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Ten of Chopin's EASIEST Pieces for Piano

10 Easy Chopin Pieces
10 Easy Chopin Pieces

The music of Frédéric Chopin is a pillar of the piano repertoire, including some of the most brilliant, and challenging, music ever written for the instrument ranging from showy polonaises through to whirlwind scherzos – not to mention his notoriously demanding collection of virtuoso etudes. Unlike the other great piano composers of the 19th century, however, Chopin also composed a surprisingly large number of works which can be tackled even by intermediate players (roughly equivalent to grades 5–6 according the UK’s ABRSM ranking system) – although bear in mind that even Chopin’s “easiest” pieces require plenty of musicality and interpretative finesse to bring off convincingly. We’ve chosen ten of our favourites below, ranked roughly in order from the easiest to most difficult.

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A Very Quick Guide to . . . The Clarinet

The clarinet
The clarinet

What’s it all about?


The clarinet, the most versatile and perhaps most popular of all wind instruments.

When did it all start?


The modern clarinet is a direct descendant of the old chalumeau, a popular instrument back in the middle ages and Renaissance – basically a type of recorder, but with a reed.

In about 1700 German instrument maker Johann Christoph Denner (or possibly one of his sons – the details are fuzzy) designed a new version of the chalumeau adding a single key to the instrument to expand its range – effectively, the first clarinet.
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A Very Quick Guide To . . . The Viola

Beethoven playing the Viola
Beethoven playing the Viola

What’s it all about?


The viola. The neglected alto of the string family. Always the bridesmaid, hardly ever the bride.

So when did it all start?


Sometime around 1550 – and we won’t go into the long and convoluted pre-history of the modern string instrument family here. Suffice to say that Italian luthier Andrea Amati is generally credited with creating the first modern violas (and violins) sometime in the 1550s, closely followed by Gasparo da Salò. Andrea Amati’s descendants continued to produce magnificent violas, eventually handing their secrets down to Antonio Stradivarius, the most famous of all instrument makers.

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Which classical artist did Beyoncé beat to become the greatest Grammy artist of all time?

Beyoncé alongside the classical artist she beat to become the greatest ever Grammy winner [Source: Wikipedia]
Beyoncé alongside the classical artist she beat to become the greatest ever Grammy winner [Source: Wikipedia]

On 5th February the music industry’s 65th Grammy Awards were announced in a glitzy ceremony in Los Angeles. Amongst the categories, the most distinguished include best record, which went to Lizzo’s, ‘About Damn Time’; best Album, won by Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House’; and best song, which went to to Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Just Like That.’

But it was Beyoncé that made all the post-awards headlines. Her four wins, for Best Dance Recording (‘Break My Soul’), Best Dance/Electronica Album (‘Renaissance’), Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance (‘Plastic off the Sofa’) and Best R&B Song (‘Cuff It’), makes her career Grammy Awards haul, with 32 wins and 88 nominations, the largest of all time.
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A Very Quick Guide To . . . Elizabethan Music

Portrait of Elizabeth I of England playing the lute, portrait miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1580 [source: wikipedia]
Portrait of Elizabeth I of England playing the lute, portrait miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1580 [source: wikipedia]

What’s it all about?


The Elizabethan era – or the “golden age” of English history as it’s still often described. An era during which this rainy and slightly insular island off the coast of northern Europe first began to establish itself on the world stage. An era which witnessed the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe, the great exploratory voyages and naval triumphs of Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh. And of course the iconic queen herself, perhaps the most celebrated of all English monarchs.
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10 Classic Three Tenors Pieces

Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo [Source: Wikipedia]
Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo [Source: Wikipedia]

January 2023 saw two of the original three tenors, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, perform together in Tokyo’s Garden Theatre. The concert was to mark 20 years since the last three tenors concert, held in Columbus, U.S. It was dedicated to the memory of Luciano Pavarotti, who died in 2007.

Given the controversy surrounding Domingo’s career and the age of both singers, the concert was slammed by some for its tackiness.

Perhaps then better to remember the heyday of three tenors mania, when Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti wowed concertgoers with their interpretations of great works from the opera and song literature.
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Gyorgy Ligeti, Stanley Kubrick and 2001. A Story with a Sting in the Tail.

György Ligeti (left) and Stanley Kubrick (right) [Source: Wikipedia]
György Ligeti (left) and Stanley Kubrick (right) [Source: Wikipedia]

Ok, so you’ve heard of the film ‘2001’? The one set in space with the black monolith and the mad A.I. computer HAL? And its legendary director Stanley Kubrick? You know, the one who was a notorious perfectionist and whose cinematography also includes films such as the ‘Dr. Strangelove’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘The Shining.’

So who is György Ligeti and what does he have to do with Kubrick and that movie?
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Ten Pieces Every Oboist Should Know

Oboe player [Source: Adobe Free Stock Image]
Oboe player [Source: Adobe Free Stock Image]

The most intensely lyrical of all woodwind instruments, the oboe has a long and distinguished history. Undisputed king of the woodwind during the baroque era, the instrument features heavily throughout Bach’s works as well as appearing in myriad sonatas and concertos by other composers of the period. The arrival of the clarinet in the late eighteenth century rather nudged the instrument out of the limelight. Mozart turned to the clarinet for his last and greatest wind pieces, rather setting the tone for subsequent composers (Brahms, for example, who wrote some of his finest chamber music for clarinet but nothing whatsoever for oboe), although the 20th-century saw many notable additions to the repertoire, including concertos by Richard Strauss and Vaughan Williams, along with Poulenc’s melancholy late sonata.
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Will you see Tár? The conducting movie dividing audiences

Conductor Marin Alsop, who criticised the film [Source: Wikipedia]
Conductor Marin Alsop, who criticised the film [Source: Wikipedia]

Todd Field’s film about an abusive and predatory female conductor, Lydia Tár (played by Cate Blanchett), has earned a string of awards and nominations, including from the British FIlm Academy, New York Film Critics Circle, Golden Globes and London Critics Circle Film Awards. Yet the film continues to provoke a range of reactions from audiences.

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A year since the invasion of Ukraine, music continues to inspire victory

Cellist Karachevtsev Denys is known as 'The Kharkov cellist'
Cellist Karachevtsev Denys is known as 'The Kharkov cellist'

It is nearly a year since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. The progress of events during that tragic conflict has been remarkable, with the Ukrainian side, inspired by Vladimir Zelensky, achieving some notable victories over the last 12 months.

Despite the disruption the war is causing, support for Ukraine remains strong. A recent Eurobarometer poll found that, even amidst the cost of living crisis, 74 percent of European citizens continue to favour supporting Ukraine.

One of the remarkable ways in which Ukraine has built and maintained its support has been the way the country has projected its culture to the rest of the world. And in this music has played an important role.
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