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
September 26
1714 - Handel's Te Deum was sung for the new English king George I, at St. James palace.
1800 - William Billings, US composer, died in Boston.

1868 - Birth of American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert.

1892 - John Philip Sousa gave first performance with his Band at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, New Jersey, premiering his Liberty Bell March (click link to hear a MIDI version) celebrating the Liberty Bell's visit to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

1898 - George Gershwin (birth name Jacob Gershovitz), US composer and pianist, was born.

1907 - Premiere of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 3. Sibelius conducted The Helsinki Philharmonic.

1941 - Birth of Italian violinist Salvatore Accardo in Turin.

1957 - Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's broadway production of West Side Story opened in NYC.

1967 - Premiere of Dimiti Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 2. soloist David Oistrakh. Kiril Kondrashin conducted the Moscow Philharmonic.

1972 - Gabriela Lena Frank. US composer, was born.

1991 - Premiere of Charles Wuorinen's cantata Genesis. Herbert Blomstedt conducted the San Francisco Symphony.
Can You Guess?
Sousa's Liberty Bell March became the theme song for a BBC comedy series that starred, among others, John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick in the Harry Potter movie series.) Can You Guess the series's name?

Extra credit if you can tell me the meat commonly associated with the series.

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answers.
What Else
Bela Bartok died September 26, 1945.

He was born in Sinnicolau Mare (now Hungary), March 25, 1881.  His first music teacher was his mother, who brought up the family after his father died when he was 7.

In 1894 they moved to Bratislava, where he attended school, studied piano with Laszlo Erkel and Anton Hyrtl, and was composing sonatas and string quartets by the time he was 17. 
In 1898 he was accepted by the Vienna Conservatory of Music, but attended the Budapest Academy (1899-1903), where he studied the piano with Istvan Thoman and composition with Janos Koessler.  There he met and was influenced by both Wagner and Richard Strauss.

In 1904 his symphonic poem, Kossuth, was performed in Budapest and Manchester, and Bartok began a piano career, writing a Piano Quintet, a rhapsody and a scherzo. He also made his first Hungarian folksong transcription. A collection of arrangements of folksongs, in which he collaborated with Zoltan Kodaly,was published in 1906. The next year he accepted the position his former teacher, Thoman, had held at the Budapest Academy.  This allowed him to continue his folksong collecting. Although his Violin Concerto (1908) is still quite traditional, many of his piano works began to show influences of this folk tradition.  Bartok's String Quartet No.1 (1908) brought this to the fore
Bela Bartok
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Bartók was deeply influenced by the modern styles of Stravinsky and Schoenberg, and his violin sonatas of the early 1920's show this new style.  The technical complexity of rhythms and harmonies of the pieces are very much in this modern style.  They were very well accepted, and Bartok was in demand throughout Europe.  He began to view instruments in a new light.  The piano became a percussion instrument, whose sound almost resembled that of a xylophone.  The rhythms and harmonies of his next two string quartets continued Bartok's move toward the modern sound.  He broke tradition with quartet no. 4, in that it consisted of 5 movements rather than 4.

By 1940, Bartok had been widowed and remarried.  He continued working in the modern style and moved to New York to avoid the war.  His health was failing, and his music became serious . . . almost somber in String Quartet no. 6.  Bartok received grants to continue working on the folksong collections he had begun years earlier.  Bartok did not like New York, but returned to a happiertone with his Concerto for Orchestra in 1943.  His final Violin Sonata, published in 1944, was also very successful. 1944.

Realizing that his health was getting worse and that he was going to die, Bartok started to write a piano concerto to provide his widow with an income.  It was not quite complete when Bartok died,  September 26, 1945.  He had also sketched out a Viola Concerto, but had not developed the idea.
After lukewarm reception of his Bluebeard's Castle, Bartok devoted himself to collecting, arranging and study of folksongs until World War I, at which time he returned to composing.  String Quartet No.2 (1917) and his ballet The Wooden Prince, were well received by the public.
Did You Guess?
Monty Python's Flying Circus always began with the Liberty Bell March,

The meat  associated with the series was  (Click Here)  Spam!
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