one of the greatest musical geniuses

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The 3 Greatest Minds of All Time

3. Leonardo Da Vinci

Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, iconology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank, he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal. Today, Leonardo is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived.

2. Isaac Newton

English physicist and mathematician (described in his own day as a “natural philosopher”) who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for the development of calculus. Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which dominated scientists’ view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. Newton’s work removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the Solar System. Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours of the visible spectrum. He formulated an empirical law of cooling, studied the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves. Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of biblical chronology and alchemy, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death.

1. Nikola Tesla

Serbo-Croation/American inventor, discoverer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, theoretical and experimental physicist, mathematician, futurist and humanitarian. Tesla was a hyperpolyglot who could speak eight languages including: Serbo-Croatian, English, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin. He claimed to have had a three-dimensional memory and thought process that tormented him in his youth, but later aided him with building his inventions in his own mind without wasting any physical energy. He was known to be able to recite by heart full books, mathematical formulas and poetry such as Goethe’s “Faust,” Njegoš’ “The Mountain Wreath,” Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Byron’s “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” and Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin.” Tesla has more original inventions to his credit than any other man in history. He has been accounted for 278 patents in 26 different countries. He is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system that we still use today. Tesla was the first to invent and patent a commutatorless alternating current induction motor that led to an AC/DC war with Thomas Edison. All electrical machinery using or generating alternating current is due to Tesla, without which our our electrified power lines, and our subways would be farless advanced. The Tesla Induction Motor, the Tesla Rotary Converter, the Tesla Phase System of Power Transmission, the Tesla Steam and Gas Turbine, the Tesla Coil ( used for radio technology), and the Oscillation Transformer are perhaps his better known inventions. In his labs he conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He is also the father of remote control, building a wireless controlled boat exhibited in 1898. Although not recognized for, he was the first to discovery the electron, radioactivity, cosmic rays, terrestrial resonance, stationary waves (standing waves), and the first to invent fluorescent light bulbs. He first demonstrated wireless energy/power by lighting his phosphorescent light bulbs wirelessly in a demonstration given before the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia,1893. He also theorized a particle beam to be used for defense in war, and also to produce an artificial Aurora Borealis to light the night skies, and a particle beam to be used for defense in war. He intended to unify all his innovations into one big machine known as his “World System,” but lacked the investments and funds to finish his work on a large scale. His failure to accomplish his goals left him with a distorted persona of a mad scientist, and a dreamer whose imagination created an unrealistic hope for the future. Tesla would eventually die penniless and alone in his New York apartment, but like the two greats above, he lives on through all his inventions and contributions to this world that last until the end of man.

Five Composers that You Need to Play

Originally posted by nerdragefilms

So for this week, I decided to go into detail about some of the great composers that are not so greatly known, at least known to the general public. Myself, I would go through phases where I would hear about the very existence of them. Then I would doubt that they were actually any good, compared to the like of Mozart or Beethoven. Then I would fall in love with their music slowly.  I have periods of obsession for sometimes weeks at a time where all I want to do is listen to that specific composers. I have gone through that with some of the composers on this list. 

I chose these composers because of their greatness, yet the mystery that their music is not so widely known. We will be going into why these composers are great and perhaps why there fell out of the league of Mozart and Beethoven. 

No.5 Domenico Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti(1685-1757) was one of the greatest keyboard virtuosi to ever live. Born in the same year as both George Frederic Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach, Scarlatti was born into a very musical family. His father, Alessandro Scarlatti was a very strict father and teacher. Scarlatti worked initially in Naples. However after working throughout Italy as a performer, conductor, and composer, Scarlatti traveled to work in the court of the Portuguese Royal Court in 1719. He later also worked in the Spanish court where he remained for the rest of his life, before dying in his 70s in 1757. For nearly two centuries, Scarlatti was nearly completely forgotten, along with his 555 keyboard sonatas. Only 30 had been published in his lifetime. 

