May 15 – Sicilienne by Maria Theresia von Paradis

Born in Vienna on this day in 1759, pianist, singer and composer Maria Theresia von Paradis was blind from the age of 2. Her most famous composition, the Sicilienne posted here (originally for piano quartet), is now thought to have been composed by Samuel Dushkin, a composer himself who claimed to have found the work. Regardless of its origins, it is a poignant melody and a beautiful addition to the flute repertoire.
Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute and C
Recorded by Jeff Francis

May 17 – Gymnopédie 1 by Erik Satie

Erik Satie, born on this day in 1866, published his set of Gymnopédies for piano in 1888 in Paris. In contrast to the displays of virtuosity often exhibited by 19th-century piano music, these pieces are decided simple and tranquil. The precise meaning of the title is uncertain except for a poem by Contamine published alongside the first Gymnopédie which includes the lines “…amber atoms in the fire gleaming/Mingled their sarabande with the gymnopaedia.”

May 23 – Notturno by Jean Françaix

Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute and Winifred Goodwin, piano
Recorded by John Epps

French composer Jean Françaix was born on this day in 1912. His parents were both professional musicians and he showed an early and prodigious talent. As a young child, he began composition lessons with famed teacher Nadia Boulanger, who considered him to be one of her best students. None other than Maurice Ravel wrote to the young child’s parents, Among the child’s gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity.This sense of wonder, play and humor is evident throughout Francaix’s entire output. He was also a wonderful melodist, as heard here in the Notturno from his Divertimento for Flute and Piano (1953).

May 29 – Andalouse by Émile Pessard

Émile Pessard was born on this day in 1843. Pessard was mainly known for his operas and masses and the Andalouse certainly employs the composer’s familiar, singing style. The piece was originally written as part of a collection of 25 works for piano but lends itself easily to performances that include a soloist playing the beautiful melody. The title probably refers to the Andalucia region of southern Spain.
Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley
Recorded by Jeff Francis