Portrait of Maria Anna Mozart, known as Nannerl Mozart
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: The Other Mozart Kid

July 30, 2018

Nannerl was something of a musical prodigy herself, and by an early age she had become a formidable harpsichordist and pianist, to the degree that in the earliest of the Mozart family musical tours, she often received top billing over her brother. […]

Portrait of Domenico Scarlatti holding a letter
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Domenico Scarlatti

July 23, 2018

Scarlatti did something that neither Bach nor Handel did: neither Bach (who died in 1750) nor Handel (who died in 1759) transcended the musical syntax of the “High (or late) Baroque”, irksome though it might be to employ such a period designation. […]

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.

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. […]

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