However, in the 20th century, his music was rediscovered. Scholars quickly began to look at the complexity and brilliance of his sonatas. Following a binary form, Scarlatti stuck to the Baroque style for much of his early career. However, later in his career, Scarlatti began to deviate more and more away from the strict rules. His sonatas, which have the influence of Iberian folk songs show strong passions that exceeded everything else. Pianists like Vladimir Horowitz adored playing Scarlatti. Since Horowitz, Scarlatti has been brought back from the dead almost into the classical repertoire. However he is still widely unknown outside of the small circle of classical music lovers. 

I discovered Scarlatti as a great alternative to Handel and Bach. Though I play only a small fraction of his works, my favorite Scarlatti sonatas are his K.380, K.466, K.27, K.31, K.100, K.101, K.3, K.8, and K.9. Scarlatti is great to perform because his sonatas are under five minutes and they are all so brilliant. 

No.4 Antonin Dvorak

Antonin Dvorak(1841-1904) was one of the great nationalist composers of the 19th century, a kind of movement where composers from autonomous regions of large empires or kingdoms composed music based on traditional melodies. Bohemia, now modern day Czech Republic was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for centuries. Other composers like Edvard Grieg from modern day Norway and Jean Sibelius from modern day Finland were also nationalist composers. Dvorak succeeded Bedrich Smetana as the greatest composer in Bohemia and to this day remains the more famous Czech musician internationally. 

Dvorak gained great momentum in his career in the mid-1870s from the great Johannes Brahms, who commended him as a great composer. Dvorak saw great success in both Prague, Vienna, and outside the empire as one of the leading composers of the day. His “Slavonic Dances” were extremely popular. In 1893, Dvorak travelled to the United States on commission by wealthy patrons to write “American” masterpieces. He composed three great works while in America, the first his “American” String Quartet No.12 Op.96 which had influence from American folk songs. His next great work were his “Eight Humoresques” Op.101. These small piano pieces in this piano cycle contained both classical and jazz melodies, which were growing popular in America. This makes Dvorak really the first great European classical composer to mix both Jazz and Classical music, a feat which composers like Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev would later imitate. His seventh piece in the set in G-flat remains one of the best known piano works of all time. Lastly, Dvorak wrote his greatest masterpiece, his “New World” Symphony No.9 in E minor Op.98. This work remains one of the most important symphonies of all time. It seems that the ninth symphony always seems to be the greatest one, right Beethoven and Schubert? After returning home in 1895, Dvorak continued to be a leading composer in Bohemia, conducting and composing his works among others. He died a national hero in 1904. 

So why is Dvorak not so well known? I bet everyone knows a certain movement from his ninth symphony. Look up the Second Movement-Largo. I guarantee all of you that you will know it. It is always a tragedy when there is a melody that everyone knows, yet no one knows or really cares who actually wrote it. Influenced by Brahms, Dvorak was a true master of his art. If you love Brahms, then you will love Dvorak. Please give his Humoresques a try as well as they are short yet brilliant piano pieces. My personal favorites are the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 8th one being my favorite. 

No.3 Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn(1732-1809), what is there to say about him? How about the fact that he was the most famous and sought after composer of all Europe. How how he innovated the symphony, sonata-allegro form, piano sonata and concerto and how he invented the string quartet singlehandedly. Or how about how Mozart worshipped him and Beethoven sought Haydn out as a teacher. For a man with such a huge legacy, why has Haydn been ignored upon most people. Living to the age of 77, Haydn lived through the end of the Baroque Era, innovated the Classical Era, and lived into the early Romantic Era. 

