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. […]
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.
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. […]
Rousseau also helped to redefine the role and substance of opera at a time when opera—like movies and television today—was not just a form of entertainment but both a reflection and a driver of the political and social values of its time. […]
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. […]
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. […]
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. […]
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. […]
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.
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! […]