Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for The Phoenix Symphony

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: 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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Dr. Bob Prescribes: Galina Ustvolskaya

I have been appointed the “dramaturge” (or “dramaturg”) of The Phoenix Symphony (TPS). As far as Scrabble words go, “dramaturge” isn’t worth a whole lot: just 14 points barring any Premium Squares (which double or triple the value of letters or words). It is, however, a rather more useful crossword puzzle word, with or without its final “e”; I have encountered it in puzzles a number of times over the years. The term was created in the eighteenth century for a German writer, philosopher, critic, dramatic, and public relations guru named Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781). In 1767, Herr Lessing was hired by the Hamburg National Theater (later the Seyler Theater Company) as the theater’s in-house critic of plays and actors. In time, he became known as the theater’s “dramaturge.” Today, there is no single job description for a dramaturge; it depends on the type of performing arts organization (theater company, opera house, orchestra) and the particular needs of that organization. Having said that, at very minimum a dramaturge is “a literary editor on the staff of a theatre, opera house, or symphony who liaises with authors, composers, and performers and edits texts.” My duties for TPS are as follows. One: […]

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Phoenix Symphony Hall

I will admit to being a baseball fan. However, to be honest, I am no longer a fan of attending baseball games. Don’t get me wrong; I used to love going to games, where I was happy to submerge myself into the Zen of things baseball: the slowing of time; the sudden spurts of activity; the seemingly endless metaphors between the action on the field and real life.  But that was before two things happened. The first was becoming a father and the second was getting older. One at a time. To my now jaded mind, the only way to attend a baseball game is to go with fellow fans. Moments of high performance can be appreciatively shared with a nod and a smile; the contemplative quiet called for during an extended dual between a pitcher and batter can be savored; the sudden explosive action of a great play in the field or a home run can be properly cheered and appreciated. None of this is possible when attending a baseball game with a small child or worse, small children. They are almost immediately bored. They are hungry, all the time. They need to use the potty at the most […]

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Behind the Scenes With The Phoenix Symphony

In this week’s “Dr. Bob Prescribes” I mentioned that I spent a good portion of the first week of October in Phoenix with The Phoenix Symphony, there to record 22 video program notes for this season. I thought it might amuse you to see some photos and videos that document the process: the set, the crew, and the nearly finished product. First: a proper hats off to Renaissance man and jack-of-all-trades Jeff Hunsinger. Jeff is the General Manager (boss man) of The Phoenix Symphony, and as General Manager he runs the show: he tends to the musicians (talk about potentially herding cats!), hires the soloists, negotiates the contracts, schedules performances and rehearsals, oversees the programming, provides a safe haven (and for all I know, provides full-body massages) for his music director/principal conductor Tito Muñoz; manages the other departments like marketing, development, and outreach, etc. etc. etc. On top of this, he’s a father of two and the husband of the symphony’s principal cellist. And yes: he’s also my executive producer, director, camera operator, chief video and sound editor, gaffer (lighting electrician), and sound engineer. Somehow, Jeff found the time to rent the video/audio/lighting/digital recording equipment; set it up in the […]

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Dr. Bob Prescribes: Esa-Pekka Salonen: Concerto for Violin

I’ve been working with The Phoenix Symphony (TPS) for two seasons. Last season, I wrote and recorded eight video program notes (which were made available on the symphony’s YouTube Channel as well as on my Facebook page) and presented three lectures in association with the TPS’s Chamber Concert Series. This season my role has expanded. I will deliver self-standing lectures on Mozart and Schubert; I will join TPS music director Maestro Tito Muñoz on stage for two subscription concerts, and two weeks ago I recorded 22 video program notes for the 2018-19 season. It took me all of August and a good bit of September to research and write those notes, which together run about 24,000 words. I can say with all due modestly that as of today, no one knows TPS’s 2018-19 concert season better than I do. Among the great pleasures of such an assignment is learning about and listening to works I did not know beforehand: music by such living composers as Timo Andres, Jessie Montgomery, Anna Clyne and Michael Hersch. Thanks to writing these previews, I got to know (and fall in love with) Florence B. Price’s Symphony No. 1 (which I wrote about a couple […]

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