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Maurice Ravel
Sonata for Violin and Piano
As the Jazz Age swept America and Europe during the Roaring 20s, man...
Ernest Chausson
Poéme, Op. 25
Written for the violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, French composer Ernest Cha...
Witold Lutoslawski
Subito for Violin and Piano
In the aftermath of World War II, Witold Lutosławski emerged as a l...
Frédéric Chopin
Scherzo No. 1 in B minor
Travelling to Paris in September 1831, Frédéric Chopin received wo...
Franz Liszt
Les cloches de Genève: Nocturne, f
The final piece, Les Cloches de Genève (The Bells of Geneva), was c...
Maurice Ravel
Tzigane
Primarily engrossed in the opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges durin...
Johannes Brahms
Scherzo for Violin and Piano in c m
Brahms met the Schumanns in September 1853. Both Robert and Clara w...
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Welcome to Classical Connect - the free classical music site!

If you like classical music, you’ve come to the right place! Classical Connect is your virtual concert hall, featuring thousands of recordings of classical music. If you love piano music, just go to the Browse by Instruments section and access the thousand-plus piano recordings available in our library. If you prefer the violin or the flute, you won’t be disappointed either – in fact, we have music for practically every instrument! If, on the other hand, you’re interested in a particular composer, you can Browse by Composer and select your favorite.

Where do we get our music? Our site allows independent musicians to upload their own recordings, or we may do it on their behalf. Musicians value the special opportunity Classical Connect offers because it allows for their music to be heard around the world. Several hundred musicians have already joined our site. We also have arrangements with several labels, festivals, programs and orchestras, allowing us to use some of their material.

As a visitor to our site you can listen to the first three minutes of any recording. However, by joining our site you’ll have access to all full-length performances. Joining is easy and has many great benefits. You’ll be able to create playlists, comment and vote on recordings, share music with friends, listen to our special programs, and more.

The music you hear upon entry was randomly selected from our library - what we call our Serendipity list. You can always pause it or jump to the next piece. You’ll be able to change the content of these initial selections once you’ve signed in.

To help you navigate the site and use its features, we’ve also created a Help page.

In the meantime, enjoy the music!

The Classical Connect team

January 26, 2015.  Mozart and Schubert.  Two giants of classical music were born this week: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on January 27th of 1756 and Franz Schubert on January 31st of 1797.  We’ve written about both of them numerous times, so to celebrate Mozart, we’ll just play his wonderful Linz symphony (no. 36).  Vienna Philharmonic orchestra is conducted by Carlos Kleiber in a live 1988 performance.

Franz SchubertOn the other hand, to celebrate Schubert, we’ll publish an article by Joseph DuBose on the song cycle Die schöne Müllerin.  We had a delicious problem trying to select a singer to illustrate the cycle.  There are many great recordings; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore made a classic one half a century ago; another great German, the tenor Peter Schreier, made a wonderful recording in 1982.  A much younger tenor, the current star Jonas Kaufmann, also recorded the cycle.  Hermann Prey, Ian Bostrich, Peter Pears, Thomas Quasthoff – the list is long and distinguished.  Each of these singers recorded the Müllerin with great musicality and probing interpretation, and all of them have magnificent voices.  We do have a favorite recording though, one made by Fritz Wunderlich in May of 1959.  Wunderlich was only 29 (just three years older than Schubert was when he wrote Die schöne Müllerin) and already in a great voice.  It’s impossible not to admire his singing.  Here’s the article. ♫

Not only among Franz Schubert’s most beloved compositions, Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise firmly established the song cycle as a genre rich in possibilities, and it would be taken up by some of the greatest song composers of the following century—Schumann, Brahms and Mahler. They were not the first of their kind, however. Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte predated the composition of both of Schubert’s cycle and laid the groundwork for the importance of musical continuity across the individual songs of the cycle. Yet, it was Schubert’s cycles that were the first to be widely performed and successful.

The earlier of the two cycles, Die schöne Müllerin was largely composed between May and September 1823, while Schubert was also at work on his opera Fierrabras, and was published the following year. Schubert selected twenty poems from Wilhelm Müller’s collection, excluding among others a prologue and epilogue, to use for his cycle, yet the narrative of the cycle is unharmed. The story follows the plight of a young miller that falls hopelessly in love with a miller maid. Blissful and full of life, he takes great joy in his wanderings. His companion in his journeys is a brook, that, whether for good or evil is yet not known, leads him to a mill. While working at the mill, he becomes infatuated with the master’s daughter, and attempts to win her heart. Though he believes he has gained her affections, his hopes of happiness are ruined by the arrival of a hunter, dressed in green. Jealously rises in the young miller and he develops a fatal obsession with the color green. Finally, he loses all hope and finds only rest in the cold embrace of his faithful companion, the brook.

