Sunday, April 5, 2020

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)

Saturday, April 4, 2020

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

Friday, April 3, 2020

Big list of free streaming concerts and opera productions

Musical America has posted a huge listing of concerts and opera productions that are available gratis. The site is kept up to date and is free! (Most of MA's posting require a paid subscription.

So here is the path to the list:

https://www.musicalamerica.com/news/newsstory.cfm?storyid=44766&categoryid=1&archived=0

Just paste it into your browser window. Enjoy!


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)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

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)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Tommaso Traetta (1727-1779)
Ted Heath (1900-1969)
Sandor Szokolay (1931-2013)
John Eaton (1935-2015)
Gordon Mumma (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)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

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.

Friday, March 27, 2020

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.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Oregon Symphony layoffs -- ugh!

The Oregonian reported that pert near everyone at the Oregon Symphony has been laid off because of the corona virus. You can read the awful story here.

Also, Scott Showalter, President and CEO of the orchestra, has made a special appeal to Governor Brown, which is posted on the orchestra's home page here. Because of the cancellation of the season, the orchestra is facing a devestating $5 million deficit. This is really awful news. I am sincerely hoping that the orchestra survives.




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)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

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.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

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.

Friday, March 20, 2020

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."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

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)

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Eduard Strauss (1835-1916)
Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935)
Colin McPhee (1900-1964)
Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)
Ben Johnston (1926-2019)
Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994)
Jean Rudolphe Kars (1947)
Isabel Buchanan (1954)

and

Richard Ellmann (1918-1987)
Ben Okri (1959)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1985, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, age 22, makes his operatic debut at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples, singing the lead tenor role in Domenico Morelli's comic opera "L'Amico Francesco."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

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)

Friday, March 13, 2020

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 (1935-2019)
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)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Shostakovich's 11th the Loudest Thing Ever? Maybe...

Robert Trevino (c) Lisa Hancock
On Feb 22 the Oregon Symphony welcomed first-time conductor Robert Trevino, who had the titanic task of bringing to life Shostakovich's Symphony No 11 in G minor, "The Year 1905," which was (ostensibly) written in memoriam to the heroes of that last great Russian revolution before the big one finally succeeded in 1917.

But first, after a brief piece Icarus in Orbit by George Walker, was a work at the polar opposite of the Shostakovich stylistically speaking, the Violin Concerto in A Minor by Gian Carlo Menotti, with concert master Sarah Kwak taking on solo duties.

There was no big intro to the Menotti, just a sudden but not sharp attack by Kwak. A persistent, hopscotching saltando gave way to a gentle, stirring serenade. Kwak's insight was fantastic--almost bordering on understated but never giving way to tiresomeness. Very much the opposite--there was tremendous variety in her phrasing, and inventive emotive intent was her hallmark.  The Adagio opened with a resounding timbre worthy of the famed Kreisler concerto. The extended orchestral tacets gave Kwak all the room she needed to explore, and I'm sure I was not the only one who felt like listening to her solo all evening.
Sarah Kwak

The Shostakovich, on the other hand...suffice it to say this was an entirely different animal. Lurking and mysterious at the outset, the presage to the bloodshed imparted a sense of brooding, of impending action.  This tautness was difficult to sustain for long periods and yet keep interesting--several minutes with nothing but pianissimo timpani and snare drum with an occasional melody instrument peeping through--and yet rather than dulling, the tension increased.

Then the action began! A frenetic, tutti battaglia--the timpanist was a master of understatement, and there was terrific work from the brass choir, especially the trumpets, unafraid of getting their hands dirty. There were throaty molto fortissimi that almost defied description, and Trevino did a marvelous job of instilling balance with a hundred people playing with all their might. The heart-pounding excitement from the percussion cannot be overstated.

In the third movement there was awesomely menacing stuff from low brass and winds. Balance issues became a factor later as the unmuted trumpets simply overpowered the strings--there's only so much noise you can wring out of the strings before the trumpets just have to quiet down a bit.  There were long savory staccatissimo passages from bass and cello--horsehair was flying all over the stage.  The English horn solo in the finale was exquisitely rubato, and Trevino kept mysteriously directing the one soloist  (who did not need it) while ignoring the 2 harps and  30 violins who were desperately trying (and failing) to keep their pizzicato entrances on the beat. Sometimes the conductor needs to be a metronome, and the strings were the ones who needed a metronome at that moment, not the masterful cor anglais soloist.

That being said, the entire experience was exquisite. The tuned bell plates at the end (or to use the much more satisfying term, plattenglocken ) were so horrifyingly loud (in a good way) that the harpists were desperately cramming in ear plugs. The finale was certainly one of the loudest unamplified musical experiences I've ever heard, and I reveled in the sheer, childish joy of just hearing so much unalloyed, unapologetic noise!  I'm sure I was laughing because it was so fun, but believe me, no one heard.

Portland audiences are known for being extremely appreciative, something which I believe is a mark of pride for our city, but I have seldom seen so many curtain calls or such enthusiastic applause, as Trevino came out again and again and again to acknowledge each section and certain soloists, and when the percussion stood to be recognized the huzzahs almost blew the roof off the Schnitz.  This was the most fun I've had in a long time, and you just can't experience this kind of thing without going to hear live music.

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)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Carl Ruggles (1876-1971)
Henry Cowell (1897-1965)
Xavier Montsalvage (1912-2002)
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Sarah Walker (1943)
Tristan Murail (1947)
Bobby McFerrin (1950)
Katia Labèque (1950)

and

Torquato Tasso (1544-1495)
Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983)
Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1829, Mendelssohn conducts a revival performance of J.S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" in Berlin.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838)
Dudley Buck (1839-1909)
Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
Arthur Honnegger (1892-1955)
Dame Eva Turner (1892-1990)
Bix Biederbecke (1903-1931)
Sir Charles Groves (1915-1992)
William Blezard (1921-2003)
Andrew Parrott (1947)
Stephen Oliver (1950-1992)

and

Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933)
Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948)
Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001)
David Rabe (1940)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Josef Mysliveczek (1737-1781)
Archie Camden (1888-1979)
Dame Isobel Baillie (1895-1983)
Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)
David Matthews (1943)
Kalevi Aho (1949)
Howard Shelley (1950)

and

Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512)
Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962)
Mickey Spillane (1918-2006)
David Pogue (1963)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1831, Italian violin virtuoso Nicolo Paganini makes his Parisian debut a the Opéra. Composers in the audience include Meyerbeer, Cherubini, Halvéy. and Franz Liszt (who transcribes Pagnini's showpiece "La Campanella" for piano). Also in attendance are the many famous novelists and poets, including George Sand, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Mussset and Heinrich Heine.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613)
Carl Philip Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)
Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000)
Dick Hyman (1927)
Christian Wolff (1934)
Robert Tear (1939-2011)
Barthold Kuijken (1949)
Simon Halsey (1958)

and

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)
Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932)
Leslie Fiedler (1917-2003)
Neil Postman (1931-2003)
John McPhee (1933)
Leslie A. Fiedler (1948)
Jeffrey Eugenides (1960)

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Today's Birthdays

John Wilbye (1574-1638)
Tomaso Antonio Vitali (1663-1745)
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Heino Eller (1887-1970)
Christopher Seaman (1942)
Uri Segal (1944)
Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997)
Nicholas Kraemer (1945)
Clive Gillinson (1946)
Okko Kamu (1946)
Montserrat Figueras (1948-2011)
Michael Chance (1955)

and

William York Tindall (1903-1981)
William Boyd (1952)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1897, Johannes Brahms attends his last concerts and hears his Symphony No. 4 conducted by Hans Richter.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Oscar Straus (1870-1954)
Julius Rudel (1921-2014)
Sarah Caldwell (1924-2006)
Wes Montgomery (1925-1968)
Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015)
Lorin Maazel (1930-2014)
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (1944)
Stephen Schwartz (1948)
Marielle Labèque (1952)
Mark Gresham (1956)
Yannick Nézet-Séguin (1975)

and

Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Ring Lardner (1885-1933)
Gabriel García Márquez (1928-2014)
Willie Mays (1931)
Dick Fosbury (1947)

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Alphonse Hasselmans (1845-1912)
Arthur Foote (1853-1937)
Pauline Donalda (1882-1970)
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
Anthony Hedges (1931-2019)
Barry Tuckwell (1931-2020)
Sheila Nelson (1936)
Richard Hickox (1948)

and

Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594)
Frank Norris (1870-1902)
Leslie Marmon Silko (1948)

From The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1750 that the first Shakespearean play was presented in America. Richard III was performed by the actors of Walter Murray and William Kean’s troupe from Philadelphia. Theater was still new in the colonies. And though it was popular in Philadelphia, that city still preferred to pride itself on its scientific and literary achievements, so Murray and Kean set out for New York City.

