Richibi’s Weblog

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Month: May, 2023

how to listen to music if you don’t know your Beethoven from your Bach, XIV – more rhapsodies

Rhapsody, 1958 - Hans Hofmann


    Rhapsody” (1958) 


         Hans Hofmann




now that you’ve heard New York in

Gerschwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and

Vienna in Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody

on a Theme of Paganini, listen to 

Hungary, or rather its Gypsy

component, however rejected, 

reviled, at the time, but proud 

enough, resilient, to strike back 

with its infectious music, how

many times have we heard that

story before


Budapest doesn’t sound at all like 

Vienna, though they’re only mere 

blocks away, essentially, listen,

Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no 2,

in C# minor, he wrote nineteen, 

you’ve probably heard this one,

it’s in our DNA


here are a couple of Spanish

rhapsodies, meanwhile, if we’re to 

follow a national agenda, Chabrier, 

a name you’ve probably never 

heard before, but not so, I assure

you, his music, his España,

Rhapsody for Orchestra, is

written in our blood, listen


Ravel wrote also a Rapsodie 

espagnole, more French than

Spanish, to my mind, steeped

in its early Twentieth Century

Impressionism,  all textures,

soundscapes, not rhythms


Ravel makes up for it, though, in his

Bolero, perhaps the most Hispanic 

piece ever of all, you tell me


both Chabrier and Ravel, incidentally, 

were French, doing what Dvořák, a 

Czech, had done, would do, for 

Americans, honour their fascinating



Liszt, by the way, was Hungarian, his

rhapsodies were native, if profoundly

influenced by Vienna 


listen, enjoy



R ! chard

how to listen to music if you don’t know your Beethoven from your Bach, XIII – Antonin Dvořák

American Gothic, 1930 - Grant Wood

    “American Gothic (1930) 


                Grant Wood        




if you were able to hear the difference

in my last communication between

Vienna and New York in the two

rhapsodies I compared, contemporaries,

incidentally, you might be interested in

European composer, highly

underestimated in my opinion, who

bridges both cultures by composing a

tribute to the country that receives him,

gloriously, for a couple of years, before

he returns, homesick, to his beloved

Bohemia, which is to say, Prague,

Antonín Dvořák, don’t ask, 1841 – 1904


here’s his 12th String Quartetnicknamed

the “American”, listen, you’ll understand



here’s his New World Symphonyagain

you’ll understand why


fun facts, Neil Armstrong brought a

recording of it, the New World

Symphonywith him to the moon

during the first manned landing,

back in 1969, can you get more

cool than that


also, this particular version is from

Pyongyang, which is to say, North

Korea, which is to say, the audience

here is nearly as interesting as the

symphony itself, do they even

speak the language, if they grew

up on Chinese opera


do you



R ! chard