|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
|1801 - Premiere of Beethoven's music for the ballet Promethius.
1842 - First official performance of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
1879 - Premiere of Bedrich Smetana's String Quartet in e From My Life.
1890 - Paul Whiteman, violist and jazz band leader, was born in Denver.
1915 - Jay Livingston, popular music composer, was born. He wrote Buttons & Bows, and Nat "King" Cole's hit Mona Lisa. (Sample Cut 17)
1938 - Hal Kemp and his orchestra recorded Three Little Fishies. The Link has a Midi file and lyrics so you can sing along.
1940 - Premiere of Britten's Violin Concerto, Op. 15. New York Philharmonic , with soloist Antonio Brosa.
1955 - Reba McEntire, country singer, was born.
1964 - Can't Buy Me Love, by the Beatles, was released.
1964 - Dead Man's Curve, (sample cut 5) by Jan & Dean, was released.
1972 - Premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Meditations Nos. 1 and 2 for Cello and Piano. Stephen Katz played cello and Bernstein played piano.
2003 - Julius Levine, American double bass player, died.
|Can You Guess?
We read of Three Little Fishies below. There's another song about little animals with high hopes. Can You Guess what it is the ant and the ram in that song want to do?
Go to the Bottom of the Column for the Answer
|Modest Mussorgsky died, March 28, 1881.
Modest was born March 21, 1839 in Karevo, Russia. His mother gave him piano lessons. He played his first concert in his parents' house when he was 9. He received no formal music theory education as a child.
In 1852 Mussorgsky entered the Cadet School of the Imperial Guard in St. Petersburg. Despite his lack of training, Modest tried to write his first opera in 1856, the same year he entered the Guards.
|In 1857 he met Alexander DargomÔzhsky and Cesar Cui, and through them Mily Balakirev and librarian/critic Vladimir Stasov. He persuaded Balakirev to give him lessons and composed songs and piano sonatas.
In 1858 Mussorgsky resigned his army commission. A visit to Moscow in 1859 inspired his patriotic imagination. His music began to receive public performances. In 1861 he had to return to his family estate to manage business there for the next two years. He composed a symphony, but the result was not well received. In fact, Stasov and Balakirev agreed that 'Mussorgsky is almost an idiot'.
|Did You Guess? The ant wants to move a rubber tree plant. The ram wants to butt a hole in a dam! Click here to go to a page with the song and lyrics so that you can sing along.|
|He contiuned to compose. His opera, SalammbŰ, was never completed. At this time he served at the Ministry of Communications and lived with five other young men who developed and exchanged ideas about art, religion, philosophy and politics.|
|Mussorgsky spent summer 1867 at his brother's country house at Minkino, where he wrote St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain. On his return to St. Petersburg in the autumn Mussorgsky, like the other members of the Balakirev-Stasov circle (the 'Mighty Handful'), became interested in DargomÔzhsky's experiments in operatic naturalism. In 1869 he re-entered government service and was able to complete the original version of the opera Boris Godunov. It was rejected by the Mariinsky Theatre. Mussorgsky revised it, but the theatre rejected it again. In spite of this, excerpts were performed elsewhere and a vocal score was published. The opera committee finally accepted the work and a successtul production was mounted in February 1874.
Mussorgsky began work on the opera, Khovanshchina. Progress on the opera was interrupted by unsettled domestic circumstances and his heavy drinking. But he produced several other works at this time, including several song cycles and Pictures at an Exhibition, for piano. This was a brilliant and bold series inspired by a memorial exhibition of drawings by his friend Victor Hartmann. It would become his most famous work after being revised and orchestrated by Ravel after Mussorgsky's death.
In 1878 Mussorgsky was granted leave for a three-month concert tour with the contralto Darya Leonova. In January, 1880 he had to leave government service. Leonova provided him with employment and a home. February, 1881, found Mussorgsky in a state of nervous excitement due to alcoholism. He said that there was nothing left for him but to beg in the streets. He was admitted to the hospital, where he died March 28.
Many of Mussorgsky's works were unfinished. Rimsky-Korsakov edited them and "corrected" their rough edges. The opera Boris Gudonov is a good example of this. The orchestra was drastically cut, scenes were rearranged, and there were wholesale rewriting and rescoring edits. But examination of the original scores reveals the genius of the composer despite the roughness of the compositions at the time of Mussorgsky's death.