Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

A signed photograph of Shostakovich

Music History Monday: A Very Dangerous Opera

January 22nd, 2018

84 years ago today – on January 22, 1934 – Dmitri Shostakovich’s second opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, received its premiere in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and opened two days later in Moscow. Lady Macbeth was, from day one, a smash hit. It was declared a masterpiece, the best Russian opera since Musorgsky; one… 

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Robert Greenberg Music

Robert Greenberg’s The Great Courses Available for Direct Download!

January 15th, 2018

Dr. Robert Greenberg, best selling creator of audio and video courses for The Teaching Company/The Great Courses since 1993, is now offering those courses for direct download, right here on RobertGreenbergMusic.com! These courses are crafted and produced for lifelong learners and offer a learning experience that goes far beyond anything that can be achieved merely… 

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Robert Schumann in 1839

Music History Monday: The Compositional Jag

January 8th, 2018

On January 8, 1843 – 175 years ago today – Robert Schumann’s magnificent Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44 received its public premiere in the Saxon city of Leipzig. Dedicated to his wife, the pianist Clara Wieck Schumann, the quintet was written during what can only be called a manic, three-year compositional jag. Check… 

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Johann Christian Bach

Music History Monday: Like Father, Like Son

January 1st, 2018

236 years ago today – on January 1, 1782 – Johann Christian Bach died in London at the age of 47. The youngest surviving son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach (who himself had died 32 years before, in 1750), J. C. Bach attained a level of fame and respect in his lifetime that was… 

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Richard and Cosima Wagner

Music History Monday: A Gift to Music

December 25th, 2017

On Christmas day of 1870 – 147 years ago today – Richard Wagner’s twenty minute-long instrumental tone poem Siegfried Idyll received its premiere under circumstances to be discussed below. Originally scored for a chamber orchestra of 13 players (flute, oboe, two clarinets, bassoon, two horns, trumpet, two violins, viola, cello and bass), Wagner expanded the… 

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Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 Premiere

Music History Monday: The Show Will Go On!

December 18th, 2017

On December 18, 1962 – 55 years ago today – Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 received its premiere in Moscow. It was a premiere that almost didn’t take place, one that did indeed take place even though officially it did not really take place! Here’s what happened Joseph Stalin – the “great leader and teacher”… 

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Music History Monday: Not So Happily-Ever-After

December 11th, 2017

On this day in 1721 – 296 years ago – Johann Sebastian Bach’s employer, the 27 year-old Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen married the 19 year-old Friederica Henrietta of Anhalt-Bernburg. It was, for Bach, the final nail in the coffin lid of what had once been his dream job: that of Kapellmeister (master-of-music) for the court… 

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violinist Josif Kotek and Tchaikovsky

Music History Monday: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major

December 4th, 2017

136 years ago today – on December 4, 1881 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major received its premiere in Vienna. It was performed by the violinist Adolf Brodsky and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Hans Richter. The concerto is, in my humble opinion, Tchaikovsky’s single greatest work and one of a… 

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Friedrich Nietzsche

Music History Monday: Strauss, Nietzsche, Zarathustra and Stanley

November 27th, 2017

121 years ago today – on November 27, 1896 – Richard Strauss conducted the premiere performance of his sprawling orchestral tone poem Thus Spoke Zarathustra in Frankfurt. A momentary if gratuitous diversion… Over the course of the first half of my musical life I played a lot of gigs, both in bands and as a… 

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Gustav Mahler in the foyer of the Vienna State Opera, 1907

Music History Monday: “The Song of the Earth”

November 20th, 2017

106 years ago today – on November 20, 1911 – Gustav Mahler’s magnificent Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) received its premiere in Munich under the baton of Mahler’s conductorial protégé, Bruno Walter. The house was packed for the premiere; among the audience were the composers Alban Berg and Anton Webern.… 

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