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
November 15
Can You Guess?
The pop singing group ABBA has a strange name.  Can You Guess where it came from?  I don't know if it will help at all, but we told you about the men from the group on November 9.

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1807 - Premiere of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 in Vienna.

1905 - Annunzio Paolo Mantovani, Italian conductor and arranger, was born in Venice.  Creator of the big-string easy-listening sound.

1920 - Premiere of Gustav Holst's The Planets. Albert Coates conducting at Queen's Hall, London.

1928 - Premiere of  Gershwin's An American In Paris, under Walter Damrosh in NYC.

1930 - Premiere of Igor Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms by the Brussels Symphony Orchestra.

1971 - Grand Funk Railroad released their sixth album, "E Pluribus Funk."

1974 - Premiere of Dimitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 15.

1975 - ABBA were guests on "American Bandstand." They performed "S.O.S." and "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do."

1989 - Leonard Bernstein was awarded a National Medal of the Arts from President George Bush.  He refused the honor to protest a lack of funding of AIDS research.
Fritz Reiner
1888 - 1963
Conductor Fritz Reiner died  November 15, 1963.

He was born in Budapest in Hungary on December 19, 1888,  and studied music there at the Franz Liszt Academy.  He also prepared for a career in law, but chose music.  It is said that his preparation for the law turned him into a great musical technician.
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His ability to focus and to analyze the music, while tuning out all outside influences was legendary.

Upon graduating from the Liszt Academy he held positions  at opera houses in Budapest and Dresden.  He moved to the United States of America in 1922 to take the post of Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

In 1931 moved to Philadelphia, where he taught at the Curtis Institute.  Among his students there was a young Leonard Bernstein!  Bernstein said that Reiner was a demanding teacher.  He reqired his students to be able to identify the exact note a single instrument was to play at a given moment in a complex score; only then did they deserve to conduct it.  While still head of the conducting program at Curtis, Reiner became the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1938.  He remained at Curtis until 1941.

Reiner served as the music director of the Metropolitan Opera from 1949 until 1953, when he become conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He remained with the CSO until 1963, and it was here that he truly became famous.

Reiner was a very demanding conductor.  He required perfection, and at times appeared to the public to be doing very little on the podium itself.  The majority of his strenuous efforts had come long before the concert itself in rehearsals.

And even then, it appeared that his physical activity was minimal.  He had a notoriously small beat, at times difficult for members of the orchestra to see.  Once, during a rehearsal, a bassist took out a small telescope and focused it on Reiner, so that he could "find the beat."  Reiner was not amused, and fired the man on the spot.

But nobody could argue with Reiner's results.  He became known as an orchestra builder, and every time he left an organization it was stronger than when he had arrived.

After Reiner's death, in 1963, Reiner's reputation only continued to grow.  His recordings were almost universally acclaimed. 

The American Classical Music Hall of Fame in was founded in 1998.  Reiner was included in the first round of inductees. 
In 1989 Bernstein spoke about Reiner.  His summary follows.
"He was a genius, apart from all other conductors I've ever known. He was tyrannical, he was cruel, he was bitter, he was ruthless in his treatment of us if we didn't know what was happening. His standards were incredibly high, and I bless him for it."
Fritz Reiner
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The singers, Anni-Frid ('Frida'), Benny,  Björn and Agnetha used their first initials.
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