Josef Suk

Composer: Josef Suk
Date of Birth:  04 January 1874
Date of Death: 29 May 1935
Nationality: Czech
Period/Era/Style: Romantic / 20th century
Contribution(s):  Suk was a Czech composer and violinist. He studied under Antonín Dvořák, whose daughter he married.

Biography: From a young age, Josef Suk (born in KřečoviceBohemia) was deeply involved and well-trained in music. He learned organ, violin, and piano from his father, Josef Suk senior, and was trained further in violin by the Czech violinist Antonín Bennewitz. His theory studies were conducted with several other composers including Josef Bohuslav Foerster, Karel Knittl, and Karel Stecker. He later focused his writing on chamber works under the teachings of Hanuš Wihan. Despite extensive musical training, his musical skill was often said to be largely inherited. Though he continued his lessons with Wihan another year after the completion of his schooling, Suk’s greatest inspiration came from another of his teachers, Czech composer Antonín Dvořák.

Known as one of Dvořák’s favorite pupils, Suk also became personally close to his mentor. Underlying this was Dvořák’s respect for Suk, reflected in Suk’s 1898 marriage to Dvořák’s daughter, Otilie, marking some of the happiest times in the composer’s life and music. However, the last portion of Suk’s life was punctuated with tragedy. Over the span of 14 months around 1905, not only did Suk’s mentor Dvořák die, but so did Otilie. These events inspired Suk’s Asrael Symphony.

Because of a shared heritage — and the coincidence of their dying within a few months of one another — Suk has been closely compared, in works and style, to fellow Czech composer Otakar Ostrčil. Suk, alongside Vitezslav Novak and Ostrčil, is considered one of the leading composers in Czech Modernism, with much shared influence among the three coming in turn from Dvořák.[8]Eminent German figures such as composer Johannes Brahms and critic Eduard Hanslick recognized Suk’s work during his time with the Czech Quartet. Over time, well known Austrian composers such as Gustav Mahler and Alban Berg also began to take notice of Suk and his work.

Although he wrote mostly instrumental music, Suk occasionally branched out into other genres. Orchestral music was his strong suit, notably the Serenade for Strings, Op. 6 (1892). His time with the Czech Quartet, though performing successful concerts until his retirement, was not always met with public approval. Several anti-Dvořák campaigns came into prominence; criticism not only being directed at the quartet, but towards Suk specifically. The leftist critic Zdeněk Nejedlý accused the Czech Quartet of inappropriately playing concerts in the Czech lands during World War I. While these attacks diminished Suk’s spirits, they did not hinder his work. Suk retired in 1933, although he continued to be a valuable and inspirational public figure to the Czechs.

Josef Suk died on May 29, 1935, in BenešovCzechoslovakia. He is the grandfather of famed Czech violinist Josef Suk.

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Mily Balakirev

Composer: Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev
Date of Birth: 02 January 1837 [O.S. 21 December 1836] [see more about old style (O.S.) and new style dating HERE ]
Date of Death: 29 May [O.S. 16 May] 1910
Nationality: Russian
Period/Era/Style: Middle Romantic-era
Contribution(s): Balakirev was a Russian pianistconductor and composer known today primarily for his work promoting musical nationalism and his encouragement of more famous Russian composers, notably Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He began his career as a pivotal figure, extending the fusion of traditional folk music and experimental classical music practices begun by composer Mikhail Glinka. In the process, Balakirev developed musical patterns that could express overt nationalistic feeling. After a nervous breakdown and consequential sabbatical, he returned to classical music but did not wield the same level of influence as before.

In conjunction with critic and fellow nationalist Vladimir Stasov, in the late-1850s and early 1860s Balakirev brought together the composers now known as The Five—the others were Alexander BorodinCésar CuiModest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. For several years, Balakirev was the only professional musician of the group; the others were amateurs limited in musical education. He imparted to them his musical beliefs, which continued to underlie their thinking long after he left the group in 1871, and encouraged their compositional efforts. While his methods could be dictatorial, the results of his influence were several works which established these composers’ reputations individually and as a group. He performed a similar function for Tchaikovsky at two points in the latter’s career—in 1868–9 with the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet and in 1882–5 with the Manfred Symphony.