Through the 1700s, New York’s primary form of entertainment was drinking. By the time Murray and Kean arrived in February of 1750, there were 10,000 city residents and over 150 taverns. Murray and Kean set up shop in a two-story wooden structure on Nassau Street, slightly east of Broadway.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Carlos Surinach (1915-1997)
Cecil Aronowitz (1916-1978)
Samuel Adler (1928)
Bernard Haitink (1929)
Aribert Reimann (1936)
Ralph Kirshbaum (1946)
Leanna Primiani (1968)

and

Khaled Hosseini (1965)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1801,the U.S. Marine Band performed for Thomas Jefferson's inaugural. Jefferson, an avid music lover and amateur violinist, gave the Marine Band the title "The President's Own." Since that time, the band has played for every presidential inaugural.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Henry Wood (1869-1944)
Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982)
Margaret Bonds (1913-1972)
Frank Wigglesworth (1918-1996)
Doc Watson (1923-2012)
Martin Lovett (1927)
Florence Quivar (1944)
Roberta Alexander (1949)
Katia Labèque (1950)

and

James Merrill (1926-1995)
Ira Glass (1959)

From the Writer's Almanac:

Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata was published on this date in 1802. Its real name is the slightly less evocative “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Opus 27, No. 2,” and its Italian subtitle is translated as “almost a fantasy.” In 1832, five years after Beethoven’s death, a German critic compared the sonata to the effect of moonlight shining on Lake Lucerne, and the interpretation became so popular that, by the end of the century, the piece was universally known as the “Moonlight Sonata.” Beethoven himself had attributed the emotion of the piece to sitting at the bedside of a friend who had suffered an untimely death.

It was on this day in 1875 that the opera Carmen appeared on stage for the first time at the Opéra-Comique in France. When it premiered, the audience was shocked by the characters of Carmen, a gypsy girl, and her lover, Don José. The opera ran for 37 performances even though it came out late in the season, and it came back the next season, too.

Nietzsche heard Carmen 20 different times, and thought of it as a musical masterpiece. Tchaikovsky first heard Carmen in 1880. Bizet died of a heart attack just three months after the opera's debut.

It was on this day in 1931 that "The Star-Spangled Banner" became the official national anthem of the United States.

The lyrics come from a poem written by Francis Scott Key more than a century before, "Defence of Fort McHenry." He'd spent a night toward the end of the War of 1812 hearing the British navy bombard Baltimore, Maryland. The bombardment lasted 25 hours — and in the dawn's early light, Francis Scott Key emerged to see the U.S. flag still waving over Fort McHenry. He jotted the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" on the back of an envelope. Then he went to his hotel and made another copy, which was printed in the Baltimore American a week later.

The tune for the Star-Spangled Banner comes from an old British drinking song called "To Anacreon in Heaven," which was very popular at men's social clubs in London during the 1700s. Francis Scott Key himself did the pairing of the tune to his poem. It was a big hit.

For the next century, a few different anthems were used at official U.S. ceremonies, including "My Country Tis of Thee" and "Hail Columbia." The U.S. Navy adopted "The Star-Spangled Banner" for its officialdom in 1889, and the presidency did in 1916. But it wasn't until this day in 1931 — just 80 years ago — that Congress passed a resolution and Hoover signed into law the decree that "The Star-Spangled Banner" was the official national anthem of the United States of America.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884)
Tom Burke (1890-1969)
Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
Marc Blitzstein (1905-1965)
John Gardner (1917-2011)
Robert Simpson (1921-1997)
Bernard Rands (1934)
Robert Lloyd (1940)
Lou Reed (1942)

and

Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) (1904-1991)
Mikhail S Gorbachev (1931)
Tom Wolfe (1931-2018)
John Irving (1942)

and from the Composers Datebook:

Starting on this day in 1967 and continuing over the next two weeks, Russian cellist Mstsilav Rostropovich performed 26 works for cello and orchestra at 8 concerts with the London Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York City -- including some world premieres!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Stellar playing by Cotik in new album of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin


J. S. Bach wrote three sonatas and three partitas for solo violin that are described by scholars and musicians as one of the supreme achievements in the violin repertoire. They require virtuosic technique and artistry that test a player’s ability to manage both quick passagework and also long, flowing lines. Because Bach didn’t specify dynamics, the sonatas and partitas are open to interpretation, and there are many recordings that feature baroque violins and modern violins. You’d think that every avenue of these pieces has been explored, but that is not the case. With his latest CD on the Centaur label, Tomás Cotik has explore another route for Bach’s amazing works by using a baroque bow with his modern violin. The result is absolutely marvelous to hear.

Cotik, assistant professor of violin at Portland State University, has detailed many of his thoughts about the various interpretations of Bach’s music in The Strad, the ultimate magazine for serious violinists. But you don’t have to be an expert in order to enjoy his playing of Bach. It is quite spectacular. Cotik excels at playing lightening fast passages with impeccable precision, yet he can stop on a dime and deliver an exquisitely lyrical line. He can caress a legato section, linger ever so slightly over a note, then toss off a run with elegant ease. The mixture of sounds from one movement to the next is thoroughly intoxicating.

Cotik’s playing has been featured on several recordings, and he maintains an active performance schedule. His interpretation of Bach’s sonatas and partitas his newest album in should add a notch to his reputation as a stellar violinist.

Today's Birthdays

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960)
Glenn Miller (1904-1944)
Leo Brouwer (1939)
Moray Welsh (1947)
Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (1954-2006)
Galina Gorchakova (1962)
Thomas Adès (1971)

and

Oskar Kokoschka (1866-1980)
Ralph Ellison (1913-1994)
Robert Lowell (1917-1977)
Richard Wilbur (1921-2017)

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Brotons' Bass Clarinet Concerto receives excellent premiere performance

Because there are so few concertos for bass clarinet, Vancouver Symphony audiences were given that rarest of treats when they heard a brand new one, written by the orchestra’s music director, Salvador Brotons, on February 23 at Skyview Concert Hall. Brotons, whose prolific composing talents have garnered international attention, uncorked his latest piece with David Gould, bass clarinetist of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, as the featured soloist. Since Brotons had composed a piece for bass clarinet and piano that Gould had successfully premiered in Belgium, he used it as a launching pad for his Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra, and that connection made the collaboration between Brotons and Gould for this world premiere a genuinely pleasing and spirited event.

Using a chamber-sized ensemble, Brotons skillfully made plenty of room for the bass clarinet’s low and often soft, woodland-like sound. That allowed Gould to express lovely melodic lines, which varied delightfully against the texture of the ensemble.

In the opening Fantasia, the music was jocular and lightly skipped around with Gould establishing a mellow theme. Volleys from the French horn and other sections of the orchestra marked the exchanges, which settled down when the bassoon (Margaret McShea) and the soloist created a brief beautiful duet. That was followed by a bass clarinet cadenza that tender and soothing before becoming perky and buzzy, setting off the orchestra to up-tempo ending.

