Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Meyerbeer

Music History Monday: Giacomo Meyerbeer and French PopOp

We mark the death on May 2, 1864 – 158 years ago today – of the German-born opera composer Jacob Liebmann Beer, also-known-as Giacomo Meyerbeer.  Born in Berlin on September 5, 1791, he died in Paris during the rehearsals for the premiere of his opera L’Africaine – “The African” – which turned out to be, no surprise then, his final opera.   Let us get to know Herr/Signore/Monsieur Meyerbeer a bit even as we explore the tremendous popularity of his operas, the reasons behind that popularity, and the reasons for their fall from popularity!   No Exaggeration: As Popular as Elvis Incredible though it may seem to us, here today, Meyerbeer was the Elvis Presley of nineteenth century opera.  Not that he was a pelvis gyrating,  groupie groping “rock star” as we understand a rock star to be today, no; but in the world of nineteenth century opera, he was the most popular musician of not just his time but of his century: the single most frequently performed opera composer of the nineteenth century.  In terms of his singular international fame and his income, Meyerbeer was – more than Gioachino Rossini, more than Giuseppe Verdi, more than Richard Wagner –the […]

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On Birthdays

Among the top pick-up lines of my generation was the irksome “what’s your sign?”. I myself never used the line because one, I was too embarrassed to do so and two, I never gave much credence to the whole astrology trip, even as an ice-breaker. If you ask me (which you didn’t, but then you are reading this post), our actual birthdates are much less significant than the dates on which we were conceived. Now please, I am not venturing into the social/religious/emotional minefield of “when” life begins (although I would invoke the joke that has a priest declare that life begins at conception, a reverend assert that life begins at birth, and a rabbi proclaim that “life begins when the kids go to college and the dog is DEAD!”). Rather, I’m merely pointing out that if the heavens truly affect our spirits and reproductive urges and fluids, then conception (and the physical activity that leads to such) seems much more likely to be affected by unseen gravitational tides than the rather more straightforward, contraction-dominated acts of labor and birth. I will gladly acknowledge the advantages of celebrating “birthdays” rather than “days of conception”. First (and we’re all adults here, […]

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