It was the spring of '53. Liszt was a pianistic phenom and middle-aged poseur, seeking to widen his New German circle and transform himself from iridescent celebrity to Great Composer. Brahms was a twenty-year-old accompanist with the face of an acolyte, touring the provinces with the flashy Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi. Brahms carried a letter of introduction from the virtuoso Joachim. The two young musicians arrived in Weimar at Liszt's palatial villa, The Altenburg. That Liszt was openly living in sin with the Princess Wittgenstein was of no account to Brahms. He'd seen worse in his youth, in the Hamburg harbor side brothels.
A gaggle of peacocks scattered as Brahms and Remenyi crossed the lawn and approached the gaudy yellow building. A manservant greeted them and led them to a stuffy anteroom, where they waited for nearly an hour. At last, the manservant led them down two ...
By this time in his life, but really all his life, Brahms (Doktor Brahms) was absolute master of his world, a world which included many of the most astute & serious-minded ladies and gentlemen in artistic Vienna. Unmarried to the end, Brahms had collected in his over-stuffed apartment the treasured objects of a lifetime. He had privately resolved to retire, and was in the process of destroying all his work that he determined to be incomplete or unsatisfactory. He had even retrieved his letters to his late mother and erased them from posterity. Putting his house in order. Late this spring afternoon, Brahms was expecting a visit from young Josef Suk.
Suk had recently graduated from the Prague Conservatory, where he’d been a favorite pupil of Brahms’ friend Antonín Dvořák. At the Conservatory, Suk enjoyed a goodly share of student success as a violinist, but he had ...
1. The dancer Ida Rubinstein commissioned Boléro, originally asking for Ravel to orchestrate pieces from Albéniz's Iberia. Instead, Ravel composed an original piece, which received its premiere at the Paris Opéra, November 22, 1928 by Mme Rubinstein's troupe, Walther Straram conducting.
2. In an interview published in London's Evening Standard, February 24, 1932, Ravel said, "I love going over factories and seeing vast machinery at work. It is awe-inspiring and great. It was a factory which inspired my Boléro. I would like it always to be played with a vast factory in the background."
3. The first recording of Boléro, on four 78-rpm sides, was made in January 1930 at the Salle Pleyel, by a pick-up Paris orchestra under Piero Coppola, an Italian conductor and composer active in Paris in the 1920s and 30s who lived to sing the praises of Boléro into the 1970s. Ravel supervised the recording session, ...
The thirteen year old Ludwig Beethoven (sans "van" which he added later once he moved to Vienna). Beethoven was assistant harpsichordist in the Electoral Kapelle, in Bonn. He also composed three keyboard sonatas at this time, posthumously published as WoO47. A notice in the Almanach likened his first published works to those of "a third or fourth-form student."
This is Beethoven at age twenty, still living in Bonn. He had been granted half his father's salary in order to act as the head of the family. He was playing viola in an opera orchestra. Joseph Haydn came through Bonn during that year on his way to London. On his way back two years later he was shown one of Beethoven's cantatas and he agreed to take him as a pupil in Vienna, a decision that would lead to Beethoven moving to the Imperial City.
This is Beethoven in ...
Hi friends, I hope you'll join me for a free Freedom Concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery with the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, and the end of the Civil War. The Freedom Concert takes place today in the Hall of Liberty at Hollywood Forest Lawn, in Griffith Park.
A pre-concert talk begins at 5:00pm and features a video and discussion of the award-winning documentary “Fight for Freedom” which depicts the formation of the United States Colored Troops and their role in the abolishment of slavery, presented by Colonel (Retired) Franklin J. Henderson. (pictured)
At 6:00pm, the Freedom Concert begins with the California State Military Reserve Color Guard. Among others performing are the Air Nation Guard Band of the West Coast “Brass Quintet,” soprano Shelia Yvette Judson presenting the west coast premiere of an aria from the folk opera “Harriett ...
Beethoven, on his deathbed, was shown a painting of Joseph Haydn’s birthplace in the village Rohrau. This market town was set down in the monotonous marshlands along the Leitha River in Lower Austria. (Rohrau is translated from the German for reedy meadow.) Every few years in spring the river flooded the low-lying countryside. In the dry season the townspeople were fearful of their thatched roofs catching fire. When the mosquitoes rose from the swamps they were plentiful, and disease was never far behind. Rohrau also had a history haunted by invasions. The town was near the Hungarian border, so the military tug & pull of 18th century Central Europe often wrenched the lives of the modest citizens of Rohrau, whom history records as honest Croatian rubes.
In 1732, born among them, there was baby Franciscus Josephus Haydn; and ninety-five years later, here was Beethoven, looking back through the intersecting planes ...
Liszt snorted and stomped. He vowed to cross swords with a man he’d never met, and in so doing bandy with the Parisian salonisti. At the stoked-pipe age of twenty-five, Liszt considered himself the undisputed pianistic champ of Europe, 1836. Had he not achieved greatness in Paris but eighteen months ago? Now Paris had turned her back on him in favor of another virtuoso, and to this affront he, Franz Liszt, the virtuoso, would respond with all due harshness.
He gave the salonisti this much. He had been away from Paris too long, traveling Europe with the Countess he stole on his way out of town – the calm and alabaster Marie d’Agoult, wife of the Count. Theirs was a wondrous thing of naught, the two lovers electric with sin, triumph and amore. Or could it be, thought Liszt, the salonisti had tossed him over for the love of the ...