The second movement, Cantilena, evoked a lush and lyrical setting with Gould conveying a super mellow tone. He was complimented at one point by slowly climbing sequences from the harp and at another with the gentle voice of the oboe (Fred Korman). In the final measures, Gould’s bass clarinet smoothly descended into the basement register, landing on a pillow-soft tone.

A swift attacca into the third movement, Dionisiaca, kicked the music into a higher gear with exchanges between the orchestra and soloist. Urged on by Brotons, Gould and the orchestra arrived at the finale con brio and a splash of forte.

After an enthusiastic response from the audience, Gould shared an elegant encore, his own arrangement of Duke Ellington’s Single Petal of a Rose. I loved the way that he could make a waterfall of notes trickle into the main theme. It was a wonderfully soulful addition to the concert.

The second half of the concert was devoted to Richard Strauss’s great symphonic tone poem, Also Sprach Zarathustra. The brilliant opening statement (used to great effect by Stanley Kubrick in his 1968 film: 2001: A Space Odyssey) was powerfully delivered by the orchestra. The contrabassoon (Nicole Buetti) generated a terrific rumbling undercurrent that dissolved into the organ-like chord from the synthesizer (Michael C. Liu). The ensemble excelled at depicting the murky, dark, and somber passages, contrasting them well against the higher and brighter sections. Concertmaster Shepherd added some charm to the Viennese waltz and was joined gracefully by the ensemble. The pummeling of the bass drum and timpani and the trumpets restating the opening triads was thrilling.

At the top of the evening, the orchestra played Celebration for Orchestra, which was written by Ellen Taafle Zwillich in 1984. She is the first woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Music (1983), and Brotons mentioned that he had met her during his time studying at Florida State University. The piece opened brashly with a big, solid chord which was followed by a bell-like motif that echoed into the distance. That motif was repeated throughout, and the percussion battery, which was quite large, got a thorough workout. Despite the forte segments, a lot of the music was light and fanciful, with brief solos by concertmaster Stephen Shepherd, principal cellist Dieter Ratzlaf, principal violist Jeremy Waterman, and principal bassist Garret Jellesma.

Going back to Brotons’ Bass Clarinet Concerto, it will be interesting to find out which other orchestras will play it and when it will be recorded.

Today's Birthdays

Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868)
Jimmy Dorsey (1904-1957)
Reri Grist (1932)

and

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)

Friday, February 28, 2020

Today's Birthdays

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951)
Sergueï Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
Guiomar Novaes (1895-1979)
Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967)
Roman Maciejewski (1910-1998)
George Malcolm (1917-1997)
Joseph Rouleau (1929-2019)
Osmo Vänskä (1953)
Markus Stenz (1965)

and

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
Stephen Spender (1909-1995)
Zero Mostel (1915-1977)
Frank Gehry (1929)
John Fahey (1939-2001)
Stephen Chatman (1950)
Colum McCann (1965)
Daniel Handler (1970)

and from the Composers Datebook

On this date in 1882, the Royal College of Music is founded in London.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918)
Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976)
Marian Anderson (1897-1993)
Elizabeth Welch (1904-2003)
Viktor Kalabis (1923-2006)
Mirella Freni (1935-2020)
Morten Lauridsen (1943)
Gidon Kremer (1947)
Frank-Peter Zimmermann (1956)

and

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)
Ralph Nadar (1934)
N. Scott Momaday (1934)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Anton (Antoine) Reicha (1770-1836)
Alfred Bachelet (1864-1944)
Emmy Destinn (1878-1930)
Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Witold Rowicki (1914-1989)
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino (1928-2017)
Lazar Berman (1930-2005)
Johnny Cash (1932-2005)
David Thomas (1943)
Guy Klucevsek (1947)
Emma Kirkby (1949)
Richard Wargo (1957)
Carlos Kalmar (1958)

and

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
John George Nicolay (1832-1901)
Elisabeth George (1949)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Young artists and Niederloh excel in quartet of productions by Portland Opera

Angela Niederloh as Julia Child | Photo by Kate Szrom
Experiencing four operas in one evening may seem like a daunting task, but when they are four, relatively short, one-act operas, it can be a delightful undertaking. That’s how I felt when Portland Opera’s presented “An American Quartet,” which consisted of operas by Gian Carlo Menotti, Samuel Barber, Douglas Moore, and Lee Hoiby.

The performances on Tuesday, February 11, took place in the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre of the Hampton Opera Center. Three of them featured outstanding singers from the young artists program and the fourth starred veteran mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh in Hoiby’s hilarious adaptation of a Julia Child cooking program.

Deft stage directions by Allison Narver, in her Portland Opera debut, made sure that the laughter kept coming and that all of the productions ran smoothly. Set designs by Peter Ksander took advantage of the fact that the Hampton Opera Center originally housed the studios of KPTV. So, mock-TV cameras were used to convey each opera as a live TV show.

Emilie Faiella and Geoffrey Schellenberg in The Telephone |Photo by Kate Szrom/Portland Opera
Menotti’s The Telephone was an amusing take on a young lady’s fixation with her telephone even to the point of ignoring her suitor’s marriage proposal. Soprano Emilie Faiella created the blithefully obsessive gal and baritone Geoffrey Schellenberg made the frustration of her beau totally palpable. It was a relief to hear him resolve the situation with a phone call – from a pay phone, no less!

Ricardo Garcia in A Hand of Bridge | Photo by Kate Szrom
The shortest piece on the program, Barber’s A Hand of Bridge, placed two couples at a card table, and as their game began, a freeze frame allowed each person to reveal some of their innermost thoughts. One of the men (tenor Ricardo Garcia) expressed his love for his mistress rather than his wife (mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman), who was fixated on purchasing a hat trimmed in peacock feathers. The other woman (Faiella) lamented not loving her mother enough. Her husband (Schellenberg) erupted with frustration over his dull life, and proclaimed that if he were rich, he would have twenty naked boys and twenty naked girls to fulfill his sexual desires. The shocking statement caused laughter but also evoked images of Jeffrey Epstein. Enough said.

Camille Sherman, Ricardo Garcia, Geoffrey Schellenberg, and Emilie Faiella in Gallantry | Photo by Kate Szrom
Douglas Moore’s Gallantry poked fun TV soap operas with terrific cheekiness. Faiella wonderfully created the conflicted love-interest of two men while having time to strike beguiling poses for the camera. Schellenberg went over the top as the love-struck, yet conniving surgeon. Garcia played the straight man perfectly. Sherman enticingly shilled for the production’s sponsor, Lochinvar Soap. The ensemble camped it up and made the piece a hoot!

Based on one of Julia Child’s televised cooking lessons for making a chocolate cake, Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appétit! rounded out the evening with mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh in the starring role. Niederloh marvelously channeled the essence of Child, used impeccable comic timing and a beguiling smile to deliver the sung monologue while mixing ingredients and downing a glass of wine. One of the best moments came when she placed a big spoon of melted chocolate in her mouth and told us how delicious it was.

From my perch, I could see the assistants who continuously shuffled the food items and various kitchen implements to Niederloh so that she could do everything so seamlessly. They deserved an extra round of kudos.

