Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Dr. Bob Prescribes Giuseppe Verdi: Ernani

May 11th, 2021
Yesterday’s Music History Monday post about the riot at the Astor Place Opera House noted that the house opened on November 22, 1847 with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani. In fact, it was the first American performance of Ernani, which had received its premiere in Venice on March 9, 1844. Ernani was Verdi’s fifth…

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The Astor Place Riot

Music History Monday: The Riot at the Astor Place Opera House

May 10th, 2021
The Astor Place Riot We mark the deadly riot on May 10, 1849 – 172 years ago today – that took place at the Astor Place Opera House in New York City. Between 22 and 31 people were killed and many hundreds more injured, in a riot that pitted immigrants and members of the working…

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Leonard Bernstein in 1955

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Leonard Bernstein: Fancy Free and On the Town

May 5th, 2021
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) in 1955 Leonard Bernstein is very like the most talented, all-around musician ever born in the United States. I prevaricated a bit by adding “very likely” (above), if only to assuage those who might consider Charles Schulz’s Schroeder or Snoop Dog (Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., born 1971) to be, instead, the greatest…

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Betty Comden and Adolph Green circa 1990

Music History Monday: The Word’s the Thing: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

May 3rd, 2021
May 3 is a date rich in birthdays for American popular music. Let us acknowledge three of them before moving on to the particular birthday that has inspired this post. Pete Seeger (1919-2014) On May 3, 1919 – 102 years ago today – the American folk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger was born in New…

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Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), circa 1878

Dr. Bob Prescribes Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Works Conducted in America

April 27th, 2021
Pronunciation! Before we can get to the extraordinary man whose beneficence built America’s premiere concert hall and brought Tchaikovsky to New York in order to break it in, we must deal with a sticky issue of pronunciation. Andrew Carnegie’s surname is pronounced Car-NEH-gie, with an accent on the second syllable. Likewise, the Car-NEH-gie Corporation of…

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1890

Music History Monday: Tchaikovsky in America

April 26th, 2021
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) in 1890 We mark the arrival in New York City on April 26, 1891 – 130 years ago today – of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He had come to America to conduct his own music and to help inaugurate Carnegie Hall (on May 5, 1891) by conducting his own Coronation Festival Overture. …

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The “classic” Dave Brubeck Quartet, circa 1959

Dr. Bob Prescribes The Dave Brubeck Quartet

April 20th, 2021
”Senior Lifesaving and Water Safety” card, front It took me some time to find it but find it I did: my “Senior Lifesaving and Water Safety” card, issued on August 29, 1969 when I was 15 years old.  The thing would never have survived the last 50-plus years had it not come in most handy…

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Alban Berg circa 1930

Music History Monday: To the memory of an Angel

April 19th, 2021
Alban Berg (1885-1935), circa 1930 We mark the posthumous premiere on April 19, 1936 – 85 years ago today - of Alban Berg’s breathtaking Violin Concerto. Its score bears a double dedication: “To Louis Krasner” (1903-1995; Krasner was the violinist who commissioned and premiered the concerto) and “To the Memory of an Angel” (the significance…

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Three pianists from Odessa; left-to-right: Emil Grigoryevich Gilels (1916-1985); Samuil Yevgenyevich Feinberg; Yakov Izrailevich Zak (1913-1976) in 1938

Dr. Bob Prescribes Samuil Feinberg Piano Sonatas

April 13th, 2021
Odessa is the fourth largest city in Ukraine, after Kiev, Kharkov, and Donetsk. Located on the northwestern coast of the Black Sea, Odessa is an important seaport, transportation hub, and a major tourist destination, the so-called “Pearl of the Black Sea.” Three pianists from Odessa; left-to-right: Emil Grigoryevich Gilels (1916-1985); Samuil Yevgenyevich Feinberg; Yakov Izrailevich…

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Charles Burney by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1781)

Music History Monday: Dr. Burney

April 12th, 2021
Charles Burney (1726-1814) by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1781) We mark the death on April 12, 1814 – 207 years ago today – of the English music historian and composer Charles Burney, in London. One rarely achieves much fame or fortune as a music historian; you can trust me on this; it’s something I know about…

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