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Classical Composers (C-E)

Classical music (and some jazz and folk) from Leonarda
Includes many American composers and works by women

Francesca Caccini (1587-ca.1640) was an extremely versatile artist--a virtuosic singer, lutenist, guitarist, harpsichordist, poetess and composer. She and her sister Settimia were the daughters of the famous composer-singer-theorist Giulio Caccini and the singer Lucia Caccini. Although Francesca spent most of her life in Florence, she traveled widely. She was well-known by the French Court in Paris, having made her singing debut at the wedding of Maria de Medici to Henri IV, King of France in 1600. She became a musician for the Medici Court in 1607 and by 1613 was one of the highest-paid musicians in Florence.

When her husband died In 1625, Caccini married a Florentine senator and began her own school of singing and composition. Her students became known as the scuola and were noted for their style of setting words to music in the particular Florentine monody style.

Caccini married another musician, Giovanni Battista Signorini, but it was she who was the more famous and sought after. In 1618 her Primo Libro delle Musiche a una, e due voci was published in Florence, a publication which gained her wide respect as a composer. She then began to write large-scale operatic works. The greatest of these, La Liberazione di Ruggiero, was first performed in 1625 in Florence to celebrate the visit of King Wladislaw IV of Poland, and when it was presented in Warsaw in 1682 it became the first Italian opera to be performed in its entirety outside Italy.

Caccini was influenced by three distinct styles of music: the Florentine monody style presented by her father in his Le Nuove Musiche (1602); the highly virtuosic style of Ferrara gained by singing in her father's Florentine imitation of the Concerto delle Donne of Ferrara (an ensemble of women musicians); and the Roman style brought to the Medici Court by visiting Roman musicians.

Caccini employed great precision in her compositions in the "new" style. She wrote madrigals, canzonettas, arias, variations, musical settings of sonnets, and seven sacred works. Most of her works were composed for solo voice and basso continuo. Her music is dramatic, descriptive and affective, and employs unprepared dissonances, word painting and very precisely indicated ornamentation. She was one of the few composers of her time to indicate slurs, phrase groupings and trills where she wanted them.

Chi desia di saper' is a highly syncopated strophic canzonetta for voice and chitarra spagnola (Spanish guitar). The chordal nature of the instrument gives the piece its unique sound. La pastorella mia tra i fiori, although called a Romanesca, appears to be simply a set of four verses over a slightly varying bass line and has none of the characteristics of the "typical" Romanesca bass line (B-flat F G D B-flat F G D G) written by Caccini's contemporaries and used even earlier as in Guardame las vacas. Perhaps it refers instead to a "Roman style" aria she had become acquainted with through visiting Roman singers and composers at the Medici Court. Selections from the opera La Liberazione di Ruggiero (mezzo-soprano, harpsichord, cello and string quartet, audio samples mp3a and mp3b) and Chi desia di saper (voice, baroque guitar, viola da gamba) are on the  double CD #LE353. Maria, dolce Maria (voice and harpsichord), audio sample: mp3 is from Leonarda CD LE#338. Chi desia di saper' (soprano, baroque guitar, viola da gamba, audio sample mp3 and La pastorella mia tra i fiori are from Leonarda CD #LE350.

Settimia Caccini (1591-ca.1638) was Francesca Caccini's youngest sister, and as a child sang with her at the Medici Court. In 1608 Settimia went to Mantua, where she sang the role of "Venus" in Monteverdi's opera Arianna, and the following year married the singer-composer-poet Alessandro Ghivizzani. Unlike Francesca, Settimia seems to have subordinated her career to her husband's. However, wherever he was hired, she apparently had no trouble finding employment as a singer. After her husband's death in 1630, she entered the court in Florence. Although the name "Settimia Ghivizzani" appears in court records until 1660, it is generally assumed that she died around 1638 and that the references are to a daughter. Unfortunately, Settimia did not publish any collection of her music. Già sperai, non spero hor' più was published in a collection of seventeenth-century works. It is a short, multisectioned aria which includes an introduction, an aria in 3, a free recitative section and an astonishingly syncopated and dramatic ending. Già sperai (voice, lute, viola da gamba) audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE350.

