Luther College Chips

James Griesheimer: Considering concertos

James+Griesheimer+explains+the+common+components+of+concertos+at+Arthaus.
James Griesheimer explains the common components of concertos at Arthaus.

James Griesheimer explains the common components of concertos at Arthaus.

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips

James Griesheimer explains the common components of concertos at Arthaus.

Cara Keith, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Known for being a walking encyclopedia of music history a former Luther College music professor and musicologist James Griesheimer gave a presentation titled “Mozart at His Most Personal: The Piano Concerto” on Saturday, April 28th at Arthaus.

In his presentation, Griesheimer provided background about Mozart’s life as a musician and then analyzed the different themes in Mozart’s piano concertos.

This lecture is one of many in a series titled “Arts Off Campus” which is designed to bring the research and expertise of Luther College faculty to the community of Decorah. This makes this information more accessible. In his lecture, Griesheimer focused on demonstrating how different aspects of Mozart’s life influenced his piano concertos as well as describing the way that the concertos are organized.

One concerto that Griesheimer focused heavily on was “Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-Flat Major, K. 450”. Griesheimer provided a handout that had the melody of six important themes written on a musical staff so that audience members could visualize what they were hearing.

“The reason I chose to play this one is because it’s one of the most complex of the concertos,” Griesheimer said during the lecture. “The first movement is really an eye-crosser. It’s got all kind of things going on in it. Also, the typical format for a first movement in a classical period is the sonata form and this sonata form is kind of a showcase form.”

In his lecture, Griesheimer explained key musical terms before playing Mozart’s music so the audience would what to listen for. This allowed the audience members to learn new information about Mozart’s concertos and immediately apply it to an example.

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips
Harleigh Boldridge (‘18) listens to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz speak at the Gjerset House.

One specific musical term that drew the audience’s attention was the word “cadenza” and how the cadenza functioned in Mozart’s concertos.

“One feature of this form, which we call concerto-sonata or sonata-concerto, is that somewhere towards the end there will be an extended solo passage we call cadenza,” Griesheimer said. “You can tell when a cadenza’s coming because it builds up like a sneeze and there’s a big pause and the orchestra falls silent and the pianist wails or the trumpet player or whoever.”

Although this lecture delved into the specifics of Mozart’s concertos, Bridget Carruth (‘21) still thought that the lecture was engaging for those who do not have a strong interest in music.

“I really enjoyed listening to his presentation even though I didn’t know much about the subject matter he was presenting on,” Carruth said. “You could tell how passionate he was about Mozart as he spoke and he even got slightly emotional at certain parts of the lecture. I feel like I know a lot more about Mozart now than I did before the presentation.”

During his time at Luther, Griesheimer was known for being passionate and extremely knowledgeable about music history. Professor of Music Edwin Andereck is a friend of Griesheimer and recalled how easily Griesheimer could remember certain dates in music history.

“His wife told me that when they’re in the grocery store, whatever the total of the bill is, Jim can tell you what happened on that day,” Andereck said. “If the amount was $15.21, he could easily recall that 1521 was the year that the composer Ludwig Senfl was active.”

Griesheimer has remained in Decorah after retiring from Luther and continues to impact the community with his knowledge about music in similar events.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

One Response to “James Griesheimer: Considering concertos”

  1. Thomas Getchius '05 on May 9th, 2018 12:31 pm

    What a great article highlighting the brilliance, intellect, and passion of Dr. Greisheimer! I wish the lecture would have been recorded so I could glean some insights into the workings of Mozart’s piano concertos.

The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa