Introduction to Music, Fall 2017

Prof. Jake Cohen, Rutgers-Newark

Category: Concert Preview (page 1 of 5)

Concert Preview

The concert I will be attending is Rutgers Newark Chorus on December 6th, 2017. I will begin to write previews of each song that I can find on the internet. In my paper, I will go in-depth on historical background and elements of each piece.

“Fa-Shu- Ha” by Yu-Shan Tsai has a very slow and meditative tempo. It’s a calming choral piece from what I can hear and the piece begins with a division of male and female singers, then both singing in harmony, accompanied by a piano. It’s fairly a simple piece. I believe this stems from Han Chinese traditional music in Taiwan that is performed mainly by Holo (Fulao) and Hakka people, descendants of migrants from south-east China. According to research on the widespread Daoist religion in Taiwan, beiguan music in religious celebrations and Daoist ritual was popular on the island not later than the beginning of the 18th century. Nowadays Han Chinese traditional music can be heard primarily in the western plain of the central mountains and in some hilly areas. (Hsu Tsang-Houei)

I can immediately tell with “El Niño Perdido” by Joaquin Nin-Culmell, that there is imitation makes me wonder what period it was written in and for what audience.  A “Good king Wenceslas” arranged by Leo Sowerby has a simple melody, its accompanied with an organ, and almost sounds like the lyrics of “Ring around the Rosey” could have gone with the melody. This piece is a Christmas carol.

“The Road Not Taken” by Randall Thompson has a piano accompaniment, but the recording emphasis the vocals and it sounds like most of the sound is coming from the chorus, as if they were the orchestra in this song. From beginning to end, both male and female are singing in unison. “Bidi Bom” by David Eddleman has an interesting start. It’s almost exciting and ignites your ears to listen attentively. There are a lot of vocal lines in this piece and the choir often divide into many parts. An interesting part is when the entire choir chants and erupts into the melody to end the song. “Ukuthula” by Andre van der merwe is what I’m excited about the most because it reminds me of The Lion King from the beginning. The harmonies are sweet and soft. It’s an acapella piece.

Overall, I’m excited about the concert because of how diverse the pieces are and the fusion between classical, cultural, and tradition of embracing the holidays are all being placed in one. The concert is being held at the Hahne’s Building, therefore the acoustics are going to be wonderful.




Hsu Tsang-Houei, et al. “Taiwan.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 5 Dec. 2017. <>.


concert preview

The concert I will be attending is Hough Plays Rachmaninoff at NJPAC.  I look forward to seeing Stephen Hough who is pianist  and also a writer and composer. I expect that this will be a great performance.  According to Davis, “Rachmaninoff is best remembered as the composer who was the last great figure in the Romantic tradition and the leading pianist of his era.” His music is noted for its melancholy and long melodic line.”I expect to hear romantic piece but I also feel like I will hear more bold and fast pieces. I also think the music may be similar to Beethoven.

After listening to Rachmaninoff piece Theme of Paganini I was amazed. I defiantly liked how the violins start off playing the theme and how the piano has the first variations but it’s a little differrent. It was very bold and fast. As I continued to listen, I noticed how the piece continuously went from fast to slow. It also seemed like the piece volume transformed from very loud to really low.  According to David, “This piece was an immediate success and is technically his finest work. The rhapsody was written in a loose concerto form of three movements, or twenty-four variations: fast (1-10), slow (11-18), fast (19-24).” I was kind of expecting this piece to sound romantic but  didn’t and I liked it.  After listening to this piece it made more excited and anxious to see the concert.  I’m really not a fan of classical music but if the pieces will sound like Themes of Paganini or Beethoven’s fifth sympathy then I’m all for it.

“Sergei Rachmaninoff”. By: Davis, Donald E., Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2013