Francesca Campana (Romana) (d.1665) was a Roman virtuosic singer and composer. It appears that she was quite well known in her day, and she published a book of arias for one, two and three voices in 1629 in Rome. Like many other virtuosic singer-composers, she probably wrote the music for her own use as a performer. Pargoletta, vezzosetta, from La Risonanti Sfere, is a strophic song with a flashy ending, which appears to be a distinguishing feature of Campana's style. Pargoletta, vezzosetta, (soprano, lute, viola da gamba) is on Leonarda CD #LE350.

Valerie Capers (b.1935) was trained as a classical pianist, but was encouraged to play jazz by her late brother, saxophonist Bobby Capers, and her father, jazz pianist Alvin Capers. She has appeared at the Newport and Kool Jazz Festivals and on radio and television. Blind since the age of six, Capers earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at The Juilliard School and has taught at the Manhattan School of Music and Hunter College. She is chairperson of the Bronx Community College's Department of Music and Art in New York City. Her works include a Christmas cantata; a choral and instrumental work, In Praise of Freedom, based on the March on Washington speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and an "operatorio" on the life of Sojourner Truth. are from Portraits in Jazz, which consists of 12 teaching pieces, each dedicated to a particular musician. Cool-Trane and Billie's Song are from Portraits in Jazz, which consists of 12 teaching pieces, each dedicated to a particular musician. Cool-Trane has a melodic line similar to that played on the saxophone, closing with a quote from John Coltrane's Cousin Mary. Billie's Song is a ballad dedicated to Billie Holiday. (solo piano) Billie's Song (solo piano). Audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE339.

Fabritio Caroso (ca.1531-ca.1605) was a professor of dance. Forza d'Amore comes from his dance treatise Nobilità di Dame (Nobility of Women), published in Venice in 1605 and dedicated to various noble Italian ladies. Some of the dances were probably performed at their marriage festivities. This publication is the second revision of his Il Ballarino, originally published in 1577 and first revised In 1581. His treatise continued to be reprinted even after his death, with a fourth printing in 1630 in Rome called Raccolta di varii Balli (Collection of Various Dances), and a fifth printing in 1880 (!) in Milano, again called Nobilità di Dame. Along with Arbeau's Orchesographie (1588), it is one of the oldest printed dance treatises. The complete title of the fourth edition is Racolta di varii balli fatti in occorenze di nozze e festini, or "Collection of various dances made for marriage and parties." The pieces are written, or arranged, by Caroso in staff notation using soprano clef and bass clef and also in Italian lute tabulature. In tabulature, the bass voice is often more elaborate than in the staff notation.

The whole book is dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Parma and of Placenza. The first dance, called Alta Regina (highly esteemed queen), is dedicated to the Serenissima Cattolica Duchessa Margarita d'Austria, Regina di Spagna, etc., who was in fact the duchess of Parma and Placenza. In addition to the music, Caroso wrote a sonnet praising her beauty. Forza d'Amore was dedicated to Leonora Orsina, who was a noblewoman and composer in her own right. A piece of hers is included In the Bottegari publication.

The Caroso dances are often made up of a suite of different dances in double and triple time. They usually begin with an unnamed section in double time, continue with a Gagliarda and a Rotta and finish with a Canario or SaItarello. In this recording the lutenist repeats the Canario eight times, improvising over the primitive melody and harmonies in the manner of the chitarra spagnola with its particular strumming technique, which was very popular in seventeenth-century Italy. Forza d'Amore (solo lute) is on Leonarda CD #LE350.

Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) had already composed several sacred works by age eight. Bizet advised her parents to give her a good musical education, so she studied piano, harmony, counterpoint and fugue with various teachers and composition with Godard. At 18, she gave her debut as a pianist and toured France and England, often performing her own works. She wrote a great number of agreeable pieces in salon style which attained extraordinary vogue in France, England and America. Her large works were less successful, although her piano concerto was performed at the Gewandhaus, Cologne, Lamoureaux and London Philharmonic concerts. France bestowed the Legion of Honor on Chaminade for her 350 works in all genres. She performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1908 and also made appearances as a conductor. Plaintes d'Amour (voice and piano), audio sample: mp3 is from Leonarda CD #LE338La Morena (Caprice Espagnole), Op. 67 (piano), audio samples: mp3 ; mp3 is from double CD #LE353. Concertino, Op. 107 (flute and piano), audio sample mp3, is from Leonarda CD #LE355.

Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) Ave Maria (voice and organ) is on  CD #LE341.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) Nocturne (arr. for flute and piano ) is on  CD #LE355.

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979), who was born in England, began composing at the age of sixteen and was the first woman composer to win the prestigious Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy. She switched from violin to viola and supported herself as a supply player around London. A superb musician, she played chamber music with Myra Hess, Casals, Hefty, Thibaud, Szell, Rubinstein, Schnabel, Pierre Monteux and Percy Grainger, among others. As a soloist, Clarke played throughout Great Britain, made several tours in Europe and America, and in 1923, toured around the world. In 1919, her Sonata for Viola and Piano tied with Bloch's Suite for Viola and Piano for the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge prize, but since there couldn't be a tie, Mrs. Coolidge cast a vote - for Bloch. Clarke was in the U.S. when Britain entered World War II, and was not allowed to return for the duration of the war, since she had an American parent and Britain had too many mouths to feed. She remained in America for the remainder of her life, where she continued to teach. She lectured for many years at the Chautauqua Institute and had a weekly radio program about chamber music. Most of Clarke's works were written in the first half of her life. Her oeuvre consists of 58 vocal works and 24 instrumental chamber works. Infant Joy (voice and piano), audio sample mp3 is on Leonarda CD #LE338.  "Finale" from Trio (1921) (violin, cello, piano), audio sample mp3, is on CD #LE353. Out of print, but to be release online in future: The Donkey, Down by the Salley Gardens, God Made a Tree, A Dream (bass-baritone and piano), and  June Twilight and The Seal Man (soprano and piano) formerly on Leonarda LP # 120.

Michel Colombier's (1939-2004) credits include more than fifty film and television scores, symphonic and chamber music works, opera, and compositions for ballet for Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Maurice Bejart, and others. His first solo album, Wings, (which uses an orchestra, a full choir, solo vocalists, a jazz-rock orchestra, an oboe soloist, and an electrified string trio) marked the first time that pop music was integrated into a symphonic work. Released in 1971, it was nominated for three Grammy Awards and went on to win numerous international awards. Colombier's film credits include New Jack City, Against All Odds, White Nights, Ruthless People, Purple Rain, The Golden Child, and Manon. Colombier, a native of France, lives in Los Angeles. This piece was written as a memorial to Colombier's son, who died at age five. Emmanuel (flute and piano). Audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE333.

Giovanni E. Conterno (Italy or USA) Ave Maria (voice and organ), audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE341.

John Corigliano (b.1938), internationally celebrated as one of the leading composers of his generation, is widely known for such works as The Ghosts of Versailles, written to commemorate the centenary of the Metropolitan Opera in New York; his Clarinet Concerto; and soundtracks for three movies, including The Red Violin, which won him the Academy Award. Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony when he was Composer-in-Residence there (1987-90), Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, an impassioned response the AIDS crisis, won the Grammy awards for both "Best New Composition" and "Best Orchestral Performance." The Symphony has already has been played by nearly 125 different orchestras worldwide, and continues to be scheduled by virtually all of the leading U.S. orchestras. The recording of Corigliano's 40-minute String Quartet won Grammy Awards both for "Best Performance" and again for "Best New Composition," making Corigliano the first composer to win twice in the history of that award. How Like Pellucid Statutes (four bassoons) audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE348

Philippe Courbois (contemporary of de la Guerre, whose dates are c.1664-1729) (France) Dom Quichote (bass-baritone and chamber orchestra) is on Leonarda LP #LPI 109.

