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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 16
Can You Guess?
We read about the musical 1776 below.  In it Thomas Jefferson's wife sings a song that tells what attracts her to him. Can You Guess what it is that Martha finds so attractive? Sorry folks, no hints today!

Look Below for the Answer.
Extra Credit Question Toward the Bottom of the Page
What Else
1870 - Premiere of the revised version of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture.

1879 - Premiere of Antonin Dvorák's choral setting of Psalm No. 149, Op. 79, in Prague.

1888 - Premiere of the revised version of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 Romantic. New York Philharmonic Society conducted by Anton Seidl.

1963 - Puff The Magic Dragon,  was released by Peter, Paul and Mary.

1964 - Capitol released the Beatles Can't Buy Me Love.

1969 - The musical 1776 opened on Broadway.

1974 - The new Opryland Auditorium opened.

2002 - Premiere of Paul Schoenfield's Nocturne for solo cello, oboe and strings, with cellist Peter Howard, oboist Kathryn Greenbank and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

2004 - Premiere of Karen Tanaka´s Cello Concerto. Joan Jeanrenaud, soloist with The Berkeley Symphony
Roger Sessions
1896 - 1985
Fiddler Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil
Roger Huntington Sessions, US composer, died March 16, 1985.

Sessions was born to a wealthy New York City family on December 28, 1896, but grew up in Hadley, Mass.  Sessions was loved music and started producing it early. He wrote an opera when he was 13. Sessions was intelligent.  When he was just 14 years old he entered Harvard.  While at Harvard, Sessions wrote for the Harvard Musical Review, and eventually became the publication's editor.
Irish Fiddle
at Amazon
When Sessions graduated from Harvard, he went on to study at Yale.  His teachers at Yale included Horatio Parker and Ernest Bloch.

While still a young man Sessions was able to speak Greek, Latin and German, and later learned Italian and Russian.  The fact that he was so fluent in languages other than English, as well as his living in Europe (Florence, Rome and Berlin) while still a young man led people to see him as European rather than American.  In fact, Sessions became quite European in his tastes, and he tended to reject music styles popular in America at the time.   As a result, Sessions was not well liked in America.

Although Sessions was not a true devotee of any one style, he was definitely modern in his leanings.  "A composer should develop naturally. I am seeking a style of my own and I came to twelve-note music naturally." 

Returning to the United States in 1935, Sessions turned to education.  He taught at Boston University (1933-35), and then went to New Jersey for ten years, teaching at Princeton University. Then he moved on to the University of California, Berkley, where he was Professor of Music from 1945 to 1951.  For a while he returned to Princeton, and he took a position teaching at Juilliard.  Over the course of his career, Sessions spent nearly 50 consecutive years teaching.
Sessions Symphonies
Sessions Symphonies
at Amazon
Roger Sessions
Sarasate Mouse Pad
Mouse Pad with a
Quote by Pablo de Sarasate

For 37 years I've practiced 14 hours a day, and now they call me a Genius!
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Did You Guess?
He plays the violin
He tucks it right under his chin
And he bows, oh he bows
For he knows, yes he knows
That it's hi-hi-hi-diddle diddle
It's my heart, Tom and his fiddle
My strings are unstrung
I am undone

When heaven calls to me
Sing me no sad elegy
Say I died, loving bride
Loving wife, loving life
For it was hi-hi-hi-hi-diddle diddle
'Twixt my heart, Tom, and his fiddle
And ever 'twill be
Through eternity

He plays the violin.
Click the Album Cover for a Sound Clip
Bridge Beneath My Strings Violin Shirt
Christian Fiddlers are Fretless and Forgiven
1776 Sound Track with Free Sound Clips
William Daniels (right) played John Adams in the video of the musical 1776.  But many of us are more familiar with him from a television show involving a boy growing into a young man.  Can You Guess in what television series William Daniels played a neighbor and school teacher?

Look for the answer below!
Boy Meets World
William Daniels played George Sweeney, neighbor and teacher of Cory Matthews in the television comedy
Boy Meets World.
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1776 DVD--He Plays the Violin
I really like this movie!  Great for the Songs.  Great for the History.  And With the Lovely Blythe Danner Singing a Song About a Violin, How Can You Pass it Up?
Listen to Blythe Danner sing the virtues of Tom and his Violin!
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Sessions was an interesting composer. He never sought publicity, and tended to shy away from promotion.  He worked on his own timetable, rather than regularly accepting commissions that had to be completed by a certain date or within a schedule.
Sessions may be best known for his symphonies.  He produced nine,   His first dated from 1927, his ninth from 1978.  He continued to compose through 1981.  Among the many honors he received in his career were two Guggenheim fellowships, a Prix de Rome and in 1931 a Carnegie Corporation grant.

Of special interest to readers of this web site is Sessions's Violin Concerto.  The work was first performed in 1936.  It took seven years to write.  It is an interesting piece in that the soloist is the only violin . . . there are none in the orchestra.  There are, however 5 clarinet parts.  At first the piece was declared unplayable.  Sessions had alienated many US musicians and orchestra managers.  As a result, the New York Philharmonic refused to play the piece, the manager stating that at 29 minutes, the work was too long.