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. […]

Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Justice Denied

October 23, 2017

On the evening of October 22, 1764, Leclair went out to meet some friends. On returning home he was attacked from behind and stabbed three times. He fell directly in front of his door and that was where he was found on the morning of October 23rd, dead and lying in a pool of his own blood. […]

Photograph of composer Arnold Shoenberg, composer of Pierrot Lunaire
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Pierrot Lunaire

October 16, 2017

In terms of its impact on the concert music of the twentieth century, Pierrot Lunaire stands second only to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which Stravinsky completed six months after Schoenberg finished Pierrot. 1912 was, truly, an “annus mirabilis” – a “miraculous year” – for Western concert music. […]

Photograph of Toru Takemitsu
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Tōru Takemitsu

October 11, 2017

In 1946, at the age of sixteen, he decided to “become a composer.” Ah: if ignorance is bliss then Takemitsu must have been most blissful, because when it came to music, his ignorance was almost complete. But that didn’t stop him… […]

Photograph of Neville Marriner conducting
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Spreading the Love

October 3, 2017

October 2 was a most interesting day in music history. Rather than choose just one person or event for discussion, we’re going to spread the love today and observe three people and one event for whom/which October 2 was a signal date. […]

Photograph of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (Glenn Gold)
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: One of a Kind

September 25, 2017

Glenn Gould was an otherworldly musical genius. He was also a nut: one of the great eccentrics in the history of Western music. He wasn’t a nut because he was a musical genius, and he wasn’t a musical genius because he was a nut. No; the genius and the nuttiness were one and the same, something that separated him – almost from the beginning of his life and increasingly as he got older – from his fellow human beings. […]

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