#1 – Chamber Music, Biedenbender, and Mozart

#1 – Chamber Music, Biedenbender, and Mozart

Aired 10/10/18

Let’s start with the Basics :  What is Chamber Music?

Shawn Puller, Executive Director of the Garth Newel Music Center, Bath County Virginia: Chamber Music is one person per part for instrument and it’s set in a very intimate setting usually  a home or a small concert space. Traditionally, because the genre dates all the way back to the early part of the 17th century into the 18th century [Chamber music has a large connection to Classical music], but moving forward hundreds of years chamber music also include jazz, it includes world musics, percussion music – but the definition maintains that there is one person per part, performed in an intimate setting

There is no conductor its more like a little tiny democracy with all of their different ideas, they have to come to a unified agreement as to how the piece should be performed. In that sense, I think the Garth Newel Piano Quartet is really sort of a little microcosm of what it is to live in a very intimate and beautiful community.

Going to a concert where you sit own and listen to music actually is a skill that needs to be practiced. The first advice I have for anyone listening to chamber music is to create a space where you can sit down and really listen. You can’t do it as a distraction, you actually have to purposely choose– the same way you would have to choose to read a book. You really have to be focused in on doing that task.

We are born musical; we are musical before we’re verbal! We sing and hum as babies long before we can make a single word. Classical music invites us to sit down and reconnect with ourselves.

Taking a look at what’s coming up.

SP: Garth Newels entire season has been built around the concept of the four seasons of Bath County. Coming up is the very beginning of our Fall Foliage weekends, which runs for three weeks in October on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so all through the rest of this month we have concerts running. The very first one coming up is called ‘Hot Off The Press’ and the whole point of that concert is the performance of a piece that was written for the Garth Newel Piano Quartet through a national commission that we won through Chamber Music America. It is a piece by David Biedenbender called Solstice for Piano Quartet, and it is about Bath County, and about the beautiful, beautiful area we live in.

In addition, the Quartet will  perform a piece by Mozart.

SP: We look at Mozart as, really, the father of the piano quartet. Other people wrote for the genre at the very beginning, but, ehh, they weren’t so great (laughs)! But Mozart really put out pieces that have withstood the test of time and have become known as master works of the genre.  There was a man named Hoffmeister and he had a publishing company. And he approached Mozart, who was really at the height of his career (at the ripe old age of, you know, his late 20s and early 30s) and he said, ‘Hey! We would love to have some pieces written for this new, awesome instrument called the piano!’ Well, Mozart said, ‘Yeah, I’ll write these pieces…’ and Hoffmeister said, ‘Now, remember: they have to be playable by the average person!’ and Mozart said, ‘Ahh, no problem; I’m down!’

So he comes back later with the first piano quartet (which is the G major quartet). And Hoffmeister looked at it and was furious because it was anything but playable by the average person. Hoffmeister, in fury, ripped up the contract, didn’t pay Mozart, and said, ‘Too bad! You did not follow the rules here, so no money for you!’ A couple years later, Mozart said,’Wow, I really, really like that combination of piano, violin, viola, and cello. So he finished writing the rest of the set.

We will be playing the second of the three pieces he wrote for Piano Quartet (in E flat major) and that will round out the evening on October 12th. 

For newer listeners, Garth Newel’s Sunday offerings may be something to consider. 

SP: In the fall, we have concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and the Sunday concerts are actually underwritten by the Bath County Arts Association. They help us by letting us present music to the public; the Sunday concerts are all ‘pay-as-you-wish’ concerts. It’s a great introduction! And it’s done in a very informal way: you don’t have to come dressed in a tie, the piano will be in the middle floor, and the audience sits in a circle all around –  so you really have this intimate moment where you get to share in the music making. It’s a great way to test it out!

For more information, http://www.garthnewel.org/

Garth Newel Music Center is a supporter of Allegheny Mountain Radio.


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