Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Cyber Monday

Music History Monday: Strauss, Nietzsche, Zarathustra and Stanley

121 years ago today – on November 27, 1896 – Richard Strauss conducted the premiere performance of his sprawling orchestral tone poem Thus Spoke Zarathustra in Frankfurt. A momentary if gratuitous diversion… Over the course of the first half of my musical life I played a lot of gigs, both in bands and as a solo piano player. The bands ranged from fairly high end to not fairly high end. The best band I ever played with was led by the alto saxophonist Lee Konitz; the worst was a disco band the name of which will remain my little secret. My first band (a rock & roll garage band) was called “Cold Sun” and the last was a Klezmer group called “Hot Borscht”. (“Cold Sun” and “Hot Borscht”: temperature challenged tags in both cases.) As a solo player I’ve played pretty much everything, from cocktail parties, weddings, sing-a-longs, awards shows, and receptions to a long-running gig at a long defunct restaurant in Oakland, California called The Pewter House. One of the occupational hazards of playing the piano in public is the request. Among the most common requests I received in the 1970s were: “hey man, can you play ‘The Sting?’” […]

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