Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

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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Gioachino Rossini in 1865

Music History Monday: Rossini and the Soul of Wit

November 13th, 2017

149 years ago today, the opera composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini died in Paris at the age of 76. One of the most famous and respected artists of his time, he remains no less so today. It is my humble opinion that anyone who does not like Rossini’s music is a crank and a humbug, someone… 

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J.S. Bach

Music History Monday: J.S. Bach, Jailbird

November 6th, 2017

Exactly 300 years ago today – on November 6, 1717 – the great Johann Sebastian Bach was tossed into jail and spent nearly a month cooling his heels courtesy of his boss, Prince Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar. You see, in 1717, a working-class artisan like Bach did not mouth off to the boss. And that… 

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Appalachian Spring Premiere with Martha Graham and Aaron Copland

Music History Monday: An American Classic

October 30th, 2017

On this day in 1944 – 73 years ago – Aaron Copland’s ballet Appalachian Spring was first performed by the Martha Graham Dance Company in Washington, DC. From that moment, it has been embraced as being “as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie!” Now there’s a familiar cliché: “as American as baseball, hot… 

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Jean-Marie Leclair

Music History Monday: Justice Denied

October 23rd, 2017

October 23 is one of those dates on which virtually nothing of interest has (yet) happened in the world of music. On such days, I typically turn to the day before or the after for my “Music History Monday” topic; and indeed, both October 22nd and 24th are rich in events about which I could… 

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Arnold Schoenberg

Music History Monday: Pierrot Lunaire

October 16th, 2017

There are certain first performances that we celebrate as being among the seminal events in music history. For example (and we would do well to memorize these dates!), the first performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s groundbreaking opera Orfeo occurred at Florence’s Pitti Palace on Friday, February 24, 1607. Handel’s Messiah was first performed on Tuesday, April… 

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Tōru Takemitsu

Music History Monday: Tōru Takemitsu

October 9th, 2017

Today we mark and celebrate the birth in Tokyo – 87 years ago yesterday on October 8, 1930 – of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century: Tōru Takemitsu. Some historical background called for, as no East Asian country adopted Western music more rapidly and at an earlier date than did Japan. After… 

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