Sunday, June 16, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Niccolò Vito Piccinni (1728-1800)
Helen Traubel (1899-1972)
Willi Boskovsky (1909-1990)
Sergiu Comissiona (1928-2005)
Lucia Dlugoszewski (1931-2000)
Jerry Hadley (1952-2007)
David Owen Norris (1953)

and

Geronimo (1829-1909)
Joyce Carol Oates (1938)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Franz Danzi (1763-1826)
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Ernestine Schumann‑Heink (1861-1936)
Guy Ropartz (1864-1955)
Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981)
Sir Thomas Armstrong (1898-1994)
Otto Luening (1900-1996)
Geoffrey Parsons (1929-1995)
Waylon Jennings (1937-2002)
Harry Nilsson (1941-1994)
Paul Patterson (1947)
Rafael Wallfisch (1953)
Robert Cohen (1959)

and

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)
Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)
Dava Sobel (1947)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Sacchini (1730-1786)
Simon Mayr (1763-1845)
Nicolai Rubinstein (1835-1881)
John McCormack (1884-1945)
Heddle Nash (1894-1961)
Rudolf Kempe (1910-1976)
Stanley Black (1913-2002)
Theodore Bloomfield (1923-1998)
Natalia Gutman (1942)
Lang Lang (1982)

and

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
John Bartlett (1820-1905)
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)
Ernesto (Che) Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967)
Jonathan Raban (1942)
Mona Simpson (1971)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Anton (Antonín) Wranitzky (1761-1820)
Anton Eberl (1766-1807)
Elisabeth Schumann (1888-1952)
Carlos Chavez (1899-1978)
Alan Civil (1929-1989)
Gwynne Howell (1938)
Sarah Connolly (1963)
Alain Trudel (1966)

and

Frances Burney (1752-1840)
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Mary Antin (1881-1949)
Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957)
William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Vanni Marcoux (1877-1962)
Werner Josten (1895-1963)
Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986)
Leon Goossens (1897-1988)
Maurice Ohana (1913-1992)
Ian Partridge (1938)
Chick Corea (1941)
Oliver Knussen (1952)

and

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)
Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Djuna Barnes (1892-1982)
Anne Frank (1929-1945)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Antonio Bonporti (1672-1749)
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
George Frederick McKay (1899-1970)
Shelly Manne (1920-1984)
Carlisle Floyd (1926)
Antony Rooley (1944)
Douglas Bostock (1955)
Conrad Tao (1994)

and

Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
William Styron (1925-2006)
Athol Fugard (1932)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900)
Frederick Loewe (1904-1988)
Ralph Kirkpatrick (1911-1984)
Tikhon Khrennikov (1913-2007)
Bruno Bartoletti (1925-2013)
Mark-Anthony Turnage (1960)

and

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)
Terence Rattigan (1911-1977)
Saul Bellow (1915-2005)
James Salter (1925-2015)
Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Otto Nicolai (1810-1849)
Alberic Magnard (1865-1914)
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)
Cole Porter (1891-1964)
Dame Gracie Fields (1898-1979)
Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970)
Les Paul (1915-2009)
Franco Donatoni (1927-2000)
Charles Wuorinen (1938)
Ileana Cotrubas (1939)

and

Baroness Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914)
George Axelrod (1922-2003)
Patricia Cornwell (1956)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1840, Franz Liszt gives a solo performance at the Hanover Square Rooms in London billed as "Recitals." This was the first time the term "recital" was used to describe a public musical performance, and it caused much discussion and debate at the time. Liszt is credited with both inventing and naming the now-common solo piano "recital."

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1750)
Nicolas Dalayrac (1753-1809)
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942)
Reginald Kell (1906-1981)
Emanuel Ax (1949)

and

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
John W Campbell (1910-1970)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1912, Ravel's ballet, "Daphnis et Chloé" was premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, by Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe, Pierre Monteux conducting.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Leopold Auer (1845-1930)
George Szell (1897-1970)
Ilse Wolf (1921-1999)
Philippe Entremont (1934)
Neeme Järvi (1937)
Sir Tom Jones (1940)
Jaime Laredo (1941)
Prince (1958-2015)
Roberto Alagna (1963)
Olli Mustonen (1967)

and

Paul Gaugin (1848-1903)
Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Nikki Giovanni (1943)
Orham Pamuk (1952)
Louise Erdrich (1954)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Sir John Stainer (1840-1901)
Siegfried Wagner (1869-1930)
Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987)
Iain Hamilton (1922-2000)
Serge Nigg (1924-2008)
Klaus Tennstedt (1926-1998)
Louis Andriessen (1939)

and

Pierre Corneille (1606-1684)
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)
Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
Maxine Kumin (1925-2014)
Robert Pirsig (1928-2017)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1931, Henry Cowell's "Synchrony" received its premiere in Paris, at the first of two concerts of modern American music with the Orchestre Straram conducted by Nicholas Slonimsky and funded anonymously by Charles Ives. On the same program, Slonimsky also conducted the Orchestre Straram in the European premieres of works by Adolph Weiss ("American Life"), Ives ("Three Places in England"), Carl Ruggles ("Men and Mountains"), and the Cuban composer Amadeo Roldan ("La Rehambatamba").

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Somervell (1863-1937)
Robert Mayer (1879-1985)
Eduard Tubin (1905-1982)
Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006)
Peter Schat (1935-2003)
Martha Argerich (1941)
Bill Hopkins (1943-1981)

and

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)
Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)
Alfred Kazin (1915-1998)
David Wagoner (1926)
Margaret Drabble (1939)
David Hare (1947)

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Vancouver Symphony closes out season with Andorra-inspired concerto and emphatic “Pictures at an Exhibition”

There are not many regional orchestras that can boast of a music director who can write accomplished orchestral works and place that them on equal footing with one of the most beloved pieces in the orchestral repertoire. But with Salvador Brotons, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has an ace composer and conductor, and that’s why last weekend’s program paired the American premiere of his “Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra” with Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Tossing in the “Waltz and Polonaise” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” for good measure, the capacity crowd at Skyview Concert Hall on Saturday afternoon (June 1) got a real treat at the final concert of the orchestra’s 40th season.

Brotons wrote the “Double Concerto” in 2017 to celebrate Gerard and Lluis Claret, Andorran brothers who have had longstanding international careers. For the Vancouver Symphony’s concert, the featured soloists were Eva Richey, the orchestra’s concertmaster, and Dieter Ratzlaf, its principal cellist. They performed expertly, although in duet sections with the orchestra, it was easier to hear Richey because of the higher pitch of her instrument.

The orchestra opened the “Double Concerto” with a dusky solemn theme that was picked up by the soloists before transitioning in to a faster passage with short runs. The change of pace and exchange of melody (based on a tune by Brotons’ father) included with some lovely duets for the soloists. The movement concluded with a soft landing and no vibrato so that the last chord lingered in a slightly eerie way.

The second movement began with a delicate passage from the woodwinds before the soloists took over. Based on two Andorran melodies, the music was more highly charged and uplifting, ending with a strong collaboration from the brass and strings.

The soloists were featured in an extended cadenza for the third movement, rising out of the depths and reaching a vantage point at which they were joined by their comrades to start fourth movement in a joyful, folksy melody that was inspired by the “Ball de la Marratxa,” a lively tune from the Andorran parish of Sant Julià de Lòria (here is a clip of Andorrans dancing to this tune on YouTube). The piece wrapped up emphatically, and the audience appreciated it with bravos and extended applause.

After intermission, Brotons and the orchestra gave a solid performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” – with orchestration by Ravel. Brotons, conducting from memory, paced the music extremely well. Individual contributions by members of the orchestra in their exposed parts (the principals for nearly all sections of the orchestra – with an extra tip of the hat to the saxophone, baritone, and tuba) went above and beyond. You could easily image painting of the gnarly gnomes, the spooky castle in the mist, children playing, the lumbering oxen, the ominous catacombs, and the terrifying witch.

Cutoffs were crisp and dramatic. The final build up of sound impressively created the grandeur of the Gates of Kiev. Brotons asked the orchestra to deliver a triple-plus forte and the musicians delivered! The audience was blown away and responded enthusiastically, making the occasion a memorable way to cap of the orchestra’s 40th season.

Returning to the fact that Brotons is such a fine composer, it seems to me that the City of Vancouver should commission him to write a fanfare or a march that would symbolize the city, the people, and the landscape in some creative way. I think that Brotons would uncork something pretty terrific.

Today's Birthdays

James Hewitt (1770-1827)
Evgeny Mravinsky (1903-1988)
Alan Shulman (1915-2002
Robert Merrill (1917-2004)
Irwin Bazelon (1922-1995)
Oliver Nelson (1932-1975)
Anthony Braxton (1945)
Cecilia Bartoli (1966)

and

Josef Sittard (1846-1903)
Karl Valentin (1882-1948)
Robert Anderson (1917-2009)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Larry McMurtry (1936)

Monday, June 3, 2019

Today's Birthdays

František Jan Škroup (1801-1862)
Charles Lecocq (1832-1918)
Jan Peerce (1904-1984)
Valerie Masterson (1937)
Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999)
Greg Sandow (1943)
Lynne Dawson (1956)

and

Josephine Baker (1906-1975)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Ruth Westheimer (1928)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Today's Birthdays

James Cutler Dunn Parker (1828-1916)
Felix Weingartner (1863-1942)
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Jozef Cleber (1916-1999)
Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012)
Mark Elder (1947)
Neil Shicoff (1949)
Michel Dalberto (1955)

and

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

and from The New Music Box:

On June 2, 1938, Amy Beach began work on her Piano Trio while in residence at the MacDowell Colony. She finished the composition fifteen days later (June 18th) and published it as her Op. 150. It was to be her last major work.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Georg Muffat (1653-1704)
Ferdinando Paër (1771-1839)
Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857)
Werner Janssen (1899-1990)
Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
Nelson Riddle (1921-1985)
Yehudi Wyner (1929)
Edo de Waart (1941)
Richard Goode (1943)
Frederica von Stade (1945)
Arlene Sierra (1970)

and

John Masefield (1878-1967)
Charles Kay Ogden (1889–1957)
Naguib Surur (1932-1978)
Colleen McCullough (1937-2015)
Sheri Holman (1966)
Amy Schumer (1981)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Preview of new concerto by Salvador Brotons in The Columbian

In today's edition of The Columbian, you can read my preview of Salvador Brotons' new Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra.  It will be played by the Vancouver Symphony where Brotons is the music director this weekend (Saturday and Sunday), featuring concertmaster Eva Richey and principal cellist Dieter Ratzlaf.

