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If It’s Not Baroque, Don’t Fix It:  Classical Music Resources at the Library

by Brandon Priddy, Public Services Librarian

     When it comes to musical education, I was raised in a somewhat unusual household in that my parents are giant Opera and Classical fans and seldom listened to anything else.  I was even compelled to play (terribly) the French horn and cello thanks to lessons and school music programs.  While my own personal music taste now spans multiple genres, including classical, I very much appreciate its soothing nature and calming effect.  According to Harvard Health, the "Mozart effect” so named because researchers discovered that compared to other types of music, test takers listening to classical artists such as Mozart led to “consistently boosting test scores.”  Researchers, “speculated that listening to music helps organize the firing of nerve cells in the right half of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher functions… some forms of music [act] as an "exercise" that warms up selected brain cells, allowing them to process information more efficiently ***1.” With that in mind, here are some delightful musical resources you may enjoy.

     Free Library streaming video service Kanopy has an excellent selection of music documentaries, Great Courses series, and even movies involving your favorite composers.  The Great Courses has an amazing 24 episode long series titled Great Music of the 20th Century: “The 20th century was a breeding ground of musical innovation and transformation unlike any other era in history…Discover the genius of composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, Ligeti, Ades, and many others.”  Another excellent series is Music as a Mirror of History: “In this unique and eye-opening course, Professor Greenberg presents an in-depth survey of musical works that were written in direct response to contemporary historical events--events that both shaped the composers' lives and inspired the creation of the works in question.”  Likewise, checkout The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works or The Great Works of Sacred Music lecture series. 

     You may enjoy this inspiring documentary: Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony by Collective Eye Films.  His masterpiece, “written in 1824, near the end of Beethoven's life, [the Ninth Symphony] was composed by a man with little to be thankful for. Sick, alienated from almost everyone, and completely deaf, Beethoven had never managed to find love, nor create the family he'd always wanted. And yet, despite this, he managed to create an anthem of joy that embraces the transcendence of beauty over suffering.”

     If you want to learn how to play an instrument (because I need all the help I can get), check out the Great Courses Series How to Play Piano or Acoustic Guitar, which has dozens of lessons walking you through the entire process.  And remember that on demand library music service Hoopla has over 23,000 classical music albums that you can borrow and play instantly on your smart device.  Some highlights include Bach: The Essentials featuring 25 of his most famous works and my personal favorite the Brandenburg Concertos.  

     Coronavirus has prevented us from enjoying live concerts these last few months, but I’m happy to announce that on Monday, June 29th at 6:00 PM Dawn Paulus will provide a live cello concert over Zoom.  She will perform classics as well as some contemporary pieces.  Dawn Paulus is an active freelance musician in the Pittsburgh Area.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree and Artist’s Diploma from Duquesne University and a Master’s Degree in cello performance from Cleveland State University.  She trained as a Suzuki Cello Teacher at the Pittsburgh Suzuki Institute.  Dawn has performed as both a chamber and symphonic musician in the United States, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and England.  She performs regularly throughout the region with ensembles including the Erie Philharmonic, the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and the Three Rivers String Quartet.  You can register for her program here.  I wish you a wonderful musical journey. 



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