Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

The Robert Greenberg Blog

Bartók in 1940

Dr. Bob Prescribes Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra

September 27th, 2022
Yesterday’s Music History Monday post marked the 77th anniversary of Bartók’s death in New York City, and the circumstances leading to what he himself called his “comfortable exile” in the United States between January 1940 and his death in September 1945. Among the works he composed while living in New York was his Concerto for…

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Bartók in 1940

Music History Monday: Béla Bartók’s American Exile

September 26th, 2022
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and his second wife, the pianist Ditta Pásztory (1903-1982), photographed in New York City circa 1942 We mark the death on September 26, 1945 – 77 years ago today – of the pianist, composer, and Hungarian patriot Béla Bartók. Born in what was then the Hungarian town of Nagyszentmiklós(now Sînnicolau Mare in…

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Mahler (1860-1911) in 1911

Dr. Bob Prescribes Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 10

September 20th, 2022
Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel (1879-1964) and Franz Werfel (1890-1945) in 1935 A Nice Hike In early September of 1940, Gustav Mahler’s widow Alma (1879-1964) – now married to the Jewish author Franz Werfel (1890-1945) – walked from France to Spain in order to escape the Nazi occupation of Europe. (Time out. We read constantly…

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Chubby Checker circa 1961

Music History Monday: Day Gigs

September 19th, 2022
“Don’t give up your day gig.” Along with “don’t eat yellow snow” and “fake it ‘til you make it”, “don’t give up your day gig” remains one of the oldest, hoariest, clichéd pieces of advice anyone can give or receive. But unless you were lucky/wise enough to heed the other greatest piece of advice any…

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Robert Schumann in 1826, at the age of 16

Dr. Bob Prescribes Robert Schumann: Kreisleriana

September 13th, 2022
Romanticism The nineteenth century saw the emergence of a new sort of European literature.  The cutting-edge writers of the time were consumed by a number of particular themes: the glorification of extreme emotion, particularly love; nostalgia for a distant, mystical, legendary past; and a passionate enthusiasm for nature wild and free, unspoiled by humanity and…

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Robert (1810-1856) and Clara Schumann (née Wieck, 1819-1896) in 1847

Music History Monday: Robert and Clara, Sittin’ in a Tree…

September 12th, 2022
Robert (1810-1856) and Clara Schumann (née Wieck, 1819-1896) in 1847 We mark the marriage on September 12, 1840 – 182 years ago today – of the pianist and composer Clara Wieck (1819-1896) to the composer and pianist Robert Schumann (1810-1856).  The couple were married the day before Clara’s 21st birthday (September 13, 1840), for reasons…

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Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) ca. 1920

Dr. Bob Prescribes Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 2

September 6th, 2022
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) ca. 1920 Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was a prodigiously gifted pianist and composer.  All in all, he composed 5½ piano concerti.  (That was not a typo; an explanation will follow in a bit.) The first two of his piano concerti were composed while Prokofiev was still a student at the Petrograd/Saint Petersburg Conservatory,…

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Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) circa 1913

Music History Monday: Fire

September 5th, 2022
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) circa 1913 We mark the premiere on September 5, 1913 – 109 years ago today - of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2.  Prokofiev (1891-1953) composed the piece while still a student at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory; it was completed in April of 1913.  (For our information, Prokofiev still had another year…

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Charlie Parker (1920-1955) in 1947

Dr. Bob Prescribes Charlie Parker

August 30th, 2022
Charlie Parker (1920-1955) in 1947 The Way He Lived and Played In the parlance of the sports world, Charlie Parker “left it all on the field.” The unstoppable, overwhelming intensity with which he played the saxophone was mirrored in the way he lived his life as well. When he died in the New York City…

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Charlie Parker (1920-1955) performing at the Three Deuces in New York City in 1947

Music History Monday: Bird

August 29th, 2022
Charlie Parker (1920-1955) performing at the Three Deuces in New York City in 1947 We mark the birth on August 29, 1920 – 102 years ago today - of the alto saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker. The trumpet player (and one-time member of Charlie Parker’s quintet) Miles Davis (1926-1991) famously said: “You can tell the…

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