When not at concerts, viewing art, in the parks, or visiting friends, I continued involvement in rousing discussions at ModPo about, among other things, the various properties and functions of words. Meanwhile, all of us participating in the Great Composers Appreciation Society (GCAS) gathered around a virtual campfire to listen to “music of the night.”
While almost perpetually distracted by other things, I did manage to finish one book (Gregor von Rezzori’s The Snows of Yesteryear) and start another (Caroline Bergvall’s Drift), both of which I recommend (though perhaps to different audiences . . .).
According to the venerable Music Lovers’ Encyclopedia, composer John Field (b. Dublin, 1782; d. Moscow, 1837) was
a great though gentle revolutionist of music, to whom much of Chopin’s glory belongs, for Field developed the more lyric manner of pf.-playing and carried it into his composition, in which he gave the piano-song or poem its first escape from the old stiff forms. He created the Nocturne, and many of his comps. in this form have practically every quality and mannerism characteristic of those of Chopin, who excelled him in passion, resource, and harmonic breath.
All I can say is, based on the collection of “Music of the Night” we’ve gathered at GCAS, we owe John Field quite a lot. The selections for this month include the following (listening months run from the 15th of the month through the 14th of the following month):
Frederic Chopin: Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2
John Field: Nocturne no. 2 in C Minor
Claude Debussy: Three Nocturnes
Gustav Mahler: Movements 2, 3 & 4 from his Symphony no. 7
Benjamin Britten: Nocturne for tenor, 7 solo instruments & strings, Op.60
Along the way, members of the group contributed a number of additional musical works, and Curt, our in-resident art curator, contributed several “artworks of the night” to which others added, as well.
(This is only a small subset of selections from the total group of works. For the rest, come join the conversation at the Great Composers Appreciation Society here.)
From the month’s main selections
John Field, Nocturne No. 2 in C minor, H. 25 (1812)
Benjamin Britten, Nocturne for tenor, seven obligato instruments, and strings Op.60 (1958)
From the month’s additional selections
Arnold Schoenberg, Notturno for Strings (1896)
On 2 March 1896, in the hall of the Merchants’ Society, the first official orchestral concert of Polyhymnia took place; on the program, alongside works including Alexander Zemlinsky’s Conversation in the Wood, was the first public performance of a work by Schoenberg: ‘a very atmospheric Nocturne (manuscript) for string orchestra and solo fiddle’ (Neue musikalische Presse, 15 March 1896).
The source of the quotation may be found here.
(This is one of two pieces I didn’t locate on Spotify. The other, Frédéric Burgmueller’s Nocturne No. 1 for cello and guitar, may be found here.)
Jean Sibelius, Nocturne from Belshazzar’s Feast, Op. 51 (1906) (first selection on the video)
More information on Belshazzar’s Feast may be found here.
More information on Bartók’s String Quartet No. 5 may be found here.
Witold Lutoslawski, Les Espaces du Sommeil (Spaces of Sleep) for baritone and orchestra (1975)
Postscript: With thanks to David Nice for recommending the addition of Carl Nielsen’s Søvnen (The Sleep), for chorus and orchestra, Opus 18 (1905), to the listening lists, here it is, and it can now be found on Spotify as well.
Credits: Quotations are from the sources linked in the text. More about Rebecca Allan’s art may be found here. The photographs, as always unless otherwise indicated on the blog, are mine.