|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
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Did You Guess?
At the premiere of Berlioz's GrandSymphonie funebre et triomphale the composer conducted using a sword instead of a baton.
|Can You Guess?
At the premiere of Hector Berlioz's GrandSymphonie funebre et triomphale Berlioz conducted. He did not use a baton. Can You Guess what Berlioz used instead of a baton? If you get the right answer, "Touché!"
Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
|Johann Sebastian Bach (called Sebastian) was born in Eisenach, Germany on March 21, 1685. Sebastian attended Eisenach's Lateinschule, the same institute where Martin Luther had studied. The main subjects taught there were religion and grammar with secondary emphases in history and arithmetic.|
|1741 - Funeral of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi in Vienna. He was buried as a pauper.
1826 - Carl Zerrahn, German-American conductor conductor, was born in Mecklenburg-Schwerin. In 1848 he became conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston .
1840 - Premiere of Hector Berlioz's GrandSymphonie funebre et triomphale in Paris.
1850 - On the Centennial of Bach's death the Bach Gesellschaft was founded in Germany by Schumann, Jahn and others. Its purpose was to produce a comprehensive collection of the composer's works. It was completed January 27, 1900. Bach left more than 1100 complete works!
1910 - Frank Loesser, Broadway Musical composer and lyricist, was born.
1964 - She's Not There, by the Zombies, was released.
1972 - Jonathan Newman, American composer, was born. Music samples on his website!
1979 - Tusk the two record set by Fleetwood Mac, was released by Warner Brothers Records.
|Bach came from a family of musicians. He probably took his first music lessons from his father, Ambrosius. In 1695, both his parents died, and Sebastian went to live with his elder brother Johann Christoph, organist at the Church of St. Michael in Ohrdruf. While there, Sebastian studied at the Klosterschule, which had a very innovative curriculum. It compressed 6 years of math into 4, and students studied music 4-5 hours per week. Sebastian excelled here and rose to the head of his class.
In 1700, Sebastian made the 200-mile trip to Lüneburg to study at the Michaelisschule, where he sang in the church choir on Sundays and as needed for other occasions in return for tuition, room, board, and a small allowance. Unfortunately these scholarships only remained until a boy's voice changed. After that, Sebastian played violin in the orchestra and accompanied the choir on the harpsichord before quitting his career as a student. At Lüneburg Bach continued to develop his skills as a choral composer.
In March, 1703, at age 17, Bach became court musician to the Duke: Johann Ernst due to his reputation as one who had expertise in pipe organ design and construction. As a youngster in Eisenach, Ohrdruf and Lüneburg, Sebastian was present when these towns had undertaken renovations of organs in their churches. Sebastian was probably a frequent companion of the guildsmen in charge of these reconstructions, and probably an active participant.
In the fall of 1705 Bach asked for a leave of absence to visit Lübeck, home of the brilliant organist Dietrich Buxtehude. He was granted 4 weeks. When it came time to return to Arnstadt Bach lingered in Lübeck for 3 months without consulting his employers. He was reprimanded.
Bach's contract at Arnstadt required him to play and maintain the organ and that is all. His compositions from this period were therefore produced at his own initiative and on his own time. Most of them are for the keyboard, including: toccatas for clavier, several reworkings of compositions by earlier Italian composers (Legrenzi, Corelli, Albinoni), and organ works. Included among the compositions for organ is the prelude on Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, which survives today as the oldest extant manuscript in Bach's own hand.
Bach applied for the prestigious job as the music director of the Thomasschule in 1722. A year later, after two other musicians turned down the job, it was given to Bach.
During the following years he was in high demand as a teacher because of his knowledge and talent with the organ. He worked as court musician in various posts. He also began publishing his own work. Bach wrote over 300 musical pieces, including many for violin (Click here to hear a synthesized version movement 1 of his "Double" Concerto for Two Violins in D minor), but always enjoyed studying music and playing instruments more than writing music.
During his last year, Bach's eyesight began to fail and in 1749 he had two operations to help his vision. On July 28th, three months after his last operation, Bach died at age 65. He was buried at St. John's cemetery in Leipzig. His widow, Anna Magdalena, lived for another 10 years before she died in poverty.
|Johann Sebastian Bach
Click the Picture to See Some of His Music
Guys and Dolls