Concert Preview: NYU Chamber Music Recital

The concert I will be attending is on December 3rd, at NYU in Steinhardt Hall at 4:30.  There will be works performed by three composers, Max Reger, Zoltan Kodaly, and Ludwig von Beethoven. The pieces performed will be Reger’s Serenade for two violins and a viola, Op. 141a, and Kodaly’s Serenade Op. 12, and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 3 Op. 18. I chose to focus on Max Reger and Ludwig von Beethoven, as their pieces will be longer, the Kodaly piece is listed as only one movement long. What I found interesting about these Beethoven and Reger, is how Reger came significantly after the Classical era, being born in 1873, almost 50 years after Beethoven’s death. Despite this, Reger drew heavy inspiration from Beethoven’s work, and focused a great deal on chamber music. This will affect me because I will try to hear similarities in form between their works and end up comparing them, to try and hear exactly where Reger drew his influences from. Another thing that I found interesting is that Reger’s Op. 141a was originally composed for a violin, viola, and flute, and has been recomposed in this performance for two violins and a viola. This will significantly change the sound of the piece, and I look forward to hearing it performed differently. I believe that this is done to try to link the performance to the other two composers further, as Beethoven’s piece is for a string quartet, and the re-composition is for a string trio, which makes the pieces sound even more similar. Reger’s piece is mildly unusual for its time period because it closely follows the classical tradition, despite being composed in the late Romantic era. Reger as a composer is also unusual, because he was not known for symphonies or other large scale works which were the most popular works at the time. As mentioned previously, Reger was focused on chamber music and Lieder.



Williamson, John. “Max Reger.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed December 2, 2017. reger&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit.


Concert Preview

The concert I chose to attend is the “Rutgers Baroque Players: A Musical Banquet for the Telemann Year”. This event is taking place on December 4th, 2017 at the Richard H. Shindell Choral Hall in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The concert description describes it as “Instrumental and vocal music of Georg Philipp Telemann played on period instruments in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death.” Georg Telemann is a German composer that was born on March 14th, 1861. He is most famously known for his works towards the end of the Baroque Era. His pieces, such as “12 Fantasias for Solo Violin” contained Baroque elements such as the use of string instruments, but also contained elements that gave way to the Classical Era. The music of Telemann resembles the music of other famous Baroque composers that were around during this time such as Vivaldi. He is mentioned in the same sentence as them when talking about the greatest composers of the Baroque Era. One thing pertaining to this concert that I am interested to see is how enjoyable it will be. I have previously attended a concert including musical pieces from Vivaldi and I ended up liking it. I went into the concert with a negative attitude because I was forced to attend this concert for another music class. Upon sitting and listening to the music, I can honestly say I enjoyed myself. The music was relaxing and enjoyable to listen to. I am curious to see whether I will enjoy this concert, but I believe that I will be able to. Telemann is from the same era as Vivaldi and upon listening to some of Telemann’s work, I believe this will be a great experience for me. Another thing that I am interested to see is how the concert is structured.  Sadly, on June 25, 1767 Mr. Telemann passed away. The concert is described as an event honoring the 250th anniversary of his death. I am interested in seeing whether it will be just music or people talking between pieces and helping us truly understand the legacy of Telemann. All in all, I believe that this concert will be a unique experience that I will enjoy.





Steven Zohn. “Telemann, Georg Philipp.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 4, 2017,

Concert Preview

the concert that I will be attending is on December 3 at 3 PM. The concert will be held at NJPAC. This concert will be performed by Stephen Hough the pianist and the NJ Symphony Orchestra. The pieces that will be performed are Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; plus there will be also be Sergey Prokofiev’s Symphony No 6. The conductor of this performance is Xian Zhang.

Rachmaninoff and Sergey Prokofiev both came from a different background and had totally different lives, this will affect me on how I approach towards listening to the pieces that will be performed.  Rachmaninoff was born in a poor family during the romanticism period, and he had to move a lot when he was a kid which led to his unstabilized growing which caused him lot of emotional pain. His pieces are usually not “expressive” and therefore reflects on his childhood which was not so good. Rachmaninoff was influenced by the famous Russian musician Tchaikovsky and from that he built pride for his country through nationalistic pieces. When I will listen the piece, I will pay close attention to the concept of “nationalistic” through expressive and bright musical characteristics.

On the other side, Sergey Prokofiev had a more comfortable and a more suitable life. Sergey Prokofiev was raised in a wealthy family and he was able to focus on his musical work, which lead to him becoming a successful composer. In these pieces performed by Stephen Hough and the NJ Symphony Orchestra , I will also pay close attention to personal reflections of Rachmaninoff and Sergey Prokofiev. Two distinct composers(Sergey Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff) will both provide distinct musical characteristics which is going to add excitement to the concert and will make it memorable.

