music

Hector Berlioz and the Symphonie Fantastique

Hector Berlioz and the Symphonie Fantastique

On December 11, 1803, French romantic composer Hector Berlioz was born. He is best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works, and conducted several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. “Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.” — Hector…
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Mozart’s Don Giovanni – Birth of an Archetype

Mozart’s Don Giovanni – Birth of an Archetype

On October 29, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Opera Don Giovanni with the libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte premiered in Prague. Being one of the most perfomed operas worldwide, it proved a fruitful subject for writers and philosophers based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. Besides the beautiful Requiem, this is my personal favorite in the works of Mozart. I’ve seen it performed many times live on stage,…
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Emanuel Schikaneder – The Most Talented Theatre Man of his Era

Emanuel Schikaneder – The Most Talented Theatre Man of his Era

On September 1, 1751, German impresario, dramatist, actor, singer and composer Emanuel Schikaneder was born. So you have never heard of Schikaneder? Oh, but for sure you have heard of Mozart [1], and Schikaneder wrote the libretto of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s popular opera The Magic Flute [7]. Moreover, he was often referred to as “one of the most talented theater men of his era” and was the builder of the Theater an der…
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Edward William Elgar – Enigma, Pomp and Circumstances

Edward William Elgar – Enigma, Pomp and Circumstances

On June 2, 1857, English composer Sir Edward William Elgar was born. Many of his works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire.  Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. “My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take…
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Niccoló Paganini – the Devil’s Violinist

Niccoló Paganini – the Devil’s Violinist

On May 27, 1840, Italian violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini passed away. He was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. “Some creatures are completely demonic, in some parts of it are effective. […] Among artists it is found more in musicians, less in painters. In Paganini it shows itself to a high degree, which is why he produces such…
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Albert Schweitzer and his Hospital in Africa

Albert Schweitzer and his Hospital in Africa

On March 21, 1913, theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary in Africa Albert Schweitzer together with his wife Helene start their voyage to Africa, to establish a hospital in Equatorial Africa. “The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics.” Radio appeal for peace, Oslo, Norway (30 March 1958) Albert Schweitzer – Early Years Albert Schweitzer was born on January 14, 1875, as…
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Antonio Stradivari and his famous Strings

Antonio Stradivari and his famous Strings

On December 18, 1737, famous Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari passed away. Besides violins Stradivari also crafted cellos, guitars, violas, and harps. He is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in this field. A Violin Maker’s Apprentice Antonio Stradivari was probably born in Cremona, Italy in 1644. It is not certain when and where he learned his craft, but even his earliest works show his great talent. There is only little known…
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Probably the best known composer of the world – Ludwig van Beethoven

Probably the best known composer of the world – Ludwig van Beethoven

On December 17, 1770, German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven was born. He is considered a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, and remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – Ludwig van Beethoven, as reported by Bettina von Arnim in a letter to Goethe, 28 May 1810. Ludwig…
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Adolphe Sax and the Invention of the Saxophone

Adolphe Sax and the Invention of the Saxophone

On November 6, 1814, Belgian musical instrument designer and musician Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax was born. Besides playing flute and clarinet, he is well known for having invented the saxophone.Sax became something of a footnote in history after his creation was almost forgotten after his death, until it was revived by jazz musicians who barely remembered his name.[2] Back in the time when I was a student, I remember one fellow student who ‘polluted’ the air of the…
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Vincenzo Bellini – the Swan of Catania

Vincenzo Bellini – the Swan of Catania

Probably on November 3, 1801, Italian Opera composer Vincenzo Bellini was born. Bellini was the quintessential composer of the Italian bel canto era of the early 19th century especially known for his long-flowing melodic lines for which he was named “the Swan of Catania”. Vincenzo Bellini – Youth and Education Vincenzo Bellini was the oldest son of Rosario Bellini (1776-1840) and Agata Ferlito. He was born as son and grandson of church…
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