Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Josef Haydn

Music History Monday: Haydn’s Death and His Final Road Trip

We mark the death, on May 31, 1809 – 212 years ago today – of the incomparable Joseph Haydn, at his home in Vienna at Kleine Steingasse 73 (today, the address is Haydngasse 19). At the time of his death, he was 77 years old and was, without any doubt, the most popular and beloved composer in the Western world. Franz Joseph Haydn was born on March 31, 1732 in the Austrian town of Rohrau. He was as self-made a person as any we’ll ever meet. A choirboy at St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna, he was booted out onto the mean streets of Vienna when his voice changed at the age of 16 and left entirely to his own devices. He subsisted in a Viennese garret, giving lessons and playing the violin in dance bands while he taught himself to compose. To indulge the cliché, the young dude attended the school of hard knocks and managed to graduate summa cum laude. He slowly climbed the Viennese musical ladder and in 1761 – at the age of 29 – took up a position with the Esterházy family, a fabulously wealthy family of Hungarian nobles. His position was that of Vice-Kapellmeister – […]

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Music History Monday: Movers and Shakers

Today we celebrate the birth – on February 20, 1749 – of the violinist, composer, and impresario Johann Peter Salomon. His name is relatively unknown today, yet without him the musical legacy of the late eighteenth century would be much the poorer. Let us contemplate, for a moment, the massive, gleaming 6.5-liter engine that powers the Lamborghini Aventado SV (superveloce, meaning “super velocity), a V-12 monster that generates 740 horsepower and 509 pound-feet of torque; the beating heart of a $500,000 sports car. Be still our hearts. Now imagine next to it a mundane case of motor oil, $36.99 at Costco. Nothing sexy there. Except for the fact that without the oil – the engine’s life-blood – that Lamborghini V12 cannot function. So it is with most things in our world. We are aware of the glitzy surfaces of things, people, and organization but rarely think twice about the life-blood that allows them to tick. A symphony orchestra or an opera company? Without the union steward and back stage crew nothing happens. A Federal District Court or even SCOTUS? Without their law clerks they couldn’t function for a day. Yes: from the guy who inflates (or doesn’t inflate) Tom Brady’s […]

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