Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Music History Monday

Music History Monday: Turangalîla

December 2 is – was – a great date for world premieres, as well as for one unfortunate and extremely notable exit.   Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 received its first performance on December 3, 1883 – 136 years ago today – in Vienna, when it was performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Hans Richter.   On this date in 1949 – 70 years ago today – Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto, completed posthumously by Tibor Serly [TEE-bor SHARE-ly] (Bartók himself had died four years earlier, in 1945), received its premiere in Minneapolis, where it was performed by violist William Primrose and the Minneapolis Symphony, conducted by Antal Dorati.    We would note the unfortunate exit, on December 2, 1990, of the composer Aaron Copland.  He died at the age of 90 in North Tarrytown (known today as “Sleepy Hollow”), New York, about 30 miles north of New York City. There’s one more premiere to note, which will occupy the remainder of today’s post.  We mark the premiere, in Boston on December 2, 1949 – the same day as the premiere of Bartók’s Viola Concerto – of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony, by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by […]

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Music History Monday: A Critical Voice

We recognize the birth on November 25, 1896 – 123 years ago today – of the American composer and music critic Virgil Thomson in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Music History Monday: The Grand Journey

On November 18, 1763, 256 years ago today, the Mozart family – father Leopold, mother Anna Maria, daughter Marianne (12 years old) and son Wolfgang (7 years old) – arrived in Paris. They were in the midst of their “Grand Journey”, a 3½ year concert tour of Central and Western Europe that was to change the history of Western music.

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Music History Monday: Barbara Strozzi: Now You Know!

We mark the death on November 11, 1677 – 342 years ago today – of the composer and singer Barbara Strozzi at the age of 58.

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Music History Monday: Disproportionate Numbers and “The Screaming Skull”

We mark the birth, on October 21, 1912 – 107 years ago today – of the Hungarian-born pianist and conductor György Stern (better known as Sir Georg Solti) in Budapest, Hungary. Considered one of the greatest conductors to have ever lived, Solti is the Michael Phelps, the Simone Biles of the musical world, having received a record 31(!) GRAMMY® Awards.

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Music History Monday: Der Bingle

We mark the death on October 14, 1977 – 42 years ago today – of the American singer and actor Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby of a so-called “widow maker”: a massive, dead-before-he-hit-the-ground heart attack. We sense that he went out the way he would have chosen to go out.

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Music History Monday: The Bombs Bursting in Air: Bombing The Star-Spangled Banner

On October 7, 1968 – 51 years ago today – the Puerto Rican-born singer and songwriter José Feliciano (b. 1945) performed the Star-Spangled Banner in Detroit, before the fifth game of the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. His rendition caused a firestorm of controversy, one that did serious damage to his career.

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Music History Monday: Magic

It was on September 30, 1791 – 228 years ago today – that Wolfgang Mozart’s opera-slash-singspiel, The Magic Flute, received its premiere at the Freihaustheater auf der Wieden in Vienna, conducted by Mozart himself.

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Music History Monday: Paul is Dead!

On September 23, 1969 – 50 years ago today – the venerable English tabloid the London Daily Mirror reported that Paul McCartney of the Beatles was dead. It was the first time the rumor was printed in the mainstream press.

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Music History Monday: Melding with the Geldings, or Balls to the Wall

We note the death on September 16, 1782 – 237 years ago today – of one of the greatest opera singers to have ever lived, the celebrated Italian castrato Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi, who went by the stage name of “Farinelli”

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