Musings of a Music Historian Blog

Musings of a Music Historian is a blog where I ponder on the vast world of classical music. While my expertise lies within the history of this genre of music, I often find myself advocating and supporting the growth of modern classical music, reviewing performances and recordings that I encounter, and making the classical music genre more accessible to all who wish to explore it. The bulk of my studies focus on theatrical music (opera, ballet, and incidental music) and symphonic repertoire; however, there is so much beauty and history in chamber music that I have rarely researched, and I am excited to delve into this small, yet crucial, facet of classical music.

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2020 Classical Music New Years Resolutions: Opera

When I first began setting out on my journey as a professional musician, I had been playing trumpet for several years, but I had grown to love and appreciate singing and the vocal arts. Fast-forward nearly ten years later, and I find myself working with a Master of Music in Music History degree and working in administration at the Academy of Vocal Arts.

2020 Classical Music New Years Resolutions: Getting Started

Happy New Year! It’s that time again for us to reflect on the past year and think about what we can change or do better in our lives. Sometimes these New Years resolutions end up changing our lives, and sometimes they fizzle out partially through the year. However, this year I am committed to completing my goals, and I invite you to join me in completing our goals!

A Musical Philadelphia: Vocalist and Personal Trainer Roy Wilford Belzer IV

It is with great pleasure that I get to introduce to you a friend of mine, Roy Belzer IV. Roy has recently moved to Philadelphia from Chicago, and has already begun making waves in the classical music scene here in Philadelphia. Aside from being an active performer, Roy has co-founded the Philadelphia-based choral group Tutti Allegro. Aside from his musical activities, Roy is also a personal trainer, and he aims to blend the two professions together.

Christmas Stories at the Theater

It’s that time of the year again! With Christmas just a few days away, we often recounting stories we heard as children and plays, ballets, and other shows we may have witnessed. For me, Christmas has always been filled with reading stories by the fireplace in the living room, going to concerts of Christmas carols and festive music, and going to the theater to see a show. However, somehow the shows performed at Christmastime seem to always be the same. While I’m one for tradition and nostalgia, I can’t help but think about all the wonderful theatrical works that would add a wonderful variety to the season.

A Musical Philadelphia: Music Historian and Vocalist Andrew Shaw

It is with great pleasure and honor that I get to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Andrew Shaw. Andrew is an active music historian and vocalist in Philadelphia. He participates in several performing groups, such as Singing City Choir and Chestnut Street Singers while remaining involved in research and writing for a few performance groups in the Philadelphia area.

Popular Composers, Rare Operas: Russian Edition

The roots of opera stretch back hundreds of years. Each major cultural hub has at one point claimed that their version of the art form is the truest and greatest version, but in our modern world, these cultural versions have all melded together into one incredible genre. Writers of Italian, French, German, English, Czech, Russian, and American operas share the spotlights together, granted their work is engaging enough to audiences across the world.

Strozzi vs. Jacquet de la Guerre: Baroque Composer War, Battle 2

Written by Stephen J. TrygarCover Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash Barbara Strozzi (formerly Barbara Valle) spent her childhood in the Venetian home of Giulio Strozzi with her mother, Isabella Garzoni. Although there is a significant amount of controversy surrounding the idea that Giulio Strozzi was her father, it is confirmed that Barbara’s mother was his servant. An…

Webern vs. Berg: 20th-Century Composer War, Battle 1

Written by Stephen J. Trygar Cover photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash Anton Webern’s days as a schoolboy was brimming with animosity. Fellow schoolmates shunned him, and his teachers neglected him in consequence to his poor spelling and mathematics skills; his cello and piano lessons consoled him. Although his aristocratic father expected him to study agriculture and oversee…

The Music and Majesty of the Sea

Time and time again, composers have marveled at the ocean; their experiences with the vast, mysterious waters are immortalized in the masterpieces they left behind.

Romantic Composer War: Battle 1

Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel Claude Debussy was born on August 22nd, 1862 in St Germaine-en-Laye to a family of modest means and little cultural involvement. Debussy displayed enough musical talent to be admitted into the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of ten. At the Concervatoire, he began studying piano with Antoine François Marmontel,…

Classical Composer War: Battle 1

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart vs. Franz Joseph Haydn Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27th, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. At an early age, he displayed prodigious musical abilities, and by the age of five he had already begun composing. His father, Leopold Mozart, an accomplished musician himself, managed concert tours for the young Wolfgang and…

Takes My Breath Away

Regardless of what genre of music you enjoy, there are always moments that take our breath away. Sometimes these moments are triggered by the sheer power being blasted into our ears, while other moments are so tranquil and serene that absolute silence is needed to fully appreciate the beauty.

Being a Musicologist/Music Historian

If you desire to pursue a career in music history, don’t limit yourself. Of course you can become a professor at a university and inspire students like your professors did before you, but take it from someone who tried and steered away from that route. There are other roads to travel, even if you have to make one for yourself.

Shostakovich Symphony Cycle

Russian-born, 20th-Century composer Dmitri Shostakovich is one of the world’s most controversial and well-known composers. With a repertoire spanning from piano to opera, it is his symphonies that stand out the most. For this composer I have designed a 15 day cycle on my Instagram feed (stephenjtrygar) celebrating his 15 earth shattering symphonies. Thus far…