Nicholas Fox conducted the singers and accompanist Sequoia. Christine A. Richardson’s costumes were spot on and lighting by Carl Faber was splendid. All of the performers were top-notch, and I am looking forward to hearing all of the voices again in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Armand-Louis Couperin (1727-1789)
Antoine Reicha (1770-1836)
Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)
Dame Myra Hess (1890-1965)
Victor Silvester (1900-1978)
Davide Wilde (1935)
Jesús López-Cobos (1940)
George Harrison (1943-2001)
Lucy Shelton (1944)
Denis O'Neill (1948)
Melinda Wagner (1957)

and

Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
Karl Friedrich May (1842–1874)
Anthony Burgess (1917-1993)
John C. Farrar (1896-1974)

And from the New Music Box:

On February 25, 1924, the first issue of the League of Composers Review was published. Under the editorial leadership of Minna Lederman, this publication—which soon thereafter changed its name to Modern Music (in April 1925)—was the leading journalistic voice for contemporary music in America for over 20 years and featured frequent contributions from important composers of the day including Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, John Cage, Marc Blitzstein, Henry Cowell, Lehman Engel, and Marion Bauer. Its final issue appeared in the Fall of 1946. And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1682, Italian composer Alessandro Stradella, age 37, is murdered in Genoa, apparently in retaliation for running off with a Venetian nobleman's mistress.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Boësset (1587-1643)
Samuel Wesley (1766-1837)
Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)
Luigi Denza (1846-1922)
Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940)
Michel Legrand (1932)
Renato Scotto (1934)
Jiří Bělohlávek (1946)

and

Wilhelm (Carl) Grimm (1786-1859)
Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
George Augustus Moore (1852-1933)
Mary Ellen Chase (1887-1973)
Weldon Kees (1914-1955)
Jane Hirshfield (1953)
Judith Butler (1956)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1955, Carlisle Floyd's opera "Susannah" received its premiere at Florida State University in Tallahassee. According to Opera America, this is one of the most frequently-produced American operas during the past decade.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Today's Birthdays

John Blow (1649-1708)
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Sir Hugh Roberton (1874-1952)
Albert Sammons (1886-1957)
Dave Apollon (1897-1972)
Elinor Remick Warren (1905-1991)
Martindale Sidwell (1916-1998)
Hall Overton (1920-1972)
Régine Crespin (1927-2007)

and

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) - blogger of the 17th Century
W. E B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
Karl Jaspers (1883-1969)
William L. Shirer (1904-1993)
John Camp (1944)

Tidbit from the New York Times obit: In the early 1930s, William Shirer and his wife shared a house with the guitarist Andres Segovia.

From The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1940 that Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land."

The melody is to an old Baptist hymn. Guthrie wrote the song in response to the grandiose “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin and sung by Kate Smith. Guthrie didn’t think that the anthem represented his own or many other Americans’ experience with America. So he wrote a folk song as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” a song that was often accompanied by an orchestra. At first, Guthrie titled his own song “God Blessed America” — past tense. Later, he changed the title to “This Land Is Your Land,” which is the first line of the song.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890)
York Bowen (1884-1961)
Benno Moiseiwitsch (1890-1963)
Joseph Kerman (1924-2014)
George Zukerman (1927)
Steven Lubin (1942)
Lowell Liebermann (1961)
Rolando Villazón (1972)

and

George Washington (1732-1799)
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
Edward Gorey (1925-2000)
Gerald Stern (1925)
Ishmael Reed (1938)
Terry Eagleton (1943)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Preview of Brotons concerto for bass clarinet in The Columbian

My article about the Vancouver Symphony concerts this weekend appears in the online edition of The Columbian newspaper here. The concert will give the world premiere of Salvador Brotons' Bass Clarinet Concerto with guest artist David Gould. The orchestra will also play Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's “Celebration for Orchestra” and Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra."

Today's Birthdays

Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Leo Delibes (1836-1891)
Charles Marie Widor (1844-1945)
Kenneth Alford (1881-1945)
Nina Simone (1933-2003)
Elena Duran (1949)
Simon Holt (1948)

and

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
Ha Jin (1956)
Chuck Palahniuk (1962)
David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Johann Peter Salomon (1749-1815)
Charles‑Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870)
Mary Garden (1874-1967)
Robert McBride (1911-2007)
Ruth Gipps (1921-1999)
Toshiro Mayuzumi (1929-1997)
Christoph Eschenbach (1940)
Barry Wordsworth (1948)
Cindy McTee (1953)
Riccardo Chailly (1953)
Chris Thile (1981)

and

Russel Crouse (1893-1966)
Louis Kahn (1901-1974)
Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Robert Altman (1925-2006)
Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
Louis Aubert (1877-1968))
Arthur Shepherd (1880-1958)
Grace Williams (1906-1977)
Stan Kenton (1912-1979)
Timothy Moore (1922-2003)
George Guest (1924-2002)
György Kurtág (1926)
Michael Kennedy (1926-2014)
Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1932-1988)
Smokey Robinson (1940)
Penelope Walmsley-Clark (1949)
Darryl Kubian (1966)

and

André Breton (1896-1966)
Carson McCullers (1917-1967)
Amy Tan (1952)
Siri Hustvedt (1955)
Jonathan Lethem (1964)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Battista Vitali (1632-1692)
Pietro Giovanni Guarneri (1655-1720)
Gustave Schirmer, Jr. (1864-1907)
Marchel Landowski (1915-1999)
Rolande Falcinelli (1920-2006)
Rita Gorr (1926-2012)
Yoko Ono (1933)
Marek Janowski (1939)
Marlos Nobre (1939
Donald Crockett (1951)

and

Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916)
Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957)
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993)
Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
Len Deighton (1929)
Toni Morrison (1931)
George Pelecanos (1957)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Hadelich astonishes with awe-inspiring performance of Paganini's First Violin Concerto

Augustin Hadelich returned to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on February 8th to give another phenomenal performance. This time, he conjured the magic of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, turning that flashy piece into an awe-inspiring artistic statement. His impressive control of dynamics allowed him to shape each line in intriguing ways, such as when he soared into the highest notes yet made them fade ever so slightly. Whispery clean lines that alternated with pizzicatos phrases looked mind-numbingly easy in his hands. The lyrical melody in the second movement had just the right amount of sweetness and tenderness, and he iced it perfectly with a section of eerie glissandi. In the final movement, his fingers raced alone like the wind and at one point he flawlessly produced tones that seemed to whistle. It was just amazing.

The audience immediately responded to Hadelich’s performance with a standing ovation that would have gone on for a long time, but Hadelich quieted everyone down by performing his transcription of Francisco Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra. Again, Hadelich stunned everyone by impeccably playing the piece. It looked like he used his bow to generate one line and the fingers of his left hand to create the other. However, he did it, it was truly astounding, and he received another standing ovation.

Gabriella Smith’s Bioluminescence Chaconne received its world premiere the night before by the orchestra in Salem. Commissioned by the Oregon Symphony and conducted in the series by Carlos Kalmar, this piece offered a lot for the ears. The music had a light, yet layered touch that generated a shimmering, glowing sound. With trumpets and trombones fading in and out, it was easy to imagine whales or other creatures of the sea swimming nearby and then disappearing into the background. A distinct rhythmic drive became more prominent with the percussion section laying it on a bit thickly and three piccolos adding their voices. I distinctly heard the chaconne when the timpani took its turn (all sections of the orchestra had a go on it). I felt that Smith took us on a luminescent journey. It would be terrific if the orchestra put in on a recording.

Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) offered a sonic excursion into the heavens. Lots of suspended sounds, an underlying buzz or drone, crescendos emanating from the low brass, random strikes from the percussion section, repeated glissandos in the strings, and a march-like section that suddenly cut away, did give the sense of spheres moving about somewhere in the galaxy. It was a piece that I would’ve liked to have heard again. Maybe the orchestra could add it to a future recording as well!

The orchestra delivered an incisive interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the popular arrangement by Ravel. Each movement of the piece received a polished sound. Highlights included brilliant contributions on the trumpet (Jeffrey Work), French horn (John Cox), Carin Miller Packwood (bassoon), tuba and baritone (JáTtik Clark), and the guest saxophonist who absolutely sparkled in her playing. The one odd thing was that the “Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells” didn’t generate any chuckles from the audience (like it usually does). Perhaps that was because it wasn’t spontaneous enough. In any case, there are mysteries about music that will probably remain a mystery.

