November's Composer of the Month is Jennifer Eklund.
Jennifer was born November 11, 1979 and began studying the piano at the age of six.
Her primary teacher encouraged her to start teaching beginning level students at the age of fourteen. Jennifer was a bit skeptical because of her age but decided to take the plunge. Her business started small and has continued to grow throughout the years along with her experience and understanding of a positive and effective teaching approach. During her college years Jennifer continued teaching as well as performing.
After graduation from college Jennifer continued teaching privately and spent many years developing and testing the Piano Pronto piano lesson books on students of all ages and levels. Her experience as a teacher played an integral role in the selection of material for the books as many of the pieces have been requested by her students. Arranging music has become a real passion of hers as she finds it extremely rewarding to write music that is both educational and enjoyable to play. In the fall of 2008 Jennifer returned to Cal State Long Beach and completed her Masters Degree in Musicology. This new pursuit combined her love for music history, research, and writing.
In 2014 Jennifer retired from teaching in order to run Piano Pronto Publishing on a full-time basis. While it was a difficult decision, Jennifer is truly living her dream now with 110% of her focus on creating new products to benefit students all over the world. When not packing orders, or networking with customers at workshops or online Jennifer spends her time writing and arranging new music and playing with her two border collies.
Our Composer of the Month for October is Franz Liszt. He was born in Hungary in 1811 and died in 1886. He was a composer during the Romantic era of music.
While Franz Liszt was a composer, conductor, critic and teacher, he was best known as a pianist. He was the first of the virtuoso performers. When Liszt walked onto the stage, he took over the hall, amazing the audience with his incredible technique and his awesome presence. He was a true showman and the man who invented the solo recital. Although some were annoyed by his personality, Liszt was one of the greatest pianists the world has ever known.
As a composer, Liszt, of course, wrote music primarily for the piano. He also transcribed popular orchestral works for this instrument. Many of his pieces are tremendously difficult and few pianists can perform them properly. Later in his life, he started writing music for the orchestra and composed wonderful melodies.
Liszt also wrote music criticism and was known as a conductor and teacher. He trained many of the performers of his time in his tradition.
Because of his ego and attitude, Liszt was always a controversial figure. However, he is recognized as one of the dominant personalities of 19th century Romantic music.
Un Sospiro and Liebestraum, are great examples of Liszt's composing skill. This video is another flamboyant performer, Lang Lang, performing Un Sospiro. And because I love playing Liebestraum, I've included a video of Evgeny Kissin performing this gorgeous piece.
Our Composer of the Month for September is Nadia Boulanger.
Nadia Boulanger was born to a Parisian family of prominence. Her father was a voice teacher and composer at the Paris Conservatory and her mother was a Russian princess!
By age 10, Nadia had successfully passed her entrance exams to the Paris Conservatory and began her study there. She excelled in solfege sight singing and aural (ear) skills. She studied composition with the famous composer Gabriel Faure.
Her younger sister, Lili, was also an excellent composer. She also had frail health and unfortunately passed away when in her teens in 1918. Nadia also stopped composing and turned her attention to teaching and conducting.
She was the first woman conductor of the Royal Philharmonic and taught noteable musicians such as Aaron Copland, Quincy Jones and Philip Glass in schools in the US and England.
While her compositions are not well-known, she did compose for voice, piano, organ, cello and orchestra. Her cantata, La Sirene, won a competition in France while she was still studying at the Paris Conservatory!
Hear a performance of one her organ compositions, Prelude in F minor.