‘Old music’ gets new stage Friday



    A rediscovered piano concerto written in 1819 will make its 20th century debut at BYU this week.

    Steve Lindeman, assistant professor of music at BYU, discovered the piano concerto while doing his dissertation work about the evolution of the 19th century piano concerto.

    Concerto No. 8 in D minor, opus 70, was written by Johann Baptist Cramer, a composer little known today but regarded as a virtuoso and master composer in his time.

    Lindeman discovered the concerto after reviewing many musical scores from European libraries. He noticed that there was something unique about this one. “It was very exciting to see how different it was … to find a piece that makes us redefine how we look at concertos.”

    “Cramer was regarded as equal or even better than Beethoven,” Lindeman said. He was published by the same prestigious publishing houses and his work was performed as often. Schumann considered Cramer one of the significant sonata composers of the time.

    During Cramer’s era, musicians such as Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart were just a few of many composers and musicians. They were simply craftsmen who did a job, Lindeman said.

    As each generation passed, people’s tastes changed. “People didn’t want to listen to the same music their parents were listening to,” Lindeman said. Music was just entertainment. “People didn’t think about masterpieces like we do now … sort of like with popular music now, we like it but not like we think it’s Michelangelo.”

    It was not until years after Beethoven’s death that historians started to preserve his work. This was the case with many musicians such as Mozart, Bach and Haydn. Unfortunately, Cramer was one of the musicians who didn’t make the cut, Lindeman said.

    “Cramer was just one of the many, many composers. There are literally hundreds of concertos not heard,” Lindeman said.

    Cramer’s concerto broke the traditional concerto mold created by Mozart. The accepted form was highly structured. Cramer probably changed his form out of boredom, he wanted to compose a concerto in a new and different way, Lindeman said.

    The concerto will be performed Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall by Jeffrey Shumway, BYU music faculty member as piano soloist.

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