Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Louise Talma (1906-1996)
August Everding (1928-1999)
Colin Tilney (1933)
Odaline de la Martinez (1949)
Naji Hakim (1955)


Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
John Keats (1795-1821)
Susan Orlean (1955)

from The New Music Box:

On October 31, 1896, the Boston Symphony premiered the Gaelic" Symphony in E Minor by Mrs. H.H.A. Beach (Amy Marcy Cheney Beach), the first symphony by an American woman ever publicly performed.

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1933, Arnold Schoenberg, accompanied by his wife, baby daughter, and family pet terrier "Witz," arrives in New York on the liner Isle de France.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Peter Warlock (Philip Arnold Heseltine) (1894-1930)
Stanley Sadie (1930-2005)
Frans Brüggen (1934-2014)
Grace Slick (1939)
René Jacobs (1946)
James Judd (1949)
Shlomo Mintz (1957)


Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)
André Chénier (1762-1794)
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Robert Caro (1935)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Six more composers named in Portland Piano International commissioning project

From the press release:

 Portland Piano International / SOLO is pleased to be a part of building piano repertoire for the 21st century by commissioning 12 new works for solo piano. In 2016, we announced the first six composers for this project, and we are pleased to announce the names of the six talented Oregon composers who are completing the Commissioning Project. Each new work is five to ten minutes long and must be inspired by an earlier composer’s work. Young Rising Star pianists from across the globe work closely with the composers and then premiere these new pieces in free, interactive concerts in Portland and around Oregon.

The composers who have been commissioned for the final six compositions are:
Jay Derderian, Portland, OR
Brent Weaver, Newberg, OR
David Schiff, Portland, OR
Darrell Grant, Portland, OR
Renee Favand See, Portland, OR
Kenji Bunch, Portland, OR

This past summer Rising Star Elisabeth Tsai premiered Jay Derderian’s work titled In the Tides I Break, a work inspired by Henry Cowell’s Tides of Manaunan (composed in 1917). In September, Rising Star Sam Hong premiered a composition by George Fox University professor Brent Weaver. Weaver’s work, Two Intermezzos, is inspired by the Intermezzos of Brahms, with a musical connection with American musical styles such as jazz, folk music and more recent popular styles.

“To make sure that these new pieces are documented and have a life beyond the performances, we record them at Westwind Farm Studio,” explains executive director Ellen Bergstone Wasil. “The video and audio recordings of the entire group of 12 new works will be released later in 2018. We’ll also link to where the sheet music can be purchased. The diversity of the commissions and the skill of the performers creates a rich musical landscape that highlights the breadth and depth of Oregon’s composers.”

The Commissioning Project is funded through a Creative Heights Grant from The Oregon Community Foundation. In August 2014 Portland Piano International was selected as one of only 13 organizations statewide for the first round of these new grants, which were established through the Fred W. Fields Fund.

PS: The first six composers named in the commissioning project are
David Crumb
Jack Gabel
Sarah Zipperer Gaskins
Bryan Johanson
Michael Johanson
Greg Steinke

Today's Birthdays

Harold Darke (1888-1976)
Vivian Ellis (1904-1996)
Václav Neumann (1920-1995)
Jon Vickers (1926-2015)
James Dillon (1950)
Lee Actor (1952)
James Primosch (1956)


James Boswell (1740-1795)
Harriet Powers (1837-1910)
Henry Green (1905-1973)
David Remnick (1958)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Giuditta Pasta (1797-1865)
Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
Dame Cleo Laine (1927)
Carl Davis (1936)
Howard Blake (1938)
Kenneth Montgomery (1943)
Naida Cole (1974)


Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
John Harold Hewitt (1907-1987)
Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
John Hollander (1929-2013)
Anne Perry (1938)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840)
Helmut Walcha (1907-1991)
Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997)
Dominick Argento (1927)
Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Håkan Hardenberger (1961)
Vanessa-Mae (1978)


Lee Krasner (1908-1994)
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Zadie Smith (1975)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758)
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)
György Pauk (1936)
Christine Brewer (1955)
Natalie Merchant (1963)
Sakari Oramo (1965)


Andrei Bely (1880-1934)
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)
John Arden (1930-2012)
Andrew Motion (1952)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Arnaldo Cohen no longer artistic director at Portland Piano International

Earlier this year, Portland Piano International and its artistic director, Arnaldo Cohen parted ways. Founder and longtime artistic director Harold Gray will step into the AD role and curate the 2018/2019 SOLO Piano Series. According to executive director Ellen Bergstone Wasil, PPI's board of directors will engage a guest curator for the 2019/2020 season. The guest curator will be announced in teh fall of 2018.