In Rachmaninoff’s pieces(Rhapsody) there is a theme and variations(Theme of Paganini). According to Sergey Prokofiev’s symphony no 6, there is only 3 movements which does not follow the regular 4 movements at the time. It is going to be kind of difficult to recognize all of these specific musical characteristics because these works are complex. The vocal piece will be accompanied with a combination of instruments, which is going to be interesting to hear. It is definitely going to be an interesting concert with many combinations and variations and will hopefully be emotionally appealing


“Rachmaninoff, Serge.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed December 3, 2017

“Prokofiev, Sergey.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed December 3, 2017


Concert Preview

Today at 3 PM, I’ll have the opportunity to attend the Hough Plays Rachmaninoff concert. The concert will take place in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The concert will consist of performances by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, which will be led by Xian Zhang, and Stephen Hough. The pieces that will be performed are Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, followed by Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6.

As I conducted a brief research on Rachmaninoff’s life, I was able to learn many facts not only about who he was as a composer, but also who he was as a person. To learn about his troubled childhood made me think that some of his pieces will somehow reflect his dark/unhappy past. The point in his life were he was discouraged and induced to believe that he was not that good of a composer adds on to my inferences about the overall mood of some of his pieces. With these facts in mind, I’ll definitely have a better understanding of the pieces that will be performed, because I will be aware of the circumstances that influenced Rachmaninoff’s music at the time. I believe that learning about his life prior to attending the concert has already impacted my experience, for I now feel prepared to engage in the performance, rather than just sit there, clueless about the pieces’ significance.

Rachmaninoff’s pieces, Vocalise and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, certainly grasped my attention from the minute I listened to them. Vocalise has a soothing and calming aspect that can make anyone feel relaxed, but intrigued at the same time. Throughout most of the piece, there are variations in its dynamics, as it ranges from soft to loud, and vice versa, in various occasions. The mellow timbre of the piece can push a listener to infer that the piece reflects something about Rachmaninoff’s life at the time. Just like I mentioned above, Rachmaninoff’s rough life experiences probably influenced his writing of this work. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini shares some of the same qualities as Vocalise. Perhaps if I hadn’t learned a bit about the composer’s life, I wouldn’t put too much thought into how the pieces’ are structured, but knowing that he encountered many ups and downs throughout his musical career (and personal life as well), I’m able to understand the pieces better and draw a connection between their respective meanings.

Hopefully, when I listen to these pieces live, I will be drawn and intrigued by the performers and their ability to present these pieces in an outstanding manner.


Work Cited

Geoffrey Norris. “Rachmaninoff, Serge.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 3 Dec. 2017.

Concert Preview: Hough Plays Rachmaninoff

I will be seeing Hough Plays Rachmaninoff. The conductor is Xian Zhang and the piano player is Stephen Hough. Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian pianist, composer, and conductor of the late Romantic period. He was very tall as well standing at an astounding 6’6”. He was born into an aristocratic family in Russia, and lived in Beverly Hills, California, the latter years of his life. He never assimilated to American culture and brought what he loved to this country, music.


Reading these aspects of his life causes me to think, he had the opportunity to become as good as he was because of his wealthy family. Usually musicians that come from a wealthy family have more trained musically than those that come from poor families. Rachmaninoff was one of the greatest of his time and I can hear it in his music (played by Hough). Hough does a great job at imitating Rachmaninoff. The cool thing about this piece is the violins playing the theme and the piano decorating and embellishing the piece. Hearing the piece beforehand allowed me to see how much work is put into the music. I watched a clip on YouTube of Stephen Hough explaining what Rachmaninoff does in a Theme of Paganini. It was also cool seeing the skip from the one to the five be played in such a way I’ve never heard before. I am interested to see how this goes in person. This is a symphony orchestra and it is so cool seeing the unity.


Richard D., Sylvester. Rachmaninoff’s Complete Songs : A Companion with Texts and Translations. Indiana University Press, 2014. Russian Music Studies.

Concert Preview

Listening to the music beforehand will help me understand how the composer is trying to portray the songs being played. I will be attending “Sounds of Chamber music” at Rutgers New Brunswick. Even though I am attending a concert where I am unable to know what composer will play there is a good chance that Mozart will be playing. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a very influential composer of the Classical era. Since he was a child, he was able to develop is music ability when traveling with his family to new villages and locations. Since they kept moving, he was exposed to different cultures. He excelled in all genres and styles as he grew up.

