Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Georges Bizet

Music History Monday: Too Late to Matter for Georges Bizet, though Better Late Than Never for the Rest of Us

We mark the premiere on February 26, 1935 – 89 years ago today – of Georges Bizet’s Symphony in C.  The premiere took place in Basel, Switzerland, in a performance conducted by Felix Weingartner (1863-1942).  Bizet (1838-1875) never heard the symphony performed; he had died in the Paris suburbs in 1875 at the age of 36, a full 60 years before Weingartner’s premiere of his symphony.  Bizet’s Symphony in C, considered today to be a masterwork, was only “discovered” in the archives of the Paris Conservatoire in 1933, 78 years after its composition in 1855!  What If We contemplate a short list of those great (or potentially great) composers who died before their fortieth birthday. Henry Purcell (dead at 36), Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (26), Wolfgang Mozart (35), Vincenzo Bellini (33), Frédéric Chopin (39), Felix Mendelssohn (38), Lili Boulanger (24), Juan Arriaga (19), and George Gershwin (who died at the age of 38).  We should all deeply regret their early passing, not just because of the inherent tragedy of dying so young but because it is impossible not to think about what these composers might have accomplished had they at least lived Beethoven’s life span (56 years), or Sebastian Bach’s (65 […]

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Music History Monday: Here music has buried a treasure, but even fairer hope

We mark the death of the French composer Georges Bizet, who passed from this vale of tears on June 3, 1875, 144 years ago today. He was but 36 years, 7 months, and 9 days young when he passed. The title for today’s post is the epitaph that appeared on Franz Schubert’s original tombstone, written by Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872): “Here music has buried a treasure, but even fairer hope.” Ain’t that the truth. Schubert’s life-span was even shorter than Bizet’s: 31 years, 9 months, and 20 days.  (Grillparzer was a Vienna-born dramatist who, despite his contemporary fame as a playwright, is best remembered today for having written Beethoven’s funeral oration and Schubert’s epitaph!) We contemplate “regret”. I am a collector of certain antique/vintage items, and I have learned the hard way the truism that “you only regret that which you do not buy.” For example, I will go to my grave regretting the fact that I walked away from a complete, pristine Sterling Silver Erik Magnussen “Skyscraper Cocktail Set” in 2003.  I had my reasons (financial) for not buying the set at the time, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, never to be had again; should a like set come […]

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