Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
May 18
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1733 - Death of German composer Georg Böhm in Luneburg.

- Death of Italian composer and violinist Maddalena Lombardi Sirmen in Venice.

- First performance of Anton Bruckner's String Quintet in F.

- Singer Perry Como was born.

- British ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn was born.

- Singer Albert Hammond (It Never Rains In Southern California) was born.

- Cathy's Clown, by the Everly Brothers, hits #1.

- Get Back, by the Beatles, hits #1.

- First performance of John Harbison's Viola Concerto.

2002 - Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Austrian violinist, died in Vienna. He became a concert master at 17 and played with orchestras across Europe.
Gustav Mahler was born July 7, 1860 in Kaliste, Bohemia (today the Czech Republic). His father was a merchant. His mother suffered from heart disease. Mahler was very deeply devoted his mother. Several of his siblings did not survive, including his favorite brother Ernst who died in 1874. Only his sister Justine (who married Arnold Rosé, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic) remained close to Mahler in adulthood.
Mahler’s musical talent was apparent at age 4. He took piano lessons, loved folk songs and military bands, and began composing before he entered high school. He gave his first piano recital at age 10, was sent to Prague for advanced piano instruction at 11, and entered the Vienna Conservatory at 15.  Among his teachers was Anton Bruckner.

Mahler enrolled in the University of Vienna in 1877, to study philosophy, literature and music. By the time he left the Conservatory in 1881 he had already begun a conducting career, his first step to international fame as a performing artist.

Mahler rose through conducting posts in small towns to opera and symphony directorships in Kassel, Prague, Leipzig, Budapest and Hamburg. In 1887 he met Richard Strauss, who became a lifelong friend.  In 1888 Mahler wrote parts of his song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, based on poems by Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim.  He also completed his Symphony No. 1 (“The Titan”).

Mahler conducted Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen and Tristan und Isolde in 1892, and received rave reviews in London.  Besides opera, he also conducted concerts, and was  recognized for novel interpretations of Beethoven symphonies.  His Symphony No. 2 appeared in 1895.

Mahler was appointed conductor of the Vienna Court Opera on June 1, 1897, and took on the Vienna Philharmonic a year later.  He stayed with the Philharmonic until 1901, but remained in Vienna until 1907.

While he was in Vienna, the city once more became the musical capital of central Europe.  Much of this was due to Mahler's charisma. musical passion, and drive. Although he ruled his orchestra with an iron glove, he was kind and often quite introspective. Mahler read fiction, poetry and philosophical texts. He was highly educated and driven by great intellectual curiosity. In 1891/93 he wrote the orchestral version of his earlier Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer).

Reactions were mixed, but he received some recognition after the successful premiere of the Second Symphony, and his works were performed more often.

During his amazingly productive middle creative period, Mahler composed two song cycles, the Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) and the Fünf Lieder nach Rückert (Five Songs after Rückert), both based on poems by Friedrich Rückert several symphonies.

The Metropolitan Opera, in New York, engaged Mahler for a series of performances.  It opened with Tristan on January 1, 1908.  In 1909, Mahler resigened from the Metropolitan and  accepted  the position of conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mahler made his debut with the New York Philharmonic February 14, 1911.  Shortly after that he fell ill with an infection which led to bacterial endocarditis.  He went to Paris for treatment, then to Vienna, but was never successfully treated.  Gustav Mahler died shortly before midnight on May 18, 1911.
Gustav Mahler
May 18, 1950 is the date of the premiere of Lukas Foss's opera The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  It was based on a famous short story written in 1865.  Can You Guess who wrote the story?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is the title most of us know the story by.  The first time it was published it was called Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.  It was written by Mark Twain.
Read the story by clicking

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olor clues?
Mahler conducted by Bernstein
Bernstein's masterful conducting of Mahler's Symphony # 6
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