As a composer, Balakirev finished major works many years after he had started them; he began his First Symphony in 1864 but completed it in 1897. The exception to this was his oriental fantasy Islamey for solo piano, which he composed quickly and remains popular among virtuosos. Often, the musical ideas normally associated with Rimsky-Korsakov or Borodin originated in Balakirev’s compositions, which Balakirev played at informal gatherings of The Five. However, his slow pace in completing works for the public deprived him of credit for his inventiveness, and pieces that would have enjoyed success had they been completed in the 1860s and 1870s made a much smaller impact

Biography: Life:  Early years   |   The Five   |   Saint Petersburg Conservatory and Free School of Music   |   Mature works and Prague visit   |   Waning influence and friendship with Tchaikovsky   |   Breakdown and return to music   |   Personal life   |   Music: Influences   |   Russian style: The Overtures   |   Progressive development: First Symphony   |   Orientalism: Tamara   |

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Anton Rubinstein

Composer: Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein
Date of Birth: November 28 [O.S. November 16] 1829
Date of Death: November 20 [O.S. November 8] 1894
Nationality: Russian
Period/Era/Style: Middle Romantic
Contribution(s): Rubinstein was a Russian pianist, composer and conductor who became a pivotal figure in Russian culture when he founded the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. He was the elder brother of Nikolai Rubinstein who founded the Moscow Conservatory. As a pianist, Rubinstein ranks among the great 19th-century keyboard virtuosos. He became most famous for his series of historical recitals—seven enormous, consecutive concerts covering the history of piano music. Rubinstein played this series throughout Russia and Eastern Europe and in the United States when he toured there.
Although best remembered as a pianist and educator (most notably in the latter as the composition teacher of Tchaikovsky), Rubinstein was also a prolific composer throughout much of his life. He wrote 20 operas, the best known of which is The Demon. He composed a large number of other works, including five piano concertos, six symphonies and a large number of solo piano works along with a substantial output of works for chamber ensemble.

Biography:  Early life and education   |   Travel and performance   |   Berlin   |   Back to Russia   |    Abroad once more   |   Opening the St. Petersburg Conservatory   |   The American tour   |   Later life   |   Pianism   |   “Van II”   |   Technique   |   Tone   |   Programs   |   Rachmaninoff on Rubinstein

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Manuel de Falla

Composer: Manuel de Falla y Matheu
Date of Birth: 23 November 1876
Date of Death: 14 November 1946
Nationality: Spanish
Period/Era/Style: Romantic-era/20th-century transition
Contribution(s): Falla was a Spanish composer best known for The Three-Cornered Hat. Along with Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados, he was one of Spain’s most important musicians of the first half of the 20th century. His image appeared on Spain’s 1970 100-pesetas banknote.

Biography: Falla was born Manuel María de los Dolores Falla y Matheu in Cádiz. He was the son of José María Falla, a Valencian, and María Jesús Matheu, from Catalonia (Hess 2001a).

In 1889 he continued his piano lessons with Alejandro Odero and learned the techniques of harmony and counterpoint from Enrique Broca. At age 15 he became interested in literature and journalism and founded the literary magazines El Burlón and El Cascabel.

More on Wikipedia:    Madrid  |   Paris   |   Return to Madrid   |   Granada period   |   Argentina   |   Works   |   Honours

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Daniel Gregory Mason

Composer: Daniel Gregory Mason
Date of Birth: November 20, 1873
Date of Death: December 4, 1953
Nationality: American
Period/Era/Style: Romantic-era/20th-century
Contribution(s):  Mason was an American composer and music critic.

Biography: Mason was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He came from a long line of notable American musicians, including his father Henry Mason, and his grandfather Lowell Mason. His cousin, John B. Mason, was a popular actor on the American and British stage. Daniel Mason studied under John Knowles Paine at Harvard University from 1891 to 1895, continuing his studies with George Chadwick and Percy Goetschius. He also studied with Arthur Whiting and later wrote a biographical journal article about him.[1] In 1894 he published his Opus 1, a set of keyboard waltzes, but soon after began writing about music as his primary career. He became a lecturer at Columbia University in 1905, where he would remain until his retirement in 1942, successively being awarded the positions of assistant professor (1910), MacDowell professor (1929) and head of the music department (1929-1940). He was elected a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the national fraternity for men in music, in 1914 by the Fraternity’s Alpha Chapter at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

After 1907, Mason began devoting significant time to composition, studying with Vincent D’Indy in Paris in 1913, garnering numerous honorary doctorates and winning prizes from the Society for the Publication of American Music and the Juilliard Foundation.

