Venice, now Italy), 1678-1741.

This is one of my all time favourites. Even though “The Four Seasons” is perhaps one of the best classical songs, among those that everyone would recognize together with Beethoven or Bach, “Summer” has something special.