Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Leoncavallo

Music History Monday: A One Hit Wonder?

On May 21, 1892 – 126 years ago today – Ruggero Leoncavallo’s two-act opera I Pagliacci (“The Clowns”) received its premiere at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. It was a phenomenal hit from the first and remains an A-list opera to this day. (It is typically paired in performance with its verismo – “real-to-life” – operatic twin, Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana or “Rustic Chivalry” of 1890.) It might seem unkind to call someone a “one hit wonder” until we consider the fact that the vast majority of us are “no hit wonders” who would trade our eyeteeth for a single, great hit. Since the vast majority of artists presently referred to as “one hit wonders” never intended to be “one hit wonders”, let us make a distinction: let’s distinguish between those folks who true, numerical one hit wonders and those that history has, for better or for worse, deemed to be “one hit wonders.” Numerical one hit wonders are exceedingly rare. These would be folks who created but a single work of art, never to create another again; yes, true numerical one hit wonders. For example, the journalist Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) published one […]

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