On 31 May 1852, at the Philharmonic society of London, Joseph Joachim gave the first performance of his Fantasia on Scottish Airs. That concert also included Mendelssohn’s violin concerto, but the reviewer wasn’t impressed, “Herr Joachim’s playing of Mendelssohn’s concerto, [...] more >>
What do you get when you mix religiosity with sexual passion? Audiences got the answer on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. It was on that date that Pietro Mascagni’s one-act melodrama Cavalleria Rusticana saw its official [...] more >>
It’s not an exaggeration to declare that the Mason family decidedly and uniquely contributed to American music during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The patriarch Lowell Mason (1792-1872) was a significant composer of church music, including many original hymns. [...] more >>
Have you ever thought about writing a full-fledged piano concerto in a little less than 3 week? For most of us, this seems an almost impossible task, but it was not a problem for Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921). You see, Anton [...] more >>
In 1920, Mildred Barnes and Robert Woods Bliss acquired a historic estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., which they eventually named Dumbarton Oaks. They engaged an architect to renovate and enlarge the house, and designed a series of [...] more >>
During the final stages of putting the finishing touches on his 9th symphony, Beethoven was adamant that it should be premiered in Berlin. For years, Beethoven had lamented the changing musical taste of Viennese audiences, who numerously flocked to see [...] more >>
Francis Poulenc first met Wanda Landowska at a private performance of Falla’s El Retablo de Maese Pedro in June 1923. On that occasion, Landowska requested concertos from both composers, and Falla’s effort premiered on 5 November 1926 in Barcelona. Poulenc, [...] more >>
The trouble is that what most people know about the composer Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) is about how he died, rather much about his music. And even the story about his death isn’t true.