Gregorio Curto's (19th Century) work was published in USA. Ave Maria (voice and organ) Leonarda is on  CD #LE341.

Carl Czerny (1791-1856), born in Vienna to Czech parents, exhibited musical promise from a very young age. When he was ten, he was accepted as a pupil of Beethoven, whose works he later championed in many of his performances. In 1806, Czerny became a teacher himself and eventually eschewed public performance, devoting his time almost exclusively to teaching and composing. He developed a considerable reputation as a piano pedagogue, attracting Franz Liszt, Anna Caroline de Belleville-Oury, Stephen Heller, Leopoldine Blahetka and Sigismund Thalberg as his pupils. It is chiefly as the teacher of these virtuosi and as the composer and author of pedagogical piano works that Czerny is remembered today. His prolific compositional output numbers over l,000 works. Fantasia, Op. 256 (flute, cello, piano). Audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE325.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) (France) Clair de Lune (solo piano), audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD LE344. La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) (flute and piano), audio sample mp3 from  Leonarda CD #LE333. Syrinx (solo flute) and Étude de Concert: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (arr. for solo flute by Alfred Fenboque) are on CD #LE355.

Stefania de Kenessey (b.1961) writes music that moves beyond the postmodern categories of our age (such as minimalism, mysticism, neo-romanticism, eclecticism, and so forth) by celebrating both beauty and craft as universal values. Tuneful and sophisticated, her idiom fuses tradition with innovation, Eastern modes with Western forms. De Kenessey is the founder and artistic director of The Derriere Guard, an alliance of traditionalist contemporary artists, architects, poets, and composers. She is active as a composer in all instrumental and vocal genres. Her work, honored repeatedly by ASCAP, can be heard regularly in recitals and on radio. A native of Budapest, de Kenessey was educated at Yale and Princeton Universities, receiving her doctorate under the tutelage of Milton Babbitt. She is a professor of music at the New School's Eugene Lang College in New York City. Sunburst (solo piano). audio samples: mp3a and mp3b from Leonarda CD #LE345.

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (c.1664-1729) (France). Cantatas Le Sommeil d'Ulisse and Samson (bass-baritone and chamber orchestra) are on  LP #LPI 109Prelude from Samson audio sample mp3Tempete from Le Sommeil d'Ulisse audio sample mp3; The last two selections are from double CD #LE353, which can be used in conjunction with the book Women Composers: The Lost Tradition Found.

Sigismondo d'India (ca.1580-1629) called himself nobile palermitano (nobleman from Palermo) on the title pages of his works. It is assumed that he spent time in Florence and Mantua between 1606 and 1611. He was Maestro della Musica di Camera at the court of Duke Carlo Emmanuel in Turin from 1611 to 1623. His last years were spent at the d'Este court in Modena. Between 1606 and 1627 he published 18 books of vocal music. Of these works, his eight books of solo songs are considered his major achievement.

D'India's highly imaginative use of seconda prattica sets him apart from his contemporaries. In the foreword to his Libro I di Monody, published in Milan in 1609, he wrote that he found a way to compose with intervalli non ordinari, passing from them to more consonant intervals depending on the meaning of the words. In doing so he could increase the song's ability to move the sentiments of the soul. He dedicated the work to the "intelligent men of music" from whom he wrote he learned to compose polyphony and monody. La tra'l sangue à le morti, a setting of eight lines from Gerusalemme Liberata by Torquato Tasso, clearly illustrates d'India's affective use of harmonies. The piece is through composed and almost in the style of recitative. La tral (soprano, lute, viola da gamba) audio sample mp3, from Leonarda CD #LE350.

