Happy Halloween from Admiral Bizet, Fanny Mendelssohn the Cat, and Tchaikovsky the Pirate. We have lots of treats coming your way this week- new partnerships, institutions that use the app in their classroom, and maybe even some app updates and new composers too! How does that sound for a Halloween treat? Stay tuned and have a great holiday everyone!
The Tale of Carlo Gesualdo - A Composer Meant for Halloween
If Halloween existed during the Renaissance, Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo de Venosa (1566-1613) would have loved it. Gesualdo was a composer of sacred and secular vocal music who received posthumous renown for his untraditional use of drastic chromaticism and dissonance during a time in which his contemporaries stuck to a more traditional composition style (polyphony of the Renaissance).
In addition to Gesualdo's—let's say— progressive, composition style, the composer has become famous for his alleged ties to masochistic practices, sadism, and violence. Oh yeah, and he murdered his wife and her cross-dressing-duke-lover. There's a lot to take from that uber-hyphenated-descriptor. Gesualdo's first wife (who was also his first cousin), Donna Maria engaged in an adulterous affair with Fabizio Carafa, a duke of Andria. During the night of October 16, 1590, Gesualdo caught Donna Maria and Duke Carafa in the act. Without a blink, Gesualdo killed his wife and her lover.
Gesualdo remarried but it was not a happy marriage. His second wife accused two of Gesualdo's lovers of witchcraft... These lovers were tried for murder during which time one of the women suggested that Gesualdo forced her to drink blood. And believe us, that's the PG version...
Carlo Gesualdo 1566-1613
Johann Strauss II was born today in 1825. Remembered as "The Waltz King," Strauss II was the foremost composer of light music during his time. He wrote over 500 waltzes, polkas, and operettas.
For an in depth look at Strauss' life and works, check out his profile on the Informusic app. Don't you want to know why his brother Eduard destroyed a handful of Johann's music in a furnace in 1907?
Happy Birthday, Johann!
Continuing with our month of birthday celebrations, composer, conductor, and writer Ferdinand von Hiller was born today in 1811 at Frankfurt am Main, Germany. We love Hiller at Informusic and you should too! Why you ask? Perhaps you’ve never heard of him—he’s not as recognized today as his contemporaries (Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Verdi, etc.) BUT he was extremely active at the same time and in the same places. He was well connected to the most prominent artists of his time—not just in music, but in other artistic fields as well. Here’s your cheatsheet to Ferdinand Hiller.
In: 24 Oct 1811 (Frankfurt, Germany)
Out: 11 May 1885 (Cologne, Germany)
Hiller’s musical talent was recognized at an early age. By the age of ten, he performed a Mozart concerto publically. Many renowned artists including Spohr, Speyer, and Mendelssohn (who would become Hiller’s best friend) took an interest in the young musician. At the suggestion of Mendelssohn, Hiller traveled to Weimar to study with the distinguished pianist, Johann Nepomuk Hummel. While in Weimar (1825-1827) Hiller performed concerts, composed incidental music for the Weimar theatres, and became acquainted with the writer / poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1827, Hiller traveled to Vienna with Hummel to visit Beethoven on his deathbed.
After returning to Frankfurt Hiller spent time composing and performing. In 1828 he journeyed to Paris where he would spend the next seven years making a name for himself as a pianist and composer. He became close friends with and performed the works of Berlioz, Chopin, and Liszt. Hiller’s compositions were met with encouragement from prominent composers and teachers such as Cherubini, Halévy, Meyerbeer, and Rossini.
In 1836 Hiller worked as deputy conductor of the Cäcilienverein in Frankfurt and then traveled to Milan for the premiere of his first opera Romilda. Although Rossini helped Hiller launch Romilda, it was a failure. Hiller then traveled to Leipzig to present his oratorio Die Zerstörung Jerusalems, which he did with the help of Mendelssohn. Following this trip Hiller returned to Italy where he founded a choral society and studied early Italian polyphony.
A traveling man, Hiller moved back to Germany in 1842 where his popularity continued to grow—no doubt—with the aid of his buddy Mendelssohn. The following year however, Hiller succeeded Mendelssohn as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1843-1844) which caused a rift in the two’s friendship.