Today's Birthdays

Marin Marais (1656-1728)
Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)
Billy Mayerl (1902-1959)
Alfred Deller (1912-1979)
Akira Ifukube (1914-2006)
Shirley Verrett (1931-2010)
Peter Yarrow (1938)
Bruce Adolphe (1955)
Marty Ehrlich (1955)

and

Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853)
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Clint Eastwood (1930)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944)
Benny Goodman (1909-1986)
George London (1920-1985)
Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012)
Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016)
Zoltan Kocsis (1952)
Anne LeBaron (1953)

and

Howard Hawks (1896-1977)
Colm Toibin (1955)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 30, 1923, 26-year-old composer and conductor Howard Hanson, who would later be one of the founders of the American Music Center, led the world premiere performance of his Nordic Symphony, the first of his seven symphonies and still one of his best-known works, in Rome during his residence as first holder of the American Rome Prize.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Fanciulli (1853-1915)
Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)
Rudolf Tobias (1873-1918)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001)
Helmuth Rilling (1933)
Michael Berkley (1948)
Linda Esther Gray (1948)
Melissa Etheridge (1961)

and

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
Steven Levitt (1967)

and

from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1913, Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps" (The Rite of Spring) received its premiere performance in Paris, by Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, Pierre Monteux conducting.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Arne (1710-1788)
Josiah Flagg (1737-1795)
Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914)
Sir George Dyson(1883-1964)
T-Bone Walker (1910-1975)
Nicola Rescigno (1916-2008)
György Ligeti (1923-2006)
John Culshaw (1924-1980)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012)
Richard Van Allan (1935-2008)
Maki Ishii (1936-2003)
Elena Souliotis (1943-2004)
Levon Chilingirian (1948)

and

Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Ian Flemming (1908-1964)
May Swenson (1913-1989)
Walker Percy (1916-1990)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 28, 1957, after several discussions, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (NARAS) was born at a meeting at Hollywood's legendary Brown Derby Restaurant.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Halévy (1799-1862)
Joseph Joachim Raff (1822-1882)
Louis Durey (1888-1979)
Claude Champagne (1891-1965)
Ernst Wallfisch (1920-1979)
Margaret Buechner (1922-1998)
Thea Musgrave (1928)
Donald Keats (1929-2018)
Elizabeth Harwood (1938-1990)
James Wood (1953)

and

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)
Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876)
Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
John Cheever (1912-1982)
John Barth (1930)
Linda Pastan (1932)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Oregon Symphony closes the season with a Titanic Mahler and Weill

Storm Large
The Oregon Symphony closed the 2018-19 season with a Mahler Symphony, as has been the tradition for some years. In addition there was a special presentation of Kurt Weill's ballet chanté (sung ballet) The Seven Deadly Sins, his final collaboration with lyricist Bertolt Brecht, which tells the story of Anna 1 and Anna 2,  two sisters (or are there really two of them?) on a journey (in this English translation) across the U.S., with seven cities each representing one of the sins.

Portland-based chanteuse Storm Large took center stage for the Weill. A stool and a small table with a wine bottle and glass formed the set, and in the prologue Storm's easy, confident performance found good footing with the slow, steady pulse of the orchestra. Hudson Shad, a male vocal ensemble, sang the part of The Family, which played the role of a Greek Chorus commenting on the action.

During Sloth, Hudson Shad sang the menacing call and response, and the vocalists were tremendous. Storm sang with immaculate diction, and during Pride she showed an unabashed, frowzy sensuality as she stripped off her greatcoat and danced in a slinky cocktail dress.  Her performance was dynamic and believable--one couldn't help but root for her all the way. During Anger Storm sang a lengthy, repetitive pedal point that was absolutely concise, clear and bell-like. Gluttony featured a delicious a cappella chorus from Hudson Shad, who with their oh-so-serious moralizing reinforced the satirical nature of the work. The vocalizing from the entire group, but especially from Storm Large, was extremely powerful while never sacrificing exacting clarity.  This performance was a treat, and the wealth of experience the vocalists have performing this specific work shone brightly.

Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D Major, "Titan" opened with the orchestra taking a mythic tone indeed, cyclopean and trembling strings leading into the ghostly off-stage fanfare. Maestro Kalmar is wonderful at immense, broad soundscapes, and he led the orchestra effectively from the opening threnody to the dizzying pastorale.  The zesty, rumbling rum-pum-pum from the strings in the second movement was fantastic, betraying the somnolent, stygian  Frère Jacques that opens the third. The orchestra found its way into the jarringly joyous dance tune, and as the two themes went back and forth they were never allowed to grow stale: always morphing dynamically or texturally, growing now more sparing, now more longing.  The startling, horrifying triple forte in the fourth movement was a shock even though most people (probably) knew it was coming. Was Mahler intentionally channeling Haydn's great moment from the 'Surprise Symphony here? Maybe. It certainly had a similar effect on the audience.

A piece like this, made for a large, lush, modern orchestra, should be played deftly, subtlely, and yet with appropriate emotionality and bombast when required. It's very immensity requires that each small part do its job; there is little margin for error here precisely because of its grandeur. Having been on the other side of Maestro Kalmar's baton numerous times, I can attest that his bold, often frenetic gesturing belies a meticulous rigidity that holds together the tremendous musical forces that can so easily go astray. As usual it was a pleasure to watch the maestro lead such a tremendous group of performers, and it was a fittingly stupendous finale.

Today's Birthdays

Al Jolson (1886-1950)
Eugene Goossens (1893-1962)
Ernst Bacon (1898-1990)
Vlado Perlemuter (1904-2002)
Moondog (Louis Thomas Hardin) (1916-1999)
François‑Louis Deschamps (1919-2004)
Peggy Lee (1920-2002)
Joseph Horovitz (1926)
Miles Davis (1926-1991)
Teresa Stratas (1938)
William Bolcom (1938)
Howard Goodall (1958)
Armando Bayolo (1973)

and

Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837)
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
Frankie Manning (1914-2009)
Alan Hollinghurst (1954)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 26, 1953, Aaron Copland appeared before the Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) of the U.S. House of Representative.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Thomas "Blind Tom" Bethune (1849-1908)
Miles Davis (1926-1991)
Beverly Sills (1929-2007)
Franco Bonisolli (1937-2003)

and

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
Raymond Carver (1938-1988)
Jamaica Kincaid (1949)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1944, Arturo Toscanini conducts the combined NBC Symphony and New York Philharmonic in a benefit concert of music by Wagner, Verdi, and Sousa at the old Madison Square Garden. The concert raised $100,000 for the Red Cross. During an intermission auction, New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia auctioned off Toscanini's baton for $10,000.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Paul Paray (1886-1979)
Joan Hammond (1912-1986)
Hans‑Martin Linde (1930)
Maurice André (1933-2012)
Harold Budd (1936)
Bob Dylan (1941)
Konrad Boehmer (1941-2014)
Fiona Kimm (1952)
Paul McCreesh (1960)

and

William Trevor (1928-2016)
Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)
Declan Kiberd (1951)
Michael Chabon (1963)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870)
Louis Glass (1864-1936)
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Alicia de Larrocha (1923)
Robert Moog (1934-2005)
Joel Feigin (1951)

and

Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952)
Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Johann Schrammel (1850-1893)
Minna Keal (1909-1999)
Sun Ra (1914-1993)
George Tintner (1917-1999)
Humphrey Lyttelton (1921-2008)
Claude Ballif (1924-2004)
John Browning (1933-2003)
Peter Nero (1934)

and

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
Laurence Olivier (1907-1989)
Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 21, 1893, in an lengthy article published in the New York Herald titled "Real Value of Negro Melodies," Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak, during his three-year sojourn in the United States, prognosticated that the future of American music should be based on "negro melodies" and announced that the National Conservatory of Music, where he was serving as Director at the time, would be "thrown open free of charge to the negro race." It was to be the first of a total of seven articles in the Herald in which Dvorak expounded these ideas which provoked comments ranging from incredulity to denunciation by composers and performers around the world including Anton Bruckner, Anton Rubinstein and John Knowles Paine.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Parry (1841-1903)
Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-1943)
Gina Bachauer (1913-1976)
Heinz Holliger (1939)
Rosalind Plowright (1949)
Linda Bouchard (1957)

and

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Henri Rousseau (1844-1910)
Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)
Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Hephzibah Menuhin (1920-1981)
George Hurst (1926-2012)
Karl Anton Rikenbacher (1940-2014)
Tison Street (1943)
Joe Cocker (1944-2014)
Cher (1946)
Sue Knussen (1949-2003)
Jane Parker-Smith (1950)
Emma Johnson (1966)

and

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Jacob Froberger (1616-1667)
Nellie Melba (1859-1931)
Kerstin Thorborg (1896-1970)
Sandy Wilson (1924-2014)
Pete Townshend (1945)
Stephen Varcoe (1949)

and

Malcom X (1925-1965)
Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)
Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1886, the American premiere of J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (11 selections) was given during the May Festival in Cincinnati, conducted by Theodore Thomas. The next documented performance (12 sections) was given in Boston on February 27, 1887, by the Handel and Haydn Society, with Carl Zerrahn conducting a chorus of 432 and an orchestra of 50. In both the 1886 Cincinnati and 1887 Boston performances, the famous 19-century German soprano Lilli Lehmann appeared as one of the soprano soloists. The first complete performance of the work was apparently given either at the Moravian Church in Bethlehem on Mar 17, 1900, by the Bach Choir under J. Fred Wolf, or at Carnegie Hall in new York on April 5, 1900, by the Oratorio Society, Frank Damrosch conducting.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-1667)
Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876)
Karl Goldmark (1830-1915)
Ezio Pinza (1892-1947)
Henri Sauguet (1901-1989)
Meredith Willson (1902-1984)
Sir Clifford Curzon (1907-1982)
Perry Como (1912-2001)
Boris Christoff (1914-1993)
Mikko Heiniö (1948)

and

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Walter Gropius (1883-1969)
Frank Capra (1897-1991)
Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991)
Tina Fey (1970)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Erik Satie (1866-1925)
Werner Egk (1901-1983)
Sandor Vegh (1905-1997)
Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005)
Dennis Brain (1921-1957)
Peter Mennin (1932-1983)
Taj Mahal (1942)
Paul Crossley (1944)
Brian Rayner Cook (1945)
Bill Bruford (1949)
Ivor Bolton (1958)

and

Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957)
Alfonso Reyes (1889-1959)
Gary Paulsen (1939)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 17, 1846, Belgian-born instrument builder and clarinetist Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone, an instrument that would have a profound impact on American jazz. Over a century later, on May 17, 1957, a computer was used to make music for the first time.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Richard Tauber (1891-1948)
Ivan Vishnegradsy (1893-1979)
Jan Kiepura (1902-1966)
Woody Herman (1913-1987)
Liberace (1919-1987)
Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000)
Betty Carter (1930-1998)
Donald Martino (1931-2005)
Robert Fripp (1946)
Monica Huggett (1953)
Andrew Litton (1959)

and

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799)
Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866)
Louis "Studs" Terkel (1912-2008)
Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 16, 1907, Miller Reese Hutchison filed an application at the U.S. Patent Office for his invention, the motor-driven Diaphragm Actuated Horn and Resonator, for use in automobiles. The patent was granted on May 3, 1910. The carhorn would later be used as a musical instrument by numerous composers ranging from George Gershwin in An American in Paris (1928) to Wendy Mae Chambers who developed a Car Horn Organ in 1983.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review of Oregon Symphony's Peer Gynt in CVNA

My review of the Oregon Symphony's Peer Gynt concert has been published in the Classical Voice North America here. I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Michael William Balfe (1808-1870)
Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986)
Arthur Berger (1912-2003)
John Lanchbery (1923-2003)
Ted Perry (1931-2003)
Richard Wilson (1941)
Brian Eno (1948)

and

L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931)
Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
Peter Shaffer (1926-2016)
Jasper Johns (1930)
Laura Hillenbrand (1967)

and from The New Music Box:

On May 15, 1972, the Concord Quartet premiered George Rochberg's String Quartet No. 3 at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Rochberg, an established serialist composer, shocked the compositional scene by returning to tonality in this composition. Many cite this premiere as the birth of neo-romanticism.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)
Sidney Bechet (1897-1959)
Lou Harrison (1917-2003)
Aloys Kontarsky (1931-2017)
Peter Skellern (1947)
Maria de La Pau (1950)
Helen Field (1951)
David Byrne (1952)

and

Hal Borland (1900-1978)
Mary Morris (1947)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
Constantin Silverstri (1913-1969)
William Schwann (1913-1998)
Gareth Morris (1920-2007)
Ritchie Valens (1941-1959)
Jane Glover (1949)
Stevie Wonder (1950)
David Hill (1957)
Tasmin Little (1965)

and

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989)
Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989)
Kathleen Jamie (1962)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1875, the American premiere of J.S. Bach's "Magnificat" took place during the May Festival in Cincinnati, conducted by Theodore Thomas. The Cincinnati Commercial review of May 14 was not favorable: "The work is difficult in the extreme and most of the chorus abounds with rambling sub-divisions. We considering the ‘Magnifcat' the weakest thing the chorus has undertaken . . . possessing no dramatic character and incapable of conveying the magnitude of the labor that has been expended upon its inconsequential intricacies. If mediocrity is a mistake, the ‘Magnifcat' is the one error of the Festival". Thomas also conducted the next documented performance in Boston on Mar. 1, 1876 (for which composer John Knowles Paine performed as organ accompanist to a chorus of 300).

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Baptist Wanha (Vanhal) (1739-1813)
Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754-1812)
Giovanni Viotti (1755-1824)
Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989)
Burt Bacharach (1928)
Anthony Newman (1941)
Dalmacio Gonzalez (1945)
Doris Soffel (1948)

and

Edward Lear (1812-1888)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Rosellen Brown (1939)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jan Václav (1791-1825)
Anatoly Liadov (1855-1914)
Alma Gluck (1884-1938)
Irving Berlin (1888-1939)
William Grant Still (1895-1978)
Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
Ross Pople (1945)
Judith Weir (1954)
Cecile Licad (1961)

and

Martha Graham (1894-1991)
Mari Sandoz (1896-1966)
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Francisco "Paco" Umbral (1932-2007)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Marie Leclair (1697-1764)
Max Steiner (1888-1971)
Dmitri Tiomkin (1894-1979)
Maybelle Carter (1909-1978)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Richard Lewis (1914-1990)
Milton Babbit (1916-2011)
Maxim Shostakovich (1938)
Lori Dobbins (1958)

and

Karl Barth (1886-1968)
Fred Astaire (1899-1987)
Barbara Taylor Bradford (1933)

and from The New Music Box:

On May 10, 1987, David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe produced the first-ever Bang on a Can Marathon, a twelve-hour concert at the SoHo gallery Exit Art combining music by Milton Babbitt, Steve Reich, John Cage, George Crumb, Lois V Vierk, Lee Hyla, Aaron Kernis, Phill Niblock and others.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816)
Adolph von Henselt (1814-1889)
Jacques Singer (1910-1980)
Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005)
Nigel Douglas (1929)
Billy Joel (1949)
Michel Beroff (1950)
Joy Harjo (1951)
Linda Finnie (1952)
Anne Sofie von Otter (1955)
Alison Hagley (1961)

and

James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937)
Alan Bennett (1934)
Charles Simic (1938)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Carl Philipp Stamitz (1745-1801)
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869)
Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981)
Heather Harper (1930)
Carlo Cossutta (1932-2
000)
Keith Jarrett (1945) Felicity Lott (1947)

and

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
Edmund Wilson (1895-1972)
Gary Snyder (1930)
Thomas Pynchon (1937)
Roddy Doyle (1958)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Anton Seidl (1850-1898)
Edmond Appia (1894-1961)
Elisabeth Soderstrom (1927-2009)
Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981)
Philip Lane (1950)
Robert Spano (1961)

and

Olympe de Gouge (1748-1793)
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
Archibald MacLeish (1892-1962)
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
Peter Carey (1943)


and from The New Music Box:
On May 7, 1946, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering is founded with about 20 employees. The company, later renamed Sony, would eventually invent the home video tape recorder, the Walkman and the Discman, as well as take-over Columbia Records, later CBS Records, which under the leadership of composer Goodard Lieberson (1956-1973) released numerous recordings of music by American composers.

and from the Composers Datebook: On this day in 1824, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 ("Choral") was premiered at the Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna, with the deaf composer on stage beating time, but with the performers instructed to follow the cues of Beethoven's assistant conductor, Michael Umlauf.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jascha Horenstein (1898-1973)
George Perle (1915-2009)
Godfrey Ridout (1918-1984)
Murry Sidlin (1940)
Ghena Dimitrova (1941-2005)
Nathalie Stutzmann (1965)

and

Robert Peary (1856-1920)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Gaston Leroux (1868-1927)
Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)
Orson Wells (1915-1985)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Stanislaw Moniuszko (1819-1872)
Hans Pfizner (1869-1947)
Maria Caniglia (1905-1979)
Kurt Böhme (1908-1989)
Charles Rosen (1927-2012)
Mark Ermler (1932-2002)
Tammy Wynette (1942-1998)
Bunita Marcus (1952)
Cédric Tiberghien (1975)

and

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Nellie Bly (1864-1922)
Christopher Morley (1890-1957)
James Beard (1903-1985)
Kaye Gibbons (1960)

From the New Music Box:

On May 5, 1891, Walter Damrosch led the New York Philharmonic in the very first concert in the large auditorium at Carnegie Hall, now called Stern Auditorium. The program consisted entirely of European repertoire: Beethoven’s "Leonore Overture No. 3," Berlioz’s "Te Deum," Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky "Festival Coronation March" (with the composer making a guest appearance on the podium), the hymn "The Old One Hundred" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (then America's unofficial national anthem although the tune is that of the British anthem "God Save The Queen").

