1889 in Music

1. Atonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, B. 163 (8/10)

  • Allegro con brio (G minor → G major)
  • Adagio (E♭ major → C minor → C major)
  • Allegretto grazioso — Molto vivace (G minor → ending in G major)
  • Allegro ma non troppo (G major)

I definitely prefer my Romantic music moody and brooding, so this bubbly thing is not really in my wheel-house necessarily. But I appreciate both the commitment to musical sources outside the strict classical tradition and his playfulness with the tradition. I have to read about it because my ears are still not good enough to detect subtle twists like this, but it’s certainly crowd-pleasing enough that you don’t need to know what he’s up to, to enjoy it as music (if this upbeat stuff is your thing).

If memory serves, I prefer No. 9. Not sure I’ve heard any others.


3. Edvard Grieg: Six Songs (8/10)

  1. “Greeting,” words by Heinrich Heine
  2. “One Day, O Heart of Mine,” words by Emanuel Geibel
  3. “The Way of the World,” words by Ludwig Uhland
  4. “The Nightingale’s Secret,” words by Walter von der Vogelweide
  5. “The Time of Roses,” words by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  6. “A Dream,” words by Friedrich von Bodenstedt

Norwegian translation by Nordahl Rolfsen

The Six Songs (Op. 48) are compelling as well, but a little less obviously wonderful than his most famous song-cycle (to my ears). I still like them and would recommend them even if you are not into lieder.


3. Erik Satie: Ogives (7/10)

Quite simple music supposedly reminiscent of plainchant. (There he goes again, thinking outside the box.) I find them less impressive than his earlier work from this period in part because of how simple they are. I do like the idea that the tempo is totally up for grabs to the performer; that is cool.


4. Erik Satie: Gnossienne No. 5 (7/10)

The most conservative of these pieces, sequenced first in my collection because it was actually written first. Pretty but not up to the level of the later stuff.