Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for John de Lancie

Music History Monday: Richard Strauss

We celebrate the birth of the composer Richard Strauss, who was born on June 11, 1864, 154 years ago today. I will pull no punches here: in my humble (but happily expressed) opinion, Richard Strauss was one the greatest composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He was a melodist and musical dramatist on near par with Mozart, which is, I think, just about the highest compliment any composer can be paid. His brilliant (though, admittedly, sometimes sprawling) tone poems – From Italy, Don Juan, Macbeth, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Don Quixote, A Hero’s Life, Domestic Symphony, and An Alpine Symphony – constitute, virtually, a genre of experimental music of their own. His superb operas pick up from where Richard Wagner’s “music dramas” leave off, which inspired the wags of his time to call Strauss “Richard II”. He continued to turn out masterworks until the very end of his long life; his exquisite Oboe Concerto (1945) and Metamorphosen for strings (also 1945) were composed when he was 81; his Four Last Songs (1948) was composed when he was 84. In 1947, the 83 year-old Strauss declared with typical self-deprecation: “I may not be a […]

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A salute to American Oboist John de Lancie

I have spent the last four days writing up a calendar of events discussed in my twenty-six in-print The Great Courses/Teaching Company courses. (The calendar presently runs 70 pages in length. By the time I finish – with luck, tomorrow – it will run about 90 pages.) My intention is to choose one or two date-appropriate items per week, and post them along with a link to the appropriate Great Courses course. My thinking here is that a spoon full of info helps the shameless self-promotion go down. We lift a glass in a birthday salute to a dear departed friend and former colleague of mine, the American oboist John de Lancie, who was born on July 26, 1921 in Berkeley California and died on May 17, 2002 in Walnut Creek, a suburb of San Francisco. Aside from being one of the greatest oboists of the twentieth century, a brilliant educator and a ferociously exacting oboe teacher, de Lancie was personally responsible for the composition of the single greatest oboe concerto written during the twentieth century: Richard Strauss’ stunning Oboe Concerto in D Major of 1945. Strauss (1864-1949) rode out the end of World War Two at his country house […]

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