He died in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Style: Mason’s compositional idiom was thoroughly romantic. He deeply admired and respected the Austro-Germanic canon of the nineteenth century, especially Brahms; despite studying under D’Indy, he disliked impressionism and utterly disregarded the modernist musical movements of the 20th century. Mason sought to increase respect for American music, sometimes incorporating indigenous and popular motifs (such as popular songs or Negro spirituals) into his scores or evoking them through suggestive titles, though he was not a thorough-going nationalist. He was a fastidious composer who repeatedly revised his scores (the manuscripts of which are now held at Columbia).

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Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov

Composer full Name: Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov
Date of Birth: 19 November [O.S. 7 November] 1859
Date of Death: 28 January 1935
Nationality: Russian
Period/Era/Style: Late Romantic
Contribution(s): Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov was a Russian composer, conductor and teacher.
Biography: He was born in 1859 at Gatchina, near St. Petersburg, where his father was a mechanic employed at the palace. His birth name was Mikhail Mikhailovich Ivanov; later he added Ippolitov, his mother’s maiden name, to distinguish himself from a music critic with a similar surname. He studied music at home and was a choirboy at the cathedral of St. Isaac, where he also had musical instruction, before entering the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1875. In 1882 he completed his studies as a composition pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, whose influence was to remain strong.

Ippolitov-Ivanov’s first appointment was to the position of director of the music academy and conductor of the orchestra in Tbilisi (Tiflis), the principal city of Georgia, where he was to spend the next seven years. This period allowed him to develop an interest in the music of the region, a reflection of the general interest taken in the music of non-Slav minorities and more exotic neighbours that was current at the time, and that was to receive overt official encouragement for other reasons after the Revolution. One of his notable pupils in Tbilisi was conductor Edouard Grikurov.

On 1 May 1886, in Tbilisi, he conducted the premiere of the third and final version of Tchaikovsky‘s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasia.

In 1893 Ippolitov-Ivanov became a professor at the Conservatory in Moscow, of which he was director from 1905 until 1924. He served as conductor for the Russian Choral Society, the Mamontov and Zimin Opera companies and, after 1925, the Bolshoi Theatre, and was known as a contributor to broadcasting and to musical journalism.

Politically, Ippolitov-Ivanov retained a measure of independence. He was president of the Society of Writers and Composers in 1922, but took no part in the quarrels between musicians concerned either to encourage new developments in music or to foster a form of proletarian art. His own style had been formed in the 1880s under Rimsky-Korsakov, and to this he added a similar interest in folk-music, particularly the music of Georgia, where he returned in 1924 to spend a year reorganizing the Conservatory in Tbilisi. He died in Moscow in 1935.

His pupils included Reinhold Glière and Sergei Vasilenko.

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Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel

Composer: Fanny Mendelssohn, Fanny [Cäcilie] Mendelssohn Bartholdy and, after her marriage, Fanny Hensel
Date of Birth: 14 November 1805
Date of Death: 14 May 1847
Nationality: German
Period/Era/Style: Early Romantic-era
Contribution(s): Fanny Mendelssohn was a German pianist and composer. She composed over 460 pieces of music. Her compositions include a piano trio and several books of solo piano pieces and songs. A number of her songs were originally published under her brother, Felix Mendelssohn’s, name in his opus 8 and 9 collections. Her piano works are often in the manner of songs, and many carry the name Lied ohne Worte (Song without Words). She also wrote, amongst other works for the piano, a cycle of pieces depicting the months of the year, Das Jahr (“The Year”). The music was written on coloured sheets of paper, and illustrated by her husband Wilhelm Hensel. Each piece was also accompanied by a short poem.

Biography: Life   |   Music   |   Grandchildren

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George Whitefield Chadwick

Composer: George Whitefield Chadwick
Date of Birth: November 13, 1854
Date of Death: April 4, 1931
Nationality: American
Period/Era/Style: Late Romantic-era
Contribution(s): Chadwick was an American composer. Along with Horatio Parker, Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, and Edward MacDowell, he was a representative composer of what is called the Second New England School of American composers of the late 19th century—the generation before Charles Ives. Chadwick’s works are influenced by the Realist movement in the arts, characterized by a down-to-earth depiction of people’s lives. Many consider his music to portray a distinctively American style. His works included several operas, three symphonies, five string quartets, tone poems, incidental music, songs and choral anthems. Along with a group of other composers collectively known as the Boston Six, Chadwick was one of those responsible for the first significant body of concert music by composers from the United States. The other five were Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker.

