Music in the eyes of the creators.
Stephen Trygar tells the stories of composers throughout the ages. Historical episodes focus on a particular work by the featured composer and examines their life during the time the piece was written and performed. Additionally, living composers, musicians, industry professionals, and general enthusiasts are featured regularly to share their own stories about the music that we all love. Through these tales, you’re invited to explore each composers’ legacy and their impact in keeping the world entertained.
Ep. 56: Juan Pablo Contreras – The Composer Chronicles
Creator | Host | Writer
Stephen Trygar began his podcast in April, 2020 after almost a year of running his own blog. He realized that his mission was better fulfilled via a podcast, and thus was the birth of The Composer Chronicles! With an M.M. in Music History from Temple University, Stephen felt his historical knowledge better used to revitalize classical music and make it more accessible and approachable by proving that it’s not all black-tie affairs and high-society living.
Theme Music Composer
Daryl Banner is a full-time author and composer who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston Honors College with a degree in Theatre and Psychology. During his time in college, he wrote, composed, and produced a musical under Tony Award-winning musical and Theatre producer Stuart Ostrow, as well as two original plays produced under the mentorship of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson. He toured briefly with an original musical Country Gravy & Other Obsessions to which he also contributed songs and performed. He composes companion soundtracks for the book series he writes, and also has written the music for video games and short films. He composed the score to several audio dramas by New York City-based visionary Jordan Cobb, including “Here Be Dragons” and “Primordial Deep”, as well as the award-winning “Janus Descending”, for which his score and main theme won an Audioverse award.
In order for you to be successful, all you have to do is be proud of what you put into your craft. This is one of the great pieces of advice that composer Juan Pablo Contreras lives by every day writing music. Juan Pablo is a Latin Grammy-nominated composer and Universal Music recording artist who has combined his love of Western classical music and Mexican folk music to formulate his own unique style of writing.
The world of music doesn’t always have to be black and white. Genres of music don’t always have to remain individualized and separate, and composers are not required to stick to writing a specific genre of music. Alan Theisen, a composer, saxophonist, author, and educator, is a man who appreciates all types of music and uses his background to meld genres of music that would often never be considered together, encouraging the new music community to be the best it can be.
It’s no secret that Pierre Boulez led a double life as a composer and conductor. Kevin Fitzgerald, a conductor in his own right, has looked up to Boulez as his hero, and he shares his knowledge about the man and his career from the eyes of a conductor.
When we hear the name George Gershwin, we often associate it with jazz or musical theater, but he didn’t see himself that way. He saw himself as a standard composer of his time and influenced by the sounds around him. So what does that mean for his opera Porgy and Bess? Or is it a Broadway musical?
From the United Kingdom, then to the United States, and and now Singapore, media composer Pearl Yim has seen great success with her music all across the world. Pearl talks about her experience in the fields of film and video game composing and the struggles she faced in order to get where she is today.
Music, much like any art form, has been a staple in nearly every culture for thousands of years. We often forget where these arts have their roots, and to better understand the music of the last few hundred years, we must go back even further… no matter how grim.
The warm, rich tones produced by the cello have been a siren to many composers, calling them to compose for the instrument whether or not it was in their best interest to do so. Cellist Steven Chen gives his professional knowledge and opinion on the cello and the pieces written for it!
In the first drafts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, there is a name that appeared as the subtitle before it was scribbled out and changed to ‘Eroica’. Originally Beethoven dedicated this symphony to his personal hero, a man who would soon instigate his own demise when he crowned himself Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Brooks Leibee has dedicated much of his career to the art of film making. However, it is his scores for those films that he is most proud of. In this episode, Brooks shares his journey and gives deeper insight into his world.
Coming off of the success of his first two operas, young Erich Wolfgang Korngold set out to write his third. His success was so massive, that opera houses all over duked it out for the rights to stage the premier, leaving Korngold with the tough decision of who to give those rights to.
Have you ever tried recalling a tune from a film you love and have a hard time remembering what it is? Or, have you been so mesmerized by a tune that you’ll never forget it in all your days? Ben Morales Frost, a composer of film scores, is a strong advocate for the use of melody in film music. In this episode, Ben talks about some of his own film scores as well as some of his favorites that have inspired him.