The narrative of Die schöne Müllerin begins with the young man’s blissful wanderings in Das Wandern ("Wanderings," play). As he walks alongside the brook, watching its continuous journey and the ceaseless turning of the wheels of the mill, he muses that all things must move—must wander. Schubert sets Müller’s five-stanza poem in a simple strophic setting in B-flat major. The young man’s blithe approach to life is expressed in the almost folk-like characteristics of the song: a simple, unadorned melody and harmonies that hardly depart from the tonic and dominant of the key. Important, however, is the rippling accompaniment of sixteenth notes that depicts the scenic brook, one of the cycle’s three main characters.  Continue

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Welcome to our Virtual Concert Hall

We started Classical Connect with a mission to provide independent musicians with a new venue for their performances. Hundreds of classical musicians have taken advantage of this opportunity, sharing their music with listeners across the world.

We encourage you to join and upload your performances. Once signed in, you’ll be able to create a personal page with your bio, photo and other promotional materials. Since all the recordings on our site are streamed, your performance cannot be downloaded without your permission. In the future, you may also benefit from our plan to introduce fees for certain downloads. These fees will be shared with you, the musician.  If you have a video of your performance on YouTube, you can link it to your personal page: go to Upload or Link Your Performance and paste the YouTube URL in the appropriate field.  Your video will play on Classical Connect alongside your audio recordings.

Also, we have created a new feature called Concert Schedules, which allows you to enter your future concerts. Once your event has been entered, two things should happen. First, the concert is displayed on your personal page, below the bio. Second, the concert appears on the combined front-page Concerts Calendar. Moreover, for two days – the day before the concert and the day of the concert itself – there will be a message announcing your concert on the front-page News and Updates tab. This is the very first tab presented to all logged-on users.

On the technical side: our site accepts MP3 and MP4 files, so if you have a CD recording, you can rip and upload it in this format. For better quality, we recommend using a bit rate of 128 kbps, an audio sample rate of 44 kHz, and a two-channel (stereo) format.

To upload, enter the complete title of the piece, including its key, number, opus, etc. For example, the title of Beethoven's Sonata No. 21 would be identified as Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53. "Waldstein" is optional.  Also, we encourage you to leave comments about your performance or the composition.

If your performance was recorded on several tracks, then upload each one with a different title. For example, Sonata No. 21, part 1, Sonata No. 21, part 2 and so on. Please let us know and we’ll merge these different movements into one complete performance with the appropriate title.

Please do not upload parts of a composition. Think of Classical Connect as your virtual concert hall: only upload the things you would play in a real one.

If you have any questions, please contact us by clicking here and sending us an e-mail. We'll make every effort to respond as quickly as possible.

The Classical Connect team

Benefits of Joining Classical Connect

There are many advantages to joining Classical Connect. The first, and most obvious, is the ability to listen to complete performances. We have more than 2,000 different pieces of classical music, some of them as long as an hour and 50 minutes (yes, that’s how long Mahler’s Third Symphony is!). Once you’re logged in, you can listen to every one of them from start to finish – that’s if you like the performance, of course.

You can also create personal playlists. There’s no limit to how many pieces each playlist can include. You can read more about playlists here. In addition, you can comment and vote on any piece of music in our library. The grades / rankings go from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), but please only reserve 10s for the truly great performances and use 1s sparingly!

Another advantage includes sharing performances with your friends. Click the Share button on the Player and send a message to your friend on Classical Connect, or simply copy/paste the link into an e-mail. Your friends don’t even need to be members of Classical Connect; they can simply click on the link and listen to the complete performance the same way you do.

Also, you can actively participate in Forums only if you’ve joined the site.

Finally, as you set up your profile, you can select the content of the initial musical selection or omit it entirely.

Joining is easy. Just click here and follow the instructions.

Enjoy!

