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
May 1
Did You Guess?
As a child, Aram Khachaturian played the
Can You Guess? Aram Khachaturian is best know for his Sabre Dance from the ballet Gayane.  Can You Guess what instrument Khachaturian played as a child?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
1786 - First performance of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro in Vienna, it is not well recieved, but becomes a hit after its performance in Prague.

1858 - Anthony Showalter, pioneer of Southern Gospel music.  He was instrumental in Sacred Harp or Shape-Note Singing.  There is a fascinating NPR audio about Sacred Harp singing HERE.  Click HERE to go to the written version of the story.

1884 - Premiere of Sousa's operetta Desiree.

1904 - Antonin Dvorak,  composer, died.

1913 - Walter Susskind, music director and conductor Cincinnatti Symphony, was born.

1939 - Judy Collins, US folk singer, was born.

1970 - Elton John's first North American album was released.

1971 - Premiere of Dave Brubeck's oratorio Truth Has Fallen.  For the opening of the Center for the Arts in Midland, MI.

1977 - Death of German composer Johannes Weyrauch in Leipzig.

1978 - Death of Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian at age 74, in Moscow.

1987 - Premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's Endless Parade for trumpet, vibraphone and strings .

2004 - Premiere of Richard Danielpour´s String Quartet No. 5, La Vita Nuova. The Guarneri Quartet.
Hugo Alfvén was born in Stockholm, Sweden on May 1, 1872.  His father, a choir director, died when he was 9. His mother ran a grocery store to support the family.

Alfvén started piano lessons in 1883, switching to violin (under former orchestral player Louis Müller) the next year.  After only one year's study, he was accepted, in 1887, as a pupil at the Music Conservatory to study violin under Johan Lindberg, and harmony with Aron Bergenson.  He also  studied art, doing copywork at the National Museum of Art.
Hugo Alfvén
What Else
In 1888 Alfvén completed  his first two compositions, Souvenir de Säter and Barcarole, both for violin.  In 1889 he was refused entry to composition and counterpoint classes at the Academy.  By Fall, 1890 he was employed as second violinist in the Hovkapellet (Opera orchestra).
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In 1891 Alfvén began violin studies with Lars Zetterkvist and counterpoint and composition classes with Johan Lindegren (both until 1897). In the Autumn he became deputy concert master in the Hovkapellet for Zetterkvist.
By 1893 Alfvén dropped his painting studies to devote himself to music.  He was performing as a soloist, and had published his first  piece of music Visa (Song) for voice and piano.  1895 saw his Sonata and Romance for violin.  In 1896 he received the first of several state travel scholarships for composers (valued at 1,000 Swedish Krona), and completed his Symphony No. 1, which premiered the next year.

In 1901 Alfvén started studies in conducting in Dresden under Hermann Kutzschbach (until 1902).  He also completed his Herrans bön (The Lord's Prayer).
Alfvén conducted his first concert with the Hovkapellet at the Royal Opera in 1904. He also directed the Leksand choir for the first time.  This became the foundation of the Siljan Choir, which he conducted until 1957.
In 1910 Alfvén was appointed Music Director for the University of Uppsala, where he remained for 29 years.  He was also elected conductor of Orphei Drängar (OD),  a male choir at Uppsala.

1912 saw a tour of Sweden and Germany with OD – in Dortmund: Unge Herr Sten Sture (Young Master Sten Sture) premičred. The group toured Sweden each year during Alfvén's period of conductorship.

In 1930 Alfvén directed 7,500 singers at the fifth Swedish Male Choir Festival at the Stadium, Stockholm.

The Swedish Male Choir Association's elite choir, conducted by Alfvén, toured the USA in 1938.  He acted as guest conductor for the symphonies in Philadelphia and Boston, and was offered the conductorship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

In May, 1958, Alfvén suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.   His new ballet (Björn Holmgren) appeared.  In 1960 he received OD's medal for 50 years of membership.

Alfvén died on May 8, 1960 after a further hemorrhage.
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