The world of opera isn’t all glitz and glam. Opera maker Evan Kassof has dedicated his life to telling stories in a way that gives audiences a chance to step out of the opera house and potentially stumble upon something new in an unsuspecting place. Evan voices his opinions about the opera world of the past and how he is actively pushing the art in a direction that gives more people the chance to see the artform in a brand new light.
Mother Goose has been a staple in many a child’s life. Her tales of magic and adventure inspire wonder, and even in adulthood, her stories touch us. They certainly were of great importance to Maurice Ravel, who wrote a piano suite using several fairytales, and was so touched by them that he orchestrated them and then turned it into a ballet.
Trevor Kowalski, an American composer based in Los Angeles, uses his years of training in various styles of music to compose for a wide variety of projects, collaborating with award-winning filmmakers, international game developers, theater directors, and various arrangements of ensembles. Trevor has been a part of The Composer Chronicles since day one; his music uploaded to the library Epidemic Sound has been in the background of many of these episodes. After sharing his unique career, Trevor talks about the beauty of music by American composers and their influence on his own sound.
When Ralph Vaughan Williams was rummaging through old hymnals, he discovered a tune by a composer of England’s past Thomas Tallis. This simple tune would inspire Vaughan Williams to write a work for string quartet and double string orchestra, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. In creating this piece he melded two worlds together, the modern with the old, clearing the dust from a long forgotten tune and bringing it to new heights.
The music of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, IV: Oblivion, and V: Skyrim turned the tides of video game music composing. Their music sets the tone for the magical worlds that the heroes of Tamriel explore in these vast fantasy games, and musicologist Andrew Shaw has been able to draw narrative connections between the three games with just the music alone.
Every piece of music Anton Bruckner ever wrote was dedicated to God, and his Symphony No. 9 was no exception. What is strange though is that it almost seems as if Bruckner knew that he would be leaving this symphony unfinished.
Sometimes one road leads us down another that we never expected to find ourselves wandering on. British composer Barnaby Martin has been active in the music world since a young age, but it wasn’t until later in life that his career as a composer led him to becoming a prominent video essayist on his YouTube channel Listening In.
William Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy of two star-crossed lovers has been one of the most frequently adapted stories for musical purposes. Composers, such Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Gounod, Berlioz, and even Duke Ellington, have been touched by its heart-wrenching tale since its creation, and this episode gives you a look into the many musical reincarnations of Shakespeare’s young lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
Petrushka, Igor Stavinksy’s second ballet, is a tragic tale of a living puppet who is treated like a mere toy and brought to the point of madness. Ironically, such a sad tale brought Stravinsky a great deal of success, especially after the triumph that was his previous ballet The Firebird. However, there’s a more you do not know, hidden behind the curtain.
The day architect and artist Viktor Hartmann died was a sad one. It was especially hard for composer Modest Mussorgsky, who’s opera Boris Godunov was one of Hartmann’s favorite works. After an exhibition of Hartmann’s art, Mussorgsky was moved to write a piano suite based on his experience there. This episode features Izaac and KC from the podcast Notes & Strokes. Together, we explore this piano masterpiece and the art that one may have seen at the exhibition.
During his most active years as a member of the Theosophical Society, Alexander Scriabin aimed to follow a spirit on it journey to the Time of Ecstasy via a three-hundred line poem that would eventually be set to music, Le Poème de l’extase (Symphony No. 4).
American composer J. M. Gerraughty imparts to listeners that the path to becoming a composer is sometimes the road less traveled. He shares the struggles of trying to maintain balance between working a full time job, raising a family, and keeping up with promoting his work on social media, but composition is always there as a creative outlet for him. Sometimes the passion is all the reason to keep doing what we love.
How far are you willing to go to get you want? Dame Ethel Smyth was determined to get her opera The Wreckers produced the way that she wanted. Although the opera was written in French, she had no luck with being able to premiere the opera on French stages, relying on her contacts in Leipzig to get the opera produce in a German translation, but future productions of the opera would only get more and more difficult to produce.
