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
December 28
1842 - Birth of Canadian composer Calixa Lavallée in Verchères.  Composed the Canadian national anthem.

1870 - Death of Russian army general, composer and violinist Alexei Feodorovich Lvov in Romano.  Wrote the Tsarist national anthem.

1905 - Premiere of Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow in Vienna.

1910 - Premiere of Humperdinck's Koenigskinder in New York City at the Metriopolitan Opera.

1944 - The musical On the Town (music by Leonard Bernstein) opened in New York City and ran for 462 performances. It features the song New York, New York.)
Can You Guess?
We read about the  Russian tsarist national anthem below.  Can You Guess what other Russian composer used the theme from this anthem in a work commemorating a victory? Pardon me while I go have my Puffed Rice for breakfast!.

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Maurice Ravel was born in Ciboure, France, March 7, 1875. His mother was Basque while his father was a Swiss inventor and industrialist. At age 7, he began piano lessons and began composing pieces several years later. He and his father often performed duets together.  His parents encouraged his music and sent him to the Conservatoire de Paris, first as a prepratory student and eventually as a piano major.
During Ravel's studies in Paris, Ravel joined several innovative young composers who referred to themselves as the "Apaches" because of their wild abandon.

As so many French composers, Ravel received his training at the Paris Conservatory. During his first year at the conservatory, he met Eric Satie and was fascinated with his unorthodox harmonies and techniques.  One of his teachers, Gedalge, later referer to him as the most remarkable counterpoint student he had ever had. In 1901 he Jeux D’Eau (Water Games) followed by Sherherezade in 1903, and String Quartet in F in 1904.

After 14 years of study and five attempts to win the prestigious Prix de Rome, Ravel set off on his own. Ravel began to hone his musical style.  He became very meticulous and precise.  In fact  Stravinsky referred to Ravel as “the Swiss watchmaker,” because of his attention to detail. Ravel would perfect small self-contained blocks of music, and only after he considered them perfect he would set them into a larger composition . . . almost as though they were tiny moving parts of a watch.

One of the skills for which Ravel is known is his expertise as an orchestrator.  Several of his most popular works can be thought of as variations on themes.  Boléro certainly fits that description.  Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition can be seen that way as well.

Ravel was drawn to the music of other cultures.  Sheherazade showed his interest in the orient, but it appears that Ravel was truly fascinated with the music of Spain.  BolRapsodie espagnole and Boléro and Rapsodie Espagnole are excellent examples of this Spanish influence.

In the 1910s and 1920s, Ravel was influenced by the music of Igor Stravinsky, who was in Paris at that time.  He began to look back at music from an earlier age, and he and Stravinsky both had a period of neoclassicism as they reexplored old principles.

After World War I, became very much appreciated as a conductor, especially in the United States.  He visited the United States several times, and became very interested in jazz and blues . . . so much so that it began to enter his music.  This is especially evident in the slow movement of his violin sonata.

In 1927 Ravel began to show signs of dementia, and suffered from muscle problems and aphasia. He was involved in an automobile accident in 1932, and his symptoms became even worse.  It was discovered that he was suffering from a brain tumor, and he had surgery, but his condition did not improve. 

Maurice Ravel died on this date, December 28. 1937, at the age of 62.
Maurice Ravel
Ravel Violin Sonata
Violinist James Ehnes and
Pianist Wendy Chen
Play Ravel's Violin Sonata
Thinking of Going Electric?
This is a GREAT Place to Start!
Did You Guess?
The piece was the 1812 Overture.  The composer was Tchaikovsky and the hint was there because of Quaker's ad campaign featuring the melody and  cannon shots at the end of the piece while a choir sang, "This is the cereal that's shot from guns!"  (Boom)
A Good
Metronome is a BIG Help to Start the Year Right!