Dora Pejačević Composer of the Week

Dora 1

[Image courtesy: Croatian Encyclopedia]

Name: Dora Pejačević

Born: September 10, 1885 in Budapest, Hungary

Died: March 5, 1923 in Munich, Germany

Nationality: Croatian

Genre: Romantic

Famous Works: 


Life: Dora was born to Count Teodor Pejačević  and Hungarian Baroness Lille Vay de Vaya. Her father was a Croation ban (Viceroy). She spent most of her childhood at the family’s estate in Našice in Eastern Croatia. Her mother gave Dora her first piano lessons and Charles Noszeda, a famous Hungarian organist who summered in Našice, also taught the little girl music. There she learned to play piano and violin. By 12 she was composing. When the family moved to Zagreb Dora studied both privately and at the Croatian Music Institute. She continued to study through out World War One in Dresden and Munich, but is considered to be self-taught.

Here is her Gondellied, Opus 4 performed by
pianist Yoko Nishii in 2013.

She lived in Našice , but also travelled to major cultural centers in Eastern Europe. She wrote a short book on music theory called Über Programm-Musik in 1918. In 1921 she married Ottum von Lube and moved to Munich. She died from complications in child birth shortly after the birth of her son Theo in 1923.

The origins of her compositions are a romantic tradition, and her most famous compositions are: Three Songs, Two Nooks, About Music and many others. [Povijest– translated]



Pejačević’s earliest compositions were tunes for piano and the violin. From there she moved on to folk songs, chamber music and orchestral works. Although considered a Romantic composer she brought “her own musical expression based on her knowledge of the form, the occasional openness to new harmonic methods and the tendency to permeate thematic and motive material.” [Croatian Encyclopedia –translated]

Works of note include:

Two Nights (Zwei Nocturnen) Opus 50 (1919-20)


Symphony in F Sharp minor opus 41 (1916-18)

With her sophisticated musical expression, Dora Pejačević contributed to the pluralism of musical stewardships in Croatia in the early 20th century. With B. Bers and J. Hatze, she contributed significantly to the establishment of Croatian music modern and new professional composing instruments. [Croation Encyclopedia — translated]

Here is her lovely Chanson Sans Paroles, Op. 10 performed by Yoko Nishii in 2013




Franz Joseph Haydn Composer of the Week

Hyden conducting string quartet

Haydn conducting a string quartet []


Name: Franz Joseph Haydn

Born:March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria (About 46 km South East of Vienna)

Died: May 31, 1809, Vienna, Austria



Nationality: Austrian

Genre: Classical

Famous Works:


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was an Austrian composer,
one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. Haydn wrote 107 symphonies in total, as well as 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas, amongst countless other scores.


Franz Joseph Hayden was the second son of a wheelwright father and cook mother. His musicianship was recognized when he was a young boy. At six he was sent away to a school run by his cousin where he sang in the choir, learned music theory and took lessons on several instruments. In 1740, when Hayden was just 8 he moved to Vienna at the invitation of the music director of St. Stephen’s Cathedral to serve as a choirister.

He stayed at the choir school for nine years, acquiring an enormous
practical knowledge of music by constant performances but, to his disappointment, receiving little instruction in music theory. He had to work hard to fulfill his
obligations as a chorister, and when his voice changed, he was expelled from both the cathedral choir and the choir school. []

Thus at 17 he was left to fend for himself, working odd musical jobs and teaching himself musical theory. He began to build his reputation as an accompanist and composer. In 1758 he was put in charge of a 16 piece ensemble as music director and chamber composer for Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin. There he wrote his first symphonic work.

Haydn Library of Congress

His next appointment was as assistant conductor to the court of Prince Esterhazy in 1761.  As assistant he “conducted the orchestra and coached the singers in almost daily rehearsals, composed most of the music required, and served as chief of the musical personnel. ” [ibid] He became the musical director in 1766. The Esterhazy family were  well known musical patrons and Haydn remained happily employed with them for over 30 years. Most of his enormous catalog of music (340 hours of it by some accounts) was written during that period.

Hayden and Mozart were both extremely popular in Vienna at the same time and they shared a good natured competition. Both men were inspired by the other’s work and they were friends. Mozart claimed that he learned how to write quartets from Hayden and dedicated a set of six quartets to the older composer. Haydn — already a master of the ‘surprise’ —  admired Mozart’s innovations and creativity and the younger composer’s influence made its way into Haydn’s compositions.

He took two extended trips to England, one in 1791 and one in 1794. Hayden’s musical genius was celebrated on both trips and he was much inspired by the change from Vienna to London. Over the course of his two trips he wrote 12 symphonies including The Surprise Symphony, the Military Symphony [Finale], the London Symphony and the Symphony No. 102 in B flat Major.  King George the Third personally entreated him to stay in London, but the composer returned Vienna and the Esterhazys.