A Requiem, a Catholic Mass of the Dead, is typically written by a composer when someone is dying or in remembrance of someone who has already died; however, Gabriel Fauré wrote his Requiem for no one, altering it to be a Requiem of peace rather than fear.
In the darkest times, we all need something we can turn to for guidance and peace. During one of the most difficult times of his life, Francis Poulenc turned towards his spirituality and the Roman Catholic church and embedding his faith into his opera he was composing at the time, Dialogues des Carmélites.
This time of year, our ears are filled with the sounds of holiday music on repeat, but do we know where they came from? This Christmas Eve, enjoy the origins and histories of some of the world’s most famous Christmas songs and carols, including “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” “O Tannenbaum,” “Silent Night,” and “O Holy Night.”
Yury Tynyanov’s fictitious adaptation of a non-existent lieutenant who rises through the ranks of a true historical emperor of Russia was brilliantly adapted for film by the Soviet film director Aleksandr Faintsimmer. Today, this film, Lieutenant Kijé, has fallen to the wayside, but composer Sergei Prokofiev’s ingenious score for the film has certainly persisted and remains as one of the most popular concert suites performed in concerts today.
British composer and orchestrator Dani Howard shares her brilliant story of becoming a composer whilst describing what it’s like to be a composer of New Music who is trying to reshape the genre and make it more accessible to audiences all around the world. Featured Piece: CoalescenceProvided to the podcast by the composer. Recorded by […]
Convinced that his opera Vakula the Smith was going to prove that he wasn’t a flop, Tchaikovsky did everything he could to ensure that a production of his “precious child” would follow through and be a success, even if he had to make major changes and rename it to Cherevichki.
There’s something very unique about a Disney song. Why is it that all around the world, you could ask someone to just sing a song from any Disney movie? What makes a Disney score and soundtrack so unique from other production companies and studios? Composer Andrew Gavin and host Stephen Trygar attempt to answer these […]
Suffering physically and mentally from having contracted syphilis, Franz Schubert set out on a journey to write a piece that would not only be one of his greatest achievements, but would reveal to the world all the pain and suffering he endured for the last years of his life.
New York-based Israeli composer Michael Seltenreich tells his fascinating story while we discuss his music, compositional processes, and what it’s like to be a composer of new music.
Robert Schumann poured his life and soul into his piano suite Carnaval. Rather than letting the world see the man behind the mask, Schumann embedded several cryptic messages and secrets into the piece and hid the identities of the many characters that are depicted throughout the work.
Gamers, get ready for an adventure into the musical world of Final Fantasy X! The magic cast by composers Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, and Junya Nakano certainly charmed Brian Edwards, the guest of today’s episode. Brian is a video editor and a motion graphics designer, and years of playing the game have given him tremendous insight into the influence of the music on Final Fantasy X’s gameplay.
Happy Halloween! Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa was a mysterious man who was haunted by the crimes committed in his youth. His position as prince held him above the law, and he abused his power, isolating himself from the world with only his music to comfort him.
London-based film, television, and theater composer Ben Morales Frost reveals what its like to work as a composer for both film and theater and acknowledges the hardships that all creative professions faced during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Daryl Banner, a self-trained composer with a unique repertoire, unravels his unique career as a composer while maintaining his status of being one of the best M/M Romance writers of our time.
Today’s episode is Part 2 of a two part episode sharing the decline and revitalization of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff’s career. Today’s episode picks back up after Rachmaninoff’s slink into depression due to the travesty that was the premiere of his Symphony No. 1 Thanks to the help of Dr. Nikolai Dahl, and the composition and successful premiere of his Piano Concerto No. 2, he managed to help himself out of that depression.
Today’s episode is Part 1 of a two part episode sharing the decline and revitalization of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff’s career. Today’s episode will center around Rachmaninoff’s slink into depression after the travesty that was the premiere of his Symphony No. 1 while next week’s episode will shed some light on how he managed to […]
Today’s episode features opera singer Erica Wilens. She and Stephen chat about where opera is now compared to what it used to be and why it’s not as elitist as it is perceived to be. Erica provides additional insight as to what the art of opera looks like from the perspective of the singers and the best composers of opera from the singers’ standpoint.