After listening to different music of Mozarts, I noticed that his compositions are in different styles. Listening to “Requiem” was very different composition. This composition was made as tribute for his wife which was why it was made to feel tragedy. It was  He also made “Piano Sonata no. 11” which was one his most famous pieces. You can hear how it had a sonata form in the three movements.  Having so many styles, Mozart’s work is very intricate. I will be expecting a very good performance. Knowing that Mozart is still very famous and his work is played everywhere, I may be more critical to see how it will be played. I would be very excited to hear his  “Piano Sonata no. 11”. I have heard this song many times since I was younger. I never knew who it was from and what forms were being played. Now that I know what to listen for, I will be able to judge and see how well it is being played if it is played.

“Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.” The Oxford Dictionary of Music2nd ed. rev.Oxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed December 3, 2017

Rushton, Julian“Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.” The Oxford Companion to MusicOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed December 3, 2017

Hough Plays Rachmaninoff

On December 3rd at 3pm I will be attending the NJPAC, to witness the playing of Stephen Hough at piano and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as an accompaniment. Stephen Hough, a British born pianist, will attempt to exceptionally play the works of the famous Romantic era artist, Sergi Rachmaninoff.

Due to Rachmaninoff up and down lifestyle, regarding the success of his music I expect to hear the darkness that he felt. His first “symphony was a colossal failure and that disturbed him” (Davis). There was an immediate bounce back. He created pieces such as the opera “Aleko”, and his famous solo piano piece from opus 3 named “Morceaux de Fantaisie“. Later on Rachmaninoff failed again in a number of pianos and operas. But once again he strived with a signature piece. Piano Concerto No.2 , “is considered his most significant piece” (Davis). Due to Rachmaninoff fight to not give up I expect the pieces to have a lot of emotion and then sudden outbursts from the orchestra. Rachmaninoff also strived in the Romantic Era, which invites composers to expression the emotion they feel in their real lives. So when I hear Piano concerto No. 2 or Opus 3, I expect to listen out for the emotion of the piece.

Piano Concerto No.2 has a special element to it, that keeps the listener interested. As I listened to it for the first time, it soothed me but had sudden outbursts. The piano was used as a relaxer but would then raise in volume, with the orchestra chiming in. The violin and piano also had an distinctive relationship. It would follow the pace of the piano and would be a sound directly behind the piano. The orchestra wasn’t as loud as other pieces around that time period , solely placing emphasis on his abilities at the piano. Now “Morceaux de Fantaisie”, had no orchestra behind it but shared the same darkness. It was a slow piano piece with little liveliness. As i said before, the ups and downs in Rachmaninoff life can explain why his pieces are dark. When I hear these pieces live I expect the mood, to the match the darkness of the song.


  • Davis, Donald E. “Sergei Rachmaninoff.” Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia (2013): Research Starters, EBSCOhost

Concert Preview – Hough Plays Rachmainoff

I will be visiting the Classical concert where Hough Plays Rachmaninoff at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). This will take place on Sunday December 3 at 3 p.m. Xian Zhang will be the conductor and Stephen Hough will play the piano.  The pieces that will be played at this show are Rachmainoff’s Vocalize, Rachmainoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6.

Rachmainoff had a very up and down career, mainly suffering through many problems from losing family, money and failing in the music industry. Still he was able to make some great pieces an example is the Vocalize and the Theme of Paganini. It would interesting to hear these pieces live mainly because I would be able to get an idea of the pianists expression and their passion as this would give me an idea about how Rachmainoff must have been when composing this song. Because when Rachmainoff was composing the Theme of Paganini he had lost his father and was returning to music. So seeing some sort of aggression on the pianists face in the concert would probably mimic Rachmainoff’s mood at the time of composing this song since he must have been angry and sad too. One of the most interesting things would be to compare Rachmainoff’s pieces and Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No.6. Prokofiev composed this piece during the world war, so both Rachmainoff and Prokofiev had similar moods and states of minds which is anger and sadness too. And both of these composers were compared as being one of the greatest Russian composers. Comparing them in a live concert would also allow me identify the very detailed differences due to clarity and the ability to see the player live.

One of the special things about the Theme of Paganini is that, Rachmainoff brought many variations in his 1931 Theme of Corelli  he wanted to use these characteristics in his music afterwards. These variations were “Chromatic Harmony” and “New Rhythmic Incisiveness”  These changes were largely because of his career challenges.



Geoffrey Norris“Rachmaninoff, Serge.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed December 2, 2017

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