Today's Birthdays

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)
Sr. Edward German (1862-1936)
Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947)
Andres Segovia (1893-1987)
Marian Anderson (1893-1993)
Paul Fetler (1920-2018)
Ron Goodwin (1925-2003)
Fredrich Cerha (1926)
Lee Hoiby (1926-2011)
Anner Bylsma (1944)
Karl Jenkins (1944)

and

Ronald Knox (1888-1957)
Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
Chaim Potok (1929-2002)
Ruth Rendell (1930-2015)
Mo Yan (1955)

From the New Music Box:

On February 17, 1927, a sold-out audience attends the world premiere of The King's Henchman. an opera with music by composer, music critic and future radio commentator Deems Taylor and libretto by poet Edna St. Villay Millay, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The New York Times review by Olin Downes on the front page the next morning hailed it as the "best American opera." The opera closed with a profit of $45,000 and ran for three consecutive seasons. It has not been revived since and has yet to be recorded commercially.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Charles Avison (1709-1770)
Willem Kes (1856-1934)
Selim Palmgren (1878-1951)
Maria Korchinska (1895-1979)
Alec Wilder (1907-1980)
Machito (1908-1984)
Sir Geraint Evans (1922-1992)
Eliahu Inbal (1936)
John Corigliano (1938)
Sigiswald Kuiljken (1944)

and

Nikolai Leskov (1831-1895)
Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
Van Wyck Brooks (1886-1963)
Richard Ford (1944)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
Jean‑François Lesueur (1760-1837)
Friedrich Ernst Fesca (1789-1826)
Heinrich Engelhard Steinway (1797-1871)
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927)
Marcella Sembrich (1858-1935)
Walter Donaldson (1893-1947)
Georges Auric (1899-1983)
Harold Arlen (1905-1986)
Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
Norma Procter (1928-2017)
John Adams (1947)
Christopher Rouse (1949)
Kathryn Harries (1951)
Christian Lindberg (1958)

and

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
Art Spiegelman (1948)
Matt Groening (1954)

Friday, February 14, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676)
Alexander Dargomizhsky (1813-1869)
Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Jack Benny (1894-1974)
Wyn Morris (1929-2010)
Steven Mackey (1956)
Renée Fleming (1959)

and

Frederick Douglass (1814-1895)
Carl Bernstein (1944)

and

On this day in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London. He wrote the first draft in just 21 days, the fastest he’d ever written anything.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Fernando Sor (1778-1839)
Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938)
Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991)
Eileen Farrell (1920-2002)
Yfrah Neaman (1923-2003)
Colin Matthews (1946)
Peter Gabriel (1950)
Raymond Wojcik (1957-2014)
Philippe Jaroussky (1978)

and

William Roughead (1870–1952)
Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927)
Grant Wood (1891-1942)
Georges Simenon (1903-1989)
Elaine Pagels (1943)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1914, ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) is formally organized in New York City, with composer Victor Herbert as its first director.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812)
Roy Harris (1898-1979)
Franco Zeffirelli (1923)
Mel Powell (1923-1998)
Paata Burchuladze (1951)

and

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Max Beckmann (1884-1950)
Judy Bloom (1938)

And courtesy of the New Music Box:

On February 12, 1924 at New York's Aeolian Hall, self-named 'King of Jazz' Paul Whiteman presented An Experiment in Modern Music, a concert combining "high art" and "hot jazz." The concert featured newly commissioned works from Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Edward MacDowell, Irving Berlin, Ferde Grofé, and Rudolf Friml, but the highlight of the program was the world premiere performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Rudolf Firkušný (1912-1994)
Sir Alexander Gibson (1926-1995)
Michel Sénéchal (1927-2018)
Cristopher Dearnley (1930-2000)
Jerome Lowenthal (1932)
Gene Vincent (1935-1971)
Edith Mathis (1938)
Alberto Lysy (1935-2009)
Christine Cairns (1959)

and

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
Philip Dunne (1908-1992)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993)
Pico Iyer (1957)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1841, was given the first documented American performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 at the New York's Broadway Tabernacle, by the German Society of New York, Uri Corelli Hill conducting.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Johann Melchior Molter (1696-1765)
Adelina Patti (1843-1919)
Jean Coulthard (1908-2000)
Joyce Grenfell (1914-2001)
Cesare Siepi (1923-2010)
Leontyne Price (1927)
Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)
Roberta Flack (1937)
Barbara Kolb (1939)

and

Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Åsne Seierstad (1970)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1921, Charles Ives hears Igor Stravinsky's "The Firebird" Ballet Suite at an all-Russian program by the New York Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Also on the program were works of Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff (with Rachmaninoff as piano soloist). Walter Damrosch conducted.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)
Franz Xaver Witt (1834-1888)
Alban Berg (1885-1935)
Harald Genzmer (1909-2007)
Hildegard Behrens (1937-2009)
Ryland Davies (1943)
Paul Hillier (1949)
Jay Reise (1950)
Marilyn Hill Smith (1952)
Amanda Roocroft (1966)

and

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
James Stephens (1882-1950)
Brendan Behan (1923-1964)
J.M. (John Maxwell) Coetzee (1940)
Alice Walker (1944)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1893, Verdi's opera, "Falstaff," was first performed in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala. This was Verdi's last opera.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651)
André Grétry (1741-1813)
Osian Ellis (1928)
John Williams (1932)
Elly Ameling (1933)
Gundula Janowitz (1937)
Margaret Brouwer (1940)
Stephen Roberts (1948)
Irvine Arditti (1953)

and

Jules Verne (1828-1905)
Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Neal Cassady (1926-1968)
John Grisham (1955)

and from the Composers Datebook:

1880 - German opera composer Richard Wagner writes a letter to his American dentist, Dr. Newell Still Jenkins, stating "I do no regard it as impossible that I decide to emigrate forever to America with my latest work ["Parsifal"] and my entire family" if the Americans would subsidize him to the tune of one million dollars.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
Ossip Gabrilovich (1878-1936)
Eubie Blake (1883-1983)
Claudia Muzio (1889-1936)
Quincy Porter (1897-1966)
Lord Harewood (1923-2011)
Maruis Constant (1925-2004)
Stuart Burrows (1933)
Wolfgang van Schweintz (1953)

and

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957)
Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)
Gay Talese (1932)

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Henry Litolff (1818-1891)
Karl Weigl (1881-1949)
Andre Marchal (1894-1980)
Claudio Arrau (1903-1991)
Stephen Albert (1941-1992)
Paul Esswood (1942)
Bob Marley (1945-1981)
Bruce J. Taub (1948)
Matthew Best (1957)
Sean Hickey (1970)

and

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Eric Partridge (1894-1979)
George Herman "Babe" Ruth (1895-1948)
Mary Douglas Leakey (1913-1996)
Deborah Digges (1950-2009)
Michael Pollan (1955)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Ole Bull (1810-1880)
Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798)
Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943)
Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Jussi Björling (1911-1960)
Sir John Pritchard (1921-1989)
Luc Ferrari (1929-2005)
John Poole (1934)
Ivan Tcherepnin (1943-1998)
Josef Protschka (1944)
Phylis Bryn-Julson (1945)

and

Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (1934)
John Guare (1938)
William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)
Christopher Guest (1948)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1887, Verd's: opera "Otello" premiered in Milan at the Teatro all Scala, with the composer conducting (and cellist Arturo Toscanini in the orchestra).

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Monica Huggett to retire from Portland Baoque next year

From the Press Release:

After more than 26 years leading Portland Baroque Orchestra (PBO), Monica Huggett plans to step down as Artistic Director following the 2020-2021 Season. Following her retirement, Monica will continue as Artistic Director Emeritus of PBO.

 

Monica Huggett was named PBO’s Artistic Director in 1994 after an exhaustive search. With Huggett at the helm, the orchestra expanded its programming in quantity, quality, and repertoire. During her tenure, the orchestra has grown to the third largest period performance orchestra in the country with over 25 concerts events a year including the popular holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah.

 

From age seventeen, beginning as a freelance violinist in London, Monica Huggett earned her living solely as a violinist and artistic director and, in 2008, was appointed inaugural artistic director of The Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program, where she continues as artistic advisor.

