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 28
1681 - Johann Mattheson, German composer, was born in Hamburg.  Developed the church cantata form.

1745 - The British national anthem, God Save the King, was first performed in London. (words and MIDI file HERE.) The tune was adapted by Americans as the patriotic song My Country 'Tis of Thee.

1826 - Dietrich Winkel, Dutch musician, died. He improved the metronome.

1863 - First performance of Bizet's opera The Pearl Fishers in Paris.

1870 - Florent Schmitt, French composer, was born in Blamont.

1913 - Vivian Fine,  American composer, was born in Chicago.

1918 - First performance of Stravinsky's L'histoire du Soldat, The Soldier's Tale.

1923 - Hugh Wiley Hitchcock, co-editor of New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Professor of Music at CUNY and founding director of the Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College, was born. 

1927 - Birth of Joaquin Gutiérrez Heras, Mexican composer,

1961 - Premiere of Bartok's Scherzo for piano.

1968 - Spanish tenor Placido Domingo made his debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera.in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur.

1968 - The Beatles' Hey Jude was #1 on the singles chart, (first of 9 weeks). At 7 minutes 11 seconds, it was the longest song to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

1972 - First performance of Goffredo Petrassi's Concerto for Orchestra No. 8.

1991 - Garth Brooks's album Ropin' the Wind became the first country album to debut at No. 1.
Can You Guess? God Save the Queen (King) is not only the national anthem of England.  It is the national anthem of another country on the opposite side of the world.  Can You Guess what island nation shares England's national anthem?

See the Answer BELOW.
What Else
Happened
Today?
Rudolf Barshai was born September 28, 1924 in Labinskaya.  He began his violin studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Lev Ziitlin (who was a star pupil of Leopold Auer, "father" of the Russian school of violin).  He studied composition with Shostakovich, discussed orchestration with Prokofiev, and established himself as a forceful advocate of the music of Alexander Lokshin.
While he was still a student, Barshai developed an incredible enthusiasm for string quartets.  Seeking to play with a first-rate quartet, he realized that there was greater competition for violinists than violists.  As a result, he changed from a violinist to a violist so that he would be more assured of gaining a spot in a top quartet.  Later, he became a founding member of both the Borodin and the Tchaikovsky quartets.
Rudolf Barshai
1924 - 
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Did You Guess?
Interestingly,
NEW ZEALAND has two national anthems.  God Defend New Zealand is one.  God Save the  Queen (King) is the other.  Though it's seldom used, it has equal standing with God Defend New ZealandClick here to hear God Defend New Zealand sung in M?ori and English.
While still a student, Barshai became a friend of Shostakovich.  Barshai stood against massive  resistance when he collaborated with him in the performance of Shostakovich's Fourteenth Symphony in 1909.
After Shostakovich died, Rudolf Barshai emigrated to the West, deciding to begin a new career as a conductor. Orchestras that performed under Barshai's baton included the Vienna Symphony, London Symphony, Deutsches Symphonieorchester, Orchestre National de France, and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra.  Although Barshai chose to perform works composed by such classic composers as Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and Bach, he also included compositions by modern composers.  Mahler's works were performed as were those of  Shostakovich.  The music community took notice. The University of Southampton, in England, awarded Barshiai an honorary doctorate in music.

In 1955 Barshai founded the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.  Barshai used this group to re-introduce audiences in Moscow to the Baroque repertoire and its strong emphasis on the chamber orchestra.  But the baroque works were not the only ones he performed here.  He also commissioned and performed new works from contemporary composers.  Barshai also became famous for taking works written for other types of ensembles and orchestrating them to be performed by chamber orchestra, most famously his work with String Quartet No. 8 by Shostokovich.

Barshai is known as an exceptional communicator in that he can skillfully and effectively convey his ideas about the music to the performers with whom he works.  One of his "secrets" is remaining true to the score as the composer wrote it.  Shostakovich  especially appreciated this aspect of his friend's work.  Once he attended a concert in which Barshai and his orchestra performed Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.   Shostakovich remarked: "We haven't heard Beethoven like that since Klemperer."

And chamber musicians noticed Barshai's enthusiasm and work.  For decades legendary pianist Sviatoslav Richter had been dissatisfied with "half-hearted orchestral accompaniment."  So Richter decided he would only work with 2 conductors . . . Benjamin Britten and  Rudolf Barshai.

Barshai not only conducted the music of contemporary composers, he also frequently performed that music.  Remember, he was a first-rate violist!  While Shostakovich was alive the two frequently performed piano-viola duets.  Barshai also played chamber music with such noted artists as David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Mstislav Rostropovich and Yehudi Menuhin.

Barshai remains active as a composer, arranger and orchestrator.  He has continued his work with Shostakovich's String Quartets.  He also completed an orchestration of Mahler's Tenth Symphony.