Thursday, April 18, 2019, 11:30am
It must have been the radio interviewer’s nightmare. In 1955 the world-renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski arrived for a live interview before he was to conduct a concert with the Miami University Symphony Orchestra. The interviewer began by stating that Stokowski was born in 1882. Stokowski...
Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 11:30am
Sometimes a musician to make a tremendous effort just to go through with a performance. In the case of pianist Oscar Levant, a broken leg helped. In 1955 Levant had a thirty-year performing career to his credit, but in recent seasons he had become better known for his cancellations than for his...
Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 11:30am
Sergei Prokofiev's previous trip to America had not gone very well. The critics had panned his piano pieces and playing as "Bolshevism in art" and "the epitome of Godless Russia." Worse, he had become known as a performer with a mechanical style. Now it was 1920 and Prokofiev came to America with a...
Monday, April 15, 2019, 11:30am
It had worked for Sergei Rachmaninoff. Sergei Prokofiev thought it might work for him too.
Friday, April 12, 2019, 11:30am
Charles Burney, courting danger on Mount Vesuvius in 1770.
Thursday, April 11, 2019, 11:30am
For the first time ever, will an American win the first prize in the highly prestigious Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition ?
Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 11:30am
Performer and accompanist may practice hard to develop a common approach to a piece of music. But when the night of the performance arrives, the best intentions may go out the window if nervousness throws the performer into old habits. In his memoir Am I Too Loud ? the great accompanist Gerald...
Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 11:30am
They were known as "The Mighty Handful"--five 19th century Russian composers who supposedly constituted a "school" of Russian nationalist writing. But sometimes the "handful" took the shape of a fist. Two of them--Cesar Cui and Modeste Mussorgsky--became bitter adversaries. In 1874 Mussorgsky's...
Monday, April 8, 2019, 11:30am
Ludwig van Beethoven's music has many stormy moments, and it's likely that some of them were inspired by his dealings with his publishers. In the spring of 1805 he wrote to Breitkopf and Hertel in Leipzig a letter that shows his Olympian anger...
Friday, April 5, 2019, 11:30am
In April 1778 twenty-two-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in Paris hoping to build an international reputation.
Thursday, April 4, 2019, 11:30am
"This profession, my dear boy, is not what people imagine." So wrote violinist Eugene Ysayë to his son Gabriel about 1901.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019, 11:30am
The famed soprano Jenny Lind had plenty of talent and determination. And when she came to America in 1850 she had more than enough publicity. Her promoter was the biggest showman of them all—PT Barnum. Eager to rise above his reputation as a promoter of sideshows and freaks, Barnum had risked his...
Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 11:30am
Love, politics, and music. In April 1831 Hector Berlioz was in Florence, Italy, and he was disgusted with all three. He wrote to a friend: “You speak to me of music and of love! What do you have in mind? I don't get it. Is there something on earth called music and love? I thought I'd heard those...
Monday, April 1, 2019, 11:30am
Niccoló Paganini was the most famous violinist in Europe. He was also more versatile than anyone would have guessed--at work and play. And he loved a practical joke.
Friday, March 29, 2019, 11:30am
He was a strange man, a macabre man, the composer of the "Funeral March for a Papagallo." Everything about Charles-Valentin Alkan seemed eccentric—even his death on March 29th, 1888.
Thursday, March 28, 2019, 11:30am
In 1601, at the age of 25, Thomas Weelkes was one of England's most promising musicians... then his life took a turn for the worse.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 11:30am
On March 27 th , 1830 a twenty-year-old Polish pianist, Frederic Chopin, was concertizing in Warsaw and he wrote to a friend in a nearby town: “About the first concert: The hall was full, and all the boxes and stage seats were sold out three days in advance, but most of the audience didn't get the...
Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 11:30am
It was a time when a president of the United States was in sore need of soothing music, and Woodrow Wilson brought some of the best performers into the White House. He had the added advantage of being a pretty fair musician himself. As a young man Wilson had played the violin. He sang tenor in the...
Monday, March 25, 2019, 11:30am
An invitation to perform for a king. Most musicians would see it as a grand opportunity. Louis Spohr found it a royal pain.
Friday, March 22, 2019, 11:30am
Jean-Baptiste Lully was extremely devoted to his music. In fact, he died for it.