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
Don Banks (1923-1980)
Galina Vishnevskaya (1926-2012)
Peter Lieberson (1946)
Diana Burrell (1948)
Colin Carr (1957)
Midori (1971)


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
John Berryman (1914-1972)
Anne Tyler (1941)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

List of Van Cliburn winners who have appeared with Portland Piano International

Two weeks ago I heard Van Cliburn winner Yekwon Sunwoo's performance at Portland Piano International. His concert was outstanding, and I wrote a glowing review for International Piano magazine. I then asked Portland Piano International's executive director, Ellen Bergstone Wasil, for a list of Van Cliburn winners who have been presented by PPI. Here is her answer:

Beginning in 1985 with pianist José Feghali, Portland Piano International has presented the Gold Medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in the season following his/her win.

Vadym Kholodenko (2013)

Haochen Zhang (2009)

Alexander Kobrin (2005)

Stanislav Ioudenitch (2001)

Olga Kern (2001)

Jon Nakamatsu (1997)

Simone Pedroni (1993)

Alexei Sultanov (1989)

José Feghali (1985)

Five other Cliburn Gold Medalists performed for Portland Piano International but not during the season after they won.

Andre-Michel Schub (1981)

Steven De Groote (1977)

Vladimir Viardo (1973)

Radu Lupu (1966)

Ralph Votapek (1962)

Only two of the Gold Medalists have not graced our stage: Nobuyuku Tsujii (2009 co-winner with Haochen Zhang) and Christina Ortiz (1969).

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885)
Imre [Emmerich] Kálman (1882-1953)
Conrad Leonard (1898-2003)
Paul Csonka (1905-1995)
Tito Gobbi (1913-1984)
Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
George Crumb (1929)
Sofia Gubaidulina (1931)
Malcolm Bilson (1935)
Bill Wyman (1936)
George Tsontakis (1951)
Cheryl Studer (1955)


Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879)
Moss Hart (1904-1961)
Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
Norman Rush (1933)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Albert Lortzing (1801-1851)
Miriam Gideon (1906-1996)
Denise Duval (1921-2016)
Ned Rorem (1923)
Lawrence Foster (1941)
Toshio Hosokawa (1955)
"Weird Al" Yankovic (1959)
Brett Dean (1961)


Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
Johnny Carson (1925-2005)
Nick Tosches (1949)
Laurie Halse Anderson (1961)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sir Donald McIntyre (1934)
Elizabeth Connell (1946)


John Reed (1887-1920)
John Gould (1908-2003)
Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

From the Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1883 that the Metropolitan Opera House opened with a performance of Faust. The opera was based on Goethe's German poem, and it was composed in French, but it was sung in Italian. The New Yorkers who designed the opera house wanted it to have an Italian feel, so they had it built with a palazzo on Broadway, and Italian was the language of choice.

There was already an opera house in New York, the Academy of Music, near Union Square. It was one of the main gathering places of the city's high society, who watched each other from the opera boxes as eagerly as they watched the opera itself. But there were only 18 opera boxes at the Academy of Music, and in the 1870s a whole generation of industrial millionaires were emerging in New York. These nouveau riche were not so welcome at the Academy of Music, or in any of the social circles of old money. But they wanted a place to display themselves, so they decided to build their own opera house. Seventy people got together and pooled $1.7 million to buy land and build a concert hall. They put in three levels with 36 box seats in each, more than enough for everyone.

