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Category: Legends & Icons

Get to Know Some of the World’s Most Influential Opera Composers

opera-composersA classical music genre that originated in Italy at the end of 1500s, opera is an art form that continues to flourish up to this day. At present, a lot of people still listen to opera music — whether they are working out in the gym, preparing food in the kitchen or reducing the bluntness of the blades of their cutting knives.

Below are some of the most distinguished opera icons throughout our history:

Jacopo Peri

Born in 1561 in Rome, Italy, Jacopo Peri was a singer and composer who is frequently referred to as the inventor of opera. His first opera piece is called Dafne, which he created in 1589. Another one of his work, Euridice, was made in 1600 and is the first opera to have stood the test of time and survives up to this day.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Considered to be among the most prolific composers of the Classical era, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. He was a child prodigy who performed all over Europe. Among his most notable works are Requiem, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Ave verum corpus, Piano Sonata No. 11, and Clarinet Concerto.

Gioachino Rossini

An Italian composer born in Pesaro, Papal State on February 29, 1792, Gioachino Rossini wrote chamber and sacred music, piano and instrumental pieces, and operas. He was the most popular opera composer in the world until 1829, the year he retired. His most critically acclaimed opera piece is The Barber of Seville, which was first performed at Rome’s Teatro Argentina on February 20, 1816.

Ludwig van Beethoven

A German pianist and composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn during the transition period between the Classical era and the Romantic era. His legacy is quite rich, which includes several piano concertos, symphonies, piano sonatas, string quartets, operas, and violin concertos. Probably the most famous ones are Fur Elise, Fidelio, Symphony No.9, Piano Sonata No. 8, Piano Sonata No. 14, Symphony No. 5, and A Song of Joy.

Giacomo Puccini

Dubbed as the greatest Italian opera composer since Verdi, Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1858 in Tuscany. He was one of nine kids, and was exposed to music very early in his life as his family, headed by his great-great grandfather Giacomo, had established a musical dynasty in their city starting in the early 1700s. His earliest opera compositions were Edgar, Le Villi, and Manon Lescaut. In the late 1800s, he came out with La boheme, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. Towards the end of his career, in the early 1900s, he produced La fanciulla del West, La rondine, and his final opera Turandot.

November 20, 2016     0 Comments

The Highest Echelon of Modern-Day Ukulele Heroes

To many serious musicians, the ukulele sure has come a long way from being an instrument that is almost an afterthought. Ask anybody who’s taken up an interest in music – there wasn’t much interest in the ukulele at all for a long time, due to its association with being an antiquated and limited sonic palette. It was a relic of the war. Or a folk instrument that has no place in pop music.

It seemed as though the ukulele was destined for the margins of music, until its remarkable resurgence in popularity.Nowadays, the ukulele is making a triumphant re-entry to popular music and popular culture – pop music stars such as Jack Johnson and the country group Mumford and Sons have made use of this instrument again. Furthermore, sales have never been higher – even cafes solely dedicated to ukulele players have cropped up out of nowhere.

Everyone and his mother are now learning to play the instrument, which is now a common fixture in popular music.

So, where did all this begin? Let’s trace the ukulele’s resurgence to its heroes in modern history, to whom we pay homage to in the following sections – this will also serve as a guide of sorts for the aspiring ukulele player.

1. Tiny Tim

tiny-timPerhaps no other entertainer has done more to keep the ukulele in the public spotlight than Herbert “Tiny Tim” Khaury. The gangly falsetto scored one of his biggest hits, a rendition of Joel Burke and Al Dublin’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, and the rest is history. This rendition soared through the charts and is one of the most well-known ukulele tunes in modern pop music – which came out in 1968. Tiny Tim also wowed audiences with his encyclopedic knowledge of obscure show tunes accompanying himself on ukulele, being one of its foremost ambassadors until his untimely passing in 1996 – on stage, playing the ukulele.

2. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

israel-kamakawiwooleThe gentle giant with a golden voice known as “Bruddah Iz” can truly be said to have almost single-handedly introduce the ukulele to the world with his medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”. After all, it was this same song that was featured on TV, film, radio, and commercials. Not surprisingly, his greatest contribution was to put Hawaii’s tradition of folk music on the world stage – he is rightfully revered for doing so.

3. Jake Shimabukuro

jake-shimabukuroTo make an analogy using professional wrestling, if Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was the Hulk Hogan of the ukulele (in terms of introducing it to the mainstream), then Jake Shimabukuro is Ric Flair (in terms of technical ability). His rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on ukulele, which became viral on YouTube, was a truly remarkable testament of what the ukulele’s sonic boundaries can achieve – his body of work attests to the virtuosity that can be achieved with this little instrument. His influence can be attributed to the ukulele as Jimi Hendrix’s influence on the guitar was – to go where no other musician has gone before in terms of boundaries. He has since designed a line of ukuleles bearing his signature – the Kamaka ukulele… this uku gets top reviews! If it’s good enough for Jake Shimabukuro….

