Gottschalk and Cuba is a journey through 150 years of music which started with a 19th-century American pianist-composer visiting Havana in Cuba and a 21st-century Cuban pianist who came to America telling the story……

548f7ab6a0c07_louis_moreau_gottschalkNew Orleans born Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) was one of the most astonishing keyboard virtuosos in 19th-century America. But he was much more than that. He was America’s first important pianist-composer. He was an extraordinary traveler, bringing his virtuosity to Europe, to Central and South America and to the Caribbean, where he lived in Cuba for extended periods. As a composer, his unique style combined his Creole musical heritage with the American, Latin American and Afro-Caribbean influences he absorbed during his travels – all expressed within the boundaries of classical piano writing prevalent in the 19th century. Gottschalk made friends wherever he traveled and these far-reaching connections are the subject of Cuban pianist Antonio Itturioz‘s new project Gottschalk and Cuba, a CD containing aantonio world premiere recording of the entire Nuit des Tropiques, Symphony Romantique, both movements, on one piano. The programme also features Antonio’s transcription for solo piano of the second movement (Fiesta Criolla) of Gottschalk’s monumental Nuit des Tropiques, (Night in the Tropics), a symphony Gottschalk wrote on the island of Martinique after living several years in Cuba. It is a historic work because it is the first symphony written by an American composer. After Gottschalk’s death, his friend Nicolas Ruiz Espadero published a two-piano version of this symphony which is the basis for Antonio’s transcription. In addition, the CD features piano music by well-known Cuban composers whose works all have connections to Gottschalk in one way or another.

More information about Antonio Itturioz’s ‘Gottschalk and Cuba’ kickstarter project here

Interview with Antonio Itturioz

British concert pianist Daniel Grimwood is fundraising to save this historic piano, an 1850s Erard, similar to the type and make of piano Chopin, Liszt, Clara Schumann and others would have known and performed on.

Here Daniel explains why this piano is important in the study, understanding and performance of mid-nineteenth century piano music:

These instruments offer an unclouded sonority, separation of register and clarity which enliven music of the 19th Century in a magical way. Hearing music performed on the instruments for which it was written is always illuminating; it opens up aspects of a score which can often seem nonsensical on modern pianos.

See Daniel talk about and perform Liszt on a similar instrument:

Daniel is fundraising via Kickstarter. You can read all about the project, watch a video presentation and make a pledge by visiting his Kickstarter page.

Please consider supporting this interesting and worthwhile project. Historic pianos like this Erard can teach us a great deal about how music was composed and performed. They are also beautiful pieces of furniture in their own right.

Meet the Artist……Daniel Grimwood

The Haydn Society of Great Britain is putting up the first commemorative plaque in London to the composer Franz Joseph Haydn.

There have been a number of attempts over the past fifty years to put up a plaque to Haydn in London but none has succeeded, perhaps because there are no original buildings left with which he is associated. However, the Haydn Society of Great Britain has been granted permission to put a plaque on the building occupying the site of 18, Great Pulteney Street in Soho.

We know from Haydn’s letters and diaries that he lived in a house on this spot when he first arrived in 1791, in rooms arranged for him by his promoter, Salomon. We also know he found 18th-century Soho very noisy, just as it still is today!

It’s hard to over-estimate the importance of Haydn to the development of classical music. Often referred to as “the Father of the Symphony” for the contribution he made to the development of that genre, ‘Papa’ Haydn is equally remembered for his influence on the development of the string quartet. Haydn’s music forms the the foundations on which Mozart and Beethoven built their greatest work.

The Haydn Society will commission a plaque from Ned Heywood MBE, a respected manufacturer responsible for many similar plaques across London (and all the square plaques in the City of London). It will look something like this:

The Haydn Society of Great Britain are doing this independently of any official plaque scheme and need to raise all the money themselves. This will be the first permanent commemoration of Haydn’s presence in London and his huge contribution to the cultural life of the city. The original subscribers to his Hanover Square Rooms concerts were attracted equally by his reputation and his musical genius – both of these will be acknowledged in a lasting memorial.

Help make a plaque for Haydn in London a reality by contributing to the Haydn Society of Great Britain’s Kickstarter campaign. Every donor will receive a Haydn-related gift, from an animated thank you from the composer himself to honorary membership of the Haydn Society of Great Britain, and more.

Pledge your support now via this link

Follow the Haydn Society of GB on Twitter @HaydnSocGB, #haydnplaque

 

 

 

 

[text source: Haydn Society of GB Kickstarter campaign site]