It was on his way back from the first trip in 1792 that he met his most famous student, Beethoven. (Hayden also had a strong influence on the works of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms. )


By Ludwig Guttenbrunn – Photo Nevilley at en.wikipedia. Public Domain

Back in Vienna he put the finishing touches on a new piece, an oratorio, The Creation. It was so popular that Haydn went to work on another, The Seasons [Spring] based on a poem by James Thomson. Originally written in English and then translated into German it could be performed in either language. He wrote six masses,  and more string quartets.

In 1797 he wrote a composition that is perhaps his most performed piece today,“Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser” (“God Save Emperor Francis”). It became the national anthem for Austria then was recycled into “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” (“Germany, Germany Above All Else”) which is Germany’s national anthem.

As Napoleon took Vienna in 1809 Haydn refused to leave his house. ” Napoleon placed a guard of honour outside Haydn’s house, and the enfeebled composer was much touched by the visit of a French hussars’ officer who sang an aria from The Creation. On May 31 Haydn died peacefully, and he was buried two days later.” []

By one estimate, Haydn produced some 340 hours of music, more than Bach or HandelMozart or Beethoven. Few of them lack some unexpected detail or clever solution to a formal problem. []

800px-Joseph_Haydn by Thomas Hardy 1791

Joseph Haydn by Thomas Hardy, painted in 1791

Musical Output:

  • 108 Symphonies
  • 20 opera
  • 14 masses
  • 6 oratorios
  • 68 String Quartets
  • 2 cello concerti [Cello Concerto in C-Adagio]
  • 32 divertimenti for small orchestra
  • 126 trios for baryton, viola and cello
  • 47 piano sonatas

Haydn began his career composing under a Baroque influence. From there he “adopted the light, gay, and elegant musical style that was popular at the time in Austria”[] Then the darker, more emotional style of north German composers began showing up in his music. When he came into his own maturity as a composer he was able to marry all three styles.


Here is Piano TV’s review of Haydn’s music  including The Piano Sonata  in E-flat major;  Piano trio in G Major in Gypsy trio; 11th Keyboard Concerto in D Major; String Quartet  No. 65 Op. 76 No. in E Major; London Symphony; The Creation Oratorio “In Splendor Bright”


And if you are really sparked to listen to much more Haydn… go to’s article that ranks his symphonies “in order of greatness“.  The poor guy who got assigned the task to listen to each symphony and do the ranking does a great job of explaining why each one works (or doesn’t) in his opinion. And there is lots of lovely audio.



For a YouTube biography you can go HERE. She does a good job of giving all the facts in a light, quick way. So if you don’t want to read all of my bio, this is a good alternative.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Composer of the Week

Name: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Born: 7 May 1840

Died: 6 November 1893
Nationality: Russian
Genre: Romantic
Famous Works:
  • Romeo and Juliet
    Premiered 1870 (Major themes come in at about 6:00, 7:58
  • The 1812 Overture
    — which he wrote on commission and didn’t really like very much. He said of the piece that is  “very loud and noisy, but [without] artistic merit, because I wrote it without warmth and without love”.  Premiered 1882
  • The Nutcracker 
    — premiered in 1892, this two-act ballet based on “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” was commissioned The two-act ballet is based on the book “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, by Marius Petipa a choreographer at the Mariinsky Theater
  • Swan Lake
    Premier 1877. Tchaikovsky’s first ballet. The initial response to Swan Lake was terrible. Although it slowly grew to moderate popularity, it didn’t become famous until after the composer’s death. Swan Lake Waltz
  • The Sleeping Beauty (waltz)
    Premiered 1890 at  the Imperial Theater in Moscow  The Sleep Beauty was Tchaikovsky’s second (and favorite) ballet.

    Born in Kamsko-Vyatka, Russia about 725 miles from Moscow. His father. Ilya, was a mine inspector and Pytor was educated to follow in his foot steps and become a civil servant. Although he started piano lessons at 5 and showed a passion for music he went to the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg. While away at boarding school his mother, Alexandra, died of cholera.

” In 1859, Tchaikovsky honored his parents’ wishes by taking up a bureau clerk post with the Ministry of Justice—a post he would hold for four years, during which time he became increasingly fascinated with music.”

By 21 Tchaikovsky was taking music lessons at the Russian Musical Society. Later that year he enrolled as a composition student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Two years later he moved to Moscow and became a professor of harmony at their Conservatory.

Tchaikovsky’s Characteristic Dances for orchestra, his first publicly performed work, were debuted at Pavlovsk in late summer of 1865.