In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton wrote:
"On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

"Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances 'above the Forties,' of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendor with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the 'new people' whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustic, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957)
Egon Wellesz (1885-1974)
Howard Ferguson (1908-1999)
Alexander Schneider (1908-1993)
Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997)
Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie (1917-1993)
Sir Malcom Arnold (1921-2006)
Marga Richter (1926)
Shulamit Ran (1949)
Hugh Wolff (1953)


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Baldur Brönniman and the Oregon Symphony deliver a nuanced Shostakovich 5th Symphony

Baldur Brönniman
Guest conductor Baldur Brönniman led the Oregon Symphony for the first time in a riveting concert on Monday, October 16th at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. A varied program featuring works by Portuguese composer Ângela da Ponte, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich, it was a fun and yet deep evening of music.

Da Ponte, who grew up in the Azores, wrote The Rising Sea based upon a poem called Ídilio by Antero de Quental.  An OSO premiere, the piece was a mysterious, largely atonal sound painting, with susurating entrances and exits, strange quacking mutes in the brass; densely textured and programmatic it was a worthy piece to hear.

Cellist Johannes Moser, last with the OSO for the Schumann concerto in 2014, returned as soloist for Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor.  Moser was charismatic and even dashing; holding the audience and orchestra alike in the grip of his intensity, he seemed simultaneously to be having way too much fun. Displaying a deft, even delicate touch even in the bold exposition, he interpreted the melodies lovingly--heroic when called for, yet not bombastic. In the Allegretto he made the moment feel like a strophic song somehow, leading a marvelous balancing act with the orchestra. Much of this work was high up on the instrument, yet his technique in the lower registers was affective and moving. An effortless technician, he succeeded in bringing out the very heart of this piece.

Swiss conductor Baldur Brönniman had a difficult challenge with the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D Minor. There is a tendency to make this piece weighty and ponderous, yet all the material is there for an interpretation that is almost the exact opposite, and Brönniman elicited this from the OSO.

In the first movement, the dialogue between high and low strings was profound and direct--no equivocating here. The clarinet solo was not haunting, yet somehow austere and lonely. The ominous intrusion of the piano and brass set off a fine frenzy with the rest of the group, and later as the hubbub receded, the flute and horn duet was a moment of singular beauty.  In the second movement the bassoon solo was saucy, like a grand, grave, darkly humorous waltz, and in the third movement the trio with two flutes and harp was spare and sonorous, followed by a broad elegy from the strings.  Like a fierce Slavic folk dance, the grand arrival at the finale was the fulfillment of the long promise beforehand.

Brönniman was brilliant all evening, but especially so in the Shostakovich. There are so many gems large and small in this monumental work, and the conductor expertly picked them all out, deftly shepherding the players through this task. A deeply pensive work like this could trend toward the dull, yet it never went there; Brönniman and the OSO were constantly engaging and energetic, and the Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich were nothing short of a triumph. One hopes to see Baldur Brönniman at the helm of the OSO again soon.

Today's Birthdays

Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941)
Adelaide Hall (1901-1993)
Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991)
Adelaide Hall (1909-1993)
Robert Craft (1923-2015)
Jacques Loussier (1934)
William Albright (1944-1998)
Ivo Pogorelich (1958)
Leila Josefowicz (1977)


Christopher Wren (1632-1723)
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
John Dewey(1859-1952)
Robert Pinsky (1940)
Elfriede Jelinek (1946)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sidonie Goossens (1899-2004)
Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966)
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968)
Emil Gilels (1916-1985)
Robin Holloway (1943)
Robert Morris (1943)


Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)
Auguste Lumière (1862-1954)
Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974)
Jack Anderson (1922-2005)
John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell) (1931)
Philip Pullman (1946)
Tracy Chevalier (1962)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599)
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Lotte Lenya (1898-1981)
Alexander Young (1920-2000)
Egil Hovland (1924-2013)
Chuck Berry (1926-2017)
Wynton Marsalis (1961)


Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941)
A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)
Ntozake Shange (1948)
Rick Moody (1961)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998)
Rolando Panerai (1924)
Reiner Goldberg (1939)
Stephen Kovacevich (1940)


Georg Büchner (1813-1837)
Nathanael West (1903-1940)
Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1978, President Jimmy Carter presents the Congressional Medal of Honor to singer Marian Anderson.

