Last modification: 9/24/98
Who is who?
This page of mine is devoted to
MIDI music. I
am mainly interested in 20th century "academic" music. You are invited to read the glossary or my views on the
history of music and my essay on the music styles and tell
me what you think about this.
None of the material on this page, including MIDI files, is
copyrighted, it is all in public domain. If you make an improved version of one of the files, I'll be happy to put it up here as well.
MIDI Resources on the Web
in no particular order
- Take a look at the Pierre
R. Schwob's Index of Classical MIDI Files containing lots and lots of
indexed and organized classical music. This has been the first such collection on the Web. Not all of the files are of good quality though, and the choice of music is rather conservative.
- Another classical music collection, organized by Faren Raborn. Generally good quality and a wide choice of music (especially modern).
- I have a sad suspicion that Faren's MIDI site might actually be his last work in this world. It was last updated on October 13, 1996, and nobody was able to contact him since then, even when the web server crashed and they were looking for him. Also his home computer with the whole MIDI collection seems to have been sold. In the preceding months many of Faren's relatives suddenly died. I really wish to be mistaken...
- However, the site was recently revived by Les Winters, all files gathered by Faren were recovered and more are being added every week.
- Robert Finley's page -- listen to the real-time piano MIDI recordings of great quality; mostly romantic and late romantic music, some symphonic sequences as well.
- Classical MIDI Resource, originally Ron Lubetsky's site, now supported by Steve Mitchell. A collection of high quality MIDI files, wide coverage of musical styles.
- MIDI center in Japan: A. Kanda, M. Yaskawa, K. Oguri (recommended), and others - not a big collection of MIDI files but has some interesting offerings.
- Les Winters's MIDI world - mostly "wide audience" classics, with some exceptions. The site also holds a large collection of jazz, recommended.
- Ken Livingston's MIDI page - organ music orchestrated.
- Sound Canvas Pipe Organ Project - some interesting organ music, although not General MIDI compatible.
MIDI files made by myself
I make MIDI files on my PC using things like a weighted piano keyboard (Yamaha Clavinova CLP123). I use live recording technique for piano music, that is, for the music I can actually play :) and step recording followed by extensive tempo editing by hand for organ music.
- The organ pieces below are sequenced in an "orchestrated organ" technique I developed. In this technique, each voice is assigned simultaneously to several instruments (such as flute, trumpet, or choir) which then play in unison, imitating the mixing of stops in a real pipe organ. I have not used any of the "organ" MIDI patches because I think they don't really sound like an organ. The result depends on the MIDI module you are using, YMMV, and you are free to remap the patches to your liking.
- I would be interested to hear your comments on this. [The email address is a bit garbled, so please clean it up before emailing me :]
Max Reger (1873-1915) was a German composer and organist of the late romantic school. His organ music is overly complicated and somewhat hard to listen to (and of course hard to play); his organ style is heavily influenced by Bach, but is nevertheless original; for one thing, his favorite minor key was D minor, not Bach's C minor :)
- Fantasie und Fuge op. 135b in D minor.
Have a listen of his last organ opus, the Fantasie and Fuge op. 135b in D minor (published in 1916), arguably one of Reger's best organ pieces. In my opinion it expresses the most interesting features of his style, among them a constant juxtaposition of the epic and the personal, realized by a contrast of wrenching tuttis and quiet recitativos.
The rumor is that Reger first showed the piece to his friend and a renowned organist Karl Straube, who then suggested to remove the unnecessary complexity from the piece so that it could actually be played by two hands and two feet.
New versions of the Fantasie and the
Fuge prepared with help of Alexey Bogdanow may
sound better. Updated 4/99
- Weihnachnten-Fantasie in D minor (Christmas fantasy from a series of choral fantasies op. 145, no. 3). updated 6/20/98
A version more suitable for Roland Sound Canvas, prepared with much assistance from Alexei Bogdanow.updated 9/21/98
This piece is built on Reger's arrangements of several Christmas carols, with a typical Reger-esque dynamic range from PPPP to Organo pleno. It ends by a romantic harmonization of "Stille Nacht" ("Silent night") beautifully interwoven with the choral melody of "Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich her". One of my favorite pieces, and not too difficult to play either. :)
Marcel Dupré (1882 -- 1971) was a French composer, virtuoso
organist and improvisateur. He once performed all of Bach's organ music from
memory (!) in a series of concerts. His music is a mix of impressionism, late romanticism and a little baroque, in a perceptibly 20th century harmonic setting.
- "In Dulci Jubilo"
A nice Christmas choral (from the op. 79 collection) by Marcel Dupré. I haven't been able to find the score but I wanted to play the piece, so I sequenced it by ear from a CD recording I have.
- Three organ preludes and fugues op. 7 (published in 1920) by Marcel
Dupré, from which I have the preludes: no. 1 in B
major (updated 2/13/99), no. 2
in f minor and no. 3 in g minor.