Biography:  Early life   |   Works, career, and influences   |   Student days   |   Return to Boston   |   Involvement with Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity   |   Music   |   The formative period (1879–1894)   |   The Americanism/Modernism period (1895–1909)   |    The dramatic period (1910–1918)   |   The reflective years (1919–1931)   |   Music theory

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Moritz Moszkowski

Composer: Moritz (Maurice) Moszkowski
Date of Birth: 23 August 1854
Date of Death: 4 March 1925
Nationality:  German-Jewish
Period/Era/Style: Late Romantic-era
Contribution(s):  Moszkowski was a German-Jewish composer, pianist, and teacher of Polish descent on his paternal side. His brother Alexander Moszkowski was a famous writer and satirist in Berlin.
Ignacy Paderewski said: “After Chopin, Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano, and his writing embraces the whole gamut of piano technique.” Although less known today, Moszkowski was well respected and popular during the late nineteenth century.

Composer Bio: He was born in Breslau, Prussia (now the Polish city of Wrocław), into a wealthy Polish-Jewish family whose parents had come to Breslau from Pilica, near Zawiercie, in 1854. He was an ardent Jew at a time when many Jews downplayed their Jewishness. He showed early talent from a very tender age, beginning his musical training at home until 1865, when his family moved to Dresden. There he continued his piano studies at the conservatory. He moved to Berlin in 1869 to continue his studies first at the Julius Stern’s Conservatory, where he studied piano with Eduard Franck and composition with Friedrich Kiel, and then at Theodor Kullak’s Neue Akademie der Tonkunst, where he studied composition with Richard Wüerst and orchestration with Heinrich Dorn. There he became close friends with the Scharwenka brothers, Xaver and Philipp. In 1871 he accepted Kullak’s offer to become a teacher in his academy; as he was also a more than competent violinist, he sometimes played first violin in the orchestra.

In 1873 Moszkowski made his first successful appearance as a pianist, and soon began touring the nearby cities in order to gain experience and establish his reputation. Two years later he was already playing his piano concerto on two pianos with Franz Liszt at a matineé before a selected audience invited by Liszt himself.

Retaining his post as a teacher at the Berlin conservatory from 1875 he had among his pupils Frank Damrosch, Joaquín Nin, Ernest Schelling, Joaquín Turina, Carl Lachmund, Bernhard Pollack, Ernst Jonas, Wilhelm Sachs, Helene von Schack, Albert Ulrich and Johanna Wenzel. Moszkowski then travelled successfully throughout Europe under the reputation of being an exceptional concert pianist and brilliant composer, having also gained some recognition as a conductor. In 1884 Moszkowski married the younger sister of pianist and composer Cécile Chaminade, Henriette Chaminade, with whom he had a son named Marcel and a daughter named Sylvia. By the mid-1880s, Moszkowski began suffering from a neurological problem in his arm and gradually diminished his recital activity in favor of composing, teaching and conducting. In 1887 he was invited to London where he had the chance to introduce many of his orchestral pieces. There he was awarded honorary membership by the Royal Philharmonic Society. Three years later his wife left him for the poet Ludwig Fulda and a divorce was issued two years later.

In 1897, famous and wealthy, Moszkowski moved to Paris, where he lived on rue Blanche with his daughter.[n 4] In Paris he was frequently sought after as a teacher, and was always generous in investing his time on aspiring musicians. Among his Parisian students were Vlado Perlemuter, Thomas Beecham (who took private lessons in orchestration with him on the advice of André Messager in 1904), Josef Hofmann (of whom he claimed once that there was nothing anyone could teach him), Wanda Landowska, and, informally, Gaby Casadesus. In the summer he rented a villa near Montigny-sur-Loing owned by the French novelist and poet Henri Murger. In 1899 the Berlin Academy elected him a member. He was many times invited by piano manufacturers to appear in the United States to show off their pianos, but despite being offered massive fees, he always refused.

In 1908, by the age of 54, Moszkowski had already become a recluse as he began to suffer from poor health. His popularity began to fade and his career slowly went into decline. He stopped taking composition pupils because “they wanted to write like artistic madmen such as Scriabin, Schoenberg, Debussy, Satie …”.