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1933 that Albert Einstein officially moved to the United States to teach at Princeton University. He had been in California working as a visiting professor when Hitler took over as chancellor of Germany. Einstein’s apartment in Berlin and his summer cottage in the country were raided, his papers confiscated, and his bank accounts closed. He returned to Europe and handed in his German passport, renouncing his citizenship. He considered offers from all over the world, including Paris, Turkey, and Oxford. Einstein eventually decided on Princeton, which offered him an attractive package teaching at its Institute for Advanced Study — but he had his hesitations about the university. For one thing, it had a clandestine quota system in place that only allowed a small percentage of the incoming class to be Jewish. The Institute’s director, Abraham Flexner, was worried that Einstein would be too directly involved in Jewish refugee causes, so he micromanaged Einstein’s public appearances, keeping him out of the public eye when possible. He even declined an invitation for Einstein to see President Roosevelt at the White House without telling the scientist. When Einstein found out, he personally called Eleanor Roosevelt and arranged for a visit anyway, and then complained about the incident in a letter to a rabbi friend of his, giving the return address as “Concentration Camp, Princeton.” In 1938, incoming freshmen at Princeton ranked Einstein as the second-greatest living person; first place went to Adolf Hitler.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
Franz [Ferenc] Doppler (1821-1883)
James Lockhart (1930)
Derek Bourgeois (1941)
Marin Alsop (1956)
Erkki-Sven Tüür (1959)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962)


Noah Webster (1758-1843)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)
Günter Grass (1927-2015)
Thomas Lynch (1948)

And from the Writer's Almanac:

In 1882, during a tour across the US, Oscar Wilde lectured to coal miners in Leadville, Colorado, where he saw a sign on a saloon that said, "Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best," and called it "the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Article about violinist Tomas Cotik in The Oregonian

My article about violinist Tomas Cotik and his new album of music by Astor Piazzolla has been posted online in Oregonlive here. It will be in the print edition later this week. Cotik is a professor on the music faculty of Portland State University. One of the cool things that is doing is a concert and CD presentation in which the proceeds will help to fund a scholarship for string students at the university.

Today's Birthdays

Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838)
Dag Wirén (1905-1985)
Harold Blumenfeld (1923-2014)
Karl Richter (1926-1981)
Barry McGuire (1935)
Suzanne Murphy (1941)
Peter Phillips (1953)


Virgil (70 B.C.E.- 19 B.C.E.)
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
Friedrich Nietzsche, (1844-1900)
P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)
Varian Fry (1907-1967)
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007)
Italo Calvino (1923-1985)
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Zimlinsky (1871-1942)
Gary Graffman (1928)
Rafael Puyana (1931-2013)
Enrico di Giuseppe (1932-2005)
La Monte (Thorton) Young (1935)
Sir Cliff Richard (1940)
Kaija Saariaho (1952)


Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)
E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)
Katha Pollitt (1949)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Art Tatum (1910-1956)
Hugo Weisgall (1912-1997)
Gustav Winckler (1925-1979)
Paul Simon (1941)
Leona Mitchell (1949)
Kristine Ciesinski (1950)
Melvyn Tan (1956)
Mark Applebaum (1967)


Conrad Richter (1890-1968)
Arna Bontemps (1902-1973)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750)
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780)
Arthur Nikisch (1855-1922)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Carlos López Buchardo (1881-1948)
Gilda Dalla Rizza (1892-1975)
Erich Gruenberg (1924)
Pilar Lorengar (1938-1996)
Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)
Daryl Runswick (1946)
Penelope Walker (1956)
Chris Botti (1962)


Robert Fitzgerald (1910-1985)
Alice Childress (1916-1994)
Robert Coles (1929)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today's Birthdays

George Bridgetower (1780-1860)
Fernando De Lucia (1860-1925)
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
Albert Stoessel (1894-1943)
Eugene Weigel (1910-1998)
Art Blakey (1919-1990)
Ennio Morricone (1928)
David Rendall (1948)


