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
January 23
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Austro-Hungarian conductor Arthur Nikisch died January 23, 1922.

Arthur was born October 12, 1855 in Lebenyszentmiklos, Hungary.  His father was Hungarian, his mother Moravian.  It was evident early on that he was exceptionally gifted musically.  When he was just 7 years old he heard the William Tell Overture and the Overture to The Barber of Seville.  Upon arriving home, he wrote out both pieces from memory.

In 1866, Arthur became a student at the Vienna Conservatory.  He studied violin under Joseph Hellmesberger and composition under Otto Dessoff. Although he won prizes for his piano and violin playing, he concentrated on violin.  He also received awards for composition.

Arthur had the honor of playing under the baton of Richard Wagner at the ceremony laying the cornerstone of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.  He joined the Vienna Court Orchestra.  Here he played under Brahms, Liszt, Verdi and Wagner.

In 1878 he became assistant conductor at the
Leipzig Opera, and a year later was promoted to principal conductor. After attending a performance of the opera, Tchaikovsky wrote that one, "only gains a true idea of the perfection to which an orchestra can attain under a talented conductor when one hears the difficult and complicated scores of Wagner played under the direction of so wonderful a master as Herr Nikisch."   He noted, Nikisch was "elegantly calm, sparing of superfluous movements, yet at the same time wonderfully strong and self possessed. He does not seem to conduct, but rather to exercise some mysterious spell."

In 1889 Nikisch he became conductor of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra.  In 1893 he became music director of the Budapest Opera.  Two years later he accepted positions as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.  He held both positions until his death.  He added the podium of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra in 1897.   In 1905 and '06 Nikisch also taught the conducting class at the  Leipzig Conservatory.

Nikisch was one of the first conductors to record a complete symphony, and the earliest-born conductor to appear before the acoustic horn recorder. His 1914 recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is a great example of the Romantic era's approach to performance, and as such is a valuable resource to music history students.
Did You Guess?
Arthur Nikisch
(1855 - 1922)
The William Tell Overture was known as the very popular theme song for a television show from the 1950's. Can You Guess what the show was?
Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
1753 - Georg Friederich Handel, totally blind, hires John Christopher Smith as his dictation assistant.

1923 - Eli Goren, Austrian born English violinist--founder of Allegri String
Quartet, was born.

1933 - Premiere of Bela Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2. Hans Robaud conducting,  Bartók soloist.

1971 - One Bad Apple, by the Osmonds, was released.

1973 - Premiere of Elliott Carter's String Quartet No. 3. Juilliard String Quartet in New York City.

1981 - Saumuel Barber, US composer, died.

2003 - Premiere of Lowell Liebermann's Trio No. 2 for Piano, Violin and Cello by the Beaux Arts Trio.
The Lone Ranger!  Of course, I also knew it as the Garbage Truck Song. To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump! (Click to Hear a MIDI version!)
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