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
December 31
1724 - Premiere of J. S. Bach's Sacred Cantata No. 122 Das neugeborne Kindelein (The Newborn Child) on the Sunday after Christmas as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig 1724-25.

1782 - Mozart finished the first of his 'Haydn' string quartets, K. 387.

1837 - Birth of American composer John R. Sweney in PA.

1865 - Premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov's Symphony No. 1 in St. Petersburg.

1879 - Opening of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance in London. Premiere in NY, the night before. Did You See Yesterday's Video Clip?  If not, CLICK HERE!

1899 - Birth of Mexican composer and violinist Silvestre Revueltas.

1929 - Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played Auld Lang Syne as a New Year's Eve song for the first time.

1943 - John Denver was born John Henry Deutschendorf in Roswell, N.M.

1961 - The Beach Boys played a show under this name for the first time at a Ritchie Valens memorial concert in Long Beach, CA.

1962 - Birth of American composer Jennifer Higdon in Brooklyn, NY.

2000 - Country Music Hall of Fame member Kitty Wells, 81, and her husband, Johnny Wright, 86, perform their farewell show in Nashville.
Can You Guess?
A
festive Austrian New Year's Eve custom involves attending a performance of a Strauss operetta.  Can You Guess what batty operetta it is?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
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Nathan Mironovich Milstein was born on December 31, 1903, in Odessa, Russia, son of Miron Milstein, a merchant. He was the fourth of seven children.

In 1911, Nathan's mother took him to a concert in which Jascha Heifitz (already internationally known at age 11) played. This was Nathan's introduction to the violin.
Click photo to search for
Milstein's music

Nathan Milstein
1903-1992
Nathan had some initial lessons on the violin and was considered so promising that he was accetpted as a student by Pyotr Stoljarsky.  According to Milstein, he did not like playing the violin. "Mother organized violin lessons for me in order to prevent me from thrashing the children of our neighbors." In spite of the fact that such master violinists as Jan Kubelik and Eugene Ysaye regularly performed in Odessa, Milstein just could not develop much of an interest in the instrument.

In 1915 all that changed. Milstein developed an intense interest in his violin studies. His teacher arranged for Milstein to play Alexander Glazunov's violin concerto with an orchestra conducted by the composer himself!

Milstein remembered, "At the rehearsal I played something at the beginning of the concerto in my own way. Obviously I was a brazen boy - the presence of the composer did not intimidate me. Glazunov looked down at me through his pince-nez and murmured, 'Don't you like the way I wrote it?' I played it his way then, but when the rehearsal was over Glazunov turned to me and said, 'Play it any way you want!' Because he saw that my version was better."

The concert was a great success.

The following year Milstein was presented to the most famous violin teacher of his time, Leopold Auer.  At his audition he played Bach's Partita in d Minor.  Auer accepted him as a student, and Milstein and his mother moved to St. Petersburg to begin lessons.

Besides his classes with Auer, Milstein attended master classes given by great violinists.  Elman and Poljakin gave classes, as did Jascha Heifetz, whose concert Milstein had attended as a boy.  It was during this time that Milstein was urged to not only interpret the music with his fingers, but to work on the musicality of his playing.  He began to work on unaccompanied solo works, especially those by J. S. Bach.  It was also at this time that Milstein began concertizing in and around Odessa.

In 1921 Milstein met pianist Vladimir "Volodja" Horowitz.  They quickly became friends and musical colleagues.  The began a concert tour of the Ukraine and Russia.

Christmas Day, 1925 marked Milstein's first concert in Berlin.  The concert was not as successful as hoped.  The pair moved to Paris, where their concerts were extremely well received.

In 1926 Milstein traveled to Belgium to take lessons from Eugene Ysaye. When he heard Milstein play selections from both Bach and Paganini, Ysaye stated that Milstein had no further need of lessons. "You play Paganini well, Bach, too; what more do you want?"  But Milstein remained with Ysaye for several months.  Although Milstein was to later state that he did not learn much from Ysaye, he felt that he had benefited from and been inspired by the experience.

Milstein's international reputation growing, he traveled the world giving concerts.  His American debut occurred on November 29, 1929.  He once again played the Glazunov concerto.  In spite of the fact that the United States was in love with the playing of Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler, Milstein quickly chiseled out a niche for himself. He soon found himself a world-class violinist, with a following all his own. Milstein became a United States citizen in 1943. He gave a Library of Congress recital in 1946.

After playing many different violins in his earlier days, Milstein acquired the 1716 "Goldman" Stradivari in 1945. He re-named the instrument the "Maria Teresa" in honor of his daughter Maria and his wife Therese. He used that violin for the rest of his life.

After World War II, Milstein moved to London.  He became a regular performer at the Vienna and Salzburg Festivals from the 1950's until 1985.  He continued his worldwide concert tours, and became especially well known for his interpretation of that Glazunov concerto, and of Bach.

Milstein, known as "Prince of the Violin," and "Prince of the Bow," had enjoyed the longest concert career of any violinist in modern history.  In 1989, he suffered a fall, and broke his arm.  The injury ended his concert career. Although unable to play well enough to perform at concerts, he did remain active in teaching and arranging works for violin.  You can see a video of Milstein playing at the bottom of this page!

Nathan Milstein died on the 21st of. December 1992 in London at the age of 89.
Nathan Milstein
Fledermaus
A Good Version of
Die Fledermaus with
Lyrics in English
.
Great Milstein Collection
Many Sound Samples on Amazon
Did You Guess?
Austria's New Year's Eve celebrations are called Sylvesterabend, referring to the Eve of Saint Sylvester. A traditional punch of cinnamon.  Midnight Mass is another Austrian tradition as is a generous exchange of kisses when the clock strikes 12. As for music? The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs the Strauss operetta
Die Fledermaus (The Bat) every New Year's Eve and again the next day.
Nathan Milstein Playing Paganiniana
Just Some of Milstein's Recordings.
Many Sound Samples!
I Luv Violin Shirt