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 23
1642 - Giovanni Mari Bononcini, Italian composer, was born in Montecorone.

1684 - Johann Theodor Roemhildt, German composer, was born in Eisenach.

1777 - First performance of  Gluck's opera Armide at the Académie Royale in Paris..

1835 - Vincenzo Bellini, Italian composer, died in Paris.

1872 - Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein made his US debut in New York City.

1890 -  A. Walter Kramer, US composer, was born.

1893 - Clifford Vaughan, US composer, pianist, organist, conductor, was born in Philadelphia, PA.  (orchestrated Old Yeller and Darby O'Gill and the Little People)

1899 - William Levi Dawson, US composer, was born in Anniston, AL.   See Dawson's Music at Amazon.

1937 - First televised performance of an entire opera. BBC-TV, Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona.

1958 - Premiere of Igor Stravinsky's Threni, by the North German Radio Orchestra of Hamburg, who had commissioned the work.

1962 - Premiere of Aaron Copland's Connotations for Orchestra, during the opening season of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

2003 - Premiere of Peter Lieberson's Piano Quintet. Pianist Peter Serkin and The Orion String Quartet.
Can You Guess?
The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is not just a single hall for classical music, or performance.  An educational institution is resident there.  Can You Guess what school uses Lincoln Center?

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What a strange picture!

No, Jacques Mazas was not a dog!

Jacques (Féréol) Mazas was born September 23, 1782 in Lavaur, France. 

In 1802 Mazas became a student of Pierre Baillot at the conservatory in Paris where, in 1805, he received a first prize for his performances.  He gained fame with his performances of the Viotti concertos, and had a violin concerto written for him by Auber in 1808.  He played duets with Rudolph Kreutzer.  Concert tours were made through Spain, England, Holland, Belgium and Italy and Russia.

(Nope, nothing about dogs yet.)

In 1829 Mazas returned to Paris and, feeling that his ability as a touring soloist had diminished, settled there.  In 1831 he moved to Orléans where he became concetmaster of the Royal Theater.

In 1837 he became director of the school of music in Cambrai, a post he would hold until 1841.  It was in the teaching of violin students that Mazas truly made his mark.

He is best known for his "Méthode de violon" and "Études brilliant" op.36.  He also wrote a series of duets for two violins.

And here we bring in the dog.

My first contact with Mazas involved his duets.  My teacher, Ellen Buxton, assigned a young lady by the name of Cheryl Rahn and me to play several Mazas duets.  Neither Cheryl nor I were exceptionally skilled, but we tried working these out together.  We had trouble . . . a lot of trouble.  An acquaintance of mine named Lawrence Dutton (who is now the violist of the Emerson String Quartet) graciously tried to help.  I improved a whole lot, but I just didn't have ears to hear what he said.

The turning point came when Mrs. Buxton told Cheryl and me, "It's a game.  It's a chasing game.  Cheryl runs, and you chase her, then you run and she chases you."

Just the way the dog in the picture above is chasing the mouse, wagging his tail the whole time, we had to do the running, but keep the tail wagging.  We had to make playing the duet a fun game.

That somehow made sense to me.  It was at that point that I determined that no matter how serious the piece was, no matter what difficulty I was having, the music had to be fun.

I can still play parts of the duets by memory, mostly because I had fun practicing with Cheryl.  My thanks go out to Cheryl, Larry, Mazas and Mrs. Buxton.

Mazas died in Bézier, France, August 26, 1849.
Jacques Féréol Mazas
1782-1849
Download Sheet Music by Mazas
Includes Mazas's  Melodious & Progressive Studies, Book 1: Etude no 19 "Gossip"
Mela Tenenbaum plays Mazas
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The Juilliard School is resident at the Lincoln Center.

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