Mason Locke Weems (1759-1825)
Eleanor Roosevelt (1883-1962)
Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)
Thich Nhat Hanh (1926)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Vernon Duke (1903-1969)
Paul Creston (1906-1985)
Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)
Gloria Coates (1938)
Sir Willard White (1946)
John Prine (1946)
Steve Martland (1959)
Evgeny Kissin (1971)


Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
Harold Pinter (1930-2008)

And from The Writer's Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the composer Vernon Duke, born Vladimir Dukelsky, in Parafianovo, Belarus (1903). He was a talented classical musician, educated at an elite conservatory, but his family fled Russia after the revolution and he wound up playing piano in cafés in Constantinople (now Istanbul). From there, his family rode steerage class on a ship to America, went through Ellis Island, and ended up in New York in 1921. There the teenage Dukelsky met George Gershwin, who was only a few years older, and the two became good friends. Dukelsky played Gershwin what he described as “an extremely cerebral piano sonata,” and Gershwin, who was also trained in classical music, suggested this: “There’s no money in that kind of stuff, and no heart in it, either. Try to write some real popular tunes — and don’t be scared about going low-brow. They will open you up.” He also suggested that Dukelsky shorten his name, as he himself had done — Gershowitz to Gershwin. So Vladimir Dukelsky came up with the name Vernon Duke, but he didn’t use it for a while.

First, he went to Paris. There, he met and impressed the great ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Dukelsky wrote later about their first meeting — that Diaghilev had drawled: “‘Ah, a good-looking boy. That in itself is most unusual. Composers are seldom good-looking; neither Stravinsky nor Prokofiev ever won any beauty prizes. How old are you?’ I told him I was 20. ‘That’s encouraging, too. I don’t like young men over 25.’” And so Diaghilev commissioned him to write a ballet, and he wrote Zephire et Flore, with sets by Georges Braque, choreography by Léonide Massine, and costumes by Coco Chanel. It got a great reception, and Dukelsky was taken in by the not-quite-as-good-looking Stravinsky and Prokofiev. For a few years he divided his time between Paris, where he continued to write classical music, and London, where he wrote show tunes and used the name Vernon Duke. Then in 1929, he decided to go back to America, and he wrote some of the biggest hits of the 1930s — “April in Paris” (1932), “Autumn in New York” (1934), “I Can’t Get Started” (1936), and “Taking a Chance on Love” (1940). And he wrote the music for the Broadway show and film Cabin in the Sky (1940). By that time, he had become an American citizen and officially changed his name to Vernon Duke.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954)
Carl Flesch (1873-1944)
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Roger Goeb (1914-1997)
Einojuhani Routavaara (1928-2016)
Alfons Kontarsky (1932-2010)
John Lennon (1940-1980)
Jackson Browne (1948)
Sally Burgess (1953)
Roberto Sierra (1953)


Ivo Andrić (1892-1975)
Bruce Catton (1899-1978)
Léopold (Sédar) Senghor (1906-2001)
Belva Plain (1915-2010)
Jill Ker Conway (1934)
James Howe McClure (1939-2006)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Will Vodery (1885-1951)
Paul V. Yoder (1908-1990)
James Sample (1910-1995)
Kurt Redel (1918-2013)
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)
Johnny Ramone (1948-2004)
Robert Saxton (1953)
Carl Vine (1954)
Tabea Zimmermann (1968)
Bruno Mantovani (1974)

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963)
Walter Lord (1917-2002)
Philip Booth (1925-2007)
R.L. Stine (1943)
Elizabeth Tallent (1954)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Billings (1746-1800)
Joe Hill (1879-1915)
Alfred Wallenstein (1898-1983)
Shura Cherkassky (1911-1995)
Charles Dutoit (1936)
John Mellencamp (1951)
Yo-Yo Ma (1955)
Li Yundi (1982)


James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
Helen Clark MacInnes (1907-1985)
Desmond Tutu, (1931)
Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) (1934-2014)
Thomas Keneally (1935)
Dianne Ackerman (1948)
Sherman Alexie (1966)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Bradbury (1816-1868)
Jenny Lind (1820-1887)
Julia Culp (1880-1970)
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Maria Jeritza (1887-1982)
Edwin Fischer (1886-1960)
Paul Badura-Skoda (1927)
Dennis Wicks (1928-2003)
Udo Zimmermann (1943)
Keith Lewis (1950)


Le Corbusier (1887-1965)
Caroline Gordon (1895-1981)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1600 that the opera Euridice was first performed, at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. It is the oldest surviving opera.

