Feature: What's In A Name?
Many common surnames are a description of jobs or other aspects of people's lives, but here's a selection from some composers who happily chose not to follow ancient family traditions but who instead - fortunately for us as listeners - opted to devote their lives to creating some wonderful music. Oddly enough, 'composer' never became a surname! Play now
Charpentier: Alma Redemptoris Mater, H.21
He didn't become a carpenter, but instead composed some of the most beautiful devotional vocal music ever conceived. An entire album from Concerto delle Donne is available here.
Bach: Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 903
'Bach' means brook or stream; coincidentally, the tumbling intricacy of the the opening Fantasia of this striking piece is highly evocative of cascading water. Another whole album to download, performed by the phenomenal Igor Kipnis.
Johann Strauss: Pizzicato Polka
'Strauss' can mean either a bunch of flowers or, er, an ostrich. This Proms favourite is rather more evocative of the delicacy of the former!
As her surname implies, perhaps Germaine Tailleferre - a contemporary of Poulenc and Milhaud and composer of this attractive work for harp and orchestra - did indeed have a cross to bear as a female composer at a time when this was uncommon.
Handel: Chaconne in G, HWV 435
A name which means 'trade' or 'business' is arguably appropriate enough for such a prolific and successful composer. This is an appealing arrangement for two guitars, with a complete album available here.
Monteverdi: Baci Soavi e Cari
Perhaps his family did indeed once live among the green mountains, but Monteverdi surely found his true calling amidst the bustle of urban musical life. Why not download this complete album of madrigals?
Bessie Smith: Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
One of the most common professional names, but an uncommonly fine Jimmy Cox song from this complete album.
Clarence 'Pine Top' Smith: Pine Top Blues
No, it's not a reference to the top of the piano! Rather, this legendary bluesman apparently loved climbing trees as a child and the nickname stuck.