His last years he spent in poverty for he had sold all his copyrights and invested the whole lot in German, Polish and Russian bonds and securities, which were rendered worthless on the outbreak of the war. Two of his former pupils, Josef Hofmann and Bernhard Pollack came to his aid. Through the intervention of Pollack, who sent new piano arrangements of Moszkowski’s opera Boabdil to Peters Publishing House in Leipzig, he collected an extra 10,000 francs camouflaged as royalties besides a gift of 10,000 marks and personal donations of 10,000 marks from Hofmann and 5,000 marks from himself.[4] On 21 December 1924, when he was ill and heavily in debt, his friends and admirers arranged a grand testimonial concert on his behalf at Carnegie Hall, involving 15 grand pianos on stage. Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Percy Grainger, Josef Lhévinne, Elly Ney, Wilhelm Backhaus and Harold Bauer were among the performers, and Frank Damrosch conducted (Paderewski telegrammed his apologies). The concert netted US$13,275 (the equivalent of US$187,793.67 in May 2017), with one part transferred to the Paris branch of the National City Bank of New York in order to provide immediate relief from his financial problems, and an annuity purchased at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, whereby he would receive US$1,250 annually for the rest of his life.However, Moszkowski’s illness lingered and he died from stomach cancer on 4 March of the next year, before the supply of funds could reach him. The money raised went instead to pay his funeral expenses and to his wife and son.

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Henry Litolff

Composer: Henry Charles Litolff
Date of Birth: 07 August 1818
Date of Death: 05 August 1891
Nationality: French
Period/Era/Style: Early Romantic
Contribution(s): Litolff was a piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music, and music publisher. A prolific composer, he is today known mainly for a single brief work – the scherzo from his Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor – and remembered as the founder of the Collection Litolff, a highly regarded publishing imprint of classical music scores.

Biography: Litolff was born in London in 1818 to a Scottish mother, Sophie (née Hayes), and a father, Martin Louis Litolff, from the French province of Alsace. The father, a violinist, had been previously taken prisoner of war while serving as a band musician in the Napoleonic army during the Peninsular War.

His father taught the boy Henry the rudiments of music, and in 1830, when he was twelve, he played for the renowned virtuoso pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who was so impressed that he gave him free lessons starting that same year. Litolff began to concertize when he was fourteen. His lessons with Moscheles continued until in 1835, at the age of 17, Litolff abruptly married 16-year-old Elisabeth Etherington. The couple moved to Melun, and then to Paris.

He separated from Elisabeth in 1839 and moved to Brussels,. Around 1841, Litolff moved to Warsaw, where he is believed to have conducted the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) orchestra. In 1844 he travelled to Germany, gave concerts, and taught the future pianist-conductor Hans von Bülow.

The following year, Litolff returned to England with the idea of finally divorcing Elisabeth; but the plan backfired and he ended up not only heavily fined but imprisoned. He managed to escape and flee to the Netherlands — the escape said to have been accomplished with the assistance of the jailer’s daughter.

Litolff became friends with the music publisher Gottfried Meyer of Braunschweig (English: Brunswick), Germany; and, after Meyer’s death, he married the widow Julie in 1851 (having finally been granted a divorce from Elisabeth as a new citizen of Brunswick). Whilst married to Julie, the publishing firm G.M. Meyer (which she had been running successfully, and which was to become Litolff) grew substantially.[5] This second marriage lasted until 1858, when he divorced her and once again moved to Paris. After the divorce, the publishing firm was run by Litolff’s adoptive son, Theodor Litolff (1839-1912). In Paris he found a third wife, Louise de La Rochefoucauld; and, upon her death in 1873, a fourth (who had previously nursed him through an illness). Litolff died at Bois-Colombes, near Paris, in 1891, just shy of his seventy-third birthday.
  •  Concerto Symphonique No.3 (National Hollandais) for piano and orchestra in E major, Op. 45 (c.1846)
  • Concerto Symphonique No.4 for piano and orchestra in D minor, Op. 102 (1851-52)
  • Overture – Die Braut von Kynast, grand romantic opera in 3 acts (1847)
  • Les Girondins (Die Girondisten), drame symphonique No.2 (later styled Ouverture zum Trauerspiel), Op. 80 (c.1850-52)
  • Le Dernier Jour de la Terreur (later retitled Maximilien Robespierre), drame symphonique No.1 (later styled Ouverture zum Trauerspiel), Op. 55 (c.1850-52)
  • Chant des Belges, drame symphonique No.4 (later styled Ouverture dramatique), Op. 101 (c.1850-52)
  • Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op. 47 (1850)

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