The Classical Connect team


January 21, 2015.  Lutoslawski and Dutilleux.  Two wonderful composers, both born in the 1910s, have their birthdays this week.  The Polish Witold Lutoslawski was born on January 25th of 1913.  As we wrote two years Witold Lutoslawskiago, Lutoslawksi’s life was exceptionally difficult, even by tough east-European standards of the 20th century.  An aspiring composer in the pre-War years, a student of Nadia Boulanger in Paris, he returned to Poland on the eve of WWII.  As the Germans invaded the country, he was conscripted and shortly after captured by the Germans.  He escaped eight days later and made it to Warsaw (his younger brother was captured by the Red Army and died in the Gulag a year later).  During the occupation, he earned his living by playing piano in bars together with his best friend, Andrzej Panufnik.  Just before the heroic and ill fated Warsaw Uprising was to begin, his mother took him to a small town of Komorów, just outside of the city.  Things didn’t get much better after the Soviet Union installed a communist regime in Poland.  After several relatively liberal years, in 1949 Lutoslawki became the first composer to be officially banned by the Composer’s Union.  The ban lasted for almost 10 years, even after Stalin’s death.  During those difficult years Lutoslawki survived by writing children songs, and music for theater and radio plays.  As he couldn’t use his own name, he wrote under the pseudonym of "Derwid."  It’s worth noting that he didn’t write a single piece in the Socialist Realism style, as was expected from him and as so many of his contemporaries in Easter Europe were forced to do (or chose to).  Another difficult period came in the 1980s: Lutoslawki actively supported the Solidarity movement, and suffered when its leadership was suppressed by the Communist regime.  In defiance, Lutoslawki started what he termed “the boycott of the State,” refusing to conduct, to meet with officials and rebuffing all entreaties from the State.

As most composers, Lutoslawki went through many creative stages. His composing style was changing and evolving his whole life.  During some periods it was more modernistic, atonal and even aleatoric, with chance playing a role in note selection, in others? – more tonality-based, almost romantic.  Here, from his twelve-tone period, is String Quartet, written in 1954, it’s performed by the New Budapest Quartet.  A much "warmer" but still atonal is Lutoslawski’ orchestral piece called Mi-Parti from 1976.  It was recorded the same year by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra with the composer conducting.  You can listen to it here. 

Lutoslawski died in Warsaw on February 9th of 1994.  Henri Dutilleux, three year younger than Lutoslawski (he was born on January 22nd of 1916), had a longer life: he died in 2013 at the ripe age of 97.  And even though he, like Lutoslawski, lived through the war (and also earned money playing piano in his respective occupied capital), overall his career was a happier one.  Throughout his life his achievements were acknowledged by his peers and his country, from the Grand Prix du Rome which he won in 1938 to the highest honor a Frenchmen can receive – the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, which he received in 2004.  He received commissions from many orchestras and musicians, and taught in several important conservatories.  Dutilleux’s place in French music is quite unique: on the one hand, he was influenced, even if indirectly, by Debussy and Ravel, and also by Stravinsky and Bartok; on the other, he never belonged to any musical school, even frowned at them and maintained independence all his life.  You can hear some of these influences – the beauty of the orchestral writing combined with a contemporary, almost jazzy edge – in the orchestral piece called Metaboles, as a simple musical structure moves though the different sections of the orchestra, gaining complexity in the process.   Metaboles was commissioned in 1965 by George Szell for the Cleveland Orchestra; here it’s performed by the Boston Symphony under the direction of Alan Gilbert.

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January 12, 2015.  Morton Feldman.  Last week, as we celebrated Alexander Scriabin’s anniversary, we had to pass over several birthdays, like Nikolai Medtner’s  and  Francis Poulenc’s.  This week is not as rich: many Morton Feldmannames but few first-rate talents.  Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, born on January 12th of 1876 was considered the best composer of comic operas of his time; now he’s practically forgotten.  Another Italian, Niccolò Piccinni (born on January 16th of 1728), was also a very popular opera composer: he wrote for the Paris Opera and was considered Gluck’s equal.  The only problem is that none of his works are staged these days; they’re just not very good.  A Russian composer with a very French name, Cesar Cui, was also born this week, on January 18th of 1835.  He’s the least interesting of the Mighty Five.  Some of his songs are very nice but not much more is performed outside of Russia.  The most significant composer of those born this week is the American Morton Feldman.  The problem with him is different: in his mature years he wrote enormously long and sometimes difficult compositions and for that reason they are rarely performed.