“PBO has been so fortunate to have Monica Huggett grow and shape the orchestra for the past 25 years,” said Abigail McKee, Executive Director. “Her incredible talent and leadership has brought limitless beauty to Portland, and her musicianship truly has shaped the world of Baroque performance. While this transition is bittersweet, we are so excited to see what she does next!”

Audiences will have opportunities to see Monica perform and lead the orchestra during the remainder of the 2019-2020 Season in February during Trousers & Tiaras: Gender Roles in Handel Operas, April’s Bach Sonatas concert, and English Echoes: Neoclassical Reflections on 17th Century England in May. Audiences will also have the opportunity to hear Monica revisit her definitive performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in PBO’s special benefit concert on March 21,2020, The Four Seasons in Celebration of Monica Huggett.

PBO’s 2020-2021 Season, Monica’s final season, will be announced in Spring of 2020. Next steps in Artistic Director succession will also be announced in the Spring.

Today's Birthdays

Eustache du Caurroy (1549-1609)
Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795)
Aristide Cavaillé‑Coll (1811-1899)
Yrjo Kilpinen (1892-1952)
Bernard Rogers (1893-1968)
Erich Leinsdorf (1912-1993)
Jutta Hipp (1925-2003)
Martti Talvela (1935-1989)
François Dumeaux (1978)

and also

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
Gavin Ewart (1916-1995)
Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
Robert Coover (1932)

Monday, February 3, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Sidney Lanier (1842-1881)
Priaulx Rainier (1903-1986)
Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975)
Blas Galindo Dimas (1910-1993)
Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
Helga Dernesch (1939)

and

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Georg Trakl (1887-1914)
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Alvar Aalto (1898-1978)
James Michener (1907-1997)
Simone Weil (1909-1943)
Richard Yates (1926-1992)
Paul Auster (1947)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1844, Berlioz's "Roman Carnival" Overture, in Paris was premiered at the Salle Herz, with the composer conducting.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Oregonian preview of Gabriella Smith new piece for the Oregon Symphony

The Oregonian has published my preview of Gabriella Smith's latest creation, Bioluminescence Chaconne, which the Oregon Symphony commission for next weekend's concerts. I have found her music to be refreshingly engaging. Here is a link to the online copy of my piece. It will appear in the printed version soon.

Today's Birthdays

Louis Marchand (1669-1732)
Leo Fall (1873-1925)
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987)
Stan Getz (1927-1991)
Skip Battin (1934-2003)
Martina Arroyo (1937)
Sir Andrew Davis (1944)
Ursula Oppens (1944)
Eliane Aberdam (1964)

Also

James Joyce (1882-1941)
James Dickey (1923-1997)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Stradivari (1671-1743)
Francesco Maria Veracini (1690-1768)
Johan Joachim Agrell (1701-1765)
Victor Herbert (1859-1924)
Julius Conus (1869-1942)
Clara Butt (1872-1936)
Sándor Veress (1907-1999)
Mozart Camargo Guarnieri (1907-1993)
Renata Tebaldi (1922-2004)
Ursula Mamlok (1928-2016)
Michael G. Shapiro (1951)

and

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
S. J. Perelman (1904-1979)
Muriel Spark (1918- 2006)
Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)

Friday, January 31, 2020

Schwarz and Schwarz bring out the best in Vancouver Symphony concert

The Vancouver Symphony turned in one of its finest performances ever on Sunday evening (January 26) with Gerard Schwarz on the podium at Skyview Concert Hall. Schwarz, the former music director of the Seattle Symphony, elicited a polished sound from the ensemble that resulted in a glowing Tchaikovsky Fourth Symphony, a vibrant Tower’s Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, and a poignant Dvořák Cello Concerto with his son Julian as the soloist.

It is extremely rare to have a conductor and his offspring at the professional level as featured performers in a concert. I cannot think of another example. In any case, the Schwarz duo was a real treat in and of itself, because they collaborated so well with the orchestra in the Dvořák. Schwarz fils commanded a strong opening and deftly made the theme softer when it came around a second time. He played the second movement with loving attention to detail. He wonderfully expressed the emotional heart of the piece, and his beautiful cadenza seemed to reach deeper even though it was accompanied by a heavy rainfall that pummeled the roof.

The orchestra accompanied Julian with terrific sensitivity. Orchestral entries were focused. Ensemble efforts were well-balanced, such as the woodwind choir in the second movement.

Julian acknowledged the tremendous applause with an encore, Dvořák’s Silent Woods. Its somber and dreamy melody resonated well – without interference from the stormy weather.

The orchestra delivered a thrilling performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. The horns radiated a golden, majestic sound. The strings created a lively ensemble sound. The woodwinds contributed brilliantly, and the percussion added plenty of vim and vigor to wrap things up in the final movement. The reoccurring “fate motif” was stirring. Schwarz’s firm and crisp directions summoned the superb playing, and there were a lot of smiles on the musicians faces after the finale.

The concert opened with Joan Tower’s Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. The orchestra fearlessly dug into the piece and made a striking, bold statement even though it lasted only five minutes. Glissandos, wiggly brass sounds, snapping tones, a chime-like tones, and an unrelenting motoric drive combined to make a forceful and positive impression. I’d like to hear another one of her fanfares. And it would be great to see both Schwarzes return some day in the near future.

Grosvenor gives stellar performance of Chopin's 2nd with the OSO

Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto received a superb performance by Benjamin Grosvenor and the Oregon Symphony (January 25) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The young Brit (age 27) has earned accolades internationally, and they are absolutely well-founded. His playing of the Chopin featured a terrific sonic balance with the leading line always in the forefront, but never too much or too little. Runs up and down the keyboard had a natural flow and the trickiest passages were delivered immaculately.

Grosvenor’s unaffected, graceful style and awesome pianism especially conveyed the poetic heart of the piece in the second movement, Larghetto. Principal bassoonist Carin Miller Packwood used the softest of tones to create some remarkable duets with him. Guest conductor Eun Sun Kim, who is the newly appointed music director of the San Francisco Opera, took extra care to be in sync with Grosvenor at all times.

Enthusiastic applause showered the concert hall, and Grosvenor responded an immaculate rendition of Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 5 even though his fingers seemed to be constantly flying across the keyboard. That earned him another round of cheers from all corners of the hall.

The performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 sparkled now and then, but wasn’t totally compelling. Kim kept everything on track and impressively signaled a lot of cues, but she showed a limited range of conducting styles. So, dynamic contrasts made the piece less exciting than it could have been. Be that as it may, there were a number of lovely solos by members of the orchestra, including concertmaster Sarah Kwa, John Cox (French horn), and Alicia DiDonato Paulson (flute).

Texu Kim’s Spin-Flip suggested an imaginary ping pong game complete with zings, slaps, knocks, taps, and whacks that ricocheted about the orchestra. The wah-wahing brass seemed to mimic the noise of onlookers. It was a fun, short piece that held court with a bit of tension, a well-placed pause in the action, and a suspended spinning sound at the very end.

