Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
April 30
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In 1980 John Williams was named conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.  But you probably know him by music he wrote.  Can You Guess where you have heard John Williams's music?

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1728 - Premiere of Handel's Tolomeo, rè di Egitto.

1757 - Premiere of Giardini's Rosmire London.

1781 - Premiere of Salieri's Der Rauchfangkehrer.

1855 - Premiere of Hector Berlioz's Te Deum in Paris.

1857 - Premiere of Offenbach's Dragonette.

1883 - Carl Rosa, violinist & founder of the Carl Rosa Opera Company, died.

1881 - The Boston Pops Orchestra was founded by Henry Lee Higginson.

1911 - Public debut of violinist Jascha Heifetz at age 10 in St. Petersburg.

1927 - Singer/Songwriter John Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas) was born.

1941 - Blues man Charlie "Bird" Parker made his first commercial recording.

1979 - Premiere of Harbison's Full Moon in March.

1983 - George Balanchine,  choreographer died at 78.

1983 - Blues great Muddy Waters died.

1988 - Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of the Moon dropped off Billboard Magazine's Top 200 list for the first time in 725 weeks (just under 14 years).

1994 - Premiere of John Harbison's String Quartet No. 3.  by the Lydian String Quartet.

2003 - Premiere of Augusta Read Thomas' Sun Threads by the Avalon String Quartet.
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich was born in Miami, Florida on April 30, 1939.

“When I was a toddler I climbed up on a piano bench and found out what happened when I banged on it, and I’m still fascinated,” Zwilich said.

Zwilich studied music at Florida State University.  She continued her studies at the Juilliard School under Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter.  She also studied violin under Richard Burgin and Ivan Galamian.  In 1975 She became the first woman to receive a doctorate in composition from Juilliard.

"All talk of method and style seemed suddenly trivial; I became interested in meaning. I wanted to say something musically about life and living."

While still working on her doctorate she played violin with the American Symphony Orchestra from 1965-1972, where she played under the baton of Leopold Stokowski.

But it seems that composition is Zwilich’s passion.  "If it doesn't give you goose bumps there is something wrong,” she said of writing. "One of the joys of my life is writing music for people who really want to play it. And that's priceless."

And compose she does.  Zwilich composes in all media except opera.  She first attracted attention when Pierre Boulez conducted her Symposium for Orchestra at Juilliard in 1975.  But she leapt to the fore when, in 1983.  That year she became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music with her Symphony No. 1.

Zwilich celebrated her birthday in 1991 with the premiere of her Bass Trombone concerto.  Her works have been performed by virtually all of the leading American orchestras and by major ensembles abroad.  She has continued to win award after award.  In 1995 she was named to the first Composer’s Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall.  In 1999 Zwilich was named America’s Composer of the Year.  Her works are regularly commissioned and played by leading orchestras and ensembles all over the world.

But composition is not enough for Ms. Zwilich.  She also teaches.  She is currently the Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor at the Florida State University School of Music.

"I need to feel that everything is an event and each new piece an exploration . . .  It seems to me that there is something very deep about music, in the same category as falling in love or a religious experience. People do things they feel to be deeply enriching, because they are totally pulled along, because they want to."
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
1939-
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Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, violin
Williams wrote the music for a few popular films. All 6 Star Wars episodes, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Patriot, Angela's Ashes, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Seven Years in Tibet, The Lost World, Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Far and Away, JFK, Hook, Presumed Innocent, Born on the Fourth of July, the Indiana Jones trilogy, The Accidental Tourist, Empire of the Sun, E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jaws among others. He has received 43 Academy Award nominations.
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