Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) in 1874

Dr. Bob Prescribes Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4

February 23rd, 2021
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) in 1874 By way of review: Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a homosexual with a predilection for cross-dressing and teenaged boys. In May of 1877, around the time of his 37th birthday on May 7, he received a letter from one Antonina Milyukova – a former student at the Moscow…

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) in 1874, age 34

Music History Monday: Tchaikovsky: Two Women and a Symphony

February 22nd, 2021
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) in 1874, age 34 We mark the premiere on February 22, 1878 – 143 years ago today – of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor in a concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow, under the baton of Nicolai Rubinstein. The story of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4…

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The Low Brass (as played by the same dude in four different shirts!)

Dr. Bob Prescribes Christopher Rouse: Trombone Concerto

February 16th, 2021
Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) The great and eminently quotable English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham famously said: “I never look at the brass. It only encourages them.” Jeepers! Whatever would have prompted Sir Thomas to say such a thing? We consider the brass instruments, the most common of which are trumpets, French horns (as they are…

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he Chelyabinsk meteor explodes

Music History Monday: What a Day!

February 15th, 2021
February 15 is one of those crazy days during which so much happened in the world of music that we are de facto forced to wonder if there is some metaphysical explanation for why this date should be a nexus of musical-historical activity! In an attempt to answer that question, I have probed. Ouch. Here…

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Steven Spielberg and John Williams in Williams’ composing “bungalow”, circa 2000

Dr. Bob Prescribes John Williams

February 9th, 2021
We have some heavy preliminaries to discuss, starting with the differences between European film music and the classic Hollywood symphonic film score (of which Williams is its greatest contemporary exponent); the relationship between Williams’ scores and the music of Richard Wagner (1813-1883); the derivative nature inherent to the vast majority of film music (including Williams’);…

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John Towner Williams (born 1932)

Music History Monday: John Williams

February 8th, 2021
John Towner Williams (born 1932) We celebrate the birth on February 8, 1932 – 89 years ago today – of the American composer, conductor, pianist and trombonist John Towner Williams, in the neighborhood of Flushing, in the New York City borough of Queens. Williams must be regarded as among the greatest film composers of all…

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Pods and flower from the orchid genus of Vanilla

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Music to Calm Hearts and Souls

February 2nd, 2021
In yesterday’s Music History Monday post, we had the opportunity to talk about the questionable but on occasion necessary (if borderline masochistic) pleasures of hot peppers and punk rock. The post went on to mark the short, tragic, and depraved life of one Simon John Richie (best known by his stage name of “Sid Vicious”,…

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The Sex Pistols in 1977

Music History Monday: Pretty Much the Worst

February 1st, 2021
Carolina Reaper Pepper There are times I crave spicy – I mean really spicy – food. (Speaking of which: I knew a guy at university from San Antonio – we belonged to the same “eating club’ which was our version of fraternities – who put Tabasco Sauce on everything: cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, vanilla ice…

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Dr. Bob Prescribes: Blame it on the Bossa Nova

January 26th, 2021
Brazil Yesterday’s Music History Monday post acknowledged the birth in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil of the Brazilian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Antônio Carlos Jobim. That’s all the excuse we require for today’s foray into the music of Brazil, samba, and bossa nova! The name “Brazil” comes from the Portuguese word pau–brasil, meaning “brazilwood”: an East Indian tree from which…

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Richard Strauss (1864-1949) in 1911

Music History Monday: When Richard Strauss was “Modernity”: ‘Salome’ and ‘Elektra’

January 25th, 2021
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) in 1911 We mark the world premiere – on January 25, 1909 – 112 years ago today – of Ricard Strauss’ opera Elektra at the Semperoper, the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper – the Saxon State Opera – in Dresden. Today acknowledged as one of the masterworks of the operatic repertoire,…

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