Scott Joplin considered his opera Treemonisha one of his greatest works, but audiences of the time didn’t feel the same. As a result, the opera never premiered until decades after it was finished. Theme music is by Daryl Banner: https://darylbanner.bandcamp.com/ Join me and an incredible, growing community living healthier lifestyles in a body positive space with […]
In this first installment of “Composers of Our Modern World”, I talk to Andrew Gavin about his journey to becoming a composer, his composition process, and the struggles of getting works of New Music performed.
While it is speculated that Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich began writing his Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 before the Nazi German armies began bombarding the city of Leningrad, there is no doubt that his accomplishments, and the accomplishments of the musicians of Leningrad, loosened the hinges of the Nazi army and helped […]
Crowds filled the streets around the old Schwarzenberg Palace, desperate to hear Franz Joseph Haydn’s new oratorio, The Creation. The premiere was a private performance, and those allowed inside must have an invitation or they would be turned away. Inside, the audience would become so enthralled by Haydn’s music, that they could have sworn they saw light shoot out of the composers eyes and they would go about their daily lives for days thinking only about the performance with stars in their eyes.
Samuel Barber’s first major commission was an absolute success, but the journey to that success was more than rocky… it was a fiasco!
In today’s episode, I interview my brother Matthew Trygar who is an actor and a film maker. We’ll talk about why music is so important in movies, some reasons that film makers might use classical music rather than a pop or rock tune, and the aesthetic that classical music has when portrayed in the movies.
Bluebeard’s Castle’s haunting tale is just the surface of this psychological thriller, and while some modern productions don’t follow the original staging to a “t”, there are plenty of directors who jump at the chance to re-imagine this dark and sinister work. This episode will explore both the history behind Bartók’s only opera and all the creepy details that elevate this opera to horrific standards.
As a young boy, Richard Strauss went on a hiking trip to an Alpine mountaintop. Years later, his final tone poem would be inspired by this trip, the death of his dear friend and colleague Gustav Mahler, and the philosophies of Frederic Nietzsche. This piece was the focal point for several aspects of his life, and once he reached the summit of his career, he could return what felt most natural to him, home.
Edward Elgar’s Variation on an Original Theme (a.k.a. Enigma Variations) is one of the most mysterious and puzzling pieces of music of all time. Using a theme he referred to as “the Enigma”, he depicts thirteen of his closest friends as if they were taking a stab at cracking the code. One in particular was given the chance to truly solve the case, but she never figured it out.
One of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s greatest operatic achievements, Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) may not have been possible without the approval of Emperor Joseph II of Austria. The play it was based on by Pierre Beaumarchais was banned from theaters all around the world for its radical political statements and the poor outlook on aristocracy. Fortunately for audiences today, Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, managed to cut enough scandalous material to set and stage an opera.
Wagner’s final opera took him nearly 25 years to compose, but in the end it was completely worth the wait. It quickly became one of the most sought after operas to perform, but Wagner, his estate, and the authorities of his opera house, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, had different plans for it.
Commissioned by the Finnish government and inspired by the migration of swans, Jean Sibelius would create one of his most important works. It was not only important musically, but for how significant it played a role in Sibelius’ life.
Hector Berlioz’s unhealthy infatuation with Irish actress Harriet Smithson and failed engagement with Marie Moke sent the composer into a state of mind that nearly killed him several times… and his life wasn’t the only one on the line.
Debussy dreamed about composing a theatrical work that was as mysterious and reserved as the life he contrived for himself. When a play by Maurice Maeterlinck came along, titled Pelléas et Mélisande, his dream would become a reality.
Igor Stravinsky’s commission to write The Firebird would be the break that the young composer had been looking for. After the ballet’s premiere, he became an immediate celebrity, and it not only secured his place as a composer for the Ballets Russes, but as a respected and beloved international figure.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s early relationship with his wife, Antonina Milyukova, and the first stages of creating Eugene Onegin share a spot in the composers life. The two events influenced each other, and it would leave Tchaikovsky wondering where he had gone wrong.