Friday, December 16, 2016

Carpe Diem #1098 Symphony No. 1 by Georges Onslow


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joyful month this is. I have heard wonderful music, and I also heard that you all like this month full of classical music. I have tried to create a month with all different kinds of classical music, from ancient until modern times, from experimental to synthesizer ... a real joy. It takes a lot of my time to prepare all these episodes, but I love doing it, because I know you all appreciate what I am doing and you just need to have the posts on time.

Today I have a nice piece of music by Georges Onslow, a composer I had never heard of. So I had to do some research, and well I used the online services of Wikipedia. Let me tell you a little bit more about Onslow.
Georges Onslow (1784-1853)

André George(s) Louis Onslow (1784 –1853) was a French composer of English descent. His wealth, position and personal tastes allowed him to pursue a path unfamiliar to most of his French contemporaries, more similar to that of his contemporary German romantic composers; his music also had a strong following in Germany and in England. His principal output was chamber music but he also wrote four symphonies and four operas. Esteemed by many of the critics of his time, his reputation declined swiftly after his death and has only been revived in recent years.
Onslow's emphasis on instrumental music, and his base in Clermont-Ferrand, set him apart from many French composers of his era, for whom opera was a principal aspiration – the period after 1830, in particular, was a time when Paris led the world in grand opera. His interest in chamber ensembles and forms seemed to align him more closely with German musical traditions. Moreover, being possessed of an independent fortune, he could write for himself rather than needing to pander to the desires of audiences or impresarios. Fétis complained in 1830 "Nature worked in vain to have a Haydn or a Beethoven born in France; such talent was better concealed in the capital than are diamonds deep in the earth. It was the same with chamber music such as quartets and quintets. If M. Onslow has been able to establish a fine reputation in this genre, it is because his social position renders him independent...he is still better known abroad than in France. The lack of encouragement for instrumental music, a taste for futilities, and other secondary causes which it would be too tedious to detail, have left us insensible to anything but fantasies, variations and other trivia."
Music Score by Georges Onslow
Such comments enabled Onslow's publisher Camille Pleyel, in the same year, to promote the composer as "notre Beethoven français" ("our French Beethoven"), an epithet which was to be frequently repeated by critics, and was also a trigger for rebuttal by those not so convinced of the similarity; as for example Paul Scudo who wrote in 1854 that to compare Onslow with Beethoven was like comparing Casimir Delavigne (a popular librettist of the time) with Shakespeare. Indeed Onslow himself would have disowned comparison with Beethoven's late style, according to his conversation as recorded by the music journalist Joseph d'Ortigue: "The last quartets of Beethoven are mistakes, absurdities, the reveries of a sick genius....I would burn everything I have composed if I someday wrote anything resembling such chaos." However Onslow's interest in classical forms and counterpoint, and the styles of emotional expressiveness in his music, place his music close to the works of his teacher Reicha, and to Onslow's German and Austrian contemporaries of early Romantic music, such as Moscheles, Hummel, and Schubert. (Source: Wikipedia) (Video: Unsung Masterworks)
 
thundering sound
of falling water resonates
against the rocks
© Chèvrefeuille
Well I hope you did like this episode and that the music will be your source of inspiration. This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until December 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Symphony No. 3 by Louise Farrenc, later on.
 

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