Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

George Frideric Handel

Music History Monday: Water Music, Fiction and Facts

July 17th, 2017

On July 17, 1717 – exactly 300 years ago today – George Frederich Handel’s Orchestral Suites in F Major and D Major (collectively known as his Water Music) received their premiere during a royal cruise down the River Thames from Whitehall to Chelsea. Here’s the story – the great story – that’s usually told about… 

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Carl Orff

Music History Monday: To Dance With the Devil

July 10th, 2017

Today we recognize the birth – 122 years ago, in Munich – of the composer and educator Carl Orff. Orff lived a long and productive life. He died on March 29, 1982 at the age of 86. He was a composer of great talent whose works draw on influences as diverse as ancient Greek tragedy… 

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Leoš Janáček

Music History Monday: Leoš Janáček: Composer, Patriot and Patriot Composer!

July 3rd, 2017

Today we mark the 163rd anniversary of the birth – on July 3, 1854 – of the Czech (Moravian) composer Leoš Janáček. First things first, as Janáček’s name is notoriously mispronounced by non-Czechs. His first name – Leoš – is easy enough: “Lay-osh.” But his surname is a challenge for those of us who have trouble… 

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Mozart circa 1780, detail from portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Music History Monday: How Did He Do It?

June 26th, 2017

On this day in 1788 Wolfgang Mozart completed the score of his Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543. It is – with no exaggeration or hyperbole intended – a virtually perfect work: with the greatest of respect to Joseph Haydn, Mozart’s K. 543 is the most exquisitely constructed and expressively sublime Classical era-styled… 

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Ferdinand David by Johann Georg Weinhold

Music History Monday: Our Kind of Musician

June 19th, 2017

Today we recognize and celebrate the birth, 207 years ago today, of someone who can rightfully be called “a musician’s musician”: the violinist, composer and teacher Ferdinand David. We will get to the specifics of Maestro David’s life and career in a moment. With your indulgence, a brief bit of editorializing. Marlon Brando (1924-2004). Yes,… 

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György Ligeti

Music History Monday: György Ligeti: An Appreciation

June 12th, 2017

Eleven years ago today – on June 12, 2006 – the Hungarian-born composer György Sándor Ligeti died in Vienna. He was one of the greatest composers and teachers of the twentieth century; a man and composer who is not just a favorite of mine but something of a hero to me (and I am generally… 

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Giovanni Paisiello at the clavichord 1791

Music History Monday: The Futile Precaution

June 5th, 2017

On June 5, 1816 – 201 years ago today – the Italian opera composer Giovanni Paisiello died in Naples at the age of 76. Although almost entirely forgotten today, Paisiello was – in his lifetime – among the most famous, successful and popular opera composers of his time. He composed an absolutely amazing amount of… 

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Igor Stravinsky and Serge Diaghilev London 1926

Music History Monday: A Riotous Rite

May 29th, 2017

May 29 was an incredibly rich day in music history. So much to write about, so little space! Check it out. On May 29, 1801 – 216 years ago today – Joseph Haydn’s final masterwork, The Season, received its public premiere at the Redoutensaal: the still-extant great ballroom in the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) in central… 

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Richard Wagner in 1871

Music History Monday: The Wagner Conundrum

May 22nd, 2017

May 22 is a day so rich in music history that choosing a particular event to write about might seem to be a challenge. For example, May 22, 1790 saw the first performance of Mozart’s String Quartets in D, K. 575 and B-flat, K. 589 (the first two of the three so-called “Prussian Quartets”) at… 

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Por quoy non of Pierre de la Rue

Music History Monday: All the Music That’s Fit to Print

May 15th, 2017

On this day in 1501 – 516 years ago – the first polyphonic (multi-part) music printed using moveable type was released to the public by the Venice-based publisher Ottaviano dei Petrucci. (The publication features a dedication dated May 15, 1501, so we assume that this corresponds with its release date.) The publication was an anthology… 

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