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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
March 11
Can You Guess?
Anthony Philip Heinrich looked lightheartedly at the beginnings of his career to come up with his nickname. Contempories called him an American Beethoven, Can You Guess the nickname that Heinrich gave himself?

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What Else
1829 - Mendelssohn, age 20, directed Bach's St. Matthew Passion. First time since Bach's death and sparks interest in Bach's music.

1851 - Premiere of Verdi's Rigoletto, in Venice.

1867 - Premiere of Verdi's Don Carlos.

1886 - Premiere of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony inspired by Byron, in Moscow.

1888 - Premiere of Antonin D'vorak's Symphony No. 2 in Bb (1865), in Prague.

1897 - Henry Dixon Cowell, US composer, was born.

1903 - The Metropolitan Opera staged its first opera composed by a woman, Ethel Smyth's Der Wald (The Forest).

1915 - Premiere of Maurice Ravel's orchestral suite for ballet Ma Mère l'Oye 'Mother Goose.'

1932 - Birth of American composer, violinist and arranger Leroy Jenkins.

1967 - Strawberry Fields Forever, by the Beatles, was released.

1967 - I Think We're Alone Now, by Tommy James, was released.

1999 - Premiere of John Corigliano's A Dylan Thomas Trilogy. National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting.
Anthony Philip Heinrich
1781 - 1861
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Anthony Philip Heinrich was born on March 11, 1781 in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).

After his adoption by a wealthy uncle.  He studied both violin and piano in his youth.  Upon his uncle's death Heinrich inherited property and a prospering business.  The success of the business allowed him to travel and continue to develop his musical talents.
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Life seemed good, but misfortune soon followed.  As a result of the Napoleonic Wars Heinrich lost his business and emigrated to the United States some time between 1805 and 1810 to establish another business.  Unfortunately, it seems that business failed as well.  Having become a skilled amateur musician, he decided to become a professional.
Did You Guess?
Heinrich called himself America's "loghouse composer."

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But when his wife died, and the conducting job was downsized, he decided to spend time alone, and lived for a year in an abandoned slave cabin near Bardstown, Kentucky.   Heinrich had made the 700-mile journey through the wilderness of Pennsylvania, along the Ohio River and into Kentucky on foot.  That experience, combined with his time in the cabin formed the inspiration for the next period of his life.

Heinrich began composing around 1818, and his first work published was a collection of songs, anthems and instrumental music that he called The Dawning of Music in Kentucky: Pleasures of Harmony in the Solitudes of Nature.

Many of Heinrich's works which followed bore such descriptive titles, and indicated the strong influence of nature on his works.  Other pieces that he wrote during his life had titles such as The Columbiad, or Migration of American Wild Passenger Pigeons; The Ornithological Combat of Kings, or the Condor of the Andes; The Minstrelsy of Nature in the Wilds of North America; and The Wild Wood Spirits' Chant. His work entitled The Treaty of William Penn was a concerto grosso, which was quite uncommon among American composers at the time.

As his reputation grew, Heinrich travelled back to Europe several times.  Besides playing violin with several orchestras he studied theory and composition.  He even entered a  composition competition in Vienna (he lost to Franz Lachner). He returned to New York and was influential in the founding if the New York Philharmonic Society in 1842. He was so popular that he was known as "Papa Heinrich."

Heinrich spent the remainder of his career in Boston and New York.  He composed many pieces, and became known as "The American Beethoven."  Many of his works took the form of a theme and variations rather than the development of a theme throughout the piece.  He preferred writing for large orchestras, which were not common in the United States at the time.  He made several tours of Europe, and he even had a personal audience with President John Tyler.

But the lack of performances of his works caused him to remain in poverty for a large part of his life.  Heinrich died in New York City on May 3, 1861.
Heinrich married, and moved to Kentucky, where he is credited with being the first person to conduct a Beethoven symphony in the United States.  (Either Symphony No. 1 or No. 3, in Lexington, KY in 1817.)
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