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Happy Birthday, Vladimir Horowitz!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | history

Vladimir Horowitz

 

 

Destined to become one of the world’s greatest pianists, Vladimir Horowitz was born in 1903 in Kiev, Russia. While most young children were playing games, Vladimir was playing with the ivories. His time was well spent as he was fully capable of performing publicly by the time he was sixteen.

Within four years, the young piano virtuoso was entertaining audiences at recitals throughout Leningrad - 23 performances in one year, where he played over 200 different works of music, never repeating a composition. After Leningrad, Horowitz played in concerts in Berlin, Hamburg and Paris.

In 1928, the Russian pianist traveled to the United States to play with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Arturo Toscanini chose Horowitz to perform his first solo with the New York Philharmonic. It was there that Horowitz met his bride-to-be, Toscanini’s daughter, Wanda. The two were wed in Milan in 1933. New York became Horowitz’ permanent home in 1940. He became a U.S. citizen a few years later, devoting the rest of his career to benefit performances, and helping young, aspiring artists.

His return to the concert stage in May of 1965 was a triumphant success, as was his television recital, Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall.

Just three years before his death, Vladimir Horowitz returned to his homeland to perform once again for the Russian people on April 20, 1986. They felt he had been away far too long ... close to sixty years.

     Horowitz's birthday

     anniversary of Horowitz's death

     History of the Piano

     News Item including Horowitz

 


Even JS Bach Celebrated International Coffee Day!

Sunday, September 29, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | history

  bach-coffee

 

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was also apparently a coffee enthusiast. So much so that he wrote a composition about the beverage. Although known mostly for his liturgical music, his Coffee Cantata (AKA Schweigt stille , plaudert nicht , BWV 211) is a rare example of a secular work by the composer. The short comic opera was written (circa 1735) for a musical ensemble called The Collegium Musicum based in a storied Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, Germany. The whole cantata seems very much to have been written with the local audience in mind.

Coffee Cantata is about a young vivacious woman named Aria who loves coffee. Her killjoy father is, of course, dead set against his daughter having any kind of caffeinated fun. So he tries to ban her from the drink. Aria bitterly complains:

Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I couldn’t, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriveled-up roast goat.

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

The copywriters at Starbucks marketing department couldn’t have written it any better. Eventually, daughter and father reconcile when he agrees to have a guaranteed three cups of coffee a day written into her marriage contract.

 


 

 

Happy Birthday, Clara Schumann

Friday, September 13, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | history

cschumann

 

Clara Schumann (1819-96) was much more than the wife of composer Robert Schumann. She was, quite simply, one of the greatest pianists of all time. A child prodigy, her technique and musicianship as a mature artist led to her being regarded as the equal of giants of the keyboard such a Franz Liszt, Sigismond Thalberg and Anton Rubinstein.

And from her girlhood until the end of her marriage she composed wonderful music, mostly solo piano music, but other works as well, including a concerto, a large number of songs and a sublime piano trio.

In her later years, she was an internationally famous teacher, and her performing career lasted more than six decades. She was, quite simply, a phenomenon.