This youthful, impressionist opus (ca. 1910) exhibits Dupré's early virtuoso style. The light, fleeting texture of the music and the accompanying lyricism are easily appreciated. In his later works, Dupré developed a considerably less transparent harmonic language.
Maurice Duruflé (1902 -- 1986) was a French organ virtuoso who had also studied composition under Paul Dukas. His output comprises only about a dozen pieces mostly for the organ, of which the most widely known is the Requiem Op. 9 for choir and organ or orchestra where he created a satisfying mixture of impressionistic harmonic language of the 20th century with the traditional Gregorian chant. All of his organ pieces exhibit much the same stylistic features and demand an extraordinary technique.
- Sicilienne from the Organ Suite Op. 5
An exquisite lyrical interlude contrasting with the somber tones of the Prelude and the tumultous Toccata. The quiet, pastoral tones of the Sicilienne together with Durufle's trademark impressionistic idiom make a fairy-tale like impression.
- Toccata from the Organ Suite Op. 5
This highly dramatic and powerful Finale would have been a showpiece frequently heard in recitals, were it not for its formidable technical difficulty.
Olivier Messiaen (1908 -- 1992) was a relatively well-known French composer and organist. His organ music usually has a tonal focus, but sometimes lacks a fixed meter and is heavily dissonant. Most of his output is based on religious and mystical themes.
- Le Banquet Céleste
This is one of the earliest organ pieces Messiaen wrote. It still has tonality and meter, but one can already hear Messiaen's trademark harmonic progressions.
- Apparition de l'Eglise éternelle (Vision of the Eternal Church)
I haven't entered much tempo variation here...
- Diptyque: Essai sur la vie terrestre et l'éternité bienheureuse (Essay on life on earth and on blissful eternity)
- Part I: of life on earth, with all its fruitless agitation
- Part II: of Paradise
A monumental creation dedicated to Messiaen's teachers, Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas. In the first part, Messiaen used one of Dupré's favorite techniques, that of playing harmonically unrelated chords in quick succession, to convey an image of frantic activity. The second part (which should be played immediately after the first) is typical of Messiaen's own slow, meditative style and harmonic language. Messiaen reused the music in the final slow movement of his Quartet for the End of Time.
- La Nativité du Seigneur (nine meditations for organ)
- VI -- "Les Anges"
The play of the angels of light. Updated 5/97
- Les Corps Glorieux (seven brief visions of the life of a resurrected)
- I -- "Subtilité des corps glorieux"
The piece opens a grand cycle devoted to the Heavens, and introduces most of the musical themes to be developed later on. The listener is confronted by the single voice, serene and unmoveable, and finds oneself baffled by the inscrutable message.
- VII -- "Le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité"
The piece ends the cycle. Three voices are heard: one deep, another soaring high, and the third in the human range. With the obvious symbolism, they weave a complex, mysterious pattern.
- Here you can find some interesting piano music that I sequenced. Most of it is recorded on the Yamaha Clavinova digital piano, and the volume ("velocity") of individual notes may not sound quite right on another synthesizer. For some files, I made the "General MIDI" versions which are the same realtime recordings except that I transformed the velocities of individual notes to make them sound better on an average wavetable card. Hopefully they do. :)
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. His work was romantic and impressionist throughout, although his style became fairly avant-garde in his late years. I put his works in chronological order, so you can appreciate the extent of change in Scriabin's musical language during his short creative life.
A note about some of the Scriabin pieces below: the files marked as "MIDI scores" don't generally sound well and are intended for studying or printing of the scores. Listen to a real CD quality recording or to a "performance" MIDI to appreciate the music.
- Etude op. 8 #4 in B major.
This is a prime example of Scriabin's "early" style. Languorous and haunting, with
fine shades of light and color and peculiar polyrhythmic texture (5-to-3
and 5-to-4), the piece is one of my favorites (and relatively easy to play,
- Etude op. 8 #10 in D flat major.
an improved MIDI score Updated 4/97
A lucidly chromatic staccato study. The right hand plays nothing but major thirds throughout the piece. As a result, the listeners must strain their ears to decipher the chromatic chaos. Scriabin later used the same technique in his Etudes op. 65, but with more dissonant major 7th and 9th intervals.
- Etude op. 8 no. 12 in D# minor.
Performance (by D. Stigliani), MIDI score
A favorite encore of Vladimir Horowitz, this brilliant masterpiece is one
of the few well-known pieces by Scriabin. The dramatic leitmotif and moving
recitative of the solo in the upper voices on the chordal background is
characteristic for Scriabin's early creations.
- Prelude op. 13 no. 1 in C major. This is one of Scriabin's early preludes written in 1895. Updated 6/97
- Prelude op. 15 no. 2 in F# minor. One hears a very Chopinesque liricism and piano technique in this short piece.
