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 16
Can You Guess?
Khachaturian's most famous composition may be his Saber Dance, but another Russian composer has a famous piece which is not named for the weapon, but features cannons toward the end of the piece.  Can You Guess who is the composer and what is the piece? 
(This is the cereal that's shot from Guns.BOOM!)
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1766 - Birth of French violinist, teacher and composer Rodolphe Kreutzer in Versailles. In 1810 a broken arm ended his virtuoso career. Beethoven dedicated sonata op 47 to him.

1873W. C. Handy, US composer and  father of the 'blues' was born in Florence, AL.

1894 - Debut of opera star Enrico Caruso in Mario Morelli's L'Amico Francesco at Naples's Teatro Nuovo.

1908 - Conducting debut in NYC of Arturo Toscanini. Aida at the Metropolitan Opera.

1934 - Premier of William Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting.

1945 - Premier of Milhaud's Suite for Violin and Orchestra, with Zino Francescatti, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting.

1959 - Sound of Music opened at Lunt Fontanne Theater in New York City for 1443 performances.

2000 - 100th Birthday gala of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Wolfgang Sawallisch, cond. Bach, Dukas, Rachmaninoff, Sarasate, Copland and Stravinsky.
November 16, 1940 marked the premier of Aram Khachaturian's violin concerto in Moscow.

Aram Khachaturian was born June 6, 1903 in Tiflis, Russia. He was an Armenian, the son of a poor family. He was greatly interested in music he heard around him, not only that of Armenia, but also of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Despite his interest, his only musical experience was playing simple bass parts on the tuba in his school band.  He did not even learn to read music.
Aram Khachaturian
1903-1978
Despite this, he became convinced that he was cut out to be a musician, and eventually turned up in Moscow seeking admission to the Gnessin School of Music. He had major challenges to overcome.  He had to learn to speak Russian.  He was a late starter, at age 19.  By the time he entered school other notable composers had already produced compositions hailed as masterpieces.  He knew so little about music at the time of his enrollment that when he was asked what kind of music he wanted to study he did not know how to answer, he had never even considered the question.  Eventually he took up the cello, and did not enter a composition class until three years in.  

Khachaturian's slow start was counterbalanced by his rapid progress.  Only one year after he started studying composition, he already had a piece published.  Upon completion of study here, Khachaturian entered the conservatory, where he studied under Ghessin.  He did not complete his studies until he was 30.

Khachaturian's period of study in cosmopolitan Moscow had little effect on his thoughts about music, and he remained strongly influenced by the folk music of Armenia. 

"Being an Armenian," he said, "I cannot help writing Armenian music."

Rhythms, melodies and harmonies flowed from the tip of his pen sounding as though they were straight from Armenia itself. His first major orchestral work was a symphony, which was rather immature, but was still highly praised.  He developed his style and competence rapidly.

Dances, suites, symphonies, ballets (His ballet
Gayaneh contains what is probably his most familiar piece, the brilliant Sabre Dance.) and concerti were all present in Khachaturian's work.  You can see a list of his works here.

While Khachaturian's international reputation was already somewhat established, what cemented it in place was his violin concerto.  The 1940 masterpiece was written specifically for David Oistrakh, and Oistrakh permiered the piece.

Khachaturian's works can be characterized as accessible, romantic, exotic and full of noisy bravado.  They are a lot of fun to listen to, and will stick in your head. 

Khachaturian died in Moscow on May 1, 1978.
Oistrakh plays Khachuraturian
Manhasset MH1100 Accessory Shelf Standard
Violinist David Oistrakh Plays Khachatruian
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Kreutzer Sonata by Perlman
Beethoven's Kreutzer and Spring
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1812 Overture
A PHENOMENAL Recording Including Commentary on the Cannon!
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Did You Guess?
Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which was the theme song for the 1960's Puffed Rice ad campaign, features cannons in the last several minutes of the piece.
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