Haydn also had one of the most fortunate careers, arguably more successful than Mozart and even Beethoven. Working in the courts of the Esterhazy family, the richest in Austria composed a huge volume of music, each in a short period for the family. He would write a symphony and dance for one party one Thursday and then a trio and quartet for another party the following Monday. This quickly gave Haydn a big reputation as a great composer. In the 1780s and 1790s, Haydn became more and more independent from the Esterhazy family, working right in Vienna and evening traveling all the way to London to write some of his great late symphonies. In 1792, Beethoven sought him out as a teacher, being told that Beethoven would “receive the spirit of Mozart through the hands of Haydn”. Though they often clashed, the both were influenced each other, with Haydn leaving a large impact on Beethoven. Haydn continued to compose well into his seventies, writing great works such as “The Creation” and “The Seasons”. By the time he died during Napoleon’s siege of Vienna in 1809, he was worshipped by all as the most famous musician of his time. 

So why was such a man with such a huge legacy who was treated as almost God-like so forgotten? Maybe it was the fact that he was followed by Beethoven, who, after his death rose to become the most famous composer of all time. Maybe it was also his comparison to Mozart, being judged inferior to Mozart’s sheer genius. Great pianists such as Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, and Claudio Arrau never performed Haydn. By the 20th century, Haydn was deemed as a secondary composer, though both Glenn Gould and Sviatoslav Richter treasured Haydn’s music. I personally Haydn’s first ten piano sonatas out of his 62. All of his sonatas are charming and not too difficult compared to Mozart and Beethoven. Again, their charm is absolute. So if you are looking to expand your repertoire more into the Classical Era, Haydn is a no brainer. I love Haydn because of the delight, charm, and wit in his music. While Mozart and Beethoven are too high to be understood, Haydn is almost understandable. So please, give Haydn a listen.   

No.2 Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Scriabin(1872-1915) was one of the greatest geniuses to every walk the Earth. His character his as mysterious as his music. Starting as a Romantic composer, Scriabin pushed the very borders of music itself to have a whole new sound that was totally his own. Both in Imperial Russia, Scriabin’s piano talents were discovered early. He also had a hobby of taking pianos apart, repairing them, evening building entire pianos from scratch. Attending conservatory with Sergei Rachmaninoff, Scriabin was always near the top of the class. Scriabin is believed to have three musical periods, one like Beethoven. Scriabin had an early Romantic period, a middle more adventurous period, and a crazy atonal period. Scriabin began to experiment more and more with atonality, entering into a whole new world of sounds, without any trace of conventional rules. Scriabin also toured all over Europe and the United States to much appraisal. However, Scriabin also had the belief that he was God, a reincarnation of the Messiah. Towards the end, Scriabin became more and more obsessed with a groundbreaking work he intended to write called “Mysterium”. He intended to have it performed at the top of the Himalayas, which would then bring on the apocalypse and the world would “dissolve into bliss”. Scriabin only wrote a few small sketches of the work before dying of a lip infection at the age of 43 in 1915. It is commonly believed that Scriabin would have achieved total atonality had he lived longer. Complete atonality would be achieved by the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. 

Scriabin wrote many great works, particular for solo piano, much like Chopin, a composer he adored. Scriabin even wrote 24 preludes in all 12 keys Op.11 based on Chopin’s own Op.28 Preludes. Scriabin wrote Poems, similar to Chopin’s nocturnes. However, Scriabin’s most groundbreaking piano works are his piano sonatas. Publishing 10 sonatas, they each become more and more progressively atonal and unstable. His “White Mass” Sonata No.7 Op.64 and “Black Mass” No.9 Op.68 are his most famous. Scriabin also left behind five large scale symphonies, his “Poem of Ecstasy”, among other works, even a piano concerto. However it is surely is style of composition that has the habit of taking the listener and performer. There is so much genius into his music that makes it have a sound like no other. For me, playing his Poem Op.32 No.1 is like a dream, not conservative and boring, yet not too radical and unstable either. It is like a perfect blend that sounds like pure heaven. So why would such a brilliant mind be so forgotten? 

