|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
|Can You Guess?
We read about Alex North's birth below. He was hired by film director Stanley Kubrick to write the score for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. When North attended the premiere of the movie in New York he was shocked. Can You Guess what had him so upset?
Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
|1885 - American premiere of Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in d, at the Old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, at an afternoon public rehearsal by the New York Symphony Society. 23-year old Walter Damrosch conducted. The “official” concert occurred the next evening; This was the first time any Bruckner Symphony was performed in America.
1910 - Alex North, US composer, was born in Chester, PA.
1898 - First performance of Antonin Dvorák's symphonic poem Hero's Song Op. 111, in Vienna.
1957 - Jerry Lee Lewis performed Great Balls of Fire on "American Bandstand."
1967 - I Second That Emotion by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' was released
1976 - Death of British composer Benjamin Britten at age 63
1978 - The rock band Boston played their first show in the city of Boston.
1993 - Death of American composer and guitarist Frank Zappa
|One of the staples in the repertoire of distinguished violinists is the Concerto in D, by Piotr Tchaikovsky. It premiered December 4, 1881.
Although the music establishment was not fond of his music, the public gave Tchaikovsky's First Symphony a good reception. By 1874, he had won praise for his Second Symphony, had composed two string quartets, most of his next opera and his First Piano Concerto. (Tchaikovsky wanted Nikolay Rubinstein, head of Moscow's Conservatory to play the concerto, but Rubinstein said it was unplayable. So Tchaikovsky dedicated to Hans von Bülow (who premiered it in Boston).
|Although Tchaikovsky composed many types of music, the piece that excites violinists is his Violin Concerto. Tchaikovsky was very fond of former student Yosif Kotek, who was a skilled violinist of considerable skill. He decided to write a concerto to feature Kotek.
Within eleven days of starting, Tchaikovsky had completely sketched out the concerto. Upon reflection, he did not like the second movement, so he decided to rework it. That only took him a day. Then came the orchestration. All in all, it only took Tchaikovsky thirty days to complete the Violin Concerto.
|Place Your Mouse Over Tchaikovsky's Picture to See Violinist Adolph Brodsky|
|Contains My Favorite Recording
of the Tchaikovsky Concerto
|-Did You Guess?
Director Kubrick decided to use pre-recorded music that was not written by North. Not one minute of North's work was used. But what was worse, nobody told North. He attended the premiere expecting to hear his own music.
|Electrifyingly Fun Violins Make Fabulous Fun!|
|One of the
Top 50 Albums of 2010
-- National Public Radio
|Although Tchaikovsky's friend may have had the skills to perform the concerto, but Tchaikovsky needed a violinist with a strong reputation to premiere it. The best way to get a renowned musician to play a work for the first time was to dedicate it to him. Tchaikovsky chose to dedicate the concerto to Leopold Auer. To Tchaikovsky's horror, Auer said that the piece was "unviolinistic" and refused to play it. Tchaikovsky approached other violinists who also turned him down. Finally, he convinced Adolph Brodsky to premiere the work in Vienna in December 4, 1881.|
|By most accounts, Brodsky performed the piece well, but the critics were not kind. The most influential critic in Vienna at that time was Eduard Hanslick. Below is a portion of his review.
"The Russian composer Tchaikovsky is surely not an ordinary talent, but rather an inflated one, with a genius-obsession without discrimination or taste. Such is also his latest, long and pretentious Violin Concerto. . . . (at) the end of the first movement. The violin is no longed played; it is beaten black and blue. The Adagio is again on its best behavior, to pacify and to win us. But it soon breaks off to make way for a finale that transfers us to a brutal and wretched jollity of a Russian holiday. We see plainly the savage vulgar faces, we hear curses, we smell vodka. Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto gives us for the first time the hideous notion that there can be music that stinks to the ear."
In time critics, the public and violinists themselves have come to love the piece. It is now a standard in most repertoires.
On a presonal note, I was introduced to the piece when I was in junior high school by a friend. After having read through the score several times I heard the Zino Francescatti rendition of the work with the New York Philharmonic . . . Thomas Schippers conducting. I was enthralled. It remains my favorite recording to this day. The CD below features that recording, along with David Oistrakh playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto. I almost never recommend the purchase of ANYTHING in this portion of the website. This is an exception. With a price (at the time of this writing) of under $7 it is an almost unmatched bargain, and I highly recommend it! A GREAT gift for the holidays!