This was not actually the first concert in the building, however. On April 1, Liszt-pupil Franz Rummel had already given an all-European solo piano recital in the space that now holds Zankel Hall. The oldest known program for the third of Carnegie's stages, what is now called Weill Recital Hall, a chamber music concert produced by the Society for Ethical Culture, dates back to October 31, 1891 and included the song "At Twilight" by the American composer Ethelbert Nevin.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Marianne (Anna Katharina) von Martínez (1744-1812)
Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Emil Nikolaus Von Reznicek (1860-1945)
Mátyás Seiber (1905-1960)
Tatiana Nikolayeva (1924-1993)
Roberta Peters (1930)
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (1931)
Marisa Robles (1937)
Enrique Batiz (1942)
Peter Ware (1951)

and

Horace Mann (1796-1859)
Frederick Church (1826-1900)
Graham Swift (1949)
David Guterson (1956)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682)
Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901)
Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Bing Crosby (1903-1977)
Sir William Glock (1908-2000)
Léopold Simoneau (1916-2006)
Pete Seeger (1919-2014)
John Lewis (1920-2001)
James Brown (1933-2006)
Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012)

and

Niccol Machiavelli (1469-1527)
Jacob Riis (1849-1914)
May Sarton (1912-1995)
William Inge (1913-1973)
Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)

From the New Music Box:

On May 3, 1943, William Schumann received the very first Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Secular Cantata No. 2 - A Free Song, a work published by G. Schirmer and premiered by the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Serge Koussevitzky on March 26, 1943.
and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1971, debut broadcast of National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" was made with an electronic theme by composer Don Voegeli of the University of Wisconsin (In 1974, Voegeli composed a new electronic ATC theme, the now-familiar signature tune of the program).

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Jean‑Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747)
Ludwig August Lebrun (1752-1790)
Hans Christian Lumbye (1810-1874)
Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922)
Lorenz Hart (1894-1943)
Alan Rawstorne (1905-1971)
Jean‑Marie Auberson (1920-2004)
Arnold Black (1923-2000)
Philippe Herreweghe (1947)
Valery Gergiev (1953)
Elliot Goldenthal (1954)

and

Jerome K Jerome (1859-1927)
Dr. Benjamin Spock (1904-1998)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Marco da Gagliano (1582-1643)
William Lawes (1602-1645)
Sophia Dussek (1775-1831)
Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960)
Leo Sowerby (1895-1968)
Jón Leifs (1899-1968)
Walter Susskind (1913-1980)
Gary Bertini (1927-2005)
Judy Collins (1939)

and

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
Joseph Heller (1923-1999)
Bobbie Ann Mason (1940)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lehár (1870-1948)
Louise Homer (1871-1947)
Frank Merrick (1886-1981)
Robert Shaw (1916-1999)
Günter Raphael (1903-1960)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1939)
Garcia Navarro (1940-2002)
Vladimir Tarnopolsky (1955)

and

Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967)
John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974)
Winfield Townley Scott (1910-1968)
Annie Dillard (1945)
Josip Novakovich (1955)

And from the New Music Box:

On April 30, 1932, the very first Yaddo Festival of Contemporary Music began in Saratoga Springs, NY. Works programmed that year included Aaron Copland's Piano Variations as well as piano works by Roger Sessions, Henry Brant, Vivian Fine and Roy Harris, songs by Charles Ives and Paul Bowles, string quartets by Marc Blitzstein and Louis Gruenberg, and a suite for unaccompanied flute by Wallingford Riegger

Monday, April 29, 2019

PSU Opera revels in the convoluted love triangles of "La finta giardiniera"

Portland State University Opera delivered a high-spirited production of “La Finta Gardiniera,” one of Mozart’s early operas and a definitive precursor to his famous comic works “Così fan tutti” and “Le nozze di Figaro.” He wrote “La Finta Gardiniera” (The Pretend Gardener) when he was 18 on commission for the Munich Carnival. It is stuffed with convoluted love triangles, mad scenes, and humorous situations that PSU Opera’s talented singers delivered with gusto to an enthusiastic audience at Lincoln Hall on opening night, April 19th.

PSU Opera featured two different casts for the production. The singers I heard were led by the supple and expressive voice of Savannah Panah as Sandrina, who pretends to be a gardener in the home of the Podesta (mayor) of Lagonero. However, Sandrina is actually the Marchioness Violante, and she surreptitiously becomes a gardener in order to flee from her violent lover, the Count Belfiore. The Posdesta, sung with a wink and a nod by Erik Standifird, falls in love with Sandrina. In the meantime, the Podesta’s haughty niece, Arminda, given an appropriately high-handed delivery by Helen Soultanian, shows up to receive her suitor Count Belfiore, delivered with impeccable comic timing by Avesta Mirashrafi, but she is confronted by her rejected lover Cavalier Ramiero, which countertenor Nicholas Wavers sang with earnest conviction.

To further complicate matters, the servant Serpetta, sung wonderfully by Maeve Stier, is in love with the Podesta, but another servant Nardo, sung by the rich voice of Jonathan Roberts, loves Serpetta.

A blend of absurd and serious situations become intertwined before things get straightened out so that the lovers find each other with the exception of the Posesta, who must wait until another Sandrina shows up. Under the direction of David Ward, the singers generated a ton of laughter in the first act and did well with the complicated mad scene in the second act and the untangling of the story in the third act.

Traditional costumes designed by Hadley Yoder included accented the opera buffa style. In particular, Standifird’s Podesta sported a magnificent, pillowy pompadour that was matched in its ridiculousness by the red mop of a haystack atop Soultanian’s Arminda. Sets designed by Carey Wong featured a series of panels that were enhanced by the lush bucolic paintings of Elecia Beebe and the lighting of Peter West.

Ken Selden’s crisp conducting paced the PSU Orchestra at a good clip. There were some slips in intonation but the spirit of the music was conveyed with gusto. Music Director Chuck Dillard’s supple harpsichord accompaniment was spot on. The interplay between the singers and the orchestra musicians was especially enjoyable when singers recalled dreams in which an oboe, flute, or other instrument could be heard. Just after a particular instrument was mentioned, Mozart gave that instrument a lovely exposed passage, and each time the PSU Orchestra member played his/her solo superbly.

Overall, “La finta Gardiniera” is an excellent choice for a university production. On college campuses there a plenty of convoluted love triangles, and some even get resolved. PSU Opera deserves kudos for creating a production that can still make us laugh.

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Beecham (1879-1961)
Wallingford Riegger (1885-1961)
Sir Malcom Sargent (1895-1967)
Edward "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974)
Harold Shapero (1920-2013)
Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)
Willie Nelson (1933)
Klaus Voormann (1938)
Leslie Howard (1948)
Eero Hämeenniemi (1951)
Gino Quilico (1955)

and

Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933)
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)
Robert Gottlieb (1931)
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1906, Victor Herbert conducts a benefit concert at the Hippodrome in New York City for victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Today's Birthdays

John Jacob Niles (1892-1980)
Paul Sacher (1906-1999)
Margaret Vardell Sandresky (1921)
Zubin Mehta (1936)
Jeffrey Tate (1943)
Nicola LeFanu (1947)
Elise Ross (1947)
Michael Daugherty (1954)

and

James Monroe (1758-1831)
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Erich Salomon (1886-1944)
Robert Anderson (1917-2009)
Harper Lee (1926-2016)
Carolyn Forché (1950)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Adam Reinken (1623-1722)
Friedrich von Flotow (1812-1883)
Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Nicolas Slonimsky (1894-1995)
Guido Cantelli (1920-1956)
Igor Oistrakh (1931)
Hamish Milne (1939)
Jon Deak (1943)
Christian Zacharias (1950)

and

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Samuel Morse (1791-1872)
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)
Ludwig Bemelmans(1898-1962)
C(ecil) Day Lewis (1904-1972)
Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
August Wilson (1945-2005)

And from the former Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1667, the poet John Milton sold the copyright for his masterpiece, Paradise Lost, for 10 pounds. Milton had championed the cause of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament over the king during the English Civil War, and published a series of radical pamphlets in support of such things as Puritanism, freedom of the press, divorce on the basis of incompatibility, and the execution of King Charles I. With the overthrow of the monarchy and the creation of the Commonwealth, Milton was named Secretary of Foreign Tongues, and though he eventually lost his eyesight, he was able to carry out his duties with the help of aides like fellow poet Andrew Marvell.

When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Milton was imprisoned as a traitor and stripped of his property. He was soon released, but was now impoverished as well as completely blind, and he spent the rest of his life secluded in a cottage in Buckinghamshire. This is where he dictated Paradise Lost — an epic poem about the Fall of Man, with Satan as a kind of antihero — and its sequel, Paradise Regained, about the temptation of Christ.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Erland von Koch (1910-2009)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Teddy Edwards (1924-2003)
Wilma Lipp (1925-2019)
Ewa Podleś (1952)
Patrizia Kwella (1953)

and

David Hume (1711-1776)
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Anita Loos (1889-1981)
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)
I. M. Pei (1917-2019)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Gottlieb Muffat (1690-1770)
Ella Fitzgerald (1918-1998)
Astrid Varnay (1918-2006)
Siegfried Palm (1927-2005)
Digby Fairweather (1946)
Truls Mørk (1961)

and

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Howard R. Garis (1873-1962)
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
David Shepherd (1931)
Ted Kooser (1939)
Padgett Powell (1952)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1841, at a fund-raising concert in Paris for the Beethoven monument to be erected in Bonn, Franz Liszt performs Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto with Berlioz conducting. Richard Wagner reviews the concert for the Dresden Abendzeitung. The following day, Chopin gives one of his rare recitals at the Salle Pleyel, and Liszt writes a long and glowing review for the Parisian Gazette Musicale.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Martini (1706-1784)
Charles O'Connell (1900-1962)
Violet Archer (1913-2000)
John Williams (1941) - guitarist
Barbara Streisand (1942)
Norma Burrowes (1944)
Ole Edvard Antonsen (1962)
Augusta Read Thomas (1964)
Catrin Finch (1980)

and

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Stanley Kauffmann (1916-2013)
Sue Grafton (1940)
Clare Boylan (1948-2006)
Eric Bogosian (1953)
Judy Budnitz (1973)

From the former Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1800, the Library of Congress was established. In a bill that provided for the transfer of the nation's capital from Philadelphia to Washington, Congress included a provision for a reference library containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress — and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein ..." The library was housed in the Capitol building, until British troops burned and pillaged it in 1814. Thomas Jefferson offered as a replacement his own personal library: nearly 6,500 books, the result of 50 years' worth of "putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science."

First opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress is now the largest library in the world. It houses more than 144 million items, including 33 million catalogued books in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of films, legal materials, maps, sheet music, and sound recordings.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521)
Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
Ruggiero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)
Arthur Farwell (1872-1952)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009)
Robert Moog (1934-2005)
Roy Orbison (1936-1988)
Joel Feigin (1951)

and

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
James Patrick (J. P.) Donleavy (1926-2017)
Coleman Barks (1937)
Barry Hannah (1942-2010)-
Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

From the former Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of Roy Orbison (1936), born in Vernon, Texas. One day, during a songwriting session with his partner Bill Dees, Orbison asked his wife, Claudette Frady Orbison, if she needed any money for her upcoming trip to Nashville. Dees remarked, “Pretty woman never needs any money.” Forty minutes later, Orbison’s most famous hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” had been written.
And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1993, Morten Lauridsen's "Les Chanson des Roses"(five French poems by Rilke) for mixed chorus and piano was premiered by the Choral Cross-Ties ensemble of Portland, Ore., Bruce Browne conducting.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)
Eric Fenby (1906-1997)
Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953)
Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999)
Charles Mingus 1922-1979)
Michael Colgrass (1932)
Jaroslav Krcek (1939)
Joshua Rifkin (1944)
Peter Frampton (1950)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1956)

and

Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
Louise Glück (1943)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 2001, the Philharmonic Hungarica gives its final concert in Düsseldorf. The orchestra was founded by Hungarian musicians who fled to West Germany after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. For London/Decca Records the Philharmonic Hungarica made the first complete set of all of Haydn's symphonies under the baton of its honorary president, the Hungarian-American conductor Antal Dorati.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
Leonard Warren (1911-1960)
Bruno Maderna (1920-1973)
Locksley Wellington 'Slide' Hampton (1932)
Easley Blackwood (1933)
Lionel Rogg (1936)
John McCabe (1939-2015)
Iggy Pop (1947)
Richard Bernas (1950)
Melissa Hui (1966)

and

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
John Muir (1838-1914)
Elaine May (1932)
Nell Freudenberger (1975)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1937, Copland's play-opera for high school "The Second Hurricane," was premiered at the Grand Street Playhouse in New York City, with soloists from the Professional Children's School, members of the Henry Street Settlement adult chorus, and the Seward High School student chorus, with Lehman Engle conducting and Orson Welles directing the staged production. One professional adult actor, Joseph Cotten, also participated (He was paid $10).

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950)
Lionel Hampton (1908-2002)
Christopher Robinson (1936)
John Eliot Gardiner (1943)
Robert Kyr (1952)

and


Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)
Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Sebastian Faulks (1953)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1928, in Paris, the first public demonstration of an electronic instrument invented by Maurice Martenot called the "Ondes musicales" took place. The instrument later came to be called the "Ondes Martenot," and was included in scores by Milhaud, Messiaen, Jolivet, Ibert, Honegger, Florent Schmitt and other 20th century composers.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858)
Max von Schillings (1868-1933)
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Ruben Gonzalez (1919-2003)
Dudley Moore (1935-2002)
Bernhard Klee (1936)
Kenneth Riegel (1938)
Jonathan Tunick (1938)
David Fanshawe (1942-2010)
Murray Perahia (1947)
Yan-Pascal Tortelier (1947)
Natalie Dessay (1965)

and

Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727)
Etheridge Knight (1931-1991)
Sharon Pollock (1936)
Stanley Fish (1938)

and from the New Music Box:

On April 19, 1775, William Billings and Supply Belcher, two of the earliest American composers who at the time were serving as Minutemen (militia members in the American Revolutionary War who had undertaken to turn out for service at a minute's notice), marched to Cambridge immediately after receiving an alarm from Lexington about an impending armed engagement with the British.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Young artists shine in the spotlight with the Vancouver Symphony (WA)

Every year as I get older, the young people seem to get younger. That was especially true at the Vancouver Symphony concert on Saturday afternoon (April 13), which featured the gold medal winners of its annual young artists contest. This time around, one of the winners, Julin Cheung, was only eleven years old! That is the youngest winner ever that I am aware of.

Cheung won the wind competition and played Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto No. 2 (“La notte”) with as much verve, artistry, and technique as a seasoned flutist twice his age. His tone was beautiful and clear. He created trills that lingered exquisitely. He leaned into long notes and let the short ones flow smoothly. Combined with excellent breath control and tremendous poise, Cheung made the music a pleasure to hear and look a lot easier than it was – the sign of a fine artist indeed. The audience responded to an immediate standing ovation. Cheung is someone to keep an eye on…

Next on the program came Aaron Greene, a tall 17-year-old, who has been one of the co-concertmasters of the Portland Youth Philharmonic for the past two years. Greene delivered an outstanding performance of Ravel’s “Tzigane.” His opening cadenza showed flashes of inspiration that conveyed the gypsy-imbued spirit of the piece. He excelled with double-stops and the pizzicato passages and supplied a bit of fire to finish off the emotive phrases. Supported by sensitive playing by the harp and the orchestra, Greene created a fine freewheeling swirl of sound through the rest of the piece with only a brief problem with a tricky pizzicato phrase.

Jenna Tu, a 16-year-old pianist, gave a lovely interpretation of the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. She played with terrific confidence and artistry, creating a deep, rich sound in the opening segment. All of the wonderful melodies that surge forward and ebb to the back sparkled in the hands of Tu. Her pacing was excellent, including the build up to the final theme. It was fun to follow her fingers on the big screens above the stage and watch her elegant technique. Like Greene and Cheung, Tu received thunderous applause from an enthusiastic audience. Music Director Salvador Brotons brought all three soloists out on stage for one final bow that everyone appreciated.

The second half of the program was devoted to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” one of the most popular of all symphonic works in the Romantic style. Brotons, conducting from memory, inspired an evocative performance from the orchestra. The brass established an angry sultan. Concertmaster Eva Richey spun the image of the story-telling wife, Scheherazade. The strings and woodwinds generated the ocean waves and all the forces contributed to the swashbuckling adventures in exotic lands. Excellent contributions abounded, especially from principal French Horn (Dan Partridge), clarinet (Igor Shakhman) , bassoon (Margaret McShea), trombone (Graham Middleton), flute (Rachel Rencher), harp (Matthew Tutsky), trumpet (Bruce Dunn) and oboe (Alan Juza) and the rock solid percussion section. The dynamics could have provided more contrast and there was occasional muddiness in the strings, but overall, the orchestra transported listeners to a realm of imagination that only vanished with the final waves of notes.

Today's Birthdays

Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674)
Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)
Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)
Sylvia Fisher (1910-1996)
Penelope Thwaites (1944)
Catherine Maltfitano (1948)

and

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
Bob Kaufman (1925-1986)
Susan Faludi (1959)

Also a historical tidbit from (the former) Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1906 an earthquake struck San Francisco. The earthquake began at 5:12 a.m. and lasted for a little over a minute. The world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso had performed at San Francisco's Grand Opera House the night before, and he woke up in his bed as the Palace Hotel was falling down around him. He stumbled out into the street, and because he was terrified that that shock might have ruined his voice, he began singing. Nearly 3,000 people died.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729)
Jan Václav Tomášek (1774-1850)
Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)
Maggie Teyte (1888-1976)
Harald Saeverud (1897-1992)
Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976)
Pamela Bowden (1925-2003)
James Last (1929-2015)
Anja Silja (1940)
Siegfried Jerusalem (1940)
Cristina Ortiz (1950)

and

Karen Blixen aka Isak Dinesen (1885-1962)
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)
Brendan Kennelly (1936)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1906 - on tour in San Francisco with the Metropolitan Opera touring company, the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso sings a performance of Bizet's "Carmen" the day before the Great San Francisco Earthquake.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Federico Mompou (1893-1987)
Mischa Mischakov (1895-1981)
Henry Mancini (1924-1994)
Herbie Mann (1930-2003)
Dusty Springfield (1939-1999)
Stephen Pruslin (1940)
Leo Nucci (1942)
Richard Bradshaw (1944-2007)
Dennis Russell Davis (1944)
Peteris Vasks (1946)

and

John Millington Synge (1871-1909)
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
Merce Cunningham (1919-2009)
Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)
Carol Bly (1930-2007)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758)
Karl Alwin (1891-1945)
Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
Sir Neville Marriner (1924-2016)
John Wilbraham (1944-1998)
Michael Kamen (1948-2003)
Lara St. John (1971)

and

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Henry James (1843-1916)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1931, Copland's "A Dance Symphony," was premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. This work incorporates material from Copland's 1923 ballet "Grohg," which had not been produced. The symphony was one the winners of the 1929 Victor Talking Machine Company Competition Prize. The judges of the competition decided that none of the submitted works deserved the full $25,000 prize, so they awarded $5000 each to four composers, including Copland, Ernest Bloch, and Louis Gruenberg, and gave $10,000 to Robert Russell Bennett (who had submitted two works).