Euridice was performed for the wedding celebrations of Henry IV of France and Maria de' Medici. It was written by Jacopo Peri, a beloved composer and singer. He had already written Dafne a few years earlier, which is considered to be the first opera, but that music has been lost.

Euridice is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which the gifted musician Orpheus falls in love with the beautiful Eurydice, but just after their wedding she is bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus is heartbroken, and he journeys to the underworld, to Hades, to try to bring her back. He charms the king of the underworld, also named Hades, and his wife, Persephone, and they agree to return Eurydice to Orpheus on one condition: that he get all the way back to the upper world without looking back to see if Eurydice is following. He almost makes it, but right as he is walking out into the sunlight he turns back, and Eurydice is still in the underworld, so he loses her forever. Peri not only wrote the opera, but he sang the role of Orpheus. The climax of the opera came during "Funeste piagge," or "Funeral shores," when Orpheus begs Hades and Persephone to release his beloved.

Peri wrote a long preface to Euridice, in which he explained the new musical form he was working in, which we now call opera. He said that he was trying to write the way he imagined the Greeks would have, combing music and speech into the ultimate form of drama. One of the people who came to Florence to see Euridice was Vincenzo Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua. And he probably brought his servant, Claudio Monteverdi. A few years later, in 1607, Monteverdi premiered his first opera, L'Orfeo, which was also a retelling of the legend of Orpheus. Monteverdi elevated the opera form to new heights, and L'Orfeo is considered the first truly great opera, with all of the dramatic orchestration and lyrics that are so central to the drama.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Cyril Bradley Rootham (1875-1938)
Jürgen Jürgens (1925-1994)
John Downey (1927-2004)
Iwan Edwards (1937)
Ken Noda (1962)


Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
Helen Churchill Candee (1858-1949)
Flann O’Brien (1911-1966)
Václav Havel (1936-2011)
Edward P. Jones (1950)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958)
Maya Ying Lin (1959)

And from the Composers Datebook

On this day in 1930, The New York Philharmonic begins its famous series of weekly Sunday afternoon national broadcasts with a program from Carnegie Hall conducted by Erich Kleiber. The first-ever radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic had occurred on August 12, 1922, when a summer-time concert from Lewisohn Stadium conducted by Willem van Hoogstraten was relayed locally over WJZ in New York.

My note: Willem van Hoogstraten was the conductor of the Portland Symphony (former name of the Oregon Symphony) from 1925 to 1938.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dausgaard appointed as next music director of the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Times has reported that Thomas Dausgaard will succeed Ludovic Morlot as the music director of the Seattle Symphony. Dausgaard will take over in the fall of 2019 for a contract that runs four years. Dausgaard, age 54, has been the Seattle Symphony's principal guest conductor since 2014.

Today's Birthdays

Fanny Tacchinardi‑Persiani (1812-1867)
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994)
Alain Lombard (1940)
Richard Wilson (1941)
John Aler (1949)
Fransico Araiza (1950)
Marc Minkowski (1962)
David Dzubay (1964)


Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
Damon Runyan (1880-1946)
Buster Keaton (1895-1966)
Brenden Gill (1914-1997)
Jackie Collins (1937-2015) Roy Blount Jr. (1941) Anne Rice (1941)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1921, the American Academy in Rome awards American composer Leo Sowerby its first two-year composition fellowship. American composer Howard Hanson was awarded the second two-year composition fellowship on November 9, 1921. The third fellowship was awarded to Randall Thompson on June 6, 1922. The fellowship awards continue to this day

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Dauvergne (1713-1797)
Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)
Steve Reich (1936)


Emily Post (1873-1960)
Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)
Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993)
Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Akiko Meyers mesmerizes audience in season opener with the Vancouver Symphony

Anne Akiko Meyers delivered an exceptional performance of works by Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns at the Vancouver Symphony’s season opener. Her outstanding playing set the near-capacity audience at SkyView Concert Hall abuzz on Saturday afternoon (September 30), and there was quite a long line of patrons at intermission to get her autograph in the lobby where she amiably signed CDs and programs and took time to pose with her fans. They know that her performances of Ravel’s “Tzigane” and Saint-Saëns’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” would be something to remember for a long, long time.