Today's Birthdays

François Devienne (1759-1803)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Caroline Miolan‑Carvalho (1827-1895)
Ernest John Moeran (1894-1950)
Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)
Nathan Milstein (1904-1992)
Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973)
Alan Lomax (1915-2002)
Jaap Schröder (1925-2020)
Odetta (1930-2008)
Philip Glass (1937)
Stephen Cleobury (1948)
Donna Summer (1948-2012)
George Benjamin (1960)
Jennifer Higdon (1962)

and

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Zane Grey (1872-1939)
John O'Hara (1905-1970)
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773)
Charles Martin Loeffler (1861-1935)
Walter Damrosch (1862-1950)
Mitch Leigh (1928-2014)
Lynn Harrell (1944)
Silvia Marcovici (1952)
Gerald Finley (1960)

and

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)
Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989)
Shirley Hazzard (1931-2016)
Richard Brautigan (1935-1984)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Georg Christoph Wagenseil (1715-1777)
Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1871)
Frederic Hymen Cowen (1852-1935)
Frederick Delius (1862-1934)
Havergal Brian (1876-1972)
Blanche Selva (1884-1942)
Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
Myer Fredman (1932-2014)
Malcolm Binns (1936)
Cho-Liang Lin (1960)

and

W. C. Fields (1880-1946)
Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
Edward Abbey (1927-1989)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1826 was the premiere of Schubert's String Quartet in D minor, "Death and the Maiden," as a unrehearsed reading at the Vienna home of Karl and Franz Hacker, two amateur musicians. Schubert, who usually played viola on such occasions, could not perform since he was busy copying out the parts and making last-minute corrections.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Bartolomeo Bruni (1757-1821)
Ferdinand Herold (1791-1833)
Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892)
Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)
Vittorio Rieti (1898-1994)
Michael Head (1900-1976)
Ronnie Scott (1927-1996)
Acker Bilk (1929-2014)
Sir John Tavener (1944-2013)
Richard Danielpour (1956)

and

Colette (1873-1954)
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Claes Oldenburg (1929)
David Lodge (1935)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Juan Crisostomo Arriage (1806-1826)
Edouard Lalo (1823-1892)
Jerome Kern (1885-1945)
Jack Brymer (1915-2003)
Skitch Henderson (1918-2005)
Helmut Zacharias (1920-2002)
Fritz Spiegl (1926-2003)
John Ogdon (1937-1989)
Jean-Philippe Collard (1948)
Emanuel Pahud (1970)
James Ehnes (1976)

and

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Dmitry Mandeleyev (1834-1907)
Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795)
Maria Augusta von Trapp (1905-1987)
Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997)
Jimmy Van Heusen (1913-1990)
Warren Benson (1924-2005)
Jacqueline du Pré (1945-1987)
Frédéric Lodéon (1952)
Mikel Rouse (1957)
Gustavo Dudamel (1981)

and

Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905)
Seán MacBride (1904-1988)
Jules Feiffer (1929)
Christopher Hampton (1946)
Ellen DeGeneres (1958)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1790, Mozart's opera, "Così fan tutte," was premiered in Vienna at the Burgtheater.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Jan Blockx (1851-1912)
Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954)
Julia Smith (1905-1989)
Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
Alfred Reed (1921-2005)
Etta James (1938-2012)
Russell Peck (1945-2009)

and

Robert Burns (1759-1796)
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Gerard Schwarz to lead Vancouver Symphony - in The Columbian newspaper

My preview of the Vancouver Symphony's concerts this weekend featuring conductor Gerard Schwarz and his son, cellist Julian Schwarz, appeared in The Columbian newspaper and is viewable online here. On tap is the Dvorak Cello Concerto, Tower's "Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman," and Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.

Today's Birthdays

Farinelli (Carlo Maria Broschi) (1705-1782)
Frederick II the Great (1712-1786)
Muzio Clementi (1752-1832)
E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822)
Evelyn Barbirolli (1911-2008)
Norman Dello Joio (1913-2008)
Gottfried von Einem (1918-1996)
Leon Kirchner (1919-2009)
Neil Diamond (1941)
Yuri Bashmet (1953)
Warren Zevon (1947-2003)

and

William Congreve (1670-1729)
Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
Desmond Morris (1928)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832)
Rutland Boughton (1878-1960)
Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)
Milton Adolphus (1913-1988)
Eli Goren (1923-2000)
Cécile Ousset (1936)
Teresa Zylis-Gara (1936)
John Luther Adams (1953)
Mason Bates (1977)

and

Stendhal (1783-1842)
Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Derek Walcott (1930-2017)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1894, Czech composer Antonin Dvorák presents a concert of African-American choral music at Madison Square Concert Hall in New York, using an all-black choir, comprised chiefly of members of the St. Philip's Colored Choir. On the program was the premiere performance of Dvorák's own arrangement of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home," which featured vocal soloists Sissierette Jones and Harry T. Burleigh.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Claude-Bénigne Balbastre (1727-1799)
Charles Tournemire (1870-1939)
Hans Erich Apostel (1901-1972)
Robin Milford (1903-1959)
Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981)
Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013)
William Warfield (1920-2002)
Leslie Bassett (1923-2016)
James Louis ("J.J.") Johnson (1924-2001)
Aurèle Nicolet (1926-2016)
Uto Ughi (1944)
Myung-whun Chung (1953)

and

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781)
Lord Byron (1788-1824)
August Strindberg (1849-1912)
Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948)
Howard Moss (1922-1987)
Joseph Wambaugh (1937)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day, in 1907, the Metropolitan Opera production of R. Strauss' opera "Salome," with soprano Olive Fremstad in the title role, creates a scandal. The opera is dropped after a single performance, and not staged at the Met again until the 1930s.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Oregon Symphony makes Alex Ross list for performance of the decade

Alex Ross, classical music critic of the New Yorker magazine, listed the Oregon Symphony's performance at Carnegie Hall in 2011 as one of the very best concerts that he heard during the last ten years. So, it's about time to bring the orchestra back to the Big Apple for another appearance.

(Thanks to Charles Noble for finding this article.)

Today's Birthdays

Henri Duparc (1848-1933)
Alexander Tcherepnin (1899-1977)
Webster Booth (1902-1984)
Placido Domingo (1941)
Richie Havens (1941-2013)
Edwin Starr (1942-2003)
Suzanne Mentzer (1957)
Frank Ticheli (1958)

and

Louis Menand (1952)

Monday, January 20, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630)
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
Julius Conus (1869-1942)
Józef Hofmann (1876-1957)
Huddie William Ledbetter (Lead Belly) (1889-1949)
Walter Piston (1894-1976)
Eva Jessye (1895-1992)
Yvonne Loriod (1924-2010)
David Tudor (1926-1996)
Antonio de Almeida (1928-1997)
Iván Fischer (1951)

and

George Burns (1896-1996)
Alexandra Danilova (1903-1997)
Federico Fellini (1920-1993)
Edward Hirsch (1950)
Tami Hoag (1959)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Louis‑Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749)
George Frederick Bristow (1825-1898)
Fritz Reiner (1885-1963)
Paul Dessau (1894-1979)
Edith Piaf (1915-1963)
Dalton Baldwin (1931)
Phil Ochs (1940-1976)
William Christie (1944)
Marianne Faithfull (1946)
Olaf Bär (1957)
Steven Esserlis (1958)
Rebecca Saunders (1967)

and

Italo Svevo (1861-1928)
Constance Garnett (1861-1946)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today's Birthdays

César Cui (1835-1918)
Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)
John Laurence Seymour (1893-1986)
Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996)
Anthony Galla-Rini (1904-2006)
John O'Conor (1947)
Anthony Pople (1955-2003)
Christoph Prégardien (1956)

and

Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869)
Rubén Darío (1867-1916)
A. A. Milne (1882-1956)
Oliver Hardy (1892-1957)

FYI: Roget's "Thesaurus" has never been out of print since it was first published in 1852.

