Carl Maria von Weber - Euryanthe: Overture

Carl Maria von Weber composed the opera Euryanthe  during the period 1822-23 and first presented it in Vienna on October 25, 1823. The work was based on a French medieval history of 13th century.  The year Euryanthe was presented was marked by Vienna's interest in Italian operas, particularly those of Rossini . Although the initail reception was enthusiastic, the opera lasted only twenty performances, with complaints about the libretto and the length of the opera. For the failure of the play, the somewhat wordy libretto of the poet and writer Helmina von Chézy was blamed. Franz Schubert also commented that "This is not music". Nevertheless, the introduction is an excellent example of orchestral writing and remains one of the best. The Overture begins with an extremely lively and cheerful phrase. Oboe and clarinet, supported by horn and trombones, then present a theme of three emphatic notes, followed by a shorter ascending group of notes (with a stressed rhythm). Soon t

Chopin - Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Opus 23

The famous monument to Chopin, Parc Monceau, Paris.

The ballades of the Polish poet Adam Bernard Mickiewicz inspired Chopin to compose the four Ballades, each telling a musical story. The first, Opus 23, took four years to complete (1831-1835) and coincided with Chopin's arrival in Paris and his acceptance by the city's good society.

The poet Adam Bernard Mickiewicz.
Unlike most of Chopin's pianistic compositions, which focus on unexpected changes in mood and contrasts, Ballade No.1 in G minor has a narrative, almost epic quality. In this respect it is consistent with literary ballades, such as the epic 17th century poem, Faery Queen (Fairy Queen) by Edmond Spencer. Many regard Chopin's four piano ballads as the most mature and refined part of his wide-ranging work.

The introduction provides the backdrop, which is full of a sense of tragedy and premonition. This contrasts with the first melody that is both lyrical and simple. Observe the use of ceases and subtle qualms in melody, which characterize the dramaturgical techniques of storytelling. Sometimes the narrative emerges in an escalating cry, while others retreats into a quiet whisper.

The main melody recalls the erotic supplication of a knight trying to win the love of his beloved. His erotic suggestions begin politely, later becoming more passionate until the second theme introduces a more tender note. The knight becomes more confident as the music becomes more robust. But then the tragic mood returns as the knight attempts to exterminate his mortal rival in battle. As the music progresses we imagine him shaking and getting up again for a while only to find a tragic end in the hands of his ferocious opponent.