Leoš Janáček's Piano Sonata “1.X.1905" - "From the Street" (1905)
1. Presentiment (Con moto)
2. Death (Adagio)
This work was the composer’s direct reaction to an event he witnessed, a peaceful demonstration calling for a new Czech university (Brno) that left a young carpenter (František Pavlík (1885–1905) stabbed to death on October 1 1905 by a repressive bayonet. Janácek was deeply affected, and wrote his only piano sonata on an impulse. The work is highly dramatic and original, having been written without any concern to make it properly pianistic. Originally it comprised three programmatic movements, each one in sonata form. After its premiere the composer, in a fit of depression, destroyed the manuscript and threw the pieces into the Vltava River. The first two parts were reconstructed from copies with the help of the performer who premiered it. What has survived are two brief movements, of similar length, in E flat minor. In the first, entitled “Foreboding,” con moto, the first subject begins calmly with a wistful motive that is soon reiterated more intensely, with a cascade of octaves in the bass that ends fortissimo in a double trill. The next bar begins pianissimo, introducing the gentler second subject which is partly overlapped by echoes of the first. The brief development works into an anguished climax that leads to the reprise. The movement concludes pianissimo. In the second, “Death,” Adagio, the exposition is monothematic, a slow and melancholic contemplation based on a simple four-note motive of pensive character. The development gathers momentum, with spasmodic contributions of the left hand. The development works the motive into a frenzy of repeated chords leading to the reprise. The piece closes very softly. This is one of the most concentrated and emotionally charged piano works of the century.
“The white marble of the steps of the Besední dům in Brno. The ordinary labourer František Pavlík falls, stained with blood. He came merely to champion higher learning and has been slain by cruel murderers.”
Sad thing is - this recent image from Turkey shows how riot police and government used pepper gas and water cannons to terminate union members who gathered to protest the government’s controversial religious education legislation.
Hector Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique - Fifth movement: “Songe d’une nuit de sabbat” (Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath)
From Berlioz’s program notes:
He sees himself at a witches’ sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.
Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.”
Leyla Gencer died on May 10, 2008 in Milan. According to her wish her ashes were brought to Istanbul and consigned to the waters of the Bosphorus. Turkish Minister of “Culture” and Tourism didn’t attend her funeral and some idiot religious journalists wrote: “She was not a muslim, so do not contaminate the Bosphorus with her ashes.”
This is probably the saddest piece i’ve ever heard.
John Williams - The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) conducted by Franz Welser-Möst during the Summer Night Concert 2010 in Vienna. “The Imperial March” was premiered on April 29, 1980.