His first major work to be presented to the public was his Symphony No 1 in G minor  “Winter Daydreams.” Because Tchaikovsky began his formal musical training in St. Petersburg, not Moscow, his music “much more of a western style of music theory and composition.” [Favorite Classical] That made Symphony No 1 (and his later music) approachable for European audiences. But his Russian background is clear in his melodies. He fully embraced the Russian culture. “So Tchaikovsky music has a Russian character and Russian melodies, but at a musical standard high enough for Western European audiences. The best of both worlds!” [Ibid]. He wrote it when he was just 26.


Tchaikovsky at the time he wrote Romeo and Juliet

There’s the sheer melancholic beauty of the melody in the flute and bassoon, but there’s also what Tchaikovsky does with it, or rather doesn’t do with it. As with both of the main tunes in this movement, Tchaikovsky wants to give his melodies – closed, circular objects rather than Beethovenian cells of symphonic possibility – their full expression, and at the same time create a sense of musical momentum.
[The Guardian]



Although most remembered for his ballets Tchaikovsky wrote a variety of musical pieces from string quartets to piano concertos to patriotic anthems like Marche Slave (which he wrote on commission of the Russian Musical Society in support of the Serbian side of the 1876-1878 Serbian-Ottoman War. Listen closely and you’ll hear his famous theme, two Serbian dances and a bit of the 1812 Overture.)


Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins



1 cup of Almond Milk

1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of Sugar

1 teaspoon Orange Peel

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

1 teaspoon Almon Extract

1 cup of Frozen Blueberries

1 cup of Dark Chocolate Chips



  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare muffin tin or muffin cups. I got 8 large muffins from this recipe, and I suspect that it would work for 12 regular sized muffins.
  2. In a small bowl combine the Almond Milk and Apple Cider Vinegar.
  3.  In a large bowl combine the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and salt.
  4. Mix the Sugar, Orange Peel, Vegetable Oil, and Almond Extract in a small bowl or a small liquid measuring cup.
  5. Add the Almond Milk/Apple Cider Vinegar mixture to the Sugar mixture.
  6. Mix the liquid into the dry to incorporate, but don’t over mix. It’s O.K. to have some lumps.
  7. Fold in the Blueberries and Dark Chocolate Chips.
  8. Divide the batter into the muffin cups.


9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the muffins pass the toothpick test.

10. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before releasing from the muffin cups and eating.




A Year of Quotes 1.25.16

Hard to believe that Oscar Wilde month only has a week to go. My how time flies…

London is too full of fogs and… serious people.. Whether the fogs produce the serious people or whether the serious people produce the fogs, I don’t know…

— Lady Windermere’s Fan



A Year of Quotes, 1.20.16

I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.

— The Picture of Dorian Gray




A Year of Quotes 1.18.16

Another skewing witticism by Mr. Wilde. …as appropriate in today’s verbose political season as it was in his day.

All Americans lecture, I believe.
I suppose it is something in their climate.

— A Woman of No Importance






A Year of Quotes, 1.17.16

After another round of pre-Iowa caucus debates here in The States I think it is time for some thoughts on the body politic from Oscar Wilde.

I am told that pork-packing
is the most lucrative profession in America,
after politics.

–The Picture of Dorian Gray


A Year (plus) of READING Dangerously: #49 One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

Reading Dangerously Logo 2

Ken Keesley’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, #49 on the ALA’s Most Banned and Challenged Books from 2000-2010 sucks you right into another world and keeps you there, straight-jacketed by the prose and the action of non action, until the very last page. And then, days and weeks and months after shutting the book you still find yourself thinking about it… and wondering why the heck you haven’t written your Year of READING Dangerously entry for it.


For the record I really, really liked this novel. I really liked the movie too — I think it is Jack Nicholson‘s best work —  but in the book, which I read long after seeing the movie, we get much more information on the minor characters and generally more to think about. The thing I liked the most about the book was the P.O.V. perspective of Chief Broom, and that fact that as a mental patient he is a somewhat unreliable narrator. As much as Murphy is the protagonist (and what a protagonist he is!) the Chief is the main character. Murphy moves the plot, but the Chief is the one I found myself caring about.

As established previously, I’m not the banning kind… but IF I were the banning kind I’d probably find a LOT of fault here. Racial slurs abound. Offensive Language, Nudity, Sexism, Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, hints of Homosexuality, and lots of Violence.


Besides the 1975 movie the book was also adapted into a stage play in 1963. That makes sense as almost all the action takes place in the ward. I’d love to see this on stage. It would work really well on both a big atrium stage and in a small in the round setting.

For more on this book check out:

101 Books



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