Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Moritz Moszkowski

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Moritz Moszkowski, Piano Concerto in E Major, Op. 59 (1898)

Near the conclusion of yesterday’s Music History Monday post, we heard from the former chief music critic of The New York Times Harold Schonberg, who wrote apropos of Moritz Moszkowski’s piano music that: “no better salon music has ever been composed, or any so gratefully conceived for the piano.” “Salon Music.” It’s a phrase often used as a pejorative, to distinguish between “serious” and “substantial” concert works and music intended merely to amuse and titillate the denizens of Europe’s elite “salons” during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Let’s get a handle on what constitutes “salon music”, lest Schonberg’s complimentary phrase – that “no better salon music has ever been composed”– be considered more damnation than praise. Salon Music Aside from being “an establishment where a hairdresser, beautician, or couturier conducts business”, a “salon” is a reception room in a large house. A “salon” is also a particular type of social gathering in such rooms, typically hosted by prominent women, which brought together “guests of distinction” for a conversational exchange of ideas and amusement. Such gatherings were invented in Italy in the sixteenth century, where they were called “salones”, a word derived from “sala”, which is the large reception room […]

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Music History Monday: Moritz Moszkowski

We mark the birth on August 23, 1854 – 167 years ago today – of the German-Polish composer, pianist, and teacher Moritz Moszkowski in the Prussian/Silesian city of Breslau, today the Polish city of Wrocław. He died in Paris on March 4, 1925, at the age of 70. Moszkowski was one of the most famous pianist-composers of his time, someone who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Franz Liszt (1811-1886), Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894), Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924), Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), and Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) Paderewski paid his friend and fellow Pole Moszkowski the ultimate compliment when he said that:  “After Chopin [who was, and remains, the great Polish national hero] Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano, and his writing embraces the whole gamut of piano technique.” In the end – painfully, tragically, inevitably (or so it so often seems) – talent, success, and fame were no match for time, aging, and illness, and died in obscurity and poverty, a broken man. Sadly and unjustly, he and his music languish in near-total obscurity today.… Continue reading, only on Patreon! Listen on the Music History Monday Podcast

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