Photograph of Fritz Mahler
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Émigrés

July 16, 2018

For us, for now, the key phrase is “he emigrated to America in 1936”: Fritz Mahler was one of the hundreds—the thousands—of artists, scientists, writers, and intellectuals who managed to escape Europe in the 1930s. And thereby hangs our tale.
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Photograph of opera composer Ottorino Respighi in profile
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: A Decidedly Politically-Incorrect Rant

July 9, 2018

Opera was invented in Italy for the same reason that surfing was invented in Hawaii: Hawaii is surrounded by warm ocean water and perfect waves and Italians are surround by the musical warmth and beauty of the Italian language: that seemingly perfect amalgam of vowel and consonant. […]

Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: There’s No Software Without the Hardware

June 18, 2018

But most importantly was Pleyel’s founding of his piano company Pleyel et Cie in Paris in 1807. Improving on English technology, the company came out with a line of so-called “cottage pianos” or “pianinos”: small, vertically strung upright pianos, the first to be manufactured and sold in France. […]

Photograph of Serge Koussevitzky
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Serge Koussevitzky and What it Takes to Be a Special Person!

June 4, 2018

Generally but accurately speaking, the best advise you can give a musician (aside from never turn down free food) is DO NOT quit your day gig and, if it is possible, marry rich. Assuming that he never turned down free food, I’d tell you that Koussevitzky went one-for-two: in 1905, at the age of 31, he married a woman named Natalie Ushkova, who was the heiress of a fortune made in the tea business. […]

Photograph of Enrico Caruso as Canio in I Pagliacci
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: A One Hit Wonder?

May 21, 2018

Leoncavallo composed I Pagliacci fairly early in his career, when he was 35. As is sometimes the case, its great and instant popularity worked against him: the public kept waiting for him to produce a work of like or better quality, and this Leoncavallo proved unable to do, though not for lack of trying. […]

Photograph of Leo Smit circa 1918
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Leo Smit

May 14, 2018

It appears that all of Smit’s music survived, despite the fact that the vast majority of works existed only in manuscript. Seeing the writing on the wall, he began—in the first days of 1943—to distribute his manuscripts to non-Jewish friends and students, having first removed the title pages and his name so that they could not be identified has being his. The survival and resurrection of his music must be seen as something of a miracle. […]

silver cordless dynamic microphone
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Microphones

April 30, 2018

While the first microphones were developed independently by David Edward Hughes, Emile Berliner, and Thomas Edison in the 1870s, they were not employed in ballrooms and theaters to actually amplify a human voice performing live music until the very early 1930s. Up to that time, the largest possible performance venue for a trained singer was an opera house, and for most pop singers, spaces considerably smaller. Microphones and amplification rendered venue size moot; miked and amplified, anyone could be heard anywhere.
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Portrait of Beethoven in 1803
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: First Firsts

April 2, 2018

Yes! By April, 1800 the 29 year-old Beethoven was prepared to go the distance, take the plunge, go mano-e-mano with the Viennese musical establishment taken as widely as we please: he was ready to stake his claim as a mature compositional artist and put forward his first symphony! […]

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