- Mazurkas op. 25. The 9 Mazurkas were written in the late romantic style.
- [no. 3 in E minor] [no. 9 in Eb minor]
- Poème op. 32 no. 1 in F# major (for General MIDI and Clavinova). Quite a harmonically advanced piece written in early 1900s; the music is full of a decadent, lazy languor. This is the first piece I sequenced using my new piano, so (I hope) it is expressive enough. I am not a good pianist, but at least I tried.
- Mazurka op. 40 no. 2 Updated 4/97
- Etude op. 42 no. 1 in Db major. Performance MIDI score Updated 3/98
The first of Scriabin's piano studies from op. 42. This rather
happy piece (although not without an obligatory tinge of languor)
radiates light and exuberance; note also Scriabin's typical rhythmic
craziness (this one has 9-to-5 and 9-to-6 polyrhythmic patterns).
- Etude op. 42 no. 5 in c# minor.
Performance (by D. Stigliani), MIDI score
This piece is full of dramatic lyricism, it was another one of the favorite
encores of Vladimir Horowitz. This is probably the most emotionally moving
and at the same time the most technically difficult study in Scriabin's
- Etude op. 42 no. 6 in Db major.
MIDI score Clavinova performance 05/97
This piece drowns the listener in languorous and sometimes frenetic
exuberance (the composer's remark is Esaltato). There is again a polyrhythmic orgy, with 5-to-3 and 5-to-4 note groups throughout the whole piece.
- Fragilité (op. 51 no. 1) in Eb major [General MIDI] [Clavinova]
The tingling raindrops of this exquisite piece are mesmerizing. Languor, languor, and more languor.
- From Troix Morceaux op. 52: no. 1, Poème
- Poème op. 59 no. 1 Updated 5/97
The two poèmes signify a landmark in the composer's stylistic idiom. Starting from op. 57, Scriabin abandons the obligatory tonal chord at the end of the piece and seems to accepts a dissonant harmony as an endpoint which does not require resolution. He also drops the key signature in scores (i.e. adopts the "nominal C major") while the tonal foundations of his pieces become rather uncertain.
The poèmes share a dreamy, serene character. The first one, still close to being in C major, suggests a state of somewhat somber rumination or remembrance which suddenly bursts into an almost desperate flurry of action. The second piece sounds like a play of descending raindrops which mysteriousy resolve into a spacious arpeggio. Its companion, the Prelude op. 59 no. 2 (played by D. Stigliani), is a completely atonal, savage wartime scene, a preparation for the forceful dissonances of Scriabin's late sonatas.
- Deux Poèmes op. 63: Masque, Etrangeté.
The pieces are written in Scriabin's late style: ambiguous, dissonant harmonies, no key signatures, but with some remnants of tonal relations. A common element is a feeling of a strange, enigmatic serenity, which suddenly bursts into action. The first piece is a concentrated attempt to resolve the mystery of the masque. The dominant mood of the second piece seems to be a delicate and at the same time threatening playfulness.
- Prelude op. 67 no. 2
MIDI score (unknown sequencer) 07/97
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was a Russian composer who worked during the most oppresive years of the Communist regime. The ruling powers heavily criticized his work and forced him to move his style in a more conventional direction as a matter of professional survival. Much of his music alternates between a sarcastic view of the prescribed hypocritical optimism and introverted, depressive moods of an individual crushed by the oppressive regime.
Misc. piano music
- Two-part Inventions no. 1 and no. 2, by Evgeni Kissin (MIDI score)
These Bach-like pieces were written by the famous young pianist Evgeni Kissin (b. 1971) at the age of 12, perhaps as a composition exercise. They are most probably unpublished, and I sequenced them by ear from a live CD recording of his early concerts in Moscow, where he played the Inventions as encores. According to what I know, Evgeni Kissin currently lives in the US. He was offered an British citizenship through some English Lord Kissin who happened to be his very distant relative, but apparently he refused because of family reasons. When he was still a Russian citizen but already lived abroad, a Russian military draft notice was sent to him through the Russian Embassy in London (where he was at the time).
Force, by Nikolai Kapustin (MIDI score)
This is a "cool jazz"-style toccata. Kapustin is a contemporary Russian
composer who writes mostly jazz music for the piano. The torn rhythms,
caleidoscopic harmony and relentless motion of this piece makes one
dizzy. I sequenced it a little bit slower than the composer's tempo
(Presto, MM half=132) to make it easier to listen to.
- Toccata op. 11 by
Sergei Prokofiev (MIDI score)
An example of the early Prokofiev (1891-1953),
this piece was written in the period when he was trying to shock the
audience as well as express himself. Listen to this piece when you have the
"let the world go to hell" mood.
- Listen to a short early piece, March
op. 3 (mp3 file)
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