Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Elmer Bernstein

Music History Monday: McKinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy Waters

We mark the birth on April 4, 1913 – 109 years ago today – of the American blues singer, songwriter, and guitar and harmonica player McKinley Morganfield.  He was born in either Rolling Fork or Jug’s Corner, Mississippi. Known professionally as “Muddy Waters” (as opposed to, say “Crystal Springs”, or “Briny Deep”, or “Silty Delta”, or “Occluded H20”), Maestro Morganfield-slash-Waters died in Westmont, Illinois on April 30, 1983, at the age of 70.  We will get to Muddy Waters (as we will now refer to him) in a bit.  But April 4 is a busy day in music history and thus, I’d like to observe three other date-related events. We mark the birth – on April 4, 1922, exactly 100 years ago today – of the American composer Elmer Bernstein, in New York City.  He died in Ojai, California, on August 18, 2004, at the age of 82. Elmer Bernstein is among my very favorite film and television composers, and he would have been the lead story today if not for the fact that my Music History Monday post for April 3, 2017, already celebrated his birthday.  (I’ll own up to it: April 3 is a quiet day in music […]

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Music History Monday: The “Other” Bernstein

Since virtually nothing of note in the concert music world took place on April 3rd (aside from the appearance – today – of this post), we turn to April 4th for the subject of today’s post, which marks the birth (in 1922) of one of my all-time favorite composers, Elmer Bernstein. Elmer WHO? Oh, you might not know his name, but you almost certainly know at least some his music. Permit me a brief rumination on guilty pleasures. It seems to me that there are certain things in life that we do for no other reason than the unqualified pleasure they provide. For example, I consume peanut butter, very dry Bombay Sapphire martinis, and The Game of Thrones not because they are good for me but because I must. I feel the same way about good film scores. I myself have never written any movie music and my own compositions have, stylistically, almost nothing in common with that of most film composers. (Although, I would point out that a number of high-end concert composers have indeed turned out some superb film scores, including Aaron Copland’s The Red Pony; Leonard Bernstein’s On the Waterfront, and John Corigliano’s Altered States and The […]

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