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 As controversial as he is popular, Wynton Learson Marsalis is one of the most prominent jazz musicians of the modern era and is also a well-known instrumentalist in classical music. Currently the Musical Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis has received many awards for his musical proficiency. These awards run the gambit of Grammys to a controversial awarding of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his three and half hour jazz oratorio CD box set Blood on the Fields, the first jazz album to win this award. Born in a musically oriented family in the New Orleans jazz scene at a young age Wynton was exposed to many legendary jazz musicians. Some of these musicians were Al Hirt, who gave Wynton his first trumpet when he was 6 years of age and Danny Barker, a legendary jazz banjoist who lead the Fairview Baptist Church band which Wynton was playing in when he was eight. Wynton was very active musically during high school and was a member in many New Orleans musical organizations such as the N.O. symphony brass quintet, the N.O. community concert band, N.O. youth orchestra, N.O. symphony and a popular local funk band called the Creators. In 1978 he had a two-year stay at the Juilliard School of Music before joining the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader, Art Blakey. Not long after that he toured with the Herbie Hancock quartet before forming his own band. After many concerts and workshops Wynton rekindled widespread interest in an art form that had been largely abandoned. He has invested his creative energy and status in being an advocate for a relatively small era in the history of jazz. His advocacy in this area has garnered much controversy for his “classicist” view of jazz history considering post-1965 avant-garde playing to be outside of jazz and 1970s fusion to be barren. This viewpoint was promoted strongly in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz; a documentary Wynton was artistic director and co-producer. However despite his controversial views few disagree that his musical abilities in both jazz and classical music are high impressive and worthy of the high praise it often receives.

Mishka Momen

Liang Wang

EightyEightFingerz

 

ClassicalScores

Adagio sostenuto, first movement from Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27/2 “Quasi una Fantasia” (Like a Fantasy) / “Moonlight”

Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata (Mondscheinsonate in German), was completed in 1801. It is rumored to be dedicated to his pupil, 17-year-old Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom Beethoven was, or had been, in love. The name “Moonlight” Sonata derives from an 1832 description of the first movement by music critic Ludwig Rellstab, who compared it to moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne. Beethoven included the phrase “Quasi una fantasia” in the title partly because the sonata does not follow the traditional sonata pattern where the first movement is in regular sonata form, and where the three or four movements are arranged in a fast-slow-[fast]-fast sequence. Instead, the Moonlight sonata possesses an end-weighted trajectory; the climax is held off until the third movement. To be sure, the deviation from traditional sonata form is intentional. In his analysis of the Moonlight sonata, German critic Paul Bekker states that The opening sonata-allegro movement gave the work a definite character from the beginningwhich succeeding movements could supplement but not change. Beethoven rebelled against this determinative quality in the first movement. He wanted a prelude, an introduction, not a proposition. By placing the most dramatic form (sonata form) at the end of the piece, Beethoven could magnify the drama inherent in the form. The first movement, in C-sharp minor is written in a rough, truncated sonata form. The movement opens with an octave in the left hand and a triplet figuration in the right. A melody that Hector Berlioz called a “lamentation”, mostly by the right hand, is played against an accompanying ostinato triplet rhythm, simultaneously played by the right hand. The movement is played pianissimo or “very quietly”, and the loudest it gets is mezzo-forte or “moderately loud”. The movement has made a powerful impression on many listeners; for instance, Berlioz wrote that it “is one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify.” The work was very popular in Beethoven’s day, to the point of exasperating the composer, who remarked to Carl Czerny, “Surely I’ve written better things.”

Quoted from Edmund Morris’ “Beethoven: The Universal Composer”

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

London Symphony Orchestra ·193 videos

Animateur Rachel Leach leads an ensemble of LSO players through the first movement of Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone – one of the set works on the Edexcel A & AS Level syllabus.

Specially recorded by LSO Discovery, this seminar is especially relevant to those sitting their exam in May 2013.

Trumpet: Chris Deacon
French Horn: Angela Barnes
Trombone: Dudley Bright