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Composer Bios: Chopin

Few names are as closely linked to the history and performance of the piano as that of Frédéric Chopin. Called the “Raphael of the Piano,” Chopin composed a rich, diverse array of piano music that ranks among the most performed in the classical music repertory. An important figure in the early Romantic period of Western Classical music, Chopin lived during the artistically fruitful and politically charged early decades of the 19th century, and he crossed paths with many of the leading musical figures of his day. As a pianist, Chopin’s skills are reputed to have been prodigious, and his compositions … Read more

Composer Bios: Beethoven

The name “Beethoven” is one of the most recognizable in all of classical music. Ask anyone to name a few classical composers, and among the short list you’re likely to get, one of names will almost certainly be Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven’s music continues to receive regular airtime through both performances and media spots, and a number of the most popular melodies from the classical world come from his compositions. In this article we’ll take an introductory look into the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven. Life and Times Early Life Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in … Read more

The Postmodern Period

Music historians regularly disagree on dates and periodization in Western Classical Music, but the current general consensus is that we are, at this moment in time, enjoying the Postmodern Period of Music. The term Postmodernism first came into use during the 1970s to describe musical, artistic, and philosophical trends that began around 1945. Postmodernist music expanded on the experimental trends of the modernist period, but also acted as a reaction against those experiments, resulting in a diverse array of compositional designs. A common theme throughout postmodern music was to challenge what music should be, and what it could be.  In … Read more

Easy Piano: 10 Easy Minor Pieces

There are lots of articles out there claiming to contain “easy” piano pieces. Some of them are good, some of them are not, and many of them throw big, famous titles into their list of offerings, such as Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” or Claude Debbusy’s “Claire de Lune.” You might be familiar with these pieces by name, and through hearing snippets of their most well-known sections, but have you ever tried to play them? Or even listened to a complete recording? Doing so in either way reveals that these are hardly “easy” pieces, and the closest many beginning or intermediate players … Read more

The Modern Period

The Modern Period in Western music history lasted from approximately 1890 to 1945. As with Romanticism, Modernism is both a historical time period as well as a philosophical aesthetic. In everyday conversation, “modern” typically means current or recent. As a term referencing music, Modernism was first used by critics to describe forms of musical expression adhering to the radical changes happening at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century. Unlike the terms “Romanticism” or “Classicism,” Modernism describes relatively few unifying musical traits, the sounds of Modernism range from the wistful and bucolic, to the bizarre and … Read more

The Romantic Period

The Romantic Period, spanning from around 1820 to 1910, contains some of the most beloved music from the classical music tradition. A lot of music from this time period is probably already familiar to you, due to its frequent use in television shows, commercials, movies, and video games! The highly expressive nature of Romantic music tends to resonate with the emotional sensibilities of the modern world, and it is this trait perhaps above all others that has contributed to its lasting appeal.   What is Romanticism? Musical Romanticism was influenced by the Romantic movement in art and literature that began … Read more

The Classical Period

The Classical Period follows the Baroque and lasts approximately from 1750 to 1820. Many of the traditional practices of Western Music as we know it were codified during the Classical Period – a reflection of which can be found in the name itself. Synonyms for classical include “authoritative” and “traditional” – fitting adjectives for the period that established many of the rules that composers follow even today!  In everyday conversation, “classical music” is a catch-all term for any music that is not Pop, World, or Jazz music. Generally, what people actually mean when they say classical music is “music of … Read more

The Baroque Period

The Baroque Period of Western music history saw the development of many of the instruments and performing techniques we still use today. In modern times, budding musicians study the compositional techniques codified during the Baroque period. Much of the music from this era is standard in the modern classical repertoire. During the Baroque period, compositions became more complicated, ensemble sizes increased, and the influence of Italian opera brought new drama throughout the European musical world. In addition, composers during this time generally enjoyed the benefits of increased arts patronage, as well as the growing acceptance of non-sacred instrumental music, which … Read more

Reading Chord Symbols: A Pianist’s Guide

The piano is a “harmony” instrument, meaning that we can play many notes at once. Certain combinations of notes give us harmonies that we call chords, and the ability to play chords is an important skill, no matter what style of music you’re playing. One of the most efficient routes to knowing which chords to play is by having the ability to read chord symbols. In this article, we’re going to teach you how to read chart-style chord symbols. Along the way we’re going to reinforce our understanding of what chords are and how they’re built. As a bonus, we … Read more

How to Memorize Music: A Pianist’s Guide

Introduction Have you ever watched a great pianist perform a complicated piece from memory? Impressive, isn’t it? All those notes and details, perfectly remembered and then fantastically re-created in the moment. There’s something about a performance of memorized music that makes it feel somehow more authentic, more intimate and honest. To be sure, this is a subjective perception, as many of the greatest performers used sheet music when playing, but the appeal of a memorized performance certainly exists. The practice of memorizing music is different from the more standard modes of practice to learn music off the page. In some … Read more