Feldman was born on January 12th of 1926 in New York into a family of Russian-Jewish immigrants.  As a child he studies piano and then composition; both of his teachers were followers of the New Viennese school of Schoenberg and Webern.  When he was 24 Feldman met John Cage and they became fast friends; Feldman even moved into the same building where Cage lived.  By then Cage, 14 years older than Feldman, was already well known in the avant-garde circles of New York.  Cage introduced Feldman to a number of musicians and painters, such as Cage’s teacher the composer Henry Cowell, Virgil Thompson, George Antheil and Robert Rauschenberg.  The 1950s were the golden age of Abstract Expressionism and Feldman became highly influenced by the art of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and, especially, Philip Guston, who was then going through his abstract phase.  Years later, in 1984, Feldman would write a four hour-long piece in memory of their Clock, by Philip Gustonfriendship.  Called For Philip Guston it’s scored for flute, percussion and piano.  The painting “Clock,” on the right, was made by Guston around 1956-57.  Of course there’s no clock in sight.

Feldman created a unique graphic system of music notation, within which many things were undetermined and left for performers to interpret.  Sometimes it was the pitch, at other times the duration.  Somehow, when you listen to his music, the results are always pure Feldman: sparse, whispering, exquisite, atonal but often lyrical, with a tremendous weight given to every sound (or silence), and often insanely long.  In 1971 he wrote a piece called Rothko Chapel in memory of his friend Mark Rothko, who committed suicide a year earlier.  The chapel, located in Houston, contains 14 large paintings by Rothko.  You can listen to Feldman’s tribute to his friend here, it’s performed by members of the Seattle Modern Orchestra.  The melody for the viola at the end of the piece was written by Feldman when he was 15.  Rothko Chapel is a relatively short piece, it runs for about 24 minutes.  Palais de Mari for the piano, written in 1986, was Feldman’s last piano work: he died of cancer on September 3rd, 1987.  It’s performed here by Aki Takahashi, a Japanese pianist who premiered several of Feldman’s works.   In her interpretation Palais de Mari runs for about 29 minutes.

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January 5, 2015.  Scriabin.  Alexander Scriabin was born in Moscow on January 6th of 1872.  In 1872 Russia was still using the Julian calendar, and January 6th for those living according to the Gregorian calendar was Christmas Day, December 25th..  Scriabin’s father belonged to a minor Moscow nobility and later in his life would become a prominent Alexander ScriabinRussian diplomat, his mother was a concert pianist. She died of consumption when Alexander was one year old; she was only 23.  Anton Rubinstein, who was for a while his mother’s teacher, took interest in Alexander.  By the age of five Scriabin was already playing piano; from an early age he showed interest in composing.  He took private lessons with Taneyev and other prominent musicians and later entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying piano with the famous Vasily Safonov, graduating with a gold medal (Sergei Rachmaninov graduated from the Conservatory the same year, also with a gold medal, but of an even higher rank).  In 1898 Scriabin was invited to his alma mater as a professor of composition but quit soon after because teaching interfered with his own work.  Around this time he became well known as a composer.  Scriabin’s early compositions, mostly for the piano, are very pleasant but quite derivative, written in imitation of Chopin’s sonorities: listen, for example, to his Etude in c-sharp minor, op. 2, no. 1 in the performance by Daniil Trifonov (herer).  In 1903 Scriabin and his wife Vera, the mother of their four children, left Russia for Switzerland.  By then Scriabin was already involved with the 20-year old Tatiana Schloezer.  Shortly after the Scriabins legally separated,  Schloezer joined Scriabin as his second, common-law wife (they had three more children together; one of them, Julian, who drowned at the age of 11, was a composer who wrote several preludes in the late style of his father).  Schloezer, despite her age, was a strong-willed woman who worshiped Scriabin.  Some of Scriabin’s friends accepted Schloezer, some refused to do so (Safonov, a former teacher and good friend, stopped talking to Scriabin).  The Swiss period marked a significant development in Scriabin’s music.  It became highly individual, idiosyncratic.  The Fourth and the Fifth Piano sonata and the famous Poem of Ecstasy, which he started in 1905, are great examples of his art of the period (here’s Sonata no. 4 in the F-sharp Major, op. 30, performed by Vassily Primakov).  In 1907 Scriabin moved to Paris where for a brief period he got involved with the famous impresario Sergei Diaghilev, and then to Brussels.  Short on money (his major Russian patrons cut their funding), he made a trip to New York.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful.  In 1910 Scriabin returned to Russia and stayed there for the few remaining years of his life.