Maroie de Dregnau de Lille (13th C.) (France) is an otherwise unknown poet whose lovely little song presents us with a glimpse into the secular life of medieval women - the expectation that. despite the chill of winter, a maid should remain joyful and thus increase her worth. Mout m'abelist quant je voi revenir (soprano, psaltery, medieval fiddle), audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE340.

R. Nathaniel Dett (1862-1943) (Canada/USA) was born in Ontario and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. He received an honorary masters degree from the Eastman School of Music and studied with Nadia Boulanger in France (1929). Director of music at the Hampton Institute from 1913-1931, he advocated the use of Negro themes and combined them in a neo-romantic style. He died in Michigan in 1943. Barcarolle from In the Bottoms (solo piano), audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE344.

Beatriz, Countess de Dia (12th C.) (France) allows us a unique personal perspective of a world ruled by a rigid code of courtly love. The text for this song is outside the male, more formal, esthetic of courtly love because of its directness, immediacy and personal viewpoint. The Countess, Beatriz, wife of Guilhèm de Poitiers, lived in southern France in the 12th century, a period favorable for the economic independence of aristocratic women. The legal system in southern France allowed women to inherit property. They often ruled their family estates while their husbands were away fighting in the crusades, freedoms that were gradually whittled away in later centuries. Although this was an era when poetry and music by women flourished, there are only 23 surviving poems by women and only four melodies. We are fortunate to have the both the melody and poetic text for the Countess of Dia's song, one of only two extant melodies of its kind surviving from the 12th century. A chantar m'er de so qu'ieu nos vouria (soprano, medieval fiddle, lute), audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE340.

Emma Lou Diemer (b.1927), composer and keyboard performer, is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. She received her composition degrees from Yale and Eastman, with further study on a Fulbright Scholarship in Belgium and at Tanglewood. Diemer is Professor Emerita of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught composition from 1971 to 1991. She was composer-in-residence with the Santa Barbara Symphony from 1990-92. Awards have included a 1992 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for her piano concerto, an NEA fellowship in electronic music, and ASCAP awards received annually since 1962. She was the American Guild of Organists 1995 Composer of the Year. A biography of Diemer by Ellen Grolman Schlegel is published by Greenwood Press: A Bio-Bibliography Emma Lou Diemer. Fantasy for Piano (solo piano). Audio samples mp3a; mp3b ; mp3c from Leonarda CD #LE345. Songs: Strings in the earth and air (mp3 sample), The Caller, One Perfect Rose, Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Leonarda CD #LE357.

Makar Yekmalyan [also Egmalian, Yikmalyàn, Ekmalyan] (1856-1905) (Armenia) Ave Maria (voice and organ) is on Leonarda CD #LE341.

Donald Erb (1927-2008) was Distinguished Professor of Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He was Composer-in-Residence with the St. Louis Symphony, andreceived hundreds of performances by orchestras in the United States, Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia. He has been honored with fellowships, commissions and awards from the Ford, Guggenheim, Naumburg, and Rockefeller Foundations; National Endowment for the Arts; and National Institute of Arts and Letters. Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra. Audio sample mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE331.

Rachel Eubanks (b. San Jose, California) received a B.A. degree from the University of California in 1945, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1947, and a D.M.A. from Pacific Western University in California in 1980. She also attended the Eastman School of Music, University of Southern California, and Westminster Choir College, and studied with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in France in the summer of 1977. Eubanks is the founder and director of the Eubanks Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Her compositions include Cantata for Chorus and Orchestra, Symphonic Requiem for orchestra and four solo voices, Our God for seven instruments and solo voice on a text by Kahlil Gibran, chamber works, and many songs. Interludes for Piano, two of which are featured here, consist of five concentrated, introverted pieces in an atonal, contrapuntal idiom. (solo piano) Two Interludes for Piano. Audio sample  mp3 from Leonarda CD #LE339

Links to alphabetical list of composers
Bios and links to their recordings at this site

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