Shortly after Scriabin’s death came the Russian revolution in 1917. The Russian Civil War that followed left millions dead and with the birth of Stalin’s regime. All traditional music was banned for a short time. Rachmaninoff himself fled the country, never to return. However, composers like Prokofiev and Shostakovich, the next generation of Russian composers studied and was influenced by Scriabin’s music. Prokofiev was said to have written his famous “Visions Fugitives” Op.22 directly from Scriabin. However, by the mid-20th century, Scriabin’s music did make a comeback with such great pianists like Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Glenn Gould, and Vladimir Ashkenazy among others. With Scriabin making an appearance in the concert hall slowly, perhaps he will be well known. 

No.1 Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann(1810-1856) was surely one of the greatest Romantic composers to ever live. If not THE greatest. He wrote many masterpieces in his life, like none other. He was also a lover of literature and poetry, who often combined his passions of literature and music to write some of the most breathtaking music. However, his life was a series of tragedies, reflected in his music. Born to a cultural family in 1810 in the Kingdom of Saxony(now Germany), Schumann discovered music and the piano at the age of 7. He was encouraged by his father to both pursue music and composition. The death of his father when he was 15 and the suicide of his sister shortly after devastated Schumann and nearly destroyed his future. His mother demanded that he put music aside and study Law. However, his pursuit of music continued in his 20s. He was told by piano teacher Friederich Wieck that with practice he would become the greatest pianist in the world. However a second tragedy destroyed his career with an injury to his hand that stole his career as a concert pianist. Schumann instead dedicated his time to composition. His early works “Abegg Variations” Op.1, “Papillons” Op.2, “Carnival” Op.9 and “Kinderszenen” Op.15 were all in his early period. Schumann also fell in love with Wieck’s daughter, Clara and married her despite her father’s protest and Schumann being 9 years Clara’s senior. Clara and Robert enjoyed a life together. Schumann worked as a composer, critic, teacher, and music writer. Clara worked as a mother and also a pianist. She played Robert’s music.  Schumann also guided the young Johannes Brahms onto a path of a career. In 1854, after years of mental instability, he suffered from multiple personality disorder, possibly bi-polar, and schizophrenia, he attempted suicide and was institutionalized. He died in an asylum in 1856. 

So why was Schumann so great? Because of the huge amount of Romantic works he composed. He was a master of piano composition, similar to Chopin in quality, yet he had a more artistic, raw sound as opposed to Chopin’s near perfect sound. However he left behind a huge amount of music outside of the solo piano. He composed many of the popular German “Lieder”, often writing dozens at a time. He left behind string quartets and even a master piano quartet. He also composed four symphonies. The third “Rhine” Symphony No.3 Op.97 is his most favorite. He also wrote a brilliant piano concert in A minor Op.54, some believing it to be the greatest piano concerto of all time. Schumann is a model of the perfect Romantic, so why is he not nearly so well known as Chopin or even Brahms for that matter? 

The honest question is, I have no idea. Myself, I did not regard Schumann as a great composer, surely nothing compared to Schubert, until I listened to him. His sound was spectacular to listen to. Maybe this reason is simply because people cannot look further past the established music Gods to see these unknown Gods. The point of this whole post is to tell you to keep exploring. Keep finding composers that you love to listen to. While Mozart and Beethoven are established Gods, always look to listen to different composers and new sounds. Who knows? Maybe you might be behind the resurrection of a forgotten genius? So remember, always listen and always love!

One Sweet Day (dedicated to Prince)
Mariah Carey
One Sweet Day (dedicated to Prince)

“(…) we’ve lost one of the greatest, most incredible geniuses that we’ve ever had in music, pop music and, all different, you know, he was just one of a kind and just so amazing (…) [I decided] rather than just make everything bleak, to turn it into a moment and just to take him and honour him because he was a friend to me too and he talked me through some times I really really needed somebody, and, he was an incredible person if you never get to meet him. I’m sure his music has touched every single person in here (…)”

Mariah Carey - One Sweet Day (Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour Live in Paris, 21avr2016, feat. Trey Lorenz and Daniel Moore)

(you can watch the whole paris concert here)