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
October 19
Can You Guess? We read about Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March this date in 1901.  Can You Guess an occasion that you almost always hear this piece?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
1701 - Debut of Tomas de Torrejon y Velasco's La purpura de la rosa at Viceroyal Palace in Lima, Peru. The earliest surviving opera to be performed in the Western Hemisphere.

1758 - Johan H. Roman,  Finnish-Swedish composer, conductor and violinist, died.

1814 - At the age of 17 Schubert composes his first great hit, the song Gretchen am Spinnrade.

1845 - Debut of Wagner's Tannhäuser in Dresden.

1894 - Debut of George Whitefield Chadwick's Symphony No. 3. Boston Symphony, Emil Paur conducting.

1901 - Debut of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D.

1903 - Birth of Italian composer Vittorio Giannini in Philadelphia, PA.

1905 - Debut of Sibelius' revised Violin Concerto in Berlin. R. Strauss, conducting. Karl Halir, violin. Revised from its first performance, February 8, 1904.

1916 - Emil Gilels, Russian pianist, was born in Odessa.

1953 - Debut of Morton Gould's Inventions for Four Pianos and Orchestra by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Mitropoulos, in NYC.

1960 - Death of German composer Gunther Raphael (Busskantate) at 57 in Berlin.

1967 - Debut of George Gershwin's Lullaby for string quartet (1919-20), by the Juilliard String Quartet.

1968 - The Supremes release Love Child.

1990 - Debut of Shulamit Ran's Symphony. Philadelphia Orchestra, Gary Bertini conducting. 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Maurice Ravel
Modest Mussorgsky
3.  Promenade
The Old Castle
This depicts Hartmann's watercolor of an unidentified medieval tower in Italy.  The theme is beautiful, but sad.
5.  Promenade
This selection, subtitled "Children Quarreling at Play," and  depicts a walk in the Tuileries Gardens of Paris, where nurses had brought the children for whom they cared to play.
7. Bydlo
The title is the Polish word for "cattle."  Hartmann's sketch depicted a Polish dray or cart, drawn by a team of oxen. The music portrays the steady, powerful pull of the oxen.
October 19, 1922 was the date of the first performance of Modest Mussorgsky's work Pictures at an Exhibition as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel.  This is one of the great works to listen to when you want to see just how music can be used to create pictures in your mind. 
Victor Hartman was an artist friend of Modest Mussorgsky.  Hartman died suddenly while just 39 years old.  Mussorgsky was very upset, and organized a showing of some of Hartman's sketches and watercolors.  While viewing the exhibition, Mussorgsky felt an overwhelming inspiration to write, and he composed a piece consisting of ten selections meant to musically illustrate ten different pieces, along with a "promenade," or walk as you move between the pieces you are viewing. 

1.  Promenade
2.  The Gnome
Based on Hartmann's design for a Christmas tree nutcracker.  The music depicts a gnome or imp creeping through a murky background then performing a mad dance.
8,  Promenade
9.  Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks

This is a costume design for the ballet Trilby, composed by Julius Gerber and choreographed by Marius Petipa. The ballet has a scene where children dance as chicks in their shells.
10. Two Polish Jews
Hartmann's sketches depict a pair of Jews from Sandomir, in Poland.  One is rich, the other dressed in rags. The music tells of a conversation between them.  The rich man is puffed up and pompous, while the poor man whines out his requests.  Evidently a decision is reached between the two, but the rich man's theme drowns out the poor man's.
11. Limoges - The Market
The music recreates the hustle and bustle in Hartmann's drawing of French women haggling and gossiping in a market.
13. The Hut on Fowl's Legs
The witch Baba Yaga, a familiar figure in Russian folklore, lives in the woods in a little hut that turns round and round on chicken legs.  She flies about in a magical mortar, in which she grinds the bones of humans she captures.  The artwork here is the design for a clock shaped like Baba Yaga's hut. The music begins as the witch flies about, slows to a spooky passage as she enters the woods and stalks about in her hut, then suddenly flies through the air again in her mortar.
12. Catacombs
This is a self-portrait of Hartmann and two acquaintances exploring the old Roman catacombs (tombs) in Paris.  It is slow, deep and sad, and Mussorgsky described the section as "With the dead in a dead language."

14. The Great Gate of Kiev
This section depicts Hartmann's entry in a design contest for a gate to commemorate Czar Alexander, II and his escape from an attempt to kill him.  The gate was in the shape of a Slavonic helmet, with a chapel atop the main arch and a bell tower to one side.  Although grand and glorious in its concept, the gate was never built due to lack of money.
Although it was published before Mussorgsky's death, the Pictures at an Exhibition did not truly capture the favor of its audience until 1922, when Ravel re-orchestrated it and premiered it on this date.

Since the debut of the reorchestration it has been recorded in many formats.  Orchestras and pianists galore have made recordings.  Even the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer have their own version.

If you have not heard Pictures at an Exhibition, I would urge you to purchase a copy shoewhere.  It is a staple in any classical music library.
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Did You Guess? Elgar's march Pomp and Circumstance is almost always performed at graduations!  Did you notice the color clues?