Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Bright Sheng (born 1955)

Dr. Bob Prescribes The Music of Bright Sheng

December 7th, 2021
Bright Sheng (born 1955) My Music History Monday post for November 29 focused on the composer Bright Sheng (born 1955), who made the unforgivable mistake of playing Laurence Olivier’s movie of Shakespeare’s Othello to an undergraduate class at the University of Michigan without first offering up a prophylactic explanation/apologia for Oliver’s makeup (the character of…

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The concert at the Altamont Speedway, December 6, 1969

Music History Monday: Altamont

December 6th, 2021
The concert at the Altamont Speedway, December 6, 1969; the nearly ground-level stage is directly beneath the top balloon, in between the two speaker towers We mark the disastrous concert held on December 6, 1969 – 52 years ago today – at the Altamont Speedway here in Alameda Country in the San Francisco Bay Area. …

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Queen Elizabeth I

Dr. Bob Prescribes: The Triumphs of Oriana

November 30th, 2021
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) In yesterday’s Music History Monday post, I mentioned a very few of the virtually countless sins that would cause me to be drummed out of today’s academia. Among those I have indulged in the past – and which would undoubtedly get me into trouble in the present - would be making…

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Bright Sheng

Music History Monday: What to Do About Otello?

November 29th, 2021
Before getting to the question that drives today’s post, we would recognize five date-worthy events: a tragedy; two notable cancellations, and two notable opera performances. George Harrison (1943-2001) in 1961, at the age of 18 First, the tragedy. On November 29, 2001 – 20 years ago today – George Harrison died in Los Angeles of…

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Benjamin Britten in 1938

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Benjamin Britten, String Quartet No. 1

November 23rd, 2021
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) in 1938 Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) and his partner, the tenor Peter Pears (1910-1986), left England in late April 1939 for North America. Their ship arrived in Quebec on May 9, 1939, then sailed on to Montreal. After staying a few weeks in Canada, Britten and Pears set off for New York, where…

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Benjamin Britten in 1948

Music History Monday: Benjamin Britten: The Making of a Composer

November 22nd, 2021
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) in 1948 We mark the birth on November 22, 1913 – 108 years ago today - of the English composer, pianist, and conductor Edward Benjamin Britten in Lowestoft, Suffolk, on the eastern coast of England, roughly 105 miles northeast of London. He died in nearby Aldeburgh on December 4, 1976, at the…

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Times Square; Broadway and Seventh Avenue, circa 1930

Dr. Bob Prescribes Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat (1927)

November 16th, 2021
World War One began on July 28, 1914. All of the warring parties – the Central Powers of principally Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey and the Triple Entente of mainly France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Empire, and Italy – believed they would be victorious and home by Christmas. They were all very, very wrong. Across…

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Music History Monday: A Day of First Performances!

November 15th, 2021
We will observe the first performances that occurred on this date and contemplate, as well, the nature and reality of a “first performance” in a moment. But first. I know; I know. We collectively wait, with breaths bated, for today’s “This Day in Musical Stupid.” Sadly, aside from this very post, I have not been…

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Ludwig van Beethoven in 1801

Dr. Bob Prescribes Beethoven’s Three String Trios, Op. 9

November 9th, 2021
Yesterday’s Music History Monday post featured the composer, pianist, friend of everybody (including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert), the Benedictine abbot Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833). During the course of that post, we observed that Stadler believed the music of Mozart to be the very last word when it came to artistry and expression. We also…

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Music History Monday: Maximilian Stadler: Witness to History

November 8th, 2021
Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833) We mark the death on November 8, 1833 – 188 years ago today – of the Austrian pianist, composer, and Benedictine monk, Maximilian Stadler. Born on August 4, 1748, in the Austrian city of Melk, Abbé Stadler died in his adopted home city of Vienna. Witnesses to History We contemplate “witnesses…

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