Classical Music Playlist, August 30, 2023

Louis (Ludwig) Spohr was an influential violinist who also invented the instrument’s chin rest and is credited as the first major conductor to use a baton. As a composer he was one of the most popular in early 19th century Europe and his symphonies at the time were considered second only to Beethoven (with whom he was a friend and performed in the orchestra at the premiere of Beethoven’s 7th symphony).

In 1814 Spohr was asked to compose an Octet for a patron to bring to England that would get him invited to performances of Spohr’s music where this patron would also meet potential business investors. To be attractive to English audiences, Spohr made the third movement of the Octet variations on a theme taken from a popular keyboard concerto by Handel (the tune known as “The Harmonious Blacksmith”). That inventive and utterly charming Octet for clarinet, two horns, violin, two violas, cello and bass is today’s Midday Masterpiece.

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