Theory III Listening Assignment – Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway in 1843. He studied piano from the age of six, and by his late teens he had enrolled in the Conservatory at Leipzig. His music was a synthesis of traditional German harmonic theory, and Norwegian elements, such as modal melodies and Hardinger Fiddle. He died in 1907.

Grieg’s only piano concerto was written in 1868 while he was vacationing in Søllerød, Denmark. While the form is standard for a concerto – fast, slow, fast – many of the details differ. Grieg’s strength was in melodic variation and thematic transformation rather than motivic development. His melodies incorporated many elements of Norwegian folk song.

The first movement is introduced by a timpani roll leading to the defining descending flourish on the piano. The first theme is introduced almost immediately in the 7th bar. It is comprised of two alternating ideas: the first quite rhythmic and the second lyrical. Here, a departure from double-exposition sonata form is seen. Instead of repeating the exposition with the piano, the piano simply alternates with the orchestra in the presentation of the themes throughout. The second theme is beautiful and lyrical as the piano and horn interweave their melodies in the relative key of C major. The development explores the ideas from the first theme, showing them in different guises, colors, and orchestrations. Quietly, the recapitulation begins with a piano dominated return of the first theme. In typical sonata-allegro form, the second theme is recapped in A major, the parallel key of the first theme. The cadenza presents the first theme with a fast arpeggiated accompaniment followed by a grandiose variation using massive chords interspersed with fast bass runs. The first movement ends with a return of the opening flourish speeding to a powerful conclusion.

The D-flat major second movement is almost a polar opposite of the first. The harmonic material is alternately dark and heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The first theme is a beautiful melody in the piano interrupted by a trill which leads to the next note. The second theme is grand and soaring, using deliberately played chords in the piano accompanied by a more flowing orchestral scoring. Snatches of the first theme return to close the movement.

The third movement begins with a flourish before rapidly presenting the famous first theme. The main theme is varied and orchestrated several different ways before climaxing after a short cadenza. Suddenly a beautiful second theme is presented by the flute with tremolo harmonies in the strings. The piano then takes the theme and beautifully presents it with depth and emotion, finally drifting into silence. Suddenly material from the introduction appears, preparing for the reappearance of the first theme in the piano. The ideas and variations from the first part of the movement are recapped followed by a cadenza. The cadenza morphs into the first theme; however it has been transformed into ¾ and A major, the parallel key of the original. The second theme reappears, as grand and magnificent as it was beautiful before. A timpani roll underscores a series of tutti chords which punctuate the final cadence.


Bromberger, Eric. “Sommerfest 2008 – Grieg’s Piano Concerto Program Notes.” 19 July 2008. Minnesota Orchestra. 21 October 2010 <>.

Grout, Donald Jay, J. Peter Burkholder, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music, 8th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2010.

Horton, John and Nils Grinde. Grieg, Edvard. n.d. 25 September 2010 <>.

Wikipedia Contributors. Edvard Grieg. 20 September 2010. 25 September 2010 <>.

Wikipedia contributors. Piano Concerto (Grieg). 9 September 2010. 25 September 2010 <>.

Theory III Listening Assignment – Schumann’s Dichterliebe

Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau, Saxony on June 8th, 1810. From age 7, he studied piano and composition. However, due to a worsening weakness in his right hand, he gave up piano and focused on composition and music criticism. In 1840 he married concert pianist Clara Wieck and had eight children. Two years before his death, he attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge and was committed to an asylum. He died in 1856.

Dichterliebe is a song cycle written in 1840, before Robert’s marriage to Clara, based on a text by Heinrich Heine. It describes the emotions of a poet who falls in love and is rejected, then finally comes to terms with his pain. Throughout, the piano and voice are equally important, at times the piano finishing a thought that the words were insufficient to express.

In Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, the poet has fallen in love during the month of May. The music is harmonically vague showing both the beautiful summer day and the poet’s love.

In Aus meinen Tränen sprießen, the poet expounds on how his life and emotions have changed because of his love. Sorrow is turned to joy, represented by the double metaphor of tears becoming flowers and sighs becoming bird songs.

In Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne, the poet states that his previous ideals of beauty have been surpassed by his beloved and are only shadows of her.

In Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’, the poet describes the emotional whirlwind of love.

In Ich will meine Seele tauchen, the poet reminisces about a kiss which he describes as a “wonderfully sweet hour.”

In Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome, the music starts slowly and stately as the poet describes a cathedral and setting on the Rhein river. However, it gets softer and more delicate as he focuses on a statue which he describes as the sculpted ideal of his beloved.

In Ich grolle nicht, the poet has been rejected by his beloved. He describes her heart as being filled with darkness and gnawed by a serpent but insists that he “bear[s] no grudge.”

In Und wüßten’s die Blumen, die kleinen, the poet is expressing his pain amidst a world which continues on regardless.

In Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen, the poet is at a wedding dance when he realizes to his horror that the bride is his beloved. The music is in triple meter giving the strong impression of a dance.

In Hör’ ich das Liedchen klingen, the music and text focus deeply on the pain of the rejected poet. The music is slow and introspective, and the piano completes the piece giving expression to emotions that could not be expressed lyrically.

In Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen, the song takes an ironic turn claiming that the cycle of love and rejection has simply repeated again.

In Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen, the pain of loss returns still deeply expressed through a lyrical melody. The accompaniment is slow and delicate.

In Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet, there is a continuation of the idea from the previous song. It is sparsely accompanied; the vocal line taking the majority of the song. The poet laments even in his dreams.

In Allnächtlich im Traume seh’ ich dich, the music is happy as the poet dreams that his beloved has returned to him. But he wakes up, and she is gone.

