Classical Composers' Favorite Keys

This is pretty heady- but my composer friends should get a kick out of it.    Below is a breakdown from the creator of it explaining the methodology.

Classical Composers

by VizualStatistix.

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"For this visualization, I’ve broken composition key data down by composer. The values are displayed as a heat map, which I’ve made into the shape of a piano keyboard. For the non-pianists, I’ve put a key (pun intended) at the top so that you can see what the notes represent. The top half of each note represents percentage of minor compositions in that key, and the bottom half of each note corresponds to major compositions in that key. The highest percentage for each composer is labeled. Each composer’s heat map is scaled the same (0 to 20%), so you can compare one composer to another. The N-values next to the names show the number of compositions I was able to include in my database for that composer - these are not comprehensive lists! However, the samples sizes are large enough that the probability distributions should be at least reasonably accurate (to within a couple percent). A few noteworthy (yeah, pun intended again) trends pop out. Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart all show strong preferences for a specific key. Other composers, particularly Dvorak, Brahms, and Mendelssohn, show less favoritism; these three had no keys associated with >10% of their compositions, with Brahms having the smallest standard deviation (2.14%). All three composers whose most-used key was minor were from the Romantic era (perhaps they were sad about the Industrial Revolution). The least used key across the board was g# minor, with Brahms using it most (in only 1.5% of his compositions). Rachmaninoff was the only composer to produce more pieces in minor keys than major keys; Haydn and Mozart most frequently wrote in major keys. Finally (I’ll spare you the details of my Friedman test), Tchaikovsky is the closest to the notion of an average composer; in other words, his probability distribution most closely resembles the distribution created by averaging all ten composers together."  Lovingly shared from here

My Own Requiem

In my profession I am afforded the opportunity to spend a great deal of time working with and speaking to highly intelligent, artistic people who's passion is positively infectious.  This week I am especially surrounded by such people as we have our annual meetings with these fantastic people.   The following is an account of one of the most inspiring and touching musical meetings I've had the pleasure to participate in.

During a standard label presentation from one of our esteemed record label/business partners one of our presenters told a story.  Upon learning of an impending illness that had a great liklihood of taking his life, this gentleman opted for a very dangerous surgery in the hopes that he may live past tis illness to continue making music.  Like anyone would do- he prepared for the procedure.  He settled his financial affairs, finalized his will, made plans for succession after his demise, met with all of his loved-ones and eventually told his final goodbyes to the people who meant most in his life.  He essentially prepared methodically for his passing with the precision of a great conductor preparing for his greatest performance.  As he was nearing the procedure day, he began thinking about the reality of going under general anasthesia and decided that if he were going to be going to sleep for perhaps the last time ever- he wanted to do it on his own terms.  

With this in mind, he presented to the surgeon that it was his wish to take a recording into the surgical gallery for the time preceding and throughout the surgery.  He wanted his music player and headphones as any music lover would.   The only difference was for him- this was perhaps the last time he would ever listen to music.  Something he had devoted his entire life to.  This was to be the last music he would hear.  His last memory on earth.  He had chosen his requiem.  Much to the chagrin of the doctor- and after many arguments with the surgeon he was allowed to do so and was thus prepared for whatever would come next.

 At that moment in the meeting he hit play- on a beautiful, warm work of music so endearing that there was not a dry eye in the room.  He was sharing his personal requiem with us...

Every now and then in my line of work- I am reminded how amazing it is to be surrounded with passionate, talented, artistic people.  This was one of those moments.  This man whom I knew as an astute business man, and music lover / entrepreneur shared with me and my colleagues one of his most deep, personal moments.  Shared with us the music that was to take him into the afterlife.  There is nothing more powerful in our lives than the threat of our own impending death.  We are all born equal.  We live, excel, and achieve throughout our own lives and are eventually brought back to the exact same place we came from... on the same plane.  He reminded me of this, and his story has touched me- and forced me to think of my own mortality.

Given this fact- I have been thinking- "what would my requiem be?"  As difficult of a decision as this is to make.  I believe I may have it.  So today- not facing a life-threatening surgery, or my own certain demise I present my own requiem.

 Edward Elgar-  Enigma Variations, Variation 9 "Nimrod"

If you had to choose- what would be your final opus? 




Should you applaud? - a Carnegie World Premier

After attending a World premier concert at Carnegie Hall last week I stumbled upon this and found it to be quite funny.  It is too often the case that people not knowing the music they are listening to break up a perfectly good pause with ill-timed applause. 

Normally, I would write a lengthy review of my experience at Carnegie, however I believe that there is nothing much I could say outside of the words of Steve Smith and the New York Times and it is admittedly a bit difficult to put into words just how special that night was-  with the ensemble I played in, my conductor/mentor (and father) in the audience with me and to be surrounded by so many fantastic friends and colleagues. -- I will say that Mohammed Fairouz has written an intriguing, powerful composition that will go down as one of the great new wind works of the 21st century.  I had the pleasure of  spending time with Mr. Fairouz as well as conductor Paul Popiel and am eagerly awaiting the release of the work on CD through the Naxos Wind Band Classics imprint (which I curate) next November.  I believe this album will be a game-changer for wind recordings.  Time will tell.