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Virtuosic - loud - emotional Corigliano First Symphony receives stirring performance by the Oregon Symphony

Ear-piercing whistles and piccolos, deafening drums and timpani, wailing brass and horns, sustained angry tones from the strings – they were all memorable parts of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, “Of Rage and Remembrance,” which the Oregon Symphony performed on Saturday, April 6, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The decibel level was very high during the loudest moments, and I did notice orchestra members protecting their ears, but the shock waves of sound effectively expressed the frustration of the composer at the loss of friends during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s when there was no effective treatment.

The bleating cries from the orchestra landed like visceral punches, but they were tempered now and then by solemn, dark, sonic clouds that chugged to a stifling sense of sadness – at one point plaintively announced by a solitary trombone. From the din of melancholy, emerged the muffled sound of salon music (from the first movement of Albéniz-Godowsky Tango) from an offstage piano – suggesting memories of better times and painful losses. Rumblings in the basement of the contrabassoon, contrabass clarinet, bass trombone, and tuba created a sense of dread and mourning. And just when everything was about to hit the bottom, the pounding of drums would begin to pick up the pace and the sense of anger, exploding in frustration.

In the second movement (“Tarantella”) slow melodies sped up into a cheerful dance that became faster and wilder and wilder – conveying the idea of dancing so fast that you can become cured. The fourth movement (“Chaconne” Guilio’s Song”) was highlighted by a cello duet (played by Nancy Ives and Marilyn de Oliveira) that was hauntingly beautiful. Another mesmerizing effect of the piece were the passages in which the sound from the brass section faded in and out.

The stunning emotional range of Corigliano’s First Symphony reminded me of Gustav Mahler’s symphonic works. Sometimes the music was gorgeous, sometimes flat out alarming. The orchestra, led by Music Director Carlos Kalmar, successful touched every nerve of the piece with its virtuosic playing. The blunt finale didn’t wrap up the anger and frustration with a neat bow, but left a lingering sense of unfinished business that must be resolved some day in the future.

Earlier in the concert, Emanuel Ax, a frequent guest with the orchestra, performed Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D Major and Stravinsky’s Capriccio. It was interesting to read in the program notes that this was the first time that the orchestra had performed the beloved Haydn piece, yet it had played the Stravinsky with Rudolf Firkusny at the keyboard in 1968.

Ax was completely at home with both works. He conveyed the liveliness of the Haydn flawlessly, delivering fleet arpeggios and dangling immaculate trills that were never overstated or understated. The second movement was unrushed and wonderfully serene, followed by a playfully energetic third movement. The orchestra aligned itself to Ax’s playing with great sensitivity and together they made an elegant and refreshing statement.

The Stravinsky piece exhibited mercurial flavor that caused the piece to change restlessly. After a splashy opening, the music veered into a brief tango-inflected section and then bounced into a series of spikey phrases that stimulated responses from various members of the orchestra. A collage of sorts is revealed as the Ax’s playing darted in and out and sometimes slowed down into a brief melodic phrase.

But the final movement had a tongue-in-cheek style in which the pianist teased the orchestra and vice versa.

The audience rewarded the performance with sustained applause that brought Ax back to center stage several times. He responded with a Chopin Nocturne, which was absolutely exquisite.

In sharp contrast to the Corgliano symphony, the concert opened with the lightweight, yet utterly delightful Overture to “Fra Diavolo,” an opera written French composer Daniel Auber in 1830. The orchestra sparkled in its performance highlighted by a snappy snare drum, perky melodic lines that had a Rossini-like flair, and a trumpet call that erupted into a festive and stirring finale.

Today's Birthdays

Jean Fournet (1913-2008)
Paavo Berglund (1929-2012)
Morton Subotnick (1933)
Loretta Lynn (1935)
Claude Vivier (1948-1983)
John Wallace (1949)
Julian Lloyd Webber (1951)
Barbara Bonney (1956)
Mikhail Pletnev (1957)
Jason Lai (1974)

and

Christian Huygens (1629-1695)
Arnold Toynbee (1853-1882)
Anton Wildgans (1881-1932)
Tina Rosenberg (1960)

From the former Writer's Almanac:

It's the legal birthday of the modern printing press, which William Bullock patented on this day in 1863 in Baltimore. His invention was the first rotary printing press to self-feed the paper, print on both sides, and count its own progress — meaning that newspapers, which had until then relied on an operator manually feeding individual sheets of paper into a press, could suddenly increase their publication exponentially.

The Cincinnati Times was likely the very first to use a Bullock press, with the New York Sun installing one soon after. Bullock was installing a press for The Philadelphia Press when he kicked at a mechanism; his foot got caught, his leg was crushed, and he died a few days later during surgery to amputate. His press went on to revolutionize the newspaper business.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Felicien David (1810-1876)
William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)
Milos Sadlo (1912-2003)
George Barati (1913-1996)
Frederic Rzewski (1938)
Margaret Price (1941-2011)
Della Jones (1946)
Al Green (1946)
Mary Ellen Childs (1959)

and

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Eudora Welty (1909-2001)
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1958, American pianist Van Cliburn wins the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the first American to do so.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Preview of young artist concert in The Columbian

My preview of this weekend's Vancouver Symphony concert that features the winners of its annual young artists competition was published in today's edition of The Columbian newspaper here.

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Nardini (1722-1793)
Joseph Lanner (1801-1843)
Johnny Dodds (1892-1940)
Lily Pons (1898-1976)
Imogen Holst (1907-1984)
Thomas Hemsley (1927-2013)
Herbert Khaury (aka Tiny Tim) (1932-1996)
Henri Lazarof (1932-2013)
Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018)
Herbie Hancock (1940)
Ernst Kovacic (1943)
Stefan Minde (1936-2015)
Christophe Rousset (1961)

and

Beverly Cleary (1916)
Alan Ayckbourn (1939)
Tom Clancy (1947-2013)
Gary Soto (1952)
Jon Krakauer (1954)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
Charles Hallé (1819-1895)
Karel Ančerl (1908-1973)
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Gervase de Peyer (1926-2017)
Kurt Moll (1938)
Arthur Davies (1941)

and

Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549)
Christopher Smart (1722-1771)
Mark Strand (1934)
Ellen Goodman (1941)
Dorothy Allison (1949)

From the New Music Box:

On April 11, 1941, Austrian-born composer Arnold Schönberg became an American citizen and officially changed the spelling of his last name to Schoenberg. He would remain in the United States until his death in 1951. Some of his most important compositions, including the Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and the Fourth String Quartet, were composed during his American years.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Michel Corrette (1707-1795)
Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Victor de Sabata (1892-1967)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1891-1971)
Harry Mortimer (1902-1992)
Luigi Alva (1927)
Claude Bolling (1930)
Jorge Mester (1935)
Sarah Leonard (1953)
Lesley Garrett (1955
) Yefim Bronfman (1958)

and

William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
David Halberstam (1934-2007)
Paul Theroux (1941)
Norman Dubie (1945)
Anne Lamott (1954)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1868, Brahms's "A German Requiem," was premiered at a Good Friday concert at Bremen Cathedral conducted by the composer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693)
Georg Matthias Monn (1717-1750)
François Giroust (1737-1799)
Supply Belcher (1751-1836)
Theodor Boehm (1794-1881)
Paolo Tosti (1846-1916
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1888-1953)
Sol Hurok (1888-1974)
Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (1889-1985)
Julius Patzak (1898-1974)
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Antal Doráti (1906-1988)
Tom Lehrer (1928)
Aulis Sallinen (1935)
Jerzy Maksymiuk (1936)
Neil Jenkins (1945)

and

Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867)
Gregory Goodwin Pincus (1903-1967)
J. William Fullbright (1905-1995)
Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)

From the former Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1860, the oldest known recording of the human voice was made — someone was singing Au Clair de la Lune. French inventor Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville captured sound waves on glass plates using a funnel, two membranes, and a stylus. He made the recording 17 years before Edison made his, but he didn't invent anything to play the recording back.

When researchers discovered these recordings three years ago, they assumed the voice singing was a woman's, so they played it at that speed. But then they re-checked the inventor's notes, and they realized that the inventor himself had sung the song, very slowly, carefully enunciating, as if to capture the beautiful totality of the human voice.

You can hear the astonishing recording at both speeds at firstsounds.org.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Merulo (1533-1604)
Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
Sir Adrian Boult (1889-1983)
E. Y. (Yip) Harburg (1896-1981)
Josef Krips (1902-1974)
Franco Corelli (1921-2003)
Walter Berry (1929-2000)
Lawrence Leighton Smith (1936-2013)
Meriel Dickinson (1940)
Dame Felicity Lott (1947)
Diana Montague (1953)
Anthony Michaels-Moore (1957)

and

Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857)
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Harvey Cushing (1869-1939)
Robert Giroux (1914-2008)
Seymour Hersh (1937)
Barbara Kingsolver (1955)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1865, American premiere of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertate in Eb, K. 364(320d) for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra took place in New York, with violinist Theodore Thomas and violist Georg Matzka (A review of this concert in the New York Times said: "On the whole we would prefer death to a repetition of this production. The wearisome scale passages on the little fiddle repeated ad nausea on the bigger one were simply maddening.”).

