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 7
Did You Guess? Witek had a problem that many of us deal with . . . excessive perspiration (too much sweat).  That was a big problem for him since sweaty hands gave him problems with his gut strings.  To deal with this he, along with Willy Burmeister, began to use a steel e string.  Gut strings actually remained prevalent until World War I, when it became difficult to get high quality gut strings, and the change to steel became widespread.
Did you see the
Can You Guess?
We read about Anton Witek (below), and wonder at his skill and  being able to play 3 concertos in an evening.  We also remember him for a change that was made to violins -- and is probably there on your own violin. Can You Guess what change Witek is partially responsible for?
Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
1725 - Premiere of J. S. Bach's Sacred Cantata No. 124 Meinen Hesum Lass Ich Nicht on the 1st Sunday following Epiphany.

1738 - Antonio Vivaldi conducted the orchestra celebrating the centennial of Amsterdam's Schouwburg Theater.

1872 - Birth of Austrian concert violinist and teacher Anton Witek. He played 3 concertos in one night in Berlin (Beethoven, Brahms and Paganini). He was concertmaster of the Boston Symphony (1910-18).

1924 - George Gershwin, American composer, completed his piano score of the Rhapsody In Blue.

1942 - Paul Revere of the Raiders was born in Boise, Idaho.

1943 - Moonlight Becomes You, by Bing Crosby was released.  Turned into a great scene in the move Road to Morocco.

1948 - Kenny Loggins, singer songwriter, was born.

1955 - Metropolitan Opera debut of Marian Anderson as Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Mascera.
Iona Brown    Click picture to hear a snippet of her play Serenade No. 6 for orchestra in D major ("Serenata Notturna"), K. 239 at Amazon
Iona Brown
Elizabeth Iona Brown was born in Salisbury, England. Her father, Antony, was a pianist and organist and music teacher who specialized in the music of J.S. Bach. Her mother, Fiona, played violin with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  Iona was given her first violin lessons at the age of five.
Iona Brown was educated at the Cathedral School in Salisbury and Cranborne Chase.  Her skill on the violin grew.  She played in the National Youth Orchestra from 1955 to 1960 ("Fiddle No 22; I remember it like yesterday").  She studied under Hugh Maguire in London, Remy Principe in Rome and Henryk Szeryng in Paris.   played with the National Youth Orchestra for five years from 1955 , and studied with Hugh Maguire in London, Remy Principe in Rome, and Henryk Szeryng in Paris.

When she turned professional, she discovered that there was already a professional by the name of Elizabeth Brown, and so began using her middle name professionally.

Iona played in the pit orchestra with the Ballet Rambert.  She was a member of the Philharmonia Orchestra under Otto Klemperer from 1963-1966.  She joined the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 1964. She succeeded Sir Neville Marriner as musical director of that group in 1974, and she remained there until 1980.

Marriner was obviously a big fan.  He wrote:
Iona personified the essence of the Academy's style of music-making. As a violinist she embraced the romantic movement with warmth and passion, and in the early classical repertoire she displayed a fastidious elegance that observed the performing conventions of the 18th century without letting the music dry out. She was an inspiration to several generations of the orchestra's players, although the altitude of some of her technical and musicianly demands broke a few spirits, and her vibrant personality broke a few hearts.
She played a 1716 Stradivari violin, "the Booth," (Click here to see a replica) and  made many recordings with Marriner and the Academy including Beethoven's Violin Concerto and Vivaldi's Four Seasons.   Iona began to have trouble with arthritis, and so began to turn more and more to conducting.  In February of 1998, Iona gave a recital in Tokyo. She recalled: "It was received so rapturously by the audience that I went back to my dressing room, put my violin in its case and said: 'I'm not going to do it any more.' I felt it was best to go out on a high note."   It would be her last public performance as a violinist.  She sold the violin in 1999.

Iona turned to conducting, and conducted several major orchestras including the London Philharmonic, the Danish Philharmonic and the Tokyo Philharmonic.

Iona Brown died in her home in Salisbury, England June 5, 2004.
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I Luv Violin and U Cap Sleeve T-Shirt
Iona Brown's Music on Amazon
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Iona Brown became guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1985.  In 1987 she was named music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.