In Aus alten Märchen, the poet describes a happy, fairy tale land which he attempts to enter only to have it vanish in mist as he wakes up.

In Die alten, bösen Lieder, the song takes on a funereal air as the poet states that he will put all of his sorrow and love into a giant coffin and sink it into the heart of the sea.


Daverio, J., & Sams, E. (n.d.). Schumann, Robert. Retrieved September 22, 2010, from Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online:

Grout, D. J. (2010). A History of Western Music, 8th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Sysprep Problems

I recently had an issue with Windows Deployment Services where I has created an image using sysprep, but on installing it I was greeted with the error message: “Windows could not finish configuring the system. To attempt to resume configuration, restart the computer.” I figured out by accident that if you reboot the system, hold down F8 during the BIOS and boot into safe mode, it will give you this error: “Windows cannot complete installation in Safe Mode. To continue installing Windows, restart the computer.” but on reboot it will successfully complete the install.

Hopefully this helps someone out there.

Theory III Listening Assignment – Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique

The French composer Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was one of the earliest composers following Beethoven to typify the romantic era. As a young man, he played several instruments and wanted to be a composer. However, his parents insisted that he study medicine. He hated medical school and eventually left it for the Conservatoire in Paris. He characterized a new school of composing, pushing the boundaries of harmony and chromaticism at a time when most composers were still using classical styles.

The Symphonie Fantastique (1830) is Berlioz’s best known work. A programmatic symphony, it described “various episodes in the life of an artist.” The underlying theme is love unrequited, represented by a melody which recurs throughout the symphony termed the idée fixe.

The beginning of the symphony recalls the symphonies of Haydn and early Beethoven, but the resemblance is fleeting; by the second bar, the mood changes. Throughout the first movement, Berlioz shifts from light, quick sections to darker sections portraying the artist’s passion. To quote Berlioz, “The transitions from this state of dreamy melancholy, interrupted by occasional upsurges of aimless joy, to delirious passion, with its outbursts of fury and jealousy, its returns of tenderness, its tears, its religious consolations – all this forms the subject of the first movement.” Through all of this, the idée fixe appears, first in the middle of the movement, 12 bars after rehearsal mark 5, but again later in various guises.

The second movement is dominated by a ball through which the artist’s thoughts keep drifting back to his beloved. The waltz music is repeatedly interrupted by the idée fixe but returns stronger after each interruption, as if the artist throws himself into the festivities to drown her out.

The third movement is the turning point where the artist, hopeful of a happy end to his romance, begins to have doubts. The music portrays a countryside where two shepherds play a duet. The music is calm and cheerful, but darkens as he questions whether she returns his love.

The fourth movement is a drugged dream in which he has murdered his beloved and is marching to the scaffold. The music is a march, and becomes increasingly frantic as the scaffold approaches. Finally at its peak, everything falls silent as the idée fixe appears one last time in its original form; his last thought of love. The guillotine falls.

The final movement starts eerily as the artist sees himself amidst a “hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral.” He suddenly realizes that his beloved is coming, however the idée fixe is now a grotesque dance tune; she is a witch. The church bell tolls amidst a parody of the Dies Irae. The witches join in a round dance later underscored by the Dies Irae, driving the work to a raucous conclusion.


Austin, Michel. Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. 2001. 9 September 2010 <>.

Berlioz, Hector. “Symphonie fantastique, H 48 (Berlioz, Hector).” 1907. IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library. 9 September 2010 <,_H_48_%28Berlioz,_Hector%29>.

Grout, Donald Jay, J. Peter Burkholder, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music, 8th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2010.

Macdonald, Hugh. “Berlioz, Hector.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. n.d. 9 September 2010 <>.

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

A four part harmonization of Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted for organ. The gaps between the bass and tenor are frequently too large to play on piano, although you can transpose some notes up an octave to compensate.

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted – Finale recording of organ
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.mus – Finale 2010 Source
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted – PDF of Sheet Music

Here I Am, Lord

I wrote this for the Salem Lutheran Church 2010 Women’s Enrichment Weekend where it was used as the theme hymn. It is arranged for piano and congregation. It has an introduction in C major, but modulates to G major for the vocal section.

Here I am, Lord – full – Finale’s playback on a virtual Steinway
Here I am, Lord – full.mus – Finale 2010 Source
Here I am, Lord – full – PDF of Sheet Music

Carol of the Bells – Piano arrangement

This is an arrangement of Carol of the Bells for piano. It is relatively simple although it does have some tricky jumps and rhythms. This piece was arranged mostly to play with Finale 2010 which I had just purchased.

Carol of the Bells – Finale recording using virtual Steinway
Carol of the Bells.mus – Finale 2010 Source
Carol of the Bells – PDF of Sheet Music

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

I wrote this piece as part of the 2009 MYS Summer Composition workshop. It is an arrangement of Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel for a chamber orchestra. The actual orchestration was determined by what instruments the other participants played. It is scored for Violin I and II, Viola, Cello I and II, Guitar (which should probably be a harp or something else stronger), and marimba. – Lilypond file with all parts – Lilypond file that produces the full score. Depends on
score – Full Score
Veni Veni – Midi version

HymnSoft rewrite

I have been working on reverse engineering HymnSoft and creating a new client that works on the existing data. I am ready to release an early version. I am calling it TfosHnyh (hint: backwards). It currently parses the hymnsoft hymn database and displays the information. It also plays the hymns, both four-part, and melody.

It does not support the Psalms or the Canticles yet. It can also not quite output the MIDI data to an external keyboard. It might work for you, you can try it.

I am uploading the source for VS2010. You need the .Net framework version 3.5 to run this.

Another post documenting the database format is upcoming.