♪ 1844 -- Hiller’s in Dresden, founds a concert series, and writes two operas
♪ 1844 -- Hiller’s in Düsseldorf and makes significant contributions to its music community
♪ 1845 -- Hiller and Wagner hangout in Dresden discussing music, politics, and Tannhäuser
♪ 1845 -- Hiller helps Wagner stage Tannhäser in October
♪ 1846 -- Mendelssohn, Wagner, and Hiller attend a performance of Tannhäuser
♪ 1850 -- Hiller is appointed Kapellmeister at Cologne and models the city’s music school after the Leipzig model. Schumann succeeds Hiller in Düsseldorf
♪ 1852 -- Hiller conducts the Italian Opera in Paris during its 1852-1853 season
In Hiller’s later years, he became active with the Rhenish music festivals, conducting many of the performances. He went on extensive concert tours throughout Europe and became quite famous as a conductor, pianist, and Mozart interpreter. Hiller became estranged from many of his colleagues including Wagner, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Schumann who heavily criticized Hiller’s work as a composer.
♪ 1884 -- Hiller retires from his duties at Cologne and recommends his position be filled by his friend Johannes Brahms or pupil, Bruch (Franz Wüller is appointed despite Hiller’s suggestions)
♪ 1885 -- Ferdinand Hiller dies in Cologne
So, if Hiller was active in the same places as Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and many others, why isn’t he as celebrated centuries later? Schumann once noted, “despite mastery of formal techniques (and occasional originality) [Hiller’s] music lacked that triumphant power which we are unable to resist.”
His Piano Concerto op. 69 is certainly worth a listen.
Happy Birthday, Ferdinand Hiller!
Today in 1811 composer and pianist Franz Liszt was born in Doborján, Kingdom of Hungary. He is remembered as a virtuoso performer, a rock star of his time, and as a composer who loved his native Hungary. Throughout the 1840s Liszt played a significant role in shifting the primary forum of piano performance from salon gatherings to concert hall extravaganzas.
Here are a few fun facts about the composer / pianist:
🎹 Liszt coined the term "recital"
🎹 His daughter, Cosima would later marry Liszt's contemporary, Richard Wagner
🎹 Liszt's hands were huge: It is said that he could span a 13th on the piano
Oh yeah, and he had what is quite possibly the coolest (and most practical) desk ever created:
To celebrate Liszt's birthday and to continue the celebrations of Verdi's birthday earlier in the month, we're giving away two free downloads of the Informusic app. The winners will be contacted today. Happy Birthday Liszt!
🎨 by Seth Crider
We're extremely excited to add Franz Peter Schubert to our roster of composers today!
Franz Schubert is in the club of composers who died far too young. He was a prolific Austrian composer of the early Romantic Era. While Schubert made contributions to many genres of music writing symphonies, masses, and keyboard works, he is best remembered for composing over 600 lieder—that's almost 20 art songs per year.
In 1827 Schubert composed his most famous song-cycle, Die Winterreise (Winter's Journey). This was Schubert's second song-cycle set to a poem cycle by lyric poet, Wilhelm Müller. Schubert worked quickly to set the first 12 poems in February. However, the composer was unaware at that time that a second half of Müller's Winterreise existed. After discovering the full collection of 24 poems, Schubert set the second half in October of the same year. He died the following month.
For more about Schubert, his interactions with his contemporaries like Beethoven and Paganini, check out his profile on the Informusic app!
We're happy to announce the addition of a new composer to the app! But.. you'll have to wait until later in the week to find out who. We've recently spent lots of time in France - both literally during our #informusicontour where we lived on Rue Berlioz in Nice - and within the app with the recent additions of Satie, Fauré, and Couperin. The next composer to join the app was active a bit further east.. Check back later in the week for more details and new content!
Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a free download of the app by tweeting or sharing the contest. Happy Tuesday!
If you still haven't downloaded Informusic for $0.99, time is running out at that price. However, since we love October, Listz, and Birthdays, we're giving away one more free download. How do you enter to win this free download? Share this page on any of your social media accounts. We will select the winner on 22 October! Good Luck!
Today in 1813 Giuseppe Verdi was born in La Roncole, Italy. Happy Birthday Verdi! You can learn all about him in the app.
As promised we will be selecting one of our new followers on social media to receive a free download. Congrats to the winner, and we'll be in touch very soon!
Because we love October here at InformHQ, we thought we'd extend the contest and give away one more app! This time for the occasion of Franz Liszt's birthday. We'll be selecting the winner on 22 October. If you still want Informusic for free, you're in luck. All you have to do is share this link on your Facebook, twitter, blog, whatever you like. Happy Birthday Verdi! Happy Fall, to you all!