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 9
Did You Guess?
The viola's strings are tuned to C, G, D, and A. 

The Disney film
The Aristocats featured a character by the name of Berlioz who played the piano
Can You Guess?
1707 - Death of organist / composer Dietrich Buxtehude.

- First performance of Anton Bruckner's First Symphony.

- Singer / Songwriter / Pianist Billy Joel was born.

- Singer Wayne Newton's first performance in Las Vegas.

- Louis Armstrong's Hello Dolly topped the charts in the US.  It was his first #1 hit.

1965 - Pianist Vladimir Horowitz returned to the concert stage in New York City's Carnegie Hall after a twelve year performing break. The audience applauded with a standing ovation that lasted for 30 minutes.

1999 - Premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwillich's Upbeat!. National Symphony, Anthony Aibel conducting.
May 9, 1863 marked the first US performance of Hector Berlioz's Harold in Italy.

Hector Berlioz was born December 11, 1803.  His father, a doctor, educated him at home and centered his studies around Latin classics and elementary medical training, believing Hector would also become a doctor. As a boy, Berlioz took  guitar and flute lessons.
In 1844, he wrote his Treatise of Instrumentation and Orchestration. This book became the "dictionary of orchestration" until well into the 20th century.

Due to his classical education when he was young, literature had a major impact on his writing.  Harold in Italy, initially intended to be played by Niccolo Pananini, was inspired by George Gordon Byron's
Childe Harold.   Although it is a symphony, not a concerto, there are major solo passages for the viola.

As a composer, Berlioz chose to write using the musical genres of overture, symphony, and opera. He is very well known for developing symphonic program music and the "idee fixe" where a melody or theme is used over and over to represent a person or a programmatic idea throughout an entire musical composition. (Especially noticable in his Symphonie Fantastique.)

Hector Berlioz died in Paris, France, March 8, 1869.
The soloist in Berlioz's Harold in Italy plays a violia.  The viola is similar to a violin, but it is larger, and it's strings are tuned one fifth lower.  Can You Guess what notes the viola's strings are tuned to?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer
What Else
If you're faithful to your daily practicing
You will find your progress is encouraging
Do mi so mi do mi so mi fa la so it goes
When you sing your scales and your arpeggios
Hector Berlioz
Click the picture to see
The Aristocats at Amazon
When he was 18, Berlioz went to Paris to study medicine, but spent most of his time at the Opera and in the library of the Conservatoire of Music rather than attending his medical classes. He finally entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1826 to study composition.   with two teachers: Jean-François Lesuer, an elderly composer with a great admiration for opera, and Anton Reicha, a theorist and composer of chamber music who was a friend of Beethoven. Berlioz remained a student, and  competed several times for the Grand Prix de Rome, finally winning the competition in 1830.
Berlioz is especially remembered for his imaginative use of the orchestra in his works.  He often enlarged the orchestra, even planning a work for an orchestra with 465 performers.
Berlioz Harold in Italy
Berlioz Harold in Italy
Perhaps the Definitive Recording of Harold in Italy
A Very Good Recording
of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
at a Great Price!
Look inside this title
Hector Berlioz: Harold En Italie - Viola And Piano - sheet music at
Hector Berlioz: Harold En Italie - Viola And Piano Composed by Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), edited by Hugh MacDonald, Paul Banks. For viola and piano. Urtext of the New Berlioz Edition. Format: set of performance parts (includes separate pull-out viola part). With solo part, piano reduction and introductory text. Romantic Period. 90 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by Baerenreiter-Ausgaben (German import). (BA.BA5457-90)
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