Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Haydn’s death mask

Music History Monday: Papa’s Last Days

March 27th, 2017

On this day in 1808, Joseph Haydn made his last public appearance at a performance of his oratorio The Creation given in honor of his upcoming 76th birthday. The performance – which took place at Vienna’s University Hall – was what we would call today a “star-studded event”: everyone who was anyone in Vienna’s musical… 

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One Day University

Music History Monday: Why Art Matters

March 20th, 2017

March 20 was a quiet – a very quiet! – day in music history. Thus, as I have done on other “quiet” Mondays, I’m using today’s post to tell a story and to editorialize a bit. In 2016, I got involved with an operation called “One Day University”, founded by a visionary named Steven Schragis… 

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Richard Wagner in Paris

Music History Monday: A Very Tough Crowd

March 13th, 2017

156 years ago today – on March 13, 1861 – Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre Imperial de l’Opéra. The Paris production of Tannhäuser remains one of the greatest operatic flops of all time: a scheduled ten-performance run that was reduced to three disastrous performances before the opera was… 

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Giuseppe Verdi, circa 1855

Music History Monday: A Magnificent Fiasco!

March 6th, 2017

On March 6, 1853 – 164 years ago today – Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata received its first performance at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The two years between March of 1851 and March of 1853 saw the premieres of three operas by Giuseppe Verdi that cemented, for all time, his reputation as the… 

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Robert Greenberg and Van Cliburn in 1996

Music History Monday: A Cold War Miracle

February 27th, 2017

Four years ago today, the pianist, cultural icon and “Cold War Musical Envoy” Van Cliburn died at his home in Fort Worth Texas. He was 78. Van Cliburn’s celebrity was shaped not just by his talent but also by what were – and remain – earth-shaking historical events. Joseph Stalin – “the Leader and Teacher;… 

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Johann Peter Salomon in 1792

Music History Monday: Movers and Shakers

February 20th, 2017

Today we celebrate the birth – on February 20, 1749 – of the violinist, composer, and impresario Johann Peter Salomon. His name is relatively unknown today, yet without him the musical legacy of the late eighteenth century would be much the poorer. Let us contemplate, for a moment, the massive, gleaming 6.5-liter engine that powers… 

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George Frideric Handel

Music History Monday: Immigrants and Immigration

February 13th, 2017

On February 13, 1727 – 290 years ago today – the German-born Georg Friedrich Händel applied for British citizenship. Immigrants and immigration. Hot button topics these days, though I would strongly suggest we take the long view here. If there’s one thing both history and biology have taught us is that the richer the gene… 

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Arnold Schoenberg playing a mean game of Ping-Pong

Music History Monday: Can’t We Be Friends?

February 6th, 2017

On February 6, 1944 – 73 years ago today – Arnold Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto received its premiere. It was performed by the pianist Eduard Steuermann and the NBC Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski. In his book “Fundamentals of Musical Composition” Schoenberg advised that when working on even the simplest of compositional exercises: “the student should… 

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Frederick The Great and CPE Bach JJ Quantz

Music History Monday: The Best Gig in the World!

January 30th, 2017

We wish a spirited and in all ways happy birthday to the composer and flutist Johann Joachim (J. J.) Quantz, who was born in Oberscheden, Hanover (in what today is central Germany) on January 30, 1697, 320 years ago today. (“You say flutist, and I say flautist …” Actually, I say “flutist” because that’s how… 

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Music History Monday: The Mozart/Clementi Duel

January 23rd, 2017

On January 23, 1752 – 265 years ago today – the composer, harpsichordist, pianist, organist, conductor, teacher, music publisher and editor, and piano manufacturer Muzio Filippo Vincenzo Francesco Clementi was born in Rome. Remembered best today for his six delightful Sonatinas for Piano published as Op. 36, he was, in fact a prodigious composer; his… 

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