Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Louise Farrenc

Dr. Bob Prescribes Louise Farrenc

August 4th, 2020
Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) Soon after I opened up shop on Patreon, I was asked to comment on the music of Louise Farrenc (1804-1875). Not for the first time and certainly not for the last, I was brought up short . . . Louise who? I’m not sure I was brave enough to admit my ignorance,…

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Teatro alla Scala

Music History Monday: The Grandmother of them all: the Teatro alla Scala

August 3rd, 2020
Teatro alla Scala We mark the opening on August 3, 1778 – 242 years today – of the grandmother of all opera houses, the Teatro alla Scala, or simply “La Scala.” The inaugural performance was the premiere of Antonio Salieri's opera Europa Riconosciuta, or “Europe Rewarded”.  Professional baseball in a time of COVID I trust…

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Ferruccio Busoni in 1913

Dr. Bob Prescribes Ferruccio Busoni: Fantasia Contrappuntistica

July 28th, 2020
Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) in 1913 Yesterday’s Music History Monday post marked the death on July 27, 1924 of the musical polymath Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924). Today’s Dr. Bob Prescribes post picks up where yesterday’s Music History Monday left off, with an examination of what is, perhaps, Busoni’s single most representative work: his massive, 30-plus minute-long Fantasia…

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Ferruccio Busoni in 1906

Music History Monday: Ferruccio Busoni

July 27th, 2020
Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) in 1906 We mark the death on July 27, 1924 – 96 years ago today – of the composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni, who great fame rests on having invented the ice-smoothing machine popularized by none-other-than Charles Schulz’s Snoopy. Nah, I’m just messing with you: it was Frank Zamboni, 1901-1988, who invented…

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Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich on the cover of Time magazine, July 20, 1942

Music History Monday: Shostakovich: Time magazine, a String Quartet, and a Symphony!

July 20th, 2020
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich (1906-1975) on the cover of Time magazine, July 20, 1942 July 20th was a very important date in the life of the Soviet composer Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich. On July 20, 1942 – 78 years ago today – he appeared on the cover of Time magazine, wearing his Leningrad firefighter’s helmet and becoming,…

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Ludwig van Beethoven circa 1806

Dr. Bob Prescribes Beethoven Piano Concerto in D, Op. 61a

July 14th, 2020
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) circa 1806 Compositionally, 1806 was a miraculous year for Herr Ludwig van Beethoven. Among the works he completed that year were the Piano Sonata in F minor, the Appassionata, Op. 57; the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58; the three so-called “Razumovsky” String Quartets, Op. 59, nos. 1,…

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Arnold Schoenberg in 1948

Music History Monday: Musicians and Paint

July 13th, 2020
Two seemingly disparate events on this date provide the framework for today’s post. Here they are: Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) in 1948 On July 13, 1951 – 69 years ago today – the composer Arnold Schoenberg died in Los Angeles. Born in Vienna on September 13, 1874, the date and timing of Schoenberg’s death could not…

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The original Hot Five, circa 1925; left to right, Armstrong, Johnny St. Cyr, Johnny Dodds, Edward “Kid” Ory, Lil Hardin Armstrong

Dr. Bob Prescribes Louis Armstrong

July 7th, 2020
The often-told story of Louis Armstrong’s early life has passed into American legend, an early twentieth century Horatio Alger-styled tale of an impoverished black child who rises from the humblest of beginnings to fame and fortune through hard work, courage, and talent.  Armstrong spent his entire life believing that he was a “Yankee-Doodle Dandy”, born…

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Armstrong, on the steps of his house at 34-56 107th Street, in the Corona section of Queens, N.Y., circa 1965

Music History Monday: Pops: The Indispensable Man

July 6th, 2020
Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) circa 1950 We mark the death on July 6, 1971 – 49 years ago today – of the jazz trumpet-player, singer, bandleader, and American icon Louis Armstrong. (For our information, Armstrong pronounced his first name as “Lewis”, as shall we.) Known alternately as Louis (as in LOO-wee), “Satchmo”, “Satch”, or simply “Pops”,…

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Paderewski “on tour” in 1916

Dr. Bob Prescribes Paderewski: Piano Concerto in A minor, OP. 17 (1888)

June 30th, 2020
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941) circa 1889 Relatively late pianistic bloomer though he may have been, when Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) performed, audiences went wild. It’s no exaggeration to say that when Paderewski made his international debut in Vienna in 1887 at the age of 27 he became a legend almost overnight. Not since Franz Liszt…

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