|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
|Did You Guess?
Some people are afraid of the number 13, saying it is unlucky. This fear of 13 is called triskaidekaphobia. In Schoenberg's case it might be well-founded. He was born on the 13th of the month. He once refused to rent a house because it had the number 13. He was aftaid to turn 76 because 7+6=13. It is said that he feared Friday, July 13, 1951, since it was the first Friday the 13th of his 76th year. He stayed in bed that day preparing for what he thought as his death day. After trying to wake her husband, his wife found that he had, in fact died. It is said that his time of death was 11:47 p.m., 13 minutes until midnight.
|Can You Guess?
We read of Arnold Schoenberg's death below. It only makes sense for that to have occurred on this date since he suffered from triskaidekaphobia. Can You Guess, just what is triskaidekaphobia?
Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer
|July 13, 1762 Benjamin Franklin promoted his armonica in a letter he sent to Giambatista Beccaria. You can read the complete text of the letter by clicking HERE. The instrument is based on skimming moist fingers around the top of drinking glasses. It was refined as a large spinning drum which contained glass bowls of various sizes.
|In 1757 Benjamin Franklin attended a concert during which the performer played music by skimming his moistened finger around the rims of wine glasses. Franklin said that he thought it was the loveliest music he had ever heard. But Franklin was not just interested in performing melodies, he wanted a way to play multiple notes to produce harmony. In 1761 Franklin invented the armonica. The name was taken from the Italian word for "harmony." Some have said that if the harp is "the instrument of the Angels", then the Armonica is "the voice of the Angels".|
|Graduated size bowls with holes and corks in their centers were put onto a horizontal spindle and rotated by a fly wheel and a foot pedal. Moistened fingers rubbed the edges to produce sound.|
|Franklin needed a way to identify the notes of the bowls. He painted seven bowls that we would identify with the white keys on a piano the seven colors of the rainbow and the five black keys, white. In 1785 Karl Rollig of Germany began the practice of gold banding the bowls.
The Armonica was an instant success. Marie Antoinette took lessons on it. Mesmer, the famous hypnotist Mesmer used it. He said that it put his patients into a deeper trance. Famous composers wrote music for the instrument, among them were Mozart, Beethoven, Donizetti, Richard Strauss, and Saint-Saens.
In the mid-1800's the instrument began to lose its popularity. The haunting sound of the armonica were said to evoke the spirits of the dead. Some said that it drove performers insane. Ultimately, the instrument was all but lost.
|Franklin's Armonica at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia|
|In 1982 master glass blower Gerhard Finkenbeiner of Waltham Massachusetts developed an interest in the instrument. He believed that pure crystal, instead of the glass of Franklin's day, would produce a purer tone.|
|Although Finkenbeiner was lost in a plane crash in 1999 his company, G. Finkenbeiner, Inc., continues to manufacture and repair the instruments.|
|1829 - Premiere of Felix Mendelssohn's Double Concerto, in e, for two pianos and orchestra, with the composer and Ignaz Moscheles soloists in London.
1951 - Death of composer Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles at the age of 76.
1959 - The Shirelles' Dedicated To The One I Love was released.
1968 - Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild was released.
1995 - Premiere of John Corigliano's Soliloquy for clarinet and string quartet by Chamber Music Northwest in Portland OR.
2004 - Death of German conductor Carlos Kleiber at age 74.
|Glass Armonica Music
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