Monday, November 20, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Daniel Gregory Mason (1873-1953)
René Kolo (1937)
Gary Karr (1941)
Meredith Monk (1942)
Phillip Kent Bimstein (1947)
Barbara Hendricks (1948)

and

Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)
Maya Plisetskaya (1925-2015)
R.W. Apple Jr. (1934-2006)
Don DeLillo, (1936)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1805, Beethoven's opera "Fidelio" (1st version, with the "Leonore" Overture No. 2) was premiered in Vienna at the Theater an der Wien.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663-1712)
Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935)
Jean‑Yves Daniel‑Lesur (1908-2002)
Géza Anda (1921-1976)
Maralin Niska (1926-2010)
David Lloyd-Jones (1934)
Agnes Baltsa (1944)
Ross Bauer (1951)

and

Allen Tate (1899-1979)
Sharon Olds (1942)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was four and a half months after the devastating battle, and it was a foggy, cold morning. Lincoln arrived about 10 a.m. Around noon, the sun came out as the crowds gathered on a hill overlooking the battlefield. A military band played, a local preacher offered a long prayer, and the headlining orator, Edward Everett, spoke for more than two hours. Everett described the Battle of Gettysburg in great detail, and he brought the audience to tears more than once. When Everett finished, Lincoln spoke.

Now considered one of the greatest speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address ran for just over two minutes, fewer than 300 words, and only 10 sentences. It was so brief, in fact, that many of the 15,000 people that attended the ceremony didn't even realize that the president had spoken, because a photographer setting up his camera had momentarily distracted them. The next day, Everett told Lincoln, "I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."

There are several versions of the speech, and five different manuscript copies; they're all slightly different, so there's some argument about which is the "authentic" version. Lincoln gave copies to both of his private secretaries, and the other three versions were re-written by the president some time after he made the speech. The Bliss Copy, named for Colonel Alexander Bliss, is the only copy that was signed and dated by Lincoln, and it's generally accepted as the official version for that reason.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Todays Birthdays

Jean‑Baptiste Loeillet (1680-1730)
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (1836-1911)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941)
Amelita Galli‑Curci (1882-1963)
Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985)
Lillian Fuchs (1901-1995)
Compay Segundo (1907-2003)
Johnny Mercer (1909-1976)
Don Cherry (1936-1995)
Heinrich Schiff (1951)
Bernard d'Ascoli (1958)

and

Louis Daguerre (1787-1851)
Asa Gray (1810-)
W.S (William Schwenck) Gilbert (1836-1911)
George Gallup (1901-1984)
Margaret Atwood (1939)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1928, Mickey Mouse debuts in "Steamboat Willie," in New York. This was the first animated cartoon with synchronized pre-recorded sound effects and music -- the latter provided by organist and composer Carl Stalling of Kansas City. Stalling would later provide memorial music for many classic Warner Brothers cartoons.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Portland Youth Philharmonic uncorks 94th season with terrific opening concert

Works by Beethoven, Chopin, and Dvořák received polished performances by the Portland Youth Philharmonic, which opened its 94th season on Saturday evening (November 11) to a fairly large audience at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. While the spotlight fell on Natalie Tan, who played Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto with grace and élan, the orchestra under music director David Hattner excelled with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Dvořák’s “Hussite Overture.”

It was interesting to find out that this was the first time that the PYP had performed Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, one of the most popular in the repertoire. The program notes suggested that the concerto’s heavy emphasis on the piano and its relatively light orchestration might have been the reason for the delay. In any case, Tan, winner of the 2016-2017 PYP Piano Concerto Competition, tossed off numerous runs and beautiful melodies with a keen sense for color and line. In her hands, the keyboard sang with a bel canto flourish, and the mazurka in the finale sparkled. Her artistry, aided by wonderfully sensitive accompaniment from the orchestra, swept up the listeners so much that vigorously applauded at the end of each movement. At least three bouquets were given to Tan after the piece ended.

Hattner and his forces held absolutely nothing back in its performance of Beethoven’s Fifth. They got off to a quick start that featured sharp and pinpoint attacks. Within a few bars, the musicians were rocking and rolling with the piece, and electrified the audience. The strings – including the large cello section – deftly negotiated a number of wickedly fast passages with remarkable panache! A couple of listeners in front of me had never heard the PYP before and just couldn’t believe that a youth orchestra could play so well. They were among the first people to jump out of the seats and applaud and cheer. Although there were some missed notes, the performance was exceptional for its power and energy. Playing by the principal oboist and clarinetist and the French horns highlighted the performance.

With its first-ever performance of Dvořák’s “Hussite Overture,” the orchestra also delivered a committed and thoroughly engaging performance. The stately hymn established by the woodwinds and strings was supported solidly by the French horns. Outstanding dynamic contrasts with crescendos and decrescendos coupled with a crisp series of sforzandos and a quickening pace turned the piece in an exciting Bohemian barnburner.

The concert featured a different timpanist for each piece. Each player had a different style that was fun to watch, and each of them contributed outstandingly. In general, all of the musicians played at the very high level that Hattner demanded, which made the concert a joy to hear.

Today's Birthdays

Ernest Lough (1911-2000)
Hershy Kay (1919-1981)
Leonid Kogan (1924-1982)
Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010)
David Amram (1930)
Gene Clark (1941-1991)
Philip Picket (1950)
Philip Grange (1956)

and

Shelby Foote (1916-2006)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831)
Alfred Hill (1869-1960)
W. C. Handy (1873-1958)
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)
Burnet Tuthill (1888-1982)
Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960)
Earl Wild (1915-2010)
David Wilson-Johnson (1950)
Donald Runnicles (1954)

and

George S. Kaufman (1889-1961)
José Saramago (1922-2010)
Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Andrea Barrett (1954)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sir William Herschel (1738-1822)
Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1905-1980)
Petula Clark (1932)
Peter Dickinson (1934)
Daniel Barenboim (1942)
Pierre Jalbert (1967)

and

Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946)
Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960)
Georgia O'Keefe (1887-1986)
Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1926, the first broadcast of a music program took place on the NBC radio network, featuring the New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, the New York Oratorio Society, and the Goldman Band, with vocal soloists Mary Garden and Tito Ruffo, and pianist Harold Bauer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)
Fanny Hensel (1805-1847)
Rev. John Curwen (1816-1880)
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Leonie Rysanek (1926-1998)
Jorge Bolet (1914-1990)
Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)
Robert Lurtsema (1931-2000)
Peter Katin (1930-2015)
Ellis Marsalis (1934)
William Averitt (1948)

and

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002)
William Steig (1907-2003)