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Mr. G Does the Classics for You Right Here

by By Keith Gatling | 4 years ago

So what is "classical music,“ you wonder?‘
Is it a style? Is it a genre? Is it music written by certain long-dead composers? Is it music that's still being written now?

The answer is yes.
To make it really simple, it's sort of like "home." My grown daughter lives in Pittsburgh, and when she comes here for Christmas, she's coming home. But when she goes back to Pittsburgh, where she's spent the past nine years, she's going home. Got it? What is it when I go back to Jersey, where I grew up? Well since no one in my family lives in either the houses or the town where I grew up anymore, I don't go "home," I simply go to Jersey.
But that's another story for another time.

Classical music can be a style of playing, like this link to the Habanera Kvartet playing "I Feel Good" by James Brown (and who says classically trained musicians can't get down?).
Classical music is also a genre, like all that orchestral music that was specifically written for movie and TV soundtracks? Yes, you could consider that to be classical music. Think of any of the stuff that John Williams has written over the years, and that has been played by many orchestras.

And of course it's all that stuff written by those famous dead guys like Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and in these two special cases, Chopin (yeah, I know, I lost the alliteration with that one). First we have his Prelude in E Minor, as played by Khatia Buniatishvili.
And then we have Charlie's Prelude, a jazz adaptation of that same piece of music, as played by the Dan Shaut Swing Orchestra:
Which leads me to another thought...that music by those long-dead "classical" composers, when arranged for a jazz group. can also be what we'll politely call "romantic music" in a way that the original may not have been. And many classical pieces have been arranged in just that way.
Is it still being written now? Well, 1925 is a long way from "now" for us, but Gershwin's Concerto in F was a piece of "contemporary" classical music. More in line with my time is Leonard Bernstein, who wrote many classical pieces, many theater pieces, the music and score to "West Side Story", and "Mass" for the opening of the Kennedy Center in 1971. My favorite piece from that is "A Simple Song." Here it's done by Nicholas Phan:
But what about contemporary classical composers our now? I can't say that there's anyone out there at the moment with the name recognition of a Gershwin or a Bernstein. Oh wait...Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", "Jesus Christ Superstar", and "Cats", among others, also wrote a requiem mass in 1985. And...there's John Williams, who has written quite a few pieces of orchestral music that are not film scores. So it's not that classical music isn't being written today, only to say that the composers are only known to the small circle of people who are classical music aficionados.

There's Classical and then there's Classical - Or "Here I go with that "home/home" thing again;"

When I was a young Music History student, I very clearly remember the day my brain exploded when I heard that within the broad genre of music by long-dead composers that we call Classical Music, there's actually period called the Classical era. Classical music as we commonly describe it is broken up into certain eras: Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic (which is not what you think it is), and Modern (which dates back to 1890).The Classical era ran roughly from 1750 to 1820, and included the dead guys Mozart and Beethoven. Bach and Handel belonged to the earlier Baroque period. Brahms and Mendelssohn belonged to the later Romantic period.


If you really want to find out more about classical music (and I don't just mean the Classical period), a great place to start is the Wikipedia article on it. It's especially good reading while you're stuck at home like the rest of us.