Normally the Classics a Day theme for May involved May Day (#SovietaDay). Having a theme centered around social distancing/self-quarantine seemed more appropriate. The challenge for May is post works for unusual solo instruments or works about solitude.
05/18/20 Anon. 14th C. – Medieval dance
The hurdy-gurdy was originally developed to accompany church and monastery choirs in the Middle Ages. While a popular Renaissance instrument, after 1600 it was used mainly for folk music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) – Adagio for glass harmonica
Creating sound by rubbing fingers on partially-filled glasses is nothing new. Benjamin Franklin’s mechanical version was. And for a very brief time, composers wrote music for it.
05/20/20 John Cage (1912-1992) – Suite for Toy Piano
Playing a toy piano in a classical concert may sound silly. But Cage took the instrument seriously and wrote his suite accordingly.
05/21/20 Garrett Hecker – Three Pieces for Four Timpani
Hecker’s 2020 work references Elliot Carter’s “Eight Pieces for Four Timpani” (with original material added).
05/22/20 Stephen W. Beatty – 1044
The heckelphone was invented by Wilhelm Heckel in 1879. This double reed instrument sounds an octave lower than an oboe, and is so heavy it rests on a support peg — like a cello.