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 26
1723 - Premiere of J.S. Bach's  St. John Passion at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig

1827 - Premiere of Rossini's opera "Moïse et Pharaon" (Moses and Pharaoh) at the Paris Opéra. This is the 3rd and French-language version of Rossini's Italian opera "Mosè in Egitto."

1943 - Premiere of William Schuman's cantata A Free Song (after Walt Whitman), in Boston.  It won the first Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1943.

1958 - Premiere of Henry Cowell's Ongaku a symphonic suite on Japanese themes, by the Louisville Orchestra.

1958 - Premiere of Lutoslawski's Marche funèbre (in memory of Béla Bartók).

1960 - Premiere of  Ralph Shapey's Evocation for violin, piano and percussion.

1986 - Premiere of  Ned Rorem's The End of Summer for clarinet, violin, and piano,  by the Verdehr Trio.

1998 - Premiere of Zwilich: Violin Concerto, at Carnegie Hall in New York, by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Hugh Wolff conducting, with soloist Pamela Frank.

2001 - Premiere of  Corigliano's Mannheim Rocket, in Mannheim (Germany, by the Mannheim National Theater Orchestra.
Can You Guess?
When Beethoven's violin concerto premiered the work was split into 2 portions.  The first was played before intermission.  After the intermission the work was concluded.  This was  common at the time.  As a pre-intermission encore the soloist, Franz Clement, entertained the crowd by performing a musical stunt.  Can You Guess what Clement did to entertain the crowd and bring them back for more?
What Else
Ludwig van Beethoven died March 26, 1827.

December 16, 1770 is the traditional birth date of Ludwig van Beethoven, but we don't really know when he was born.  Even he gave different dates during his life.

Beethoven grew up in Bonn, and had a very unhappy life as a child. His father was an alcoholic who made him practice unceasingly . . . and would beat him when he made a mistake. 
van Beethoven
Besides studying under his father, Beethoven also studied under organist C.G. Neefe.  When he was 11 Beethoven started filling in for Neefe when necessary, and when he was 12 he had his first music published.  By that time Beethoven was earning a living for his family.

In 1787 Beethoven went to Vienna, but quickly returned on hearing that his mother was dying. He returned to Vienna five years later. He studied with some of the best-known composers of the day.  Among them were Haydn, Schenk, Albrechtsberger and Salieri.

Beethoven became, it was said, the greatest pianist of his time.  His playing was characterized by" fire, brilliance and fantasy as well as depth of feeling."  It is only natural that some of his most famous works were for his own instrument.  Among these works were his sonatas the Pathetique (1799), the Moonlight
'Sonata quasi una fantasia' (1801).

Beethoven wrote a total of nine symphonies.  Although all are well known, probably his most famous were his fifth symphony (with its famous four-note introduction) and his ninth symphony, which ends with a glorious choral movement based on Schiller's
Ode to Joy.

Of special note to visitors to this web site is Beethoven's Violin Concerto.  This is a work that is in the repertoire of almost every major violinist.   The work  premiered December 3, 1806.  Beethoven had accepted the commision on short notice, and finished the work only hours before its premiere.  The audience accepted the piece enthusiastically, but critics were not complimentary.  They called the concerto "tiring" and "commonplace."  Beethoven dedicated the work to Stephan von Breuning, his childhood friend.  Today the work is seen as one of Beethoven's most gracious works, and is loved by people everywhere. 

A tragedy of Beethoven's life is that even while he was in his twenties, Beethoven began to go deaf.  As the deafness progressed he began to lose his skill at the keyboard.  But his composing skill continued undiminished even after he was completely deaf.
Francescatti plays Beethoven></a><img src=
Zino Francescatti
Plays Beethoven
Great Performance!
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Heifetz/Beethoven Mug
I occasionally play works by contemporary composers and for two reasons. First to discourage the composer from writing any more and secondly to remind myself how much I appreciate Beethoven.
Mug With a Great Quote
from Jascha Heifetz
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Did You Guess?
Clement played a violin fantasy while holding his violin upside down.