4. Eddie Vedder

eddie-vedderYou may know him better as the frontman for multi-awarded rock group Pearl Jam, but Eddie Vedder has also played a part in popularizing the instrument – even within the confines of Pearl Jam itself. It started off with one of his first recorded songs on ukulele, entitled “Soon Forget”, on their 2000 album Binaural. This was followed by an essential album for all ukulele enthusiasts, aptly entitled “Ukulele Songs”, in 2011.

November 8, 2016     0 Comments

4 Important and Influential Rock and Roll Musicians in the Hall of Fame

For several decades now, we have been fortunate to have outstandingly talented musicians grace our airwaves. Even the young people of today are familiar with these 80s and 90s music icons whose songs have stood the test of time. They have loaded their phones and portable music players with songs from way before they were born, listening to them as they do their homework or start their elliptic running workout.

Below are four iconic legends in rock and roll that have contributed so much to the music industry:

James Brown

james-brownJames Brown started his musical career by joining talent show and singing competitions. Through the years, he worked as a gospel singer, lead vocalist for a rhythm and blues group, and a cappella performer. He was a member of The Famous Flames, who came out with the hits “Try Me” and “Please, Please, Please.” Among his most popular songs as a solo artist are “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Cold Sweat,” and “Night Train.” He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1986.

Elvis Presley

Recognized as one of 20th century’s most important cultural icons, Elvis Presley was a rock musician and actor who ruled the charts for many decades. His first number one album was his self-titled album, Elvis Presley, which was released in 1956 and reached the top spot not only in the United States but in the United Kingdom as well. Among his number one singles are “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956), “Jailhouse Rock” (1957), “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (1960), and “Surrender” (1961). He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Marvin Gaye

A singer, producer, and songwriter, Marvin Gaye was a 1960s Motown icon, dubbed as the Prince of Soul and Prince of Motown. His most popular songs include Let’s Get It On (1973), Sexual Healing (1982), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967), I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1967), and What’s Goin’ On (1971). He was a recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Smokey Robinson

Founder of the Miracles, a Motown vocal group (1965-1972), Smokey Robinson grew up in Detroit and learned to play the piano and guitar. As the frontman of the Miracles, he released notable hits like You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, Baby Baby Don’t Cry, Going to a Go-Go, and Mickey’s Monkey. In 1973, he started his solo career and released Smokey, which included the songs Baby Come Close and Sweet Harmony. He became a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in 1987.

October 30, 2016     0 Comments

Music Facts – Legends and Icons of the Classical Music Genre

classic-musicThrough the centuries, there have been a number of people from all over the world that provided major contributions to classical music. With their talents and skills, they created gifts and treasures that remain loved, admired, and appreciated even many years later.

Today, their compositions can be heard from time to time, being performed at concerts and shows, or used as background music by exercise buffs working out on a rower recommended by Home Rower (see this website: http://www.homerower.com/). Get to know some of these iconic classical musicians by reading below:

Johann Sebastian Bach

Born on March 31, 1685 in Germany, Johan Sebastian Bach was a highly-acclaimed baroque-style composer. He produced several masterpieces, including the Ave Maria, Cello Suites, Magnificat, Partitas for keyboard, Air on the G String, Christmas Oratorio, St. Matthew Passion, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, St. John Passion, Brandenburg Concertos, The Art of Fugue, and Orchestral Suites.

Ludwig van Beethoven

The mastermind behind Symphony No. 9 and Fur Elise, Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer born in Bonn. He is considered to be a top icon in the classical era of music, with compositions that have stood the test of time. Some of his other notable works are the Piano Sonata No. 8, Piano Sonata No. 14, Fidelio, Symphony No. 3, A Song of Joy, Violin Concerto, Missa solemnis, Egmont, Turkish March, Triple Concerto, Coriolan Overture Op. 62, Septet, Piano Trio Op. 97, and Choral Fantasy.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy that influenced the classical era of music tremendously. He created several highly-acclaimed works in his lifetime, including the Requiem, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Clarinet Concerto, Cosi fan tutte, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Don Giovanni, Ave verum corpus, Piano Sonata No. 16, Idomeneo, Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, Coronation Mass, Great Mass in C minor K. 427, and Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen.

Giuseppe Verdi

An Italian musician born in Le Roncole on October 10, 1813, Giuseppe Verdi produced numerous popular operas, specifically Requiem (1874), Aida (1871), Falstaff (1893), and Otello (1887). His other important works include Rigoletto, Nabucco, La traviata, Il trovatore, Don Carlos, Macbeth, La forza del destino, Un ballo in maschera, Attila, Emani, Simon Boccanegra, Giovanna d’Arco, Le Trouvere, and Lusia Miller.

Frederic Chopin

A Polish composer and pianist born on March 1, 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Frederic Chopin was described as a genius with professional technique that was outstanding and exemplary. His best works include Waltzes, Etudes, Nocturnes, Preludes, Fantaisie-Impromptu, Minute Waltz, Ballades, Grande valse brillante in E-flat major, and Berceuse.

October 16, 2016     0 Comments