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 19
1829 - Gustav Schirmer, German American music publisher, was born. He came to the US in 1840.  In 1861 he founded the music publishing house that bears his name in New York City.

1960 - Chubby Checker went to No.1 on the US singles chart with The Twist. which glorified the dance of the same name. Here's a great video about the dance.

1920 - Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin, Russian composer, was born in the town of Biysk.

1970 - First performance of Morton Feldman's The Viola in My Life No. 1 for viola and orchestra, in London.  There are links to several of Feldman's pieces available for download at the site mentioned above.

1981 - Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel performed before 400,000 fans in New York's Central Park, It was recorded and released as The Concert in Central Park and filmed for an HBO cable special.

1998 - First performance of André Previn's opera A Streetcar Named Desire with Rene Fleming and the San Francisco Opera.

1999 - First performance of Elmer Bernstein's Guitar Concerto. Honolulu Symphony conducted by Samuel Wong with soloist Christopher Parkening guitarist
Can You Guess?
A little further down the page you will find mention of Elmer Bernstein and his guitar concerto. Many people have heard his music outside the concert hall.
Can You Guess where most people hear Bernstein's music?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
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© Arnold Schönberg Center, Vienna
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Click the picture to go to the Schoenberg Center web site.
Schoenberg continued his schooling, and started a banking apprenticeship.  But this did not deter him from composing.  He even spoke of reading an encyclopedia so that he could learn how to construct the first movement of a string quartet.

The earliest complete work we have, a song, dates from 1893.  In hellen Traeumen hab ich Dich oft geschaut (“In Clear Dreams I Oft Have Seen Thee”) for Voice and Piano, after a text by Alfred Gold.

In 1894, Schoenberg met Alexander von Zemlinsky, a fellow member of the orchestra Polyhymnia.  The two became friends. Though Zemlinsky was just 3 years Schoenberg's senior, he became his artistic mentor (and later his brother-in-law, as Schönberg married Mathilde Zemlinsky in 1901). He received a prize from Polyhymnia for the Schilflied (“Bulrush Song”), and composed Three Pieces for Piano in October of 1894.

Schönberg began instructing students in 1898, and continued his composition.  At the recommendation of Richard Strauss Schönberg was invited to teach harmony at the Stern conservatory in Berlin in 1903, and took the position.  1904 saw the beginning of his relationship with Gustav Mahler, who had  tremendous influence on his musical thinking until Mahler's death in 1911.

In 1923 his wife died (he remarried the next year), and in 1925 he moved to Berlin to take a master class at the Prussian Academy of Arts. While there he wrote much of his unfinished opera Moses und Aron.  Having been raised a Jew, Schoenberg left Judaism in 1898 to join the Lutheran Church.  Despite this, his heredity as a Jew forced him to leave Berlin in 1933.  He went to Paris.

Later the same year he arrived in the USA, and he settled in Los Angeles in 1934. It was there that he returned to tonal composition, while developing serialism to make possible the more complex structures of the Violin Concerto and the String Quartet no.4. In 1936 he began teaching at UCLA and his output declined.

1940 saw the world premiere of his the Violin Concerto, op. 36.  The soloist was Louis Krasner, the conductor was Leopold Stokowski.

After his reconversion to Judaism there were several significant religious works designed to show his support for Israel and Jewish music.

After a heart attack in 1945, however, he gave up teaching and made some return to expressionism (A Survivor from Warsaw, String Trio), as well as writing religious choruses.

Schoenberg died July 13, 1951 in Los Angeles.

You may have noticed that I have not discussed Schoenberg's music in much detail.  His work was, and to some extent remains controversial.  He completely abandoned tonality and he promoted serial composition, so that many of his works do not have a set key in which they are played.  At times he embraced the use of a 12-tone scale in contrast to the 8-tone scale that Western ears have become accustomed to.  He invented the technique of  Sprechstimme, halfway between singing and speaking. 

And it was not merely his works that exerted a strong influence on the world of music.  A list of his students includes Olga Novakovic, Jozef Koffler, Paul von Klenau, Karl Linke, Josef Polnauer, Hans Erich Apostel, Hanns Jelinek,Pauline Alderman, Leonard Stein and Anton Webern. Generations will owe a debt to Schoenberg for his innovation, his energy and his genius.
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Arnold Schoenberg
1874-1951
Arnold Schoenberg's String Quartet No. 3 premiered on this date in 1927, played by the Kolisch Quartet.

Schoenberg was born September 13, 1874.  He began violin studies when he was only nine years old.  Even though he had no training in composition, he started writing music almost immediately, "Little, and later large pieces for two violins, in imitation of such music as I used to play with my teacher or with a cousin of mine."
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Did You Guess?
They me that Elmer Bernstein, no relation to Leonard, had a quite a career writing music for movies. You may have heard of a few of the films he wrote for. The Ten Commandments, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Sons of Katie Elder, Airplane, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, and Ghostbusters (among others) credit him with the music.


Go to the Bottom of the Page to hear some of his music!
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