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Charles Burney (1726-1814)
Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846)
Robert Casadesus (1899-1972)
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
Ikuma Dan (1924-2001)

and

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998)
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)
Daniel Ellsberg (1931)
Francis Ford Coppola (1939)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1918, the German conductor of the Boston Symphony, Karl Muck, is arrested and interned as an enemy alien after American enters World War I.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1772)
André‑Cardinal Destouches (1672-1749)
Friedrich Robert Volkman (1815-1883)
Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961)
Andrew Imbrie (1921-2007)
Edison Denisov (1929-1996)
André Previn (1929-2019)
Merle Haggard (1937-2016)
Felicity Palmer (1944)
Pascal Rogé (1951)
Pascal Devoyon (1953)
Julian Anderson (1967)

and

Raphael (Rafaello Sanzio da Urbino) (1483-1520)
Joseph Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936)

From the New Music Box:

On April 6, 1897, the U.S. government granted Thaddeus Cahill a patent for his Telharmonium, or Dynamophone, the earliest electronic musical instrument. Cahill built a total of three such instruments, which utilized a 36-tone scale and used telephone receivers as amplifiers. The first one, completed in 1906 in Holyoke, Massachussetts was 60 feet long and weighed 200 tons. It was housed in "Telharmonic Hall" on 39th Street and Broadway New York City for 20 years.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Albert Roussel (1869-1937)
Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989)
Goddard Lieberson (1911-1977)
Richard Yardumian (1917-1985)
Evan Parker (1944)
Julius Drake (1959)

and

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
Arthur Hailey (1920-2004)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Bettina Brentano von Arnim (1785-1859)
Hans Richter (1843-1916)
Pierre Monteux (1875-1964)
Joe Venuti (1898-1978)
Eugène Bozza (1905-1991)
Muddy Waters (1915-1983)
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
Sergei Leiferkus (1946)
Chen Yi (1953)
Thomas Trotter (1957)
Jane Eaglen (1960)
Vladimir Jurowski (1972)

and

Robert E. Sherwood (1896-1955)
Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1954, Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini (age 87) leads his last concert with the NBC Symphony, an all-Wagner program.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Baptiste‑Antoine Forqueray (1699-1782)
Edward Elzear "Zez" Confrey (1895-1971)
Sir Neville Cardus (1888-1975)
Grigoras Dinicu (1889-1949)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Louis Appelbaum (1918-2000)
Sixten Ehrling (1918-2005)
Kerstin Meyer (1928)
Garrick Ohlsson (1948)
Mikhail Rudy (1953)

and

Washington Irving (1783-1894)
John Burroughs (1837-1921)
Herb Caen (1933-1997)
Dr. Jane Goodall (1934)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Gender identity undergoes exploration with chamber opera

Hannah Penn as Hannah after and Lee Gregory as Hannah before in Portland Opera's production of As One. Photo by Cory Weaver/Portland Opera.

What is the self? How do you accept yourself if you do not identify with your own gender? How do others accept you? These questions are some of the central underpinnings of As One, a chamber opera that received a strong production from Portland Opera on March 22 at Newmark Theatre. Composed by Laura Kaminsky with video projections by Kimberly Reed who also co-wrote the libretto with Mark Campbell, As One tackles transgender issues straight on but ultimately falls a little short of delivering the emotional goods.

As One uses a string quartet and only two singers to tell the story of a male who becomes a female. The male, listed as Hannah Before in the program, struggles from childhood with his feelings even though he is the “perfect boy” to his family and friends. He delivers newspapers from his bicycle and excels as an athlete, winning medal after medal a la Bruce Jenner. But he steals a blouse from a neighbor’s clothesline and wears it under his clothing. He loves writing cursive, and wants to be with the girls during the sex ed class. At the library, he surreptitiously reads books that discuss transgender issues.

Sometime after high school Hannah Before moves to the San Francisco area, where he takes medication that allows him to become Hannah After. Although she writes to her parents that she won’t be home for Christmas and is finally accepted by others as a woman. A frightful encounter with a hateful stranger at a park causes a dramatic shift in her life, and she responds by taking a trip to an isolated cabin in Norway where she realizes that she can be happy with herself.

As One was most effective in building the story of Hannah and portraying conflict. One can imagine being an island with no one to turn to for help except books. The incident in the park with the stranger had a palpable edge that was followed by the recitation of names of transgender people who have been murdered. Rather than reach out to family or friends, Hannah After inexplicably runs off to Norway to find herself. Snippets of disarming humor brought levity to the story, but I was not convinced that she was truly happy with herself unless she returned to the states and felt that way.

Outstanding performances by Lee Gregory and Hannah Penn carried the Portland Opera production to the goal line. Gregory, who starred as Hannah Before in the Long Beach Opera company’s 2017 production, skillfully conveyed a conflicted young man. Hannah Penn excelled with impeccable comic timing to connect with the audience. Even though Gregory’s legato lines allowed him to become a bit too loud when matched up with Penn’s ornamental filigree, their voices were well suited for each other.

Kaminsky’s music expressed optimism with uplifting motoric phrases. Dissonant tones portrayed the scary scene in the park. A series of sliding sounds conveyed the disorienting effect of the sex altering drugs. Plaintive fragments of Silent Night and The First Noel drifted in and out during the sad Christmastime scene.

Violinists Margaret Bichteler and Nelly Kovalev, violist Hillary Oseas, and cellist Dylan Rieck played with conviction under the direction of Andreas Mitisek, who did double duty as stage director as well as designed the stage and costumes. The use of a suitcase to extract memories from Hannah’s past was subtle and effective.

Reed's films supported the story and music superbly, including a wonderful go-pro-camera like sequence for the newspaper route. When the Lewis and Clark Library from Helena, Montana, (where Reed grew up) was shown, it generated some laughter from the audience who mistook it for the library at Lewis & Clark College.

The ending with self-imposed isolation in Norway, seemed a bit of a stretch. The parents had written that they loved their child, and Hannah had replied that she didn’t have the money for a plane ticket, but later found enough to fly to a foreign land. It seemed that she could have tried to find a few supportive friends in the Bay Area, especially after the dangerous experience at the park. The final scene was hopeful but would it stick after returning home?

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lachner (1803-1890)
Kurt Adler (1905-1988)
April Cantelo (1928)
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)
Raymond Gubbay (1946)

and

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
Émile Zola (1840-1902)
Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Camille Paglia (1947)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Henri d'Anglebert (1629-1691)
Ferrucco Busoni (1866-1924)
F Melius Christiansen (1871-1955)
Serge Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Dinu Lipatti (1921-1950)
William Bergsma (1921-1994)

and

Edmond Rostand (1868-1918)
Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011)
Milan Kundera (1929)
Francine Prose (1947)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1888, the eccentric Parisian composer and piano virtuoso Alkan is buried in the Montmatre Cemetery. Isidore Philipp, one of only four mourners who attend Alkan's internment, claimed to have been present when the composer's body was found in his apartment and said the elderly Alkan was pulled from under a heavy bookcase, which apparently fell on him while Alkan was trying to reach for a copy of the Talmud on its top shelf. This story has been discounted by some Alkan scholars.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Durante (1684-1755)
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Serge Diaghliev (1872-1929)
Clemens Krauss (1893-1954)
John Mitchinson (1932)
Herb Alpert (1935)
Nelly Miricioiu (1952)
Robert Gambill (1955)
Jake Heggie (1961)

and

René Descartes (1596-1650)
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852)
Octavio Paz (1914-1998)
Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
Marge Piercy (1936)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Tommaso Traetta (1727-1779)
Ted Heath (1900-1969)
Sandor Szokolay (1931-2013)
John Eaton (1935-2015)
Gordon Muma (1935)
Eric Clapton (1945)
Maggie Cole (1952)
Margaret Fingerhut (1955)
Sabine Meyer (1959)

and

Francisco Jose de Goya (1746-1828)
Anna Sewell (1820-1878)
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Recommended classical concerts in The Oregonian

The Oregonian published my recommendations for classical concerts this spring. The article appeared online here. I hope that you can hear these concerts.

Today's Birthdays

Henri Lutz (1864-1928)
Rosina Lhévinne (1880-1976)
Sir William Walton (1902-1983)
E Power Biggs (1906-1977)
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)
Guher Pekinel (1953)
Suher Pekinel (1953)

and

Ronald Stuart Thomas (1913-2000)
Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005)
Judith Guest (1936)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1871, Royal Albert Hall is formally opened in London by Queen Victoria.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Weigl (1766-1846)
Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951)
Paul Whiteman (1890-1967)
Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991)
Jacob Avshalomov (1919-2013)
Robert Ashley (1930-2014)
Martin Neary (1940)
Samuel Ramey (1942)
Richard Stilgoe (1942)

and

Raphael (1483-1520)
Nelson Algren (1909-1981)
Mario Vargas Llosa (1936)
Russell Banks (1940)
Iris Chang (1968-2004)
Lauren Weisberger (1977)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1842, the Vienna Philharmonic plays its first concert (as the "Vienna Court Orchestra") in the Redoutensaale under the director of composer Otto Nicolai, the director of the Vienna Court Opera. The program included Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, his concert aria "Ah, Perfido," and the "Leonore" No. 3 and "Consercration of the House" Overtures, along with other vocal selections by Mozart and Cherubini.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Vincent d'Indy (1851-1931)
Patty Smith Hill (1868-1946)
Ferde Grofé (1892-1972)
Anne Ziegler (1910-2003)
Sarah Vaughn (1924-1990)
Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007)
Paul Ruders (1949)
Maria Ewing (1950)
Bernard Labadie (1963)

and

Henri Murger (1822-1861)
Heinrich Mann (1871-1950)
Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969)
Budd Schulberg (1914-2009)
Louis Simpson (1923-2012)
Julia Alvarez (1950)
John O'Farrell (1962)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1808, Franz Joseph Haydn makes his last public appearance at a performance of his oratorio "The Creation" in Vienna in honor of the composer's approaching 76th birthday. Beethoven and Salieri attend the performance and greet Haydn.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Josef Slavík (1806-1833)
Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969)
André Cluytens (1905-1967)
Harry Rabinowitz (1916-2016)
Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
Kyung Wha Chung (1948)

and

Edward Bellamy (1850-1898)
A. E. Housman (1859-1936)
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Joseph Campbell (1904–1987)
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Gregory Corso (1930-2001)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783)
Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957)
Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Haydn Wood (1882-1959)
Magda Olivero (1910-2014)
Cecil Taylor (1929-2018)
Sir Elton John (1947)

and

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
Gloria Steinem (1934)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1949, Shostakovich (accompanied by KGB "handlers") arrives in New York for his first visit to America, for the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace, held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His anti-Western statements and criticism of Igor Stravinsky embarrassed his American sponsors, including Aaron Copland, and later provided political fodder for the notorious Red-hunter, Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Today's Birthdays

