Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Aaron Copland

Music History Monday: An American Classic

On this day in 1944 – 73 years ago – Aaron Copland’s ballet Appalachian Spring was first performed by the Martha Graham Dance Company in Washington, DC. From that moment, it has been embraced as being “as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie!” Now there’s a familiar cliché: “as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie.” Except that not a single one of those presumably “American” things is American in origin, any more than the vast majority of “Americans” is actually American in origin. We are told that “baseball and the other modern bat, ball and running games – such as cricket and rounders – were developed from folk games in early Britain and Continental Europe (such as France and Germany). Early forms of baseball had a number of names, including ‘base ball’, ‘goal ball’, ‘round ball’, ‘fetch-catch’, ‘stool ball’, and, simply, ‘base.’” As for hot dogs, the German city of Frankfurt is credited as being the birthplace of a sausage called a “frankfurter”. In Germany, the sausage was colloquially referred to as a “dachshund” or “little dog” because of its resemblance to a dachshund. It was around 1870 that an enterprising German immigrant named Charles Feltman began […]

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Music History Mondays: Too Many Birthdays!

I began this “Music History Monday” project by scouring the Web for musical events from which I assembled a master list of what happened in the world of Western concert music on each of the year’s 366 days. (Indeed: 366; we cannot forget February 29. And yes, February 29 is a significant date in the history of Western concert music. Since February 29 will not again fall on a Monday until 2044, I don’t mind spilling those leap year beans right now: On February 29, 1792, the extraordinary Italian opera composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born in Pesaro, Italy. In his 76 years, the poor dude managed to celebrate only 19 birthdays!) My master list catalogs over a thousand noteworthy musical events. On most Mondays I have two or three events to choose between, although – every now and then – there are Mondays during which nothing noteworthy happened: nada, niente, zilch, zed, zero. Monday, September 19, 2016 was just such a day. Yes, many other noteworthy things occurred on September 19, among them: on September 19, 1870 the Prussian Army laid siege to Paris; on September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant all women the […]

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