Thursday, March 24, 2016, 11:30am
Waldstein. The name is best remembered because Beethoven wrote one of his best piano sonatas for his friend and patron.
Good and Bad Advice
Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 11:30am
John Ireland became one of England’s great twentieth-century composers. As a young man he received advice from another major composer--Edward Elgar. Fortunately for English music, Ireland ignored some of it.
Lully's Last Maneuver
Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 11:30am
Jean-Baptiste Lully was extremely devoted to his music. In fact, he died for it.
The Hardest Thing in the World
Monday, March 21, 2016, 11:30am
On March 21st, 1864--in the thick of the Civil War--New Orleans-born composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk was in the middle of a concert tour of the northern and western states.
Brutally Frank Advice
Friday, March 18, 2016, 11:30am
How direct should an established composer be when appraising the work of an up-and-comer? Vincent d'Indy would've had two answers to the question -- one before and one after getting advice from Cesar Franck. D'Indy recalled: "Once I had played a movement of my string quartet for...
The Cold Irish Pianist
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 11:30am
He was traveling with one of the most famous and successful composers of the day, but the young Irish pianist was not having a good time. His name was John Field and he was touring Europe demonstrating Muzio Clementi's new pianos. Soon he would become known as one of the great teachers and...
Gershwin's Early Setbacks
Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 11:30am
Recognition came early to George Gershwin, but first came some humbling moments. At 21, Gershwin wrote a piano piece called “Swanee.” It debuted in a band arrangement at the Capitol Theater in New York where sixty chorus girls with electric lights on their slippers danced to it...
The Ill-Fated Symphony
Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 11:30am
That first symphony can be intimidating for a composer. Sergei Rachmaninoff was a long time recovering from his. He was pleased with his symphony, confident to the point of arrogance. He played a piano version for composer Sergei Taneyev, who expressed his displeasure with it. Undaunted,...
Haydn Takes London
Monday, March 14, 2016, 11:30am
Joseph Haydn had been in London for three months and was succeeding mightily with English audiences. On March 14th, 1791 he wrote to a friend in Vienna: “I have plenty to do because of all the concerts and opera, and I am hounded all the time by the subscription concerts. Our opera hasn't...
Concert at Gunpoint
Friday, March 11, 2016, 11:30am
Pianist George Antheil got used to his concerts turning into riots. After all, he made a habit of ending each evening with a set of ultra-modern pieces. But he wanted his music to be heard, and he started taking dangerous measures to see that it was. Like many young American artists in the 1920...
Weber's Hopes & Fears
Thursday, March 10, 2016, 11:30am
Carl Maria von Weber was 31 years old and beginning to settle down professionally and socially. On March 10th, 1817 he wrote from Dresden to a friend: “I should have written to you long ago to tell you about my appointment as Kapellmeister to the King of Saxony and Director of the German...
An American Escape
Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 11:30am
In 1906 European immigrants flocked to America looking for new opportunities. The Russian pianist and composer Alexander Scriabin came looking for new possibilities and to escape old problems. His most recent difficulties included a desperate need for money and a break with fellow composer Anatol...
The Color Bar
Monday, March 7, 2016, 11:30am
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the son of a West African and an Englishwoman, became a world-famous composer and conductor by the age of 30. In the fall of 1904 he was touring the United States by train, conducting performances that drew thousands. But one thing about America troubled him. When he...
The Case of the Disappearing Operas
Monday, March 7, 2016, 11:30am
Writing an opera requires a great deal of time and energy for the composer and the librettist. The payoff, of course, comes when the opera proves a success or at least gets performed. But in the case of some operas planned by Giacomo Puccini, the work of composer and librettist simply evaporated...
The Joke That Became Famous
Friday, March 4, 2016, 11:30am
Some musical works are written from inspiration, some for money. Ignaz Jan Paderweski wrote his famous Minuet as a practical joke. An elderly doctor named Chalubinski had befriended the 26-year-old Paderewski. and often invited the young pianist to his house in Warsaw. The doctor and a writer...
The Violinist Revolutionary
Thursday, March 3, 2016, 11:30am
He was a composer and one of the finest violinists of the 18th century, but the times he lived in forced Joseph Boulogne to set aside music and embrace revolution. He was the son of a French government official and an African woman from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. For a time the family...
Truth or Legend?
Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 11:30am
Truth or legend? Either way, one story about Archangelo Corelli has come down from generation to generation, from Corelli’s time to our own. The story takes place about 1709, when Corelli was at the height of his reputation as a composer and a violinist. It goes like this. The King of Naples...
Gluck Takes It from the Top
Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 11:30am
Christoph Willibald van Gluck was so intent on the music that he was unaware of anything else. His friend, painter Johann Christian Mannlich described a rehearsal in Paris in the 1770s: “Every day from nine until noon Gluck attended the rehearsals of his opera. When he returned from them,...
He Wasn't That Precocious
Monday, February 29, 2016, 11:30am
One of the most successful opera composers of all time retired from writing operas at the age of 37. By then he already had a long career behind him. In fact, Gioachino Rossini began composing enduring works just after his second birthday. In the summer of 1804 Rossini and two cousins named Morini...
Sir Thomas Quells a Neighbor
Friday, February 26, 2016, 11:30am
Music making is a congenial form of art, but Sir Thomas Beecham discovered that sometimes the congeniality needs a little lubrication. During a tour of Australia the English conductor was relaxing in his hotel room, playing the piano and applying his less-than-sonorous voice to some of Wagner's...