One of the best things about VSO concerts are the big screens that provide a close-up view of the featured soloist. For both the Ravel and the Saint-Saëns, they gave concertgoers a fascinating look at Akiko Meyers fingers, which raced up and down her violin like a gazelle. She demonstrated an astonishing ability to pin-point just the right note no matter how fast the music went by.

But it wasn’t just the Olympian speed and technical challenges – double stops, rapid staccatos, glissandos, stratospheric high notes, and pizzicatos placed quickly between other notes – she did all of it with a superb artistic interpretation. She conveyed the emotional depths of “Tzigane” and the charming elegance and fire of the “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.” Her “Tzigane” plunged and soared, evoking the sorrows and joys of a gypsy. She commanded a marvelous palette of tones that ranged from edgy and almost gnawing to whispery light to full-bodied yet lyrical to clear as crystalline glass. Her flawless technique and artistry was just flat out mind boggling, and generated a genuine and heart-felt standing ovation from the audience.

While both the Ravel and Saint-Saëns had dance-like moments that Akiko Meyers brought out, the orchestra, under music director Salvador Brotons, extended the dance-theme in the second half of the concert with Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dances.” The full-ensemble showed lots of muscle and drive with the loud, dramatic sections. The softer passages worked well most of the time, allowing the lovely alto saxophone to shine in the first movement. The strings created a lush sound with concertmaster Eva Richey spinning a beautiful sound in the second, and the French horns added luster in the third. A little more tightening up with the dynamics and clearing up a couple of intonation problems in the woodwinds would have made the piece even more enjoyable.

Filling out the dance card on the concert program were two of Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dances.” The orchestra led off with the gentle and nostalgic No. 10 and then galloped ahead with the wild and carefree No. 1. Guided by Brotons, the musicians made the music swell and subside with grace in the No. 10, but the violins weren’t always together when they executed the light and fast jumps. The orchestra dove into the bold opening statement of No 1 with gusto and seemed to have fun doing it as well.

An added feature of the concert was a brief and violent rainstorm, which pounded the roof of the concert hall during part of first section of “Tzigane” while Meyers was mining the depths of the cadenza. But the pummeling sound didn’t deter her one bit, and she captivated the audience with her incisive playing. Also the harpist played her entry very well and the orchestra followed with sensitivity to accompany Meyers.

Today's Birthdays

Frantisek Tuma (1704-1774)
Henry Février (1875-1957)
Leroy Shield (1893-1962)
Francis Jackson (1917)
Mary Jeanne van Appledorn (1927-2014)
Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)
Michel Plasson (1933)
Phill Niblock (1933)
Peter Frankl (1935)
Ton Koopman (1944)
Jonathan Summers (1946)


Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948)
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Groucho Marx (1890-1977)
Graham Greene (1904-1991)
Jan Morris (1926)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Today's Birthdays

J. Friedrich Eduard Sobolewski (1808-1872)
Henry Clay Work (1832-1884)
Paul Dukas (1865-1935)
Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1989)
Sylvano Bussotti (1931)


Jimmy Carter (1924)
Tim O'Brien (1946)

and from the Composers Datebook:

This day in 1924 marked the opening of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, funded by a gift of $12.5 million from the American patroness Mary Louise Curtis Bok, who had inherited her fortune from the Curtis Publishing Company. The faculty, providing instruction for 203 students, includes Leopold Stokowski and Josef Hofmann heading conducting and piano departments, respectively. Polish-born coloratura Marcella Sembrich. Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch. French-born harpist/composer Carlos Salzedo. and Italian composer Rosario Scalero.