Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Sergei Prokofiev in New York in 1918

Music History Monday: One of a Kind!

April 23rd, 2018

On April 23, 1891 – 127 years ago today – the composer and pianist Sergei Prokofiev was born in the village of Sontsovka, in Ukraine. He was, very simply, one of a kind: a brilliant, tungsten-steel-fingered pianist; a great composer; and one of the most irksome and narcissistic artists ever to ply his trade (no… 

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The Break It Down Show

Music History Monday: The Break It Down Show

April 16th, 2018

April 16 is one of those dates during which pretty much nothing of interest happened by way of music history. Now please, that’s not to say that nothing happened on this date. For example, on April 16, 1954, Roy Orbison attended an Elvis Presley show in Dallas Texas. Wow. On April 16, 1983, Kirk Hammett… 

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Marion Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial, April 9, 1939

Music History Monday: Greatness

April 9th, 2018

On April 9, 1939 – 79 years ago today – the American contralto Marian Anderson performed before an audience of over 75,000 people on the National Mall in Washington D.C. It was one of the most important and inspirational concerts ever to take place on American soil; a concert that to this day has the… 

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Beethoven portrait in 1801 by Carl Riedel

Music History Monday: First Firsts

April 2nd, 2018

On April 2, 1800 – 218 years ago today – Ludwig van Beethoven staged his first public concert, a so-called “Akademie” or “benefit concert”, in which the financial beneficiary was to be one Ludwig van Beethoven. Among the works on the program were the premiere performances of Beethoven’s Septet for Winds and Strings, Op. 20… 

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Beethoven Schwarzspanierhaus

Music History Monday: We Would Raise a Toast to Beethoven, But, Well, That Would Be Inappropriate

March 26th, 2018

On March 26, 1827 – 191 years ago today – Ludwig van Beethoven died at the age of 56 years, 3 months, and 11 days in his third story apartment (what in Europe would have been called the second story) at Schwarzspanierstrasse 15, in a building called the Schwarzspanierhaus. (Schwarzspanierhaus means the “House of the Black-Robed Spaniards”,… 

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August Gerasch Burgtheater

Music History Monday: The Creation

March 19th, 2018

It was 219 years ago today – on March 19, 1799 – that Joseph Haydn’s epic, one hour and forty-five minute long oratorio The Creation (Die Schöpfung) received its public premiere in Vienna. Completed in 1798 when Haydn was 66 years old, The Creation is considered by many to be Haydn’s greatest work; truly, a… 

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Pope Gregory I, Deacon Peter and the Bird/Holy Spirit, ca. 983

A Most Successful Campaign of Misinformation, or Listen to the Birdie!

March 12th, 2018

Roughly two years ago, in preparation for creating these “Music History Monday” posts, I spent several days putting together a calendar of musical events from which I could draw my topics. The internet made this job a gazillion times easier than it would have otherwise been; instead of spending untold hours in a music library… 

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Henry E. Steinway, photographed by Matthew Brady in New York City in 1864

Music History Monday: An American Success Story

March 5th, 2018

On March 5, 1853 – 165 years ago today – Steinway & Sons was founded in New York City by a German immigrant named Henry Steinway. Born Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, Henry Steinway’s life and accomplishments are a textbook example of the great American success story: of an immigrant and his family who by dint of… 

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Chopin in 1835

Music History Monday: An Auspicious Debut

February 26th, 2018

186 years ago today – on February 26, 1832 – the not quite 22 year-old Frédéric Chopin made his highly anticipated Paris debut at the Salons de Pleyel – the tony concert hall of the Pleyel Piano Company – at 9 rue Cadet in the 9th arrondissement. (Alas; the concert hall is no longer there.… 

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George Frideric Handel

Music History Monday: A Model Citizen

February 19th, 2018

On this day in 1727, the nearly 42 year-old Georg Friedrich Händel was transformed into George Frederick Handel when he was became a naturalized British subject by order of the crown. Handel’s English citizenship was reflection of not just of Handel’s conviction that his future lay in London (where he’d been living since 1710) but the conviction… 

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