During this time his music evolved even further.  Its harmonies grew so complex that the basic tonality became practically irrelevant.  Scriabin started talking about his music more in painter’s terms, putting emphasis on such qualities as radiance, sharpness, or brilliancy.  Around the same time Scriabin became obsessed with the relationship between color and musical tone.  In 1910 he wrote a symphonic poem Prometheus and added a special line to score for the color accompaniment using a special machine called clavier à lumières.  He specified that C should be projected in red color, D – yellow, and so on, for all 12 notes of the octave.  Only one version of this instrument was ever used, in the performance of Prometheus in New York in 1915.

Scriabin died on April 27th of 1914 of septic shock after a boil on his upper lip got infected as he tried to get rid of it.  He was 43.  One of the greatest interpreters of his music was the Russian pianist Vladimir Sofronitsky (1901-1961), who married Scriabin’s eldest daughter, Elena.  Sofronitsky is not very well known in the West, which is quite unfortunate: some of his recordings were at the highest possible level.  Here is the recording made by Sofronitsky of Scriabin’s late Sonata no. 9, op. 68, subtitled “Black Mass.”  The recording was made in 1960.  We’ll dedicate an entry to the art of Sofronitsky at a later date.

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December 29, 2014.  Happy New Year!  2015 is fast approaching, and following yet another serendipitous tradition that was established at Classical Connect over the last several years, we Benozzo Gozzoli, Madonna and Childdedicate the last annual entry to a composer with an unknown birthdate.  For obvious reason, these composers usually come from the age when record-keeping was not very accurate.  During Medieval times not only the birthdate, but often the name and  the music itself were usually lost, so our composers come from the period that followed, the Renaissance.  Orlando di Lasso (or Orlande de Lassus, as his name is sometimes written) was one such composer.  He was born either in 1530 or 1532 in the town of Mons, in the County of Hinaut in what is now Belgium (Gilles Binchois, another famous composer of the Renaissance, was born in Mons 130 years earlier).  It is said that as a boy, Orlando had a very beautiful voice – according to a legend he was even kidnapped for it, not once, but three times.  When Orlando was 12, Ferrante Gonzaga, of the Mantuan Gozagas, a condottiero close to the Emperor Charles V, heard him sing and made Orlando part of his entourage.   Gonzaga’s travels brought Orlando to Italy, Mantua first, then Sicily and Milan.  He then moved to Rome, to the household of Cosimo I de’ Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany (despite the title, Cosimo was from a minor branch of the great family that ruled over Florence in the 15th century).  He then received a very prestigious position as the maestro di capella at the basilica of Saint John Lateran, the second most important church in Rome (Palestrina would succeed him several years later).  He started publishing his music around that time, and in several years became famous not just in Italy, but in all of civilized Europe.

 

In 1556 Orlando was hired by the court of the Duke of Bavaria.  He moved to Munich and remained there for the rest of his life.  His fame continued to grow; composers would visit him in Munich, the Pope knighted him, he was invited to many courts.  Only Palestrina could compete with Orlando in popularity. He made several visits to Italy, but despite all offers always returned to Bavaria.  In his last years his health declined; he died on June 14th of 1594 and was buried in Munich.

 

Orlando was immensely prolific.  Apparently he wrote over 2000 pieces of music, sacred (masses and motets), as well as secular (madrigals and chansons).  The cycle of motets called Cantiones sacrae sex vocum (Sacred songs for six voices) was published the year of his death, in 1594.  Here are three of these songs: Ad Dominum cum tribularer, Beatus homo, and Cantabant canticum Moysi.  They are performed by Collegium Vocale Gent under direction of Philippe Herreweghe.  The Madonna and Child (above) are by the Florentine painter Benozzo Gozzoli.  It was completed in 1450.

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December 22, 2014.  Christmas of 2014.  We wish all our listeners a Merry Christmas, a holiday joyous to all music lovers, whether religious or not.  We traditionally celebrate it with Johann The Nativity, Domenico GhirlandaioSebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.  A six-part work lasting about three hours, it was written for the Christmas season of 1734, but incorporates several cantatas and other music written earlier.  The first part of the cantata describes the birth of Jesus.  Here are movements 5 through 9, the final movements of part one.  It starts with a Chorale, the tenor recitative of the Evangelist follows, then another Chorale, then a Bass aria and the finale Chorale to the words of Martin Luther.  This portion of Christmas Oratorio is performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.  The picture on the left is by the great Italian master Domenico Ghirlandaio.  It was painted in 1492 and these days it hangs in the Pinacoteca museum in Vatican.  Note that the angels seem to need the sheet music to properly sing Gloria in excelsis Deo -- or maybe they invite us to sing along.

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