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1958, "What Does Music Mean?", broadcast, the first of a series of televised New York Philharmonic "Young People's Concerts" on CBS-TV hosted by Leonard Bernstein. The series continued until 1972, with 53 different programs hosted by Bernstein

Friday, January 17, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
John Stanley (1712-1786)
Johann Gottfried Müthel (1728-1788)
François‑Joseph Gossec (1734-1829)
Henk Badings (1907-1987)
Oscar Morawetz (1917-2007)
Annie Delorie (1925-2009)
Donald Erb (1927-2008)
Jean Barraqué (1928-1973)
Sydney Hodkinson (1934)
Dame Gillian Weir (1941)
Anne Queffélec (1948)
Augustin Dumay (1949)
Nancy Argenta (1957)
Gérard Pesson (1958)

and

Anne Brontë (1820-1849)
William Stafford (1914-1993)
Luis López Nieves (1950)
Sebastian Junger (1962)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Niccoló Piccinni (1728-1800)
Daisy Kennedy (1893-1981)
Ernesto Halffter (1905-1989)
Roger Wagner (1914-1992)
Ernesto Bonino (1922-2008)
Pilar Lorengar (1928-1996)
Marilyn Horne (1934)
Richard Wernick (1934)
Gavin Bryars (1943)
Brian Ferneyhough (1943)
Katia Ricciarelli (1946)

and

Robert Service (1874-1958)
Anthony Hecht (1923-2004)
William Kennedy (1928)
Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
Mary Karr (1955)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (1980)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Ivor Novello (1893-1951)
Elie Siegmeister (1909-1991)
Malcolm Frager (1935-1991)
Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet (1941-2010)
Aaron Jay Kernis (1960)

and

Molière (1622-1673)
Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872)
Andreas William Heinesen (1900-1991)
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1941 Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" was premiered at Stalag VIII-A, a German prisoner of war camp in Görlitz (Silesia), with the composer at the piano and fellow-prisoners Jean Le Boulaure (violin), Henri Akoka (clarinet), and Etienne Pasquier (cello).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Violinist Josefowicz tears it up with Scheherazade.2

Violinist Leila Josefowicz delivered a riveting and incisive performance with the Oregon Symphony (January 11) of John Adams’s Scheherazade.2, playing the extremely demanding music from memory. Wow! With her fingers flying all over her instrument, she created a searing impression of a strong-willed woman who fights to find her own path to freedom in spite of the constraints from her culture and the men in control of it.

Scheherazade.2 was inspired by the famous tale from the Tales of One Thousand and One Nights, but not in the way that you might think. Instead of another musical retelling of the story, Adams found a way to express his reaction to how women are treated cruelly in the tales and by how many cultures still regard and deal with women badly. So, with Scheherazade.2, the soloist is the young woman who escapes the clutches of men and their restrictions to arrive at a safe place.

Adams wrote the 50-minute piece for Josefowicz in 2014, and she has performed it many times since, including last fall with the composer on the podium of the Philadelphia Orchestra. For her appearance with the Oregon Symphony, she collaborated with German conductor Alexander Liebreich, who made his United States debut with this concert.

Over the course of its four movements Scheherazade.2 held sway with Josefowicz digging into gnarly passages, rising above the fray of the orchestra. She led the audience in a journey that started with “Tale of the Wise Young Woman- Pursuit by the True Believers,” followed by “A Long Desire (Love Scene), then “Scheherazade and the Men with Beards,” and concluded with “Escape, Flight Sanctuary.” Along the way, she maintained a defiant tone that skillfully defied the ominous and threatening sounds from the orchestra, which included a cimbalom (a Hungarian hammered dulcimer) played expertly by Chester Englander. Josefowicz fearless playing and the evocative nature of the piece drew loud cheers from all corners of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, deftly shaped by Liebreich, ushered in the second half of the evening with its provocative message. Principal trumpet Jeffrey Work expressed wonderfully subtle statements from off-stage while the woodwinds (led by principal flutist Martha Long) responded with an agitated flurry of rebuttals.

That piece segued seamlessly into Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra with its iconic opening passage in full glory. The orchestra excelled throughout with dynamic phrasing and a terrific ensemble sound. Lush strings, polished brass, spritely harp and flute, jocular clarinets, pummeling timpani… there were numerous exciting passages that made the piece especially gratifying. Concertmaster Sarah Kwak’s topped everything off with her lovely solos. Liebreich really got into the piece with emphatic conducting. It would be great to see him back on the podium again someday in the future.

Today's Birthdays

Ludwig von Köchel (1800-1877)
Jean de Reszke (1850-1925)
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Louis Quilico (1925-2000)
Zuzana Ruzickova (1927-2017)
Siegmund Nimsgern (1940)
Mariss Jansons (1943)
Kees Bakels (1945)
Nicholas McGegan (1950)
Ben Heppner (1956)
Andrew Manze (1965)

and

John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
Emily Hahn (1905-1997)
Maureen Dowd (1952)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Christoph Graupner (1683-1760)
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749)
Vassili Kalinnikov (1866-1901)
Richard Addinsell (1904-1977)
Daniil Shafran (1923-1997)
Renato Bruson (1936)
Paavo Heininen (1938)
William Duckworth (1943-2012)
Richard Blackford (1954)
Wayne Marshall (1961)
Juan Diego Flórez (1973)

and

Horatio Alger (1832-1899)
Lorrie Moore (1957)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739)
Jacques Duphly (1715-1789)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948)
Pierre Bernac (1899-1979)
William Pleeth (1916-1999)
Leo Smit (1921-1999)
Morton Feldman (1926-1987)
Salvatore Martirano (1927-1995)
Anne Howells (1941)
Viktoria Postnikova (1944)
Lori Laitman (1955)

and

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Jack London (1876-1916)
Haruki Murakami (1949)

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Christian Sinding (1856-1941)
Reihold Glière (1875-1956)
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)
Mark DeVoto (1940)
York Höller (1944)
Drew Minter (1955)
Alex Shapiro (1962)

and

William James (1842-1910)
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)
Alan Paton (1903-1988)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1925, Copland's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra was premiered at Aeolian Hall in New York City by the New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, with Nadia Boulanger the soloist.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Winter classical music recommendations in The Oregonian

My list of 12 concerts (mid January through March) appeared in today's edition of The Oregonian and is available online here.  There are, of course, many other excellent concerts, but I found this selection to provide a lot of intriguing variety.

(Note that this posting had a faulty link, which has now been corrected.)

Today's Birthdays

Jean Martinon (1910-1976)
Sidney Griller (1911-1993)
Dean Dixon (1915-1976)
Milton Babbitt (1916-2011)
Max Roach (1924-2007)
Sherrill Milnes (1935)
Rod Stewart (1945)
James Morris (1947)
Mischa Maisky (1948)
Rockwell Blake (1951)
Charles Norman Mason (1955)
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (1961)

and

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
Philip Levine (1928-2015)
Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Today's Birthdays

John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)
Rudolf Bing (1902-1997)
Herva Nelli (1909-1994)
Henriette Puig‑Roget (1910-1992)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Joan Baez (1941)
Scott Walker (1944)
Jimmy Page (1944)
Waltraud Meier (1956)
Hillevi Martinpelto (1958)
Nicholas Daniel (1962)

and

Karel Čapek (1890-1938)
Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935)
Richard Halliburton (1901-1939)
Brian Friel (1929-2015)
Michiko Kakutani (1955)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Jean Gilles (1668-1705)
Lowell Mason (1792-1872)
Sigismond Thalberg (1812-1871)
Hans von Bülow (1830-1894)
Jaromir Weinberger (1896-1967)
Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988)
Giorgio Tozzi (1923-2011)
Robert Starer (1924-2001)
Benjamin Lees (1924-2010)
Elvis Presley (1935-1977)
Zdeněk Mácal (1936)
Robert Moran (1937)
Evgeny Nesterenko (1938)
Elijah Moshinsky (1946)
Paul Dresher (1951)
Vladimir Feltsman (1952)

and

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913)
Bronislava Nijinska (1891-1972)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1923, the first broadcast in England of an opera direct from a concert hall took place, Mozart's "The Magic Flute" via the BBC from London.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Clara Haskil (1895-1960)
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
John Brownlee (1900-1969)
Nicanor Zabaleta (1907-1993)
Günter Wand (1912-2002)
Ulysses Kay (1917-1995)
John Lanigan (1921-1996)
Jean-Pierre Rampal (1922-2000)
Tommy Johnson (1935-2006)
Iona Brown (1941-2004)
Richard Armstrong (1943)

and

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Hugh Kenner (1923-2003)
Nicholson Baker (1957)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1955, Marian Anderson made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Ulrica in Verdi's "Un Ballo in Mascera" (A Masked Ball). She was the first African-American singer to perform as an opera soloist on the Met stage. Subsequent distinguished African-American singers who performed as members of the Met company included Robert McFerrin, Sr. (Bobby McFerrin Jr.’s father), Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Kahtleen Battle and Jessye Norman.