Music History Monday

Music History Monday

Exploring Music History with Professor Robert Greenberg one Monday at a time. Every Monday Robert Greenberg explores some timely, perhaps intriguing and even, if we are lucky, salacious chunk of musical information relevant to that date, or to … whatever. If on (rare) occasion these features appear a tad irreverent, well, that’s okay: we would do well to remember that cultural icons do not create and make music but rather, people do, and people can do and say the darndest things.

Episodes

December 5, 2022 26 min

Here We Go Again . . . It has come to pass. I have been writing these Music History Monday posts for long enough that Monday dates and events have begun to repeat. And as a result, December 5, which was a Monday in 2016, once again falls on a Monday today. Ordinarily there are enough events on any given Monday to keep me from having to deal with the same topic. But December 5 is a special date for one particularly terrible musical ...

Mark as Played

We mark the New York premiere on November 28, 1925 – 97 years ago today – of Aaron Copland’s Music for the Theater, at a League of Composer’s concert conducted by Serge Koussevitzky at New York’s Town Hall. The actual world premiere of the piece took place eight days before, when Koussevitzky conducted Music for the Theater in Boston. But Copland was a native New Yorker and Music from the Theater is about the New York theatrical an...

Mark as Played

We mark the death on November 21, 1695 – 327 years ago today – of the English composer and organist Henry Purcell, in London. He lies buried today in a place of singular honor, adjacent to the organ on which he performed in Westminster Abbey in London. He had been born there in London on (or about) September 10, 1659, making him only 36 years old when he died. But like both Mozart and Schubert after him, Purcell’s terribly prematur...

Mark as Played

We mark the birth on November 14, 1805 – 217 years ago today – of the German composer, pianist, wife, mother, and hausfrau Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg.  She died on May 14, 1847, all-too-young at the age of 41, at her home in the Prussian capital of Berlin. Fanny Cäcille Mendelssohn was the first child (of an eventual four) of Lea and Abraham Mendelssohn. Lea Mendelssohn took one look at her infant da...

Mark as Played

We mark the birth on November 7, 1926 – 96 years ago today – of the dramatic coloratura soprano Dame Joan Alston Sutherland, in Sydney, Australia.  She died on October 10, 2010, in Montreux, Switzerland at the age of 83.   I want you all to know upfront that Joan Sutherland was the first singer on whom I had a major crush, both because of her stupendous voice (hey: she wasn’t called “La Stupenda!” for nothing) and for reasons to be...

Mark as Played

Before moving forward, the title of this post – “The Grandmother of All Drop Parties!” – demands an explanation-slash-definition.   A “grandmother” is the mother of a parent, though in this usage, thank you, it is meant to indicate the ultimate example of what follows, as in “the grandmother of all drop parties.” I know you knew that.  On to the important definition. A “drop party” or “release party” or “launch party” is a festive ...

Mark as Played
October 24, 2022 20 min

Before moving on to Carl Ruggles, the featured composer of today’s post, we would offer the warmest of happy birthdays to one of the most brilliant composers of the twentieth century, who also happened to be one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met, George Crumb.  He was born in Charleston, West Virginia on October 24, 1929 – 93 years ago today – and died at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Media, Pennsylvania, on Februar...

Mark as Played

Name the Composer/Pianist: he was a student of Wolfgang Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Muzio Clementi, and Joseph Haydn; friend to Franz Schubert and a friend (and rival!) of Ludwig van Beethoven; and teacher of – among many others – Carl Czerny, Ferdinand Hiller, Sigismond Thalberg, and Felix Mendelssohn; in his lifetime considered one of the greats and in ours almost entirely forgotten? With a title like that, the subject of this post ...

Mark as Played

We mark the birth on October 10, 1903 – 119 years ago today – of the Russian-American composer of concert music Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dukelsky.  As a composer of popular music, and as a major contributor to the Great American Songbook, he is known as Vernon Duke. The Great American Songbook The Great American Songbook refers to neither a book nor a specific list of songs.  Rather, the phrase encompasses the repertoire of American...

Mark as Played
October 3, 2022 18 min

We mark the death on October 3, 1931 – 91 years ago today – of the Danish composer and violinist Carl Nielsen in Copenhagen, at the age of 66. Nielsen had what we colloquially call “a bad ticker.”  He suffered his first heart attack in 1925, when he was sixty years old.  A nasty series of heart attacks put him in Copenhagen’s National Hospital (the Rigshospitalet) on October 1, 1931.  He died there at 12:10 am on October 3.  Surrou...

Mark as Played

We mark the death on September 26, 1945 – 77 years ago today – of the pianist, composer, and Hungarian patriot Béla Bartók. Born in what was then the Hungarian town of Nagyszentmiklós(now Sînnicolau Mare in Romania) on March 25, 1881, Bartók died – during what he called his “comfortable exile” – in New York City. Before moving on to Bartók’s “American Exile”, let’s establish –as we can from our vantage point in 2022 – his creds as ...

