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
September 13
1866 - Composer and pianist Nikolai Rubinstein founds the Moscow Conservatory. with Tchaikovsky as the first teacher of theory and  harmony.

1874 - Arnold Franz Walter Schoenberg,  Austrian-American composer, was born in Vienna.

1884 - C. E. Duble,  American composer especially known for circus marches, was born in Jeffersonville, IN.

1911 - Bill Monroe (William Smith Monroe), the father of bluegrass, was born.
See Bill Monroe's music HERE.

1925 - Singer Mel Torme,also known as the "Velvet Fog," was born.
See Mel Torme's music HERE.

1937 - Billie Holiday recorded He's Funny That Way (Disc 2 Cut 2).
See all of Billie Holiday's Music HERE

1941 - David Clayton Thomas, vocalist for Blood, Sweat and Tears, was born.

1956 - Joni Sledge (Sister Sledge) was born.

1965 - The Beatles release the single, Yesterday/Act Naturally. This is also the day they win their first Grammy -- for Best Group and for their A Hard Days Night LP

1967 - First performance of Aaron Copland's Inscape (disc 2 selection7), commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for its 125th Anniversary Year.
(See all Copland's music)

1977 - Leopold Stokowski, conductor, died in Hampshire, England, at age 95.

1986 - First performance of Leonard Bernstein's Concerto for Orchestra "Jubilee Games."
Can You Guess?
When Leonard Bernstein and company decided to write a musical version of Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet it was to be about tensions that occurred due to a romance between a Christian and a Jew.  That was changed to a Puerto Rican/Caucasian romance.  Can You Guess what the writers originally thought the title of the play would be?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
Clara Schumann
1819-1896
Clara Josephine Wieck was born September 13, 1819, in Leipzig, Germany. Her father, Friedrich, owned a piano store and was a renowned  piano teacher.  Her mother,  Marianne, was a talented pianist (a student of Friedrich) and soprano.  She helped in the store, taught advanced piano students, and was Friedrich's best advertisement as a piano teacher when she performed in public.
Before Clara's birth, her father resolved that she would be a great musical prodigy. To his dismay, Clara did not begin to speak until she was 4. Her parents thought she might be deaf.

When Clara was 4, her mother left. The Wiecks divorced when Clara was 5. After that, Clara rarely saw her mother.

To prove to himself that Clara was not deaf, Wieck began teaching her piano pieces by ear. To his delight, Clara was a fast learner. It was soon evident that Clara would become the  musical prodigy her father had envisioned. By age 9 she played public solos, and toured Paris playing recitals at 11.

Clara's childhood consisted of piano, violin, instrumentation, voice, counterpoint and composition lessons. She attended concerts and studied languages. Though her father (her only piano teacher) was domineering and flew into frequent fits of rage, he presented Clara with the finest music of the time.  She performed Carl Maria von Weber's piano sonatas and Frederic Chopin's works in the homes of Leipzig's elite.

At age 14, Clara began composing her Piano Concerto in A Minor. She performed the work at age l6, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Felix Mendelssohn conducting. He and the poet Goethe became admirers. Concert tours to Paris, Dresden, Berlin and Vienna followed. In Vienna the Emperor gave her the title Royal and Imperial Chamber Virtuosa. Clara had earned a reputation as a musical child genius, remarkable composer and pianist of great virtuosity.

Robert Schumann became Wieck's piano student. Robert and Clara fell in love, eventually deciding to marry. Wieck opposed the relationship. He knew Schumann (who was 9 years older than Clara) was prone to depression, that he'd had several unsuccessful relationships with women and that he had no way to support Clara. He forbade them to marry. This could have prevented the marriage until Clara was 21. The couple went to court and gained the right to marry. To spite her father they one day before her 21st birthday, September 12, 1840. During that year, Robert expressed his love to Clara in the form of love songs -- 100 in that year alone.

Though Wieck had objected to Robert as a potential son-in-law, he did not reject him as a composer. Wieck gave Clara Schumann's piano piece Papillons to learn.

Clara's father instilled in her the habit of writing a daily journal. She copied what her father dictated. After the wedding, Robert gave Clara a diary in which they wrote to one another about their lives and their music. This diary gives us great insight into the lives of the two great musicians.

Clara and Robert first lived in Leipzig where they both taught in the Conservatory.  He composed, she was a concert pianist. Robert encouraged Clara to compose.  He secretly published the songs that she wrote during their first year of marriage, and presented them to her on their first anniversary.

As much as Robert admired Clara's talents, he wanted a quiet, stable home life. Clara wanted to provide that life to Robert, but loved the performing life. Soon after they were married, she began talking about concert tours.

Once, after a spectacular performance by Clara, some gentlemen approached Robert and knowing only that he was Clara's husband, asked Robert, "Please tell us, sir, are you musical?"


Family responsibilities, career concerns, and health problems finally overtook Clara and Robert. Clara was forced to take many family responsibilities upon herself. These kept her from practicing, performing, and composing. Also, it was impossible for Robert and Clara to work at home at the same time.  Although they had two pianos, their proximity caused both musicians to bocome distracted. Finally, Clara set her music aside in deference to Robert.

Robert took a conducting position in Dusseldorf. They were warmly welcomed there, but Robert was not up to the task. He was not a gifted conductor or administrator. Complaints arose from musicians and critics. Clara tried to protect him.

I
n 1853, while in Dusseldorf, Johannes Brahms entered their lives. Robert frequently advised and helped other composers, but Brahms was exceptional. Brahms visited Robert and Clara daily.

Robert's depression continued.  When Clara was 35, he committed himself to an asylum, where he died 2 years later.  Clara was left to support her 8 children, which she did via her teaching and concert career. Many considered her Liszt's equal or superior. Her music and the friendship of Brahms sustained Clara.

The friendship between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms encompassed every aspect of life.  Family, finances, career and music were covered.  Clara critiqued Brahms's scores, and eventually came to believe that he was actually writing his music for her, as Robert had done years before.

The 1878, concerts celebrating Clara's 50 years of peforming consisted entirely of works by Robert Schumann.

In March 1896, Clara Schumann suffered a stroke. Her friend Johannes Brahms canceled a trip to Italy await news of her improvement.

On her deathbed, Clara Schumann asked her grandson, Ferdinand, to play her husband's F-sharp major romance for her. That was the last music Clara Schumann heard. She died May 20, 1896.

Brahms attended the funeral. He died eleven months later.

Her compositions date from 1853 or before, and include 29 songs, 4 pieces for piano and orchestra, 20 pieces for solo piano, and cadenzas for 3 piano concertos by Beethoven and Mozart; her works are numbered up to Op. 23, with 17 others without opus numbers.

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Did You Guess?
The original working title for West Side Story was East Side Story.