Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Buddy Rich, circa 1968

Dr. Bob Prescribes: The Buddy Rich Big Band

August 20th, 2019
Buddy Rich, circa 1968 A confession: when it comes to jazz bands large and small, I generally dislike drum solos. My bad; color me a bore. But here’s the thing: if I buy a Keith Jarrett album, for example, I want to hear Keith Jarrett and not, with all due respect to the brilliant drummer…

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Monteverdi circa 1740

Music History Monday: The Gig of a Lifetime!

August 19th, 2019
Monteverdi (1567-1643) in 1630, painted by Bernardo Strozzi On August 19, 1613 – 406 years ago today - Claudio Monteverdi was appointed Maestro di Capella di San Marco: the director of music at Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica. It was the gig of a lifetime! There’s no doubt about it: Claudio Monteverdi was one of the…

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Galina Ustvoslkaya in 1959

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Galina Ustvolskaya

August 13th, 2019
I have been appointed the “dramaturge” (or “dramaturg”) of The Phoenix Symphony (TPS). As far as Scrabble words go, “dramaturge” isn’t worth a whole lot: just 14 points barring any Premium Squares (which double or triple the value of letters or words). It is, however, a rather more useful crossword puzzle word, with or without…

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John Milton Cage

Music History Monday: John Cage, we miss you

August 12th, 2019
John Milton Cage (September 5, 1912 to August 12, 1992) On August 12, 1992 – 27 years ago today – the American composer, inventor, philosopher, facilitator, agent provocateur, shaman, clown, and guru, John Cage died in New York City at the age of 79. Background. My May 14, 2019 Dr. Bob Prescribes post (which can…

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Arrigo Boito and Giuseppe Verdi

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Otello

August 6th, 2019
Giuseppe Verdi circa 1870 We begin by picking up where we left off last week, with the triumphant premiere of Verdi’s Requiem for Manzoni in 1874. Verdi proceeded to tour Europe conducting the Requiem to ecstatic audience responses everywhere. He was truly at the very top of his game, in his absolute prime. Consequently, it…

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Guillaume Du Fay

Music History Monday: One of the Great Ones!

August 5th, 2019
We celebrate the birth on August 5, 1397 – 622 years ago today – of the composer Guillaume Du Fay. He was, by every standard, one of the greatest composers to have ever lived and was admired as such in his own lifetime. A lovely performance of Guillaume Du Fay’s Nuper rosarum flores by…

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Giuseppe Verdi circa 1870

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem for Manzoni

July 30th, 2019
Giuseppe Verdi circa 1870 In June of 1870, the 57-year-old Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) agreed to compose an opera for the brand-new Cairo Opera Theater. The Khedive Ismail Pasha of Egypt handled the negotiations personally; the opera was to celebrate nothing less than the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. No expense was spared, either…

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Robert Schumann (1810-1856) in 1839

Music History Monday: A Very Bad Ending

July 29th, 2019
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) in 1839 We mark the death on July 29, 1856 – 163 years ago today – of the German composer, pianist, and music critic Robert Schumann at the age of 46. The actress Valerie Harper was back in the news this week. Now nearly 80 years old (her birthday is on August…

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Willibrord Joseph Mahler: Beethoven circa 1804

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Beethoven, Mass in C, Op. 86

July 23rd, 2019
I trust we are all preparing for it: that we’re stockpiling party hats, noisemakers, birthday candles and those blowy-things consisting of a mouthpiece and a flattened, coiled paper tube that extends obscenely when blown into, something variously called a “party horn”, “party blower”, “party pipe”, or a “blow tickler.” We’ll want to have this stuff in hand in…

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Aretha Franklin

Music History Monday: Can We Blame the Weather?

July 22nd, 2019
On July 22, 1969 – 50 years ago today - Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) was arrested for disorderly conduct in Highland Park, Michigan, a community within the metropolitan area of her native Detroit. She had been involved in a minor traffic accident in a parking lot. Two Detroit policemen had responded; Ms. Franklin took offense at…

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