Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Nicolas Slonimsky (1893-1995)

Dr. Bob Prescribes Nicolas Slonimsky

December 10th, 2019
Nicolas Slonimsky (1893-1995) My Music History Monday post of November 25 last discussed, among other things, the role of the critic. Over the course of that post I asserted that “painful to the critical community though it may be, the fact remains that the surest way for a critic to be remembered is to get…

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Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857) in 1840

Music History Monday: A Life for the Tsar

December 9th, 2019
Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857) in 1840 On December 9, 1836 (or November 27, 1836 in the old style, Russian Julian calendar), Mikhail Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar received its premiere at the Imperial Bolshoi Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. More than just an opera and a premiere, the opening night of A Life…

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Olivier Messiaen in 1946

Dr. Bob Prescribes Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Turangalîla’ Symphony

December 3rd, 2019
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) in 1946 Yesterday’s Music History Monday post noted and celebrated the premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony in Boston, on December 2, 1949, by the Boston Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Composed between 1946 and 1948, the Turangalîla Symphony caps the first part of Messiaen’s compositional career.  There’s nothing else like it…

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Messiaen in 1937, at the age of 29

Music History Monday: Turangalîla

December 2nd, 2019
December 2 is – was - a great date for world premieres, as well as for one unfortunate and extremely notable exit.   Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 received its first performance on December 3, 1883 – 136 years ago today – in Vienna, when it was performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton…

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Virgil Thomson

Dr. Bob Prescribes Virgil Thomson: Symphony on a Hymn Tune

November 26th, 2019
Virgil Thomson Yesterday’s Music History Monday post recognized the 123rd anniversary of the birth of the American composer and critic Virgil Thomson (1896-1989). That Music History Monday post focused on the particular pitfalls when a practitioner (in Thomson’s case, a composer) deigns also to become a critic. Today, we turn to Thomason’s music. As a…

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Virgil Thomson in 1972

Music History Monday: A Critical Voice

November 25th, 2019
Virgil Thomson in 1947 We recognize the birth on November 25, 1896 – 123 years ago today – of the American composer and music critic Virgil Thomson in Kansas City, Missouri.  Mr. Thomson was one of the most important American musicians and music critics of the twentieth century. But before we move on to him,…

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Leopold Mozart and his children Wolfgang and Marianne in Paris

Music History Monday: The Grand Journey

November 18th, 2019
Leopold Mozart and his children Wolfgang and Marianne in Paris 1763/4; watercolor by Louis Carmontelle. Ludwig had a lithograph made from this painting which he widely distributed as an advertisement On November 18, 1763, 256 years ago today, the Mozart family – father Leopold, mother Anna Maria, daughter Marianne (12 years old) and son Wolfgang…

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Caravaggio: Judith and Holofernes

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor from Warsaw

November 12th, 2019
At its highest and ideal level, the purpose of art is to crystallize, summarize, epitomize and portray human experience in a manner universal and transcendent of its time and place of creation.  Some art is aesthetically beautiful and as such transports us to a “better” place, beyond this vale of tears that is our everyday…

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Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) circa 1639

Music History Monday: Barbara Strozzi: Now You Know!

November 11th, 2019 Barbara Strozzi, Amor domiglione (“Sleepyhead Cupid”, 1651); Molly Netter, soprano; Avi Stein, harpsichord; and Ezra Seltzer, cello We mark the death on November 11, 1677 – 342 years ago today – of the composer and singer Barbara Strozzi at the age of 58.  Madame Strozzi saw eight volumes of her music published in her…

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Gabriel Fauré in 1864

Dr. Bob Prescribes Gabriel Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 1

November 5th, 2019
Fauré (1845-1924) in 1864, as a student at the École de Musique Classique et Religieuse Every one of us is, to some extent, the product and the victim of our education. The product, obviously, because we are all shaped by what we were taught, and (presumably) we use some of what we were taught to…

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