Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Photograph of a pre-1914 Tosca production at the old Metropolitan Opera House, New York

Music History Monday: Tosca

January 14th, 2019
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) On January 14, 1900 – 119 years ago today – Giacomo Puccini’s three-act opera Tosca received its first performance at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome.  Based on a play by the French playwright Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) and adapted for opera by the librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Gioacosa, Tosca has been an audience…

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Shostakovich in 1941, on the cover of TIME magazine in his fireman’s helmet during the siege of Leningrad

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Shostakovich Symphony No. 10

January 8th, 2019
Dmitri Shostakovich in 1974 After Dmitri Shostakovich’s death in August of 1975 and his “posthumous rehabilitation” by the Soviet authorities (do you love that phrase “posthumous rehabilitation” as much as I do?), the Soviet authorities declared that their dear, departed Dmitri Dmitriyevich was: “Soviet Russia’s most loyal musical son.”  Back in 1975, who could argue…

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Frances Poulenc (1899-1963)

Music History Monday: Frances Poulenc: a votre santé!

January 7th, 2019
Frances Poulenc (1899-1963) We celebrate the birth – on January 7, 1899, 120 years ago today – of the French composer and pianist Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc. Long considered a compositional lightweight - a composer for whom (heaven forbid!) traditional tonality, attractive melody and musical charm assumed pride of compositional place – Poulenc’s music was…

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Phoenix Symphony Hall

Phoenix Symphony Hall

January 4th, 2019
Phoenix Symphony Hall I will admit to being a baseball fan. However, to be honest, I am no longer a fan of attending baseball games. Don’t get me wrong; I used to love going to games, where I was happy to submerge myself into the Zen of things baseball: the slowing of time; the sudden…

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Richard Russo (born 1949)

Dr. Bob Prescribes: A Book?

January 1st, 2019
This is my 21st Dr. Bob Prescribes (“DBP”), a post I began on August 6 of last year (that would be 2018). Up to now, each of these DBP posts has recommended (“prescribed”) something musical. Atypically, today’s prescription has nothing to do with music per se. However, the thought process that lead to offer up…

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Music History Monday: They Should Have Taken a Bus

December 31st, 2018
John Denver (1943-1997) Today we begin by marking a birth and a death, two anniversaries related to one another in tragedy. You rightly ask: what can be “tragic” about a birth? Nothing in itself. So let us begin by celebrating the birth on December 31, 1943 - 75 years ago today – of the singer-songwriter,…

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Dave McKenna ca. 1985

Dr. Bob Prescribes Dave McKenna

December 25th, 2018
If you are among those who just said “Dave who?”, THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY! I am about to offer up a gift more lasting, more aesthetically pleasing and more spiritually enlightening than any you have likely received during this “season of getting”. That gift? The pianism of Dave McKenna. Indulge me some first-person info.…

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Cosima Liszt von Bülow Wagner (1837-1930)

Music History Monday: One Tough Lady

December 24th, 2018
Cosima Liszt von Bülow Wagner (1837-1930) We mark the birth on December 24, 1837 - 181 years ago today – of Cosima Liszt von Bülow Wagner: the illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt; the wife of the pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow; and then the mistress and wife of Richard Wagner. As Wagner’s wife, she…

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Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Dr Bob Prescribes: Gustav Holst – The Planets

December 18th, 2018
Oh my. This was going to be a straightforward review of my favorite recording of one of my favorite orchestral works, Gustav Holst’s The Planets. However, having done my research I have come face to face with an issue and an attendant moral dilemma that has caused me to question whether (or not) I should…

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28 year-old Schubert in 1825

Music History Monday: Buried Treasure

December 17th, 2018
Manuscript of Franz Schubert’s Symphony in B Minor, “Unfinished”, movement 1, page 1 On December 17, 1865 – 153 years ago today – the two complete movements that make up Franz Schubert’s so-called “Unfinished Symphony” received their premiere in Vienna, in a performance conducted by Johann von Herbeck (1831-1877). Schubert had completed those two movements in…

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