Painting of Saint Jerome and Pope Gregory I from the 15th century
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: A Most Successful Campaign of Misinformation

March 12, 2018

Thus, the “Pope Gregory listened to the birdie” story, which was created to legitimize Roman chant as being of “divine” origin, was a key component in convincing northern churches to abandon their regional practices in favor of those used by the Roman See. […]

Close up photograph of a Steinway & Sons piano keyboard
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: An American Success Story

March 5, 2018

Born Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, Henry Steinway’s life and accomplishments are a textbook example of the great American success story: of an immigrant and his family who by dint of the hardest work, ambition, sacrifice, artistry, and no small bit of genius created something of true and lasting import. […]

Watercolor portrait of Frédéric Chopin
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: An Auspicious Debut

February 26, 2018

That event took place in September of 1831, when Chopin was 21. He might have been a small, slim, young, physically unprepossessing provincial from Warsaw, but by the time he arrived in Paris to seek his fame and fortune he was a fully formed composer and already one of the best pianists in the world.
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Portrait of George Frederick Handel
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: A Model Citizen

February 19, 2018

On this day in 1727, the nearly 42 year-old Georg Friedrich Händel was transformed into George Frederick Handel when he was became a naturalized British subject by order of the crown. […]

Bronze statue of Giuseppe Verdi seated on a chair
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: The Opera That Almost Wasn’t

February 5, 2018

On this day 131 years ago—February 5, 1887—Giuseppe Verdi’s 25th and penultimate opera, Otello, received its premiere at the Teatro alla Scala (“La Scala”) in Milan. The premiere was the single greatest triumph in Verdi’s sensational career. But it was a premiere—and an opera—that almost didn’t happen. […]

Watercolor portrait of Franz Schubert sitting with book in right hand
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Death and the Maiden

January 29, 2018

At the beginning of the song, it is cast in D minor as a funeral march, one that invokes the impending death of the maiden. But when the passage returns to conclude the song, it is set in D major. The effect is so powerful as to make us gasp: with this seemingly simple switch from minor to major, everything is transfigured… […]

Black and white portrait of Dimitri Shostakovich
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: A Very Dangerous Opera

January 22, 2018

And then on January 26, 1936, the sky fell. Joseph Stalin…attended a performance of Lady Macbeth at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. It was a performance that nearly cost Shostakovich his life. […]

Bronze statue of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Simferopol, Russia
Music History Monday

Music History Monday: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major

December 4, 2017

No one likes to be criticized. And no major composer ever received more damning criticism than did Peter Tchaikovsky. Given his incredibly sensitive nature, and the fact that he was, as a homosexual in Tsarist Russia, leading virtually a double life, well, you’ve got a prescription for a most challenging emotional life. […]

Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: J.S. Bach, Jailbird

November 6, 2017

And then, in early November of 1717, Bach lost his temper. And while we’re not exactly sure who he mouthed off to—it might have been the Prince himself or it might have been one of his ministers—whomever it was, Bach’s tantrum must have been a doozy, because on November 6, 1717 he was summarily tossed into jail. […]

Photograph of Aaron Copland in front of bookshelves 1970
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: An American Classic

October 31, 2017

Appalachian Spring was composed as a ballet, commissioned, choreographed and danced by Martha Graham. Copland’s score was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. […]

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