Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More Composers: F

And the honor roll continues...

Falla (Manuel de) was a Spanish composer who lived in Argentina after the end of the Spanish Civil War. Influenced by Spanish folk music, Falla wrote such well-known ballets as El amor brujo (Love the Magician) and The Three Cornered Hat, a piece for piano and orchestra called Nights in the Gardens of Spain, a harpsichord concerto, a puppet opera, and the cantata Atlantis.

Fauré (Gabriel) wrote in a rich, late-romantic style. Among his big hits are the orchestral suites Masques and Bergamasques and Pelléas et Mélisande (the latter based on music for a play), a hauntingly beautiful Pavane for orchestra and optional chorus, many wonderful songs, choral and chamber works, and the Requiem in D minor. If you live around St. Louis, you can come to hear the Requiem and Pavane next year, performed by the Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.

Feldman (Morton) was an American composer of modern music. He experimented with writing mostly quiet music that had no sense of harmonic progression or dramatic form. I heard one of his pieces at the Symphony last year; it sounded like nothing so much as a clock ticking softly in the corner for 25 minutes straight. It takes all kinds.

Field (John) was an Irish pianist and composer of the early 19th century, who is mainly remembered for his 18 Nocturnes for piano. These little mood pieces influenced Chopin, who brought the form to perfection. A few of Field's other works are also occasionally heard, such as his second Piano Concerto (of seven), piano sonatas, and other piano pieces.

Fine (Irving) was a twentieth-century American composer noted for his music's elegance and grace. He is best known for his chamber, vocal, and choral music, including choruses from Alice in Wonderland. He also wrote a symphony (whose premiere he conducted two weeks before his sudden death at age 47) and a "lament for string orchestra" titled Serious Song.

Finzi (Gerald) was a British composer whose large-scale works include a Cello Concerto, a Clarinet Concerto, and the cantata Dies natalis. However, his greatest legacy remains his vocal music, including the song cycle Let Us Garlands Bring (settings of texts from Shakespeare; I have sung a couple of them), and the Anglican anthem God is gone up.

Foote (Arthur) was a member of a circle of composers who proved that Americans could write in a respectable, European-Romantic style. The achievements of the "Boston Six" have been largely overshadowed by the more distinctively American composers that succeeded them. Just so I don't have to mention them all later, the other members of the "Boston Six" were Amy Beach, George Whitefield Chadwick, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker. I can't remember ever hearing anything by Paine or Parker. That means I can remember some music by Foote; so there must be something to it.

Foss (Lukas) is an American composer who is grouped with Fine, Shapero, and others in the so-called "Boston school" (not to be confused with the "Boston Six"). His works explore an eclectic mix of styles, which explains such titles as Baroque Variations and Renaissance Concerto.

Frescobaldi (Girolamo) was an important 17th-century composer of organ music, including a book of organ works for the worship service, titled Fiori musicali. He was also a pioneer in speeding up and slowing down the tempo within a piece of music.

Froberger (Johann Jakob) was a prominent harpischordist and organist of the 17th century, who published three volumes of keyboard works. He is also credited with inventing the Baroque suite, which invariably included an Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue, among other things. Buxtehude, Couperin, and Pachelbel were among the younger composers he influenced.

Fučík (Julius), not to be confused with a martyred Czech anti-Nazi resistance leader by the same name, was a military band director and composer, widely nicknamed "the Bohemian Sousa." Most of us have heard his Marinarella Overture, Florentine March, and especially the Entrance of the Gladiators march, which typically signals the entrance of circus clowns. I mainly include him as an illustration of how careful one has to be in spelling composers' names. Also, I love his moustaches!

I am well aware that I am leaving out lots of composers with F names. These are the ones I had something clever to say about, and (in most cases) the ones who really make a perceptible contribution to the music you can still hear in concert halls and on classical radio. If you know of a very special piece by Flotow, Françaix, Fibich, or whoever, drop me a comment about it!

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