Mark as Played
September 19, 2022 18 min

“Don’t give up your day gig.” Along with “don’t eat yellow snow” and “fake it ‘til you make it”, “don’t give up your day gig” remains one of the oldest, hoariest, clichéd pieces of advice anyone can give or receive. But unless you were lucky/wise enough to heed the other greatest piece of advice any musician can receive, that being “marry rich”, “don’t give up your day gig” is still among the very best pieces of advice a musician c...

Mark as Played

We mark the marriage on September 12, 1840 – 182 years ago today – of the pianist and composer Clara Wieck (1819-1896) to the composer and pianist Robert Schumann (1810-1856).  The couple were married the day before Clara’s 21st birthday (September 13, 1840), for reasons that will be explained in detail in tomorrow’s Dr. Bob Prescribes post. Not for the Timid I ask: what are the most difficult things any person can attempt?  To sum...

Mark as Played
September 5, 2022 18 min

We mark the premiere on September 5, 1913 – 109 years ago today – of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2.  Prokofiev (1891-1953) composed the piece while still a student at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory; it was completed in April of 1913.  (For our information, Prokofiev still had another year to go at the Conservatory; he didn’t graduate until May of 1914.)   The concerto received its premiere – 109 years ago today – at th...

Mark as Played
August 29, 2022 17 min

We mark the birth on August 29, 1920 – 102 years ago today – of the alto saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker. The trumpet player (and one-time member of Charlie Parker’s quintet) Miles Davis (1926-1991) famously said: “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” Miles Davis never minced words, and he does not mince them here. Along with Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker was (and remains) the ...

Mark as Played
August 22, 2022 24 min

We celebrate the birth on August 22, 1862 – 160 years ago today – of the French composer and pianist Claude Debussy.  Born in the Paris suburb of St. Germain-en-Laye, he died in Paris on March 25, 1918, at the age of 55.  Let’s tell it like it is: Monsieur Debussy was one of the great ones.  For all of its sensual beauty – and Debussy did indeed compose some of the most gorgeous music ever written – his music is among the most orig...

Mark as Played

We mark the opening of the so-called “Woodstock Festival” on August 15, 1969 – 53 years ago today – “so-called” for the following reasons. “Woodstock.” Even without considering the original festival that bears its name, “Woodstock”, as a placename has a homey, countryside-like quality to it. And a beautiful, quaint town it is, with a population – in 1970 – of 5714 people (it’s just about the same today). Eighty-eight miles north of...

Mark as Played

August 8 is a great day, a signal day, an epic day for both good and bad reasons in the history of popular, rock, and jazz music.  We’d observe a few of today’s date-related events before moving on to our featured story. First, with heads respectfully bowed, we would note some of those who have passed away on this date.  On August 8, 1940 – 82 years ago today – the jazz clarinetist and alto saxophonist Johnny Dodds died of a heart ...

Mark as Played

We mark the death on August 1, 1784 – 238 years ago today – of the German composer and organist Wilhelm Friedemann Bach in Berlin at the age of 73.  Born in the central German city of Weimar on November 22, 1710, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, who from here on we will refer to as Friedemann Bach, was the second child and first son of Johann Sebastian Bach (who from this point forward we will refer to as Sebastian Bach). Friedemann Bach w...

Mark as Played

We mark the death on July 25, 1984 – 38 years ago today – of the American Rhythm and Blues singer Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton.  Born on December 11, 1926, she died in Los Angeles of both heart and liver disease brought on by alcohol abuse.  According to Gillian Gaar, writing in She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll (Seal Press, 1992), during the brief period of her final illness, Thornton went from 450 pounds (B...

Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Crime Junkie

    If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

    The Piketon Massacre

    The most notorious mass murder in Ohio’s history happened on the night of April 21, 2016 in rural Pike County. Four crime scenes, thirty-two gunshot wounds, eight members of the Rhoden family left dead in their homes. Two years later a local family of four, the Wagners, are arrested and charged with the crimes. As the Wagners await four back-to-back capital murder trials, the KT Studios team revisits Pike County to examine: crime-scene forensics, upcoming legal proceedings, and the ties that bind the victims and the accused. As events unfold and new crimes are uncovered, what will it mean for all involved? What will it mean for Pike County?

    Morbid

    It’s a lighthearted nightmare in here, weirdos! Morbid is a true crime, creepy history and all things spooky podcast hosted by an autopsy technician and a hairstylist. Join us for a heavy dose of research with a dash of comedy thrown in for flavor.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

Advertise With Us

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

    Connect

    © 2022 iHeartMedia, Inc.