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
October 21
Can You Guess?
Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld contains a theme to which we often see saloon dancers lift up their skirts and kick up their heels in Western movies.  Can....Can You Guess what dance the ladies perform?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
1858 - Premiere of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld.

1879 - Birth of French composer Joseph Canteloube.

1908 - Birth of Russian-American violinist Alexander Schneider in Vilna, Russia. For many years was a member of the Budapest String Quartet.

1921 - Birth of English composer (Sir) Malcolm Arnold in Northampton.

1924 - Death of Belgian violinist and composer Martin Pierre Joseph Marsick, at 76 in Paris.

1937 - Premiere of Dmitri Shostakovitch's 5th Symphony.

1941 - Debut of Aaron Copland's Piano Sonata. Copland, pianist in Buenos Aires.

1949 - Birth of Israeli composer Shulamit Ran in Tel Aviv. The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

1975 - The Scott Joplin ragtime opera Treemonisha opened at Uris Theater in NYC for 64 performances.

2004 - Premiere of  Richard Danilepour's Songs of Solitude with texts by W. B. Yeats. Baritone, Thomas Hampson with Philadelphia Orchestra/Robertson in Phildelphia, PA.
Emerson String Quartet  -- Click to see their music at Amazon
Emerson String Quartet
Click Picture to See the Emerson Quartet's Music at Amazon
On this date in 1984 Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Double Quartet for strings was performed for the first time. Emerson String Quartet and friends at a concert of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, in New York City.

The Emerson String Quartet is one of the premiere quartets in the world today.  The Quartet was founded in 1976 by violinists Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker, violist Guillermo Figueroa and cellist Eric Wilson. Lawrence Dutton replaced Figueroa in 1977 and David Finckel replaced Wilson in 1979. This group has remained intact ever since.
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Zwilich Double Quartet
Emerson String Quartet Mendelssohn Quartets
Emerson String Quartet Haydn Seven Last Words
Emerson String Quartet Beethoven Quartets
Emerson String Quartet --Encores
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Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Double Quartet
Emerson Encores
A Great Introduction to the Emersons
The Emersons
Play Haydn's
Seven Last Words
of Christ
The Emersons
Play Mendelssohn
The Emersons
Play Beethoven
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Did You Guess?
Why, it's the Can-Can!
   
Of Course-Of Course?
The Emersons maintain a very heavy touring and recording schedule, frequently performing on three continents over the course of a year and releasing new recordings often.  They have won six Grammy Awards along with many other honors.
And their recordings can be quite innovative.  They recorded the Mendelssohn octet, which is a problem since octets have eight parts and the Emersons are just four men.  The solution?  Multiple recordings!  And the piece is so well thought out that they realized that in a real octet would actually be eight instruments, each instrument having its own timbre.  So each member of the quartet plays two instruments.  Eight parts.  Eight instruments.  Four musicians.

The Emersons are known for their social concerns, having performed numerous benefit concerts for such causes as nuclear disarmament, AIDS research and children's disease research.

The group is also dedicated to education.  Most recently, in addition to their frequent presentations of master classes, they became the Quartet in Residence at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Personal note.  I had the good fortune to meet the quartet at a party after a Houston concert several years back.  I had played with one of the members when we were growing up, and hadn't seen him since.  In spite of the fact that they had just performed and had a heavy travel schedule they were all gracious and chatted with us for quite some time.  Great musicians and just plain good people.
Unlike many quartets, there is no established first and second violin.  Setzer and Drucker trade off from piece to piece.  They say that this encourages them to listen to one another more closely and adapt to the situation.
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