John Antes (1740-1811)
Maria Malibran (1808-1836)
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)
Christiane Eda-Pierre (1932)
Benjamin Luxon (1937)

and

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990)
Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919)
Dario Fo (1926-2016)
Ian Hamilton (1938-2001)
Martin Walser (1927)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1721, J.S. Bach dedicates his six "Brandenburg" Concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, whose orchestra apparently never performed them.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Léon Minkus (1826-1917)
Eugène Gigout (1844-1925)
Franz Schreker (1878-1934)
Josef Locke (1917-1999)
Norman Bailey (1933)
Boris Tishchenko (1939-2010)
Michael Nyman (1944)
David Grisman (1945)

and

Roger Martin du Gard (1881-1958)
Louis Adamic (1898-1951)
Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
Kim Stanley Robinson (1952)
Gary Joseph Whitehead (1965)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Carl Rosa (1842-1889)
Hamisch MacCunn (1868-1916)
Joseph Samson (1888-1957)
Martha Mödl (1912-2001)
Fanny Waterman (1920)
Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986)
Stephen Sondheim (1930)
Joseph Schwantner (1943)
George Benson (1943)
Alan Opie (1945)
Rivka Golani (1946)
Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948)
Edmund Barham (1950-2008)

and

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
Louis L'Amour (1908-1988)
Edith Grossman (1936)
James Patterson (1940)
Billy Collins (1941)
James McManus (1951)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1687, Italian-born French composer Jean Baptiste Lully, age 54, in Paris, following an inadvertent self-inflicted injury to his foot (by a staff with which he would beat time for his musicians) which developed gangrene.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Modeste Moussorgsky (1839-1881)
Eddie James "Son" House (1902-1988)
Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949)
Paul Tortelier (1914-1990)
Nigel Rogers (1935)
Owain Arwel Hughes (1942)
Elena Firsova (1950)
Ann MacKay (1956)

and

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978)
Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998)
Ved Mehta (1934)

From the New Music Box:

On March 21, 1771, the Massachusetts Gazette published an announcement for a musical program including "select pieces on the forte piano and guitar." It is the earliest known reference to the piano in America.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957)
Lauritz Melchoir (1890-1973)
Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)
Dame Vera Lynn (1917)
Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970)
Marian McPartland (1918-2013)
Henry Mollicone (1946)

and

Ovid (43 BC - AD 17)
Ned Buntline (1823-1886)
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1928, the New York Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Society united to form the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York - now known as simply "The New York Philharmonic."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Max Reger (1873-1916)
Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)
Nancy Evans (1915-2000)
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)
Robert Muczynski (1929-2010)
Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)
Myung-Wha Chung (1944)
Carolyn Watkinson (1949)
Mathew Rosenblum (1954)

and

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)
Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852)
Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)
Philip Roth (1933)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Collective artistry drums up terrific world premiere with Oregon Symphony

Four virtuoso percussionists collaborated with the Oregon Symphony to create a phenomenally exciting world premiere performance of Drum Circles by American composer Christopher Theofanidis on Monday evening (March 11) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The foursome (Ji Hye Jung, Matthew Keown, Svet Stoyanov, and Sam Um), who are members of The Percussion Collective Robert Van Sice, astonishingly memorized an amount of complicated music, involving a large array of percussion instruments arranged in front of the orchestra across the width of the stage and to either side of Music Director Carlos Kalmar. Their dramatic and compelling performance was a truly memorable experience.

Robert van Sice is a world-renown percussionist and marimba player who teaches at the Curtis Institute. He recently founded The Percussion Collective Robert Van Sice, which consists of top-tier percussionists, and they were perfect for Drum Circles. The piece, co-commissioned by the Oregon Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, the Baltimore Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony, consists of five movements with evocative titles, such as “Sparks and chants” and “Three chords and truth.”

According to Robert McBride, who interviewed Theofanidis before the performance, Jung, Keown, Stoyanov, and Um worked with the composer, using email, phone calls, and a quartet video rehearsal while the piece was being written, but the five of them never worked on it in-person until they arrived in Portland. Wow!

The first movement, “Rivers and anthems,” opened strongly with a wild series of tones on the marimbas that were supported by a driving beat from the bass drum (Niel Deponte) and timpani (Jonathan Greeney) and drum set (Michael Roberts). The dazzling array of tones and overtones transitioned to a celestial sonic cloud from the vibraphones and cymbals. Melodic lines seemed to overlay each other as if in a dream.

The second movement, “Sparks and chants,” began with single pulses from the soloists, which suggested a bit of tension just before catching fire and taking off. The strings picked up the thread, which, at one point, seemed to throw out a question (if music can do that). Later a broad trumpet fanfare faded away, and we were left again with single percussive notes.

The third movement (“How can you smile when you’re deep in thought?”), offered a series of humorous strokes from a typewriter before the music accelerated into a veritable blitz of sounds and deft interplay between the soloists.

The fourth movement, “Spirits and drums,” provided an echo-like exchange between the orchestra’s percussionists and the soloists. The back and forth exchange suggested a warpath accompanied by deep, serious chords from cellos and bass violins.

The final movement, “Three chords and truth,” returned to a more melodic direction that reminded me of a Renaissance style with shimmering cymbals. Somewhere along the way, all four soloists had to play exactly the same notes at the same time in a way that was sort of random. They did so by watching each other extremely carefully… and it was like a mind-meld.

After the piece ended, the audience erupted with cheers and enthusiastic applause. Jung, Keown, Stoyanov, and Um returned several times and responded with a lovely encore based on a tango by Astor Piazzola.

The other pieces on the concert were also played exceptionally well. After intermission, Sarah Kwak gave an exquisite interpretation of Vaughn Williams’s The Lark Ascending. The lyrical music evoked images of an idyllic setting where the bird would sing before taking flight. The strings fashioned gentle waves and the woodwinds and French horns complimented the bucolic atmosphere perfectly.

To open the concert, the orchestra delivered a crisp and vigorous interpretation of the Overture to Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Yet, because the musicians were located further back on the stage (behind the massive number of percussion instruments), some of the sound was less present.

The concert concluded with Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony (Italian). The joyous opening was light but not fluffy, highlighted by the tremendous woodwind section. One of the bass violinists must have broken a string, because he quietly exited with his instrument right after the first movement. The bass violins played added just a bit more volume and the rest of the piece went along as if nothing was amiss at all. The dynamics and pace were fresh and inspiring until the final notes. It was a marvelous performance of a great masterpiece.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Vogel (1756-1788)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Paul Le Flem (1881-1984)
Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973)
Willem van Hoogstraten (1884-1964)
Nobuko Imai (1943)
James Conlon (1950)
Jan-Hendrik Rootering (1950)
Courtney Pine (1964)

and

Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Manly Hall (1901-1990)
George Plimpton (1927-2003)
Christa Wolf (1929-2011)
John Updike (1932-2009)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729)
Manuel García II (1805-1906)
Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Giuseppe Borgatti (1871-1950)
Brian Boydell (1917-2000)
Nat "King" Cole (1917-1965)
John LaMontaine (1920-2013)
Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013)
Betty Allen (1927-2009)
John Lill (1944)
Michael Finnissy (1946)
Patrick Burgan (1960)

and

Edmund Kean (1787-1833)
Frank B. Gilbreth (1911-2001)
Penelope Lively (1933)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Enrico Tamberlik (1820-1889)
Henny Youngman (1906-1998)
Christa Ludwig (1928)
Sir Roger Norrington (1934)
Teresa Berganza (1935)
David Del Tredici (1937)
Claus Peter Flor (1953)

and

James Madison (1751-1836)
Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)
César Vallejo (1892-1938)
Sid Fleischman (1920-2010)
Alice Hoffman (1952)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727-1756)
Pierre-Louis Couperin (1755-1789)
Johann Strauss Sr. (1804-1849)
Lawrance Collingwood (1887-1982)
Witold Rudziński (1913-2004)
Quincy Jones (1933)
Phillip Joll (1954)

and

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Sylvia Beach (1887-1962)
Max Shulman (1919-1988)
Diane Arbus (1923-1871)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Michael Blavet (1700-1768)
Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Alec Rowley (1892-1958)
Irène Joachim (1913-2001)
Jane Rhodes (1929-2011)
Alberto Ponce (1935)
Lionel Friend (1945)
Julia Migenes (1949)
Wolfgang Rihm (1952)
Anthony Powers (1953)
Moses Hogan (1957-2003)
Terence Blanchard (1962)

and

Janet Flanner (1892-1978)
George Seferis (1900-1971)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Arne (1710-1778)
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
Hans Knappertsbusch (1888-1965)
Ralph Shapey (1921-2002)
Norbert Brainin (1923-2005)
Philip Jones (1928-2000)
Helga Pilarczyk (1935-2011)
Liza Minnelli (1946)
James Taylor (1948)

and

George Berkeley (1685-1753)
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916)
Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950)
Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
Edward Albee (1928-2016)
Virginia Hamilton (1934-2002)
Naomi Shihab Nye (1952)
Carl Hiaasen (1953)
David Eggers (1970)