Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Giacomo Puccini

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Madama Butterfly

February 18th, 2020
Yesterday's Music History Monday post marked the 116th anniversary of the premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly. The body of that post dealt with the charges of sexism, racism, and cultural appropriation leveled today at the opera, charges that have led many contemporary arbiters to demand that changes be made to the opera or…

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Cover of the first edition of the score of Madama Butterfly, by Leopoldo Metlicovitz

Music History Monday: The Case Against Madama Butterfly

February 17th, 2020
Cover of the first edition of the score of Madama Butterfly, by Leopoldo Metlicovitz We mark the world premiere performance on February 17, 1904 – 116 years ago today – of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly at the storied opera house of La Scala, in the Italian city of Milan. I would tell you a…

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Pavarotti in 1962 at the age of 27

Dr. Bob Prescribes Luciano Pavarotti

February 11th, 2020
Yesterday’s Music History Monday post celebrated the 14th anniversary of Luciano Pavarotti’s appearance at the opening ceremony of the XX Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. It made sense then, that today’s Dr. Bob Prescribes post should feature a Pavarotti recording. Alas, or in the parlance of Italian opera, Ohime!, what seemed simple turned out…

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Luciano Pavarotti

Music History Monday: It Ain’t Over Until the Fat Man Sings!

February 10th, 2020
We would note two major events on this day from the world of opera. We will mark the first event in a moment; the second event – which constitutes the body and soul of this post – will be observed only after we’ve had a chance to do some prep. Leontyne Price (born 1927) We…

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Dr. Bob Prescribes Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass

February 4th, 2020
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1593) Yesterday’s Music History Monday post celebrated the 495th anniversary of the birth of the great Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, a birth presumed to have taken place on February 3, 1525.  During the course of that post we observed that unlike virtually every other eminent composer of the so-called…

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1593)

Music History Monday: A Model of Utopian Perfection to this Day!

February 3rd, 2020
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1593) We mark the presumed birth on February 3, 1525 – 495 years ago today – of the Rome-based Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Unlike virtually every other great composer of the Renaissance, a list of which includes such formidable names as Josquin des Prez, William Byrd, Giovanni Gabrieli, Guillaume…

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Wolfgang Mozart in 1789, drawing by Doris Stock

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Mozart’s Piano Quartets

January 28th, 2020
Statements of superlatives are dangerous because they can ride roughshod over the sorts of important details that would otherwise force us to qualify those superlative statements. George Herman “Babe” Ruth (1895-1948) in 1922 For example. The consensus “greatest baseball player” of all time is Babe Ruth (1895-1948), whose stats as a power hitter were so…

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Joseph Lange Mozart Portrait | Mozartian Comspiracy Theories

Music History Monday: A Day That Can Mean Only One Thing!

January 27th, 2020
A portrait of Mozart dating from 1782/83 by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange. The portrait is incomplete; Lange planned to depict Mozart playing a piano. Incomplete or not, Lange’s portrait was considered by Mozart’s contemporaries to be the most accurate depiction of Mozart ever made. We mark the birth on January 27, 1756 – 264 years…

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A bat. How . . . lovely

Dr. Bob Prescribes ‘Die Fledermaus’

January 21st, 2020
Yesterday’s Music History Monday marked the occasion, on January 20, 1982, when Ozzy Osborne bit the head off of a dead and decaying bat during a performance at the Des Moines Veterans Memorial Auditorium. To his credit, Osbourne thought that the bat-like other such rodents and reptiles tossed on stage during his performances – was…

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Ozzy Osbourne having a bite on stage, January 20, 1982

Music History Monday: Fine Dining

January 20th, 2020
Józef Hofmann (1876-1967) January 20 is indeed an interesting day in music history, particularly notable for anniversaries of births and deaths. Among those born on this day was the outstanding Polish/American pianist Józef Hofmann, born in 1876 (and died in 1967; my grandmother took some lessons with Hofmann at the New York Institute of Musical…

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