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Napoleon may have ceased to be Beethoven’s hero, but the composer and his imposing Eroica Symphony have a heroism of their own.
The riot that took place at The Rite of Spring premiere in Paris is almost as notorious as the work itself. Stravinsky set the stage for scandal....
Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo isn’t the first opera. But it’s remarkably close.
“I dedicate my last work to the majesty of all majesties, the beloved God, and hope that he will give me so much time to complete the same,” he is alleged to have said.
Certain facts speak for themselves when it comes to the premiere...
Full of Christmas cheer, Brahms wrote to Clara Schumann in December 1857:
“As obscure as it is strange,” was how Mozart’s first biographer, Franz Xaver Niemetschek, described the story of his Requiem in 1798.
Strauss’s opera Salome scandalized the musical world in 1905—and again in May 1906, when, as Ross vividly describes, the Austrian premiere in Graz drew together an astonishing array of musical luminaries, from Mahler to Schoenberg to Puccini. “Like a flash of lightning,” Ross writes, “it illuminated a musical world on the verge of traumatic change. Past and future were colliding; centuries were passing in the night.”
Hugely renowned in his native Europe, the young Béla Bartók can hardly have imagined that he would receive perhaps the most important commission of his life while languishing with an unknown disease on a hospital bed in New York, after several barren years. But the final chapter in Bartók’s life story was full of surprises.
Benjamin Britten was born on November 22, 1913—St Cecilia’s Day, the patron saint of music—in Lowestoft, Suffolk, overlooking the English east coast. Music and the English coast were the forces that would shape his life. These twin influences were combined in perhaps the most profound way a full century after Britten’s birth.
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