Friday, September 10, 2010

The Music of 1905!

One hundred years ago, in the U.S., competitions in Ragtime were held, at which the awards reached unimaginable sums of twenty-five thousand dollars.

If it is quite certain that most people now listen to dance, pop, rap, techno, house, hip-hop ... and folk music, then maybe there are those who asked themselves what was going on concert stages around the world before exactly hundred….and five years ago.

It is clear that the so-called serious or classical music, is backed-up with most data at the beginning of last century, but that doesn’t mean that it was and the most popular... Indeed, the pianist Arthur Rubinstein was at the time greeted with ovations wherever he held a concert...however, he was heard only by "selected" audience.

Franz Lehar
However, even among composers of classical music there were those who sought true hits. One of them was Ferenc, known as Franz Lehar (1870-1948), Austrian composer of Hungarian origin. This military conductor was thirty-five years old, when he, in the Austrian capital, in late 1905, for the first time staged his operetta "The Merry Widow" ( Die lustige Witwe). The success was great, and it seems that the popularity of "Merry Widow" is not abating even after a hundred years.

Almost at the same time, Lehar’s countryman, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911, wrote the Seventh Symphony, and the German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949) musical drama, "Salome", drawing inspiration from the text of the same name by Oscar Wilde.

Ottorino Respighi
Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) was twenty-six years old in 1905. He finished his viola and composition studies, and was concertmaster of the orchestra from Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg and he also performed in concerts, playing violin. That year he wrote a comic opera “King Enzo” (Re Enzo), very popular at that time, Nocturne for Orchestra and the Suite in G major for string orchestra and organ.

The famous Hungarian composer Bela Bartok was young then. He was only twenty-four years old and just wrote the First and Second suite for orchestra. One year younger then him was Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). According to his parent’s wish, in1905 he finished law school in St. Petersburg, but every day, he visited the composer Rimsky-Korsakov, his personal composition teacher. Hundred and five years ago Stravinsky wrote his first symphony in E minor.

French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) published his first book of compositions for piano "Images"( Images pour piano), and Pietro Mascagni – his opera "Amica.".

On the other side of the Atlantic, America was hit with fever of cheerful music for piano - ragtime. Clearly dominating the popular music of America at that time, ragtime was associated with the game, which was named Cakewalk. The father of ragtime was a poor pianist Scott Joplin (1868-1917).

One hundred and five years ago, in the U.S., competitions in Ragtime were held, at which the awards reached unimaginable sum of twenty-five thousand dollars. Schools of Ragtime were opening, and many manuals for ragtime were published.

This music wave eventually came to Europe and the above mentioned composers began to insert ragtime themes in their work...

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