music

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Apocalyptic Soundtrack for the 20th century

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Apocalyptic Soundtrack for the 20th century

On 25 September 1906, Soviet-era Russian composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovich was born. He became internationally known after the premiere of his First Symphony in 1926 and was regarded throughout his life as a major composer. In addition to 15 symphonies, instrumental concertos, stage works and film music, he composed 15 string quartets, which are among the major works of the 20th century chamber music repertoire. “I live in the USSR, work…
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Parsifal – Richard Wagner’s Last Opera

Parsifal – Richard Wagner’s Last Opera

On July 26, 1882, Richard Wagner‘s last opera ‘Parsifal‘ premiered in the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth. Wagner described Parsifal not as an opera, but as “ein Bühnenweihfestspiel” (“A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage“). Initially, according to Wagner‘s will, Parsifal should only be allowed to be played at Bayreuth, because he wanted to prevent it from degenerating into ‘mere amusement‘ for an opera-going public. Wagner‘s compositions, particularly those of his later…
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Bela Bartok – the Father of Ethnomusicology

Bela Bartok – the Father of Ethnomusicology

On March 25, 1881, Hungarian composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist Bela Bartok was born. Bartok is considered one of the most important representatives of modernism. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology. “Our peasant music, naturally, is invariably tonal, if not always in the sense that the inflexible major and minor system is tonal. (An “atonal” folk-music, in…
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Dayton Miller – An Advocat of Aether Theory

Dayton Miller – An Advocat of Aether Theory

On March 13, 1866, American physicist, astronomer, acoustician Dayton Clarence Miller was born. An early experimenter of X-rays, Miller was an advocate of aether theory and absolute space and an opponent of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.[4] Early Years Born in Ohio to Charles Webster Dewey and Vienna Pomeroy Miller, Dayton Miller attended Baldwin University and earned his doctorate in astronomy at Princeton University. At the Case School of Applied Science in…
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Robert Hope-Jones and the Theatre Organ

Robert Hope-Jones and the Theatre Organ

On February 9, 1859, British instrument maker Robert Hope-Jones was born. Hope-Jones is considered to be the inventor of the theatre organ in the early 20th century. He thought that a pipe organ should be able to imitate the instruments of an orchestra, and that the console should be detachable from the organ. Early Years Robert Hope-Jones was born in Hooton, The Wirral, Cheshire, to William and Agnes Hope-Jones. He was one of nine…
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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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