Patrick S. Gilmore: pioneering American bandmaster
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
5d ago
Patrick S Gilmore / Illustration for The New Metropolis edited by E Idell Zeisloft (D Appleton, 1899). Patrick S. Gilmore was born Christmas Day 1829 in Ballygar, County Gallway, Ireland, near Dublin. He attended the village school and learned to play fife and drum. When he was 14, he started an apprenticeship in Athlone, headquarters of as many as four English regiments. They all had bands, and Gilmore fell in love with band music. One regimental bandmaster, the renowned Patrick Keating, taught the young boy musical notation, composition, instrumentation, and conducting. Gilmore put togethe ..read more
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The sacred music of Anton Bruckner
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
3M ago
Bruckner monument in Stadtpark, Vienna / photo by Benoit Prieur via Picryl We think of Anton Bruckner as a symphonist and devout Wagnerian. In fact, he had long experience as a composer of church music before he ever heard Wagner’s music or attempted to compose a symphony. He had apparently experimented with chromatic harmonies, too. His best-known large-scale sacred music includes three masses and the Te Deum. He also composed motets throughout his career. Many of them are performed much more frequently than the larger works. Several include trombones, continuing a long-standing Austrian tr ..read more
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The G bass trombone: the short history of a long trombone
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
3M ago
G bass trombone (Boosey & Company, ca. 1923) next to a ordinary tenor trombone for comparison / from eBay auction  The trombone is among the oldest instruments still used in European and American music, but several varieties have a much shorter history. The soprano trombone first appeared in the early to middle 18th century and has been used primarily in the Moravian tradition. The G bass trombone apparently dates only from the early 19th century. It was used only in British music (including colonial holdings such as Australia)—and it lasted barely into the last quarter of the 20th ..read more
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The Stoughton Musical Society: early New England music’s savior
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
4M ago
The Stoughton Musical Society, founded in 1786, is America’s oldest continuously operating musical institution. It was founded under the inspiration of a singing school presented in Stoughton by William Billings, America’s first notable composer. When Lowell Mason drove Billings’ music out of New England churches, the society continued to sing it. Preserving the tradition eventually became a core aspect of its mission. The society incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts in 1908 and changed its name to Old Stoughton Musical Society. The beginnings of musical performance in Stoughton When E ..read more
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Symphony no. 6, Pastoral, by Ludwig van Beethoven
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
5M ago
Beethoven in 1804, / Detail of a portrait by W. J. Mähler Beethoven’s odd numbered symphonies have the reputation of being stormy and dramatic, while the even numbered symphonies seem more gentle and easy-going. For that reason, perhaps, the even numbered ones are less popular. Symphony no. 6, Pastoral, is easily the best known and most performed of the even numbered symphonies. Beethoven worked on his Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth symphonies, among other major works, between 1806 and 1808. The latter two are the first of Beethoven’s symphonies with trombone parts. Many symphonies and chamber wor ..read more
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Sousa’s Band: the most famous American wind band
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
7M ago
Sousa Band, St. Louis Expo 1893 Before television, movies, radio, or sound recordings, people either had to learn to play musical instruments or attend concerts to experience music. Wind bands provided the majority of concerts. In the golden age of American wind bands, none was as successful and well known as Sousa’s Band. John Philip Sousa gained the experience and reputation needed to start a successful touring band as leader of the U.S. Marine Corps Band, America’s oldest professional musical ensemble. Before Sousa, it functioned as little more than Washington, DC’s town band. In his twel ..read more
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Beloved Christmas carols: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
7M ago
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming: a last rose in the snow in Skandia (photographer’s title and description) / yooperann via Flickr No one knows who wrote either the German text or the tune of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” According to legend, a monk near the Rhineland city of Trier found a rose blooming one Christmas Eve, plucked it, and put it in a vase on an altar devoted to the Virgin Mary. The poem “Es is ein Ros entsprungen” may have been written as early as the 15th century, but the earliest extant version appeared in the late 16th century. At the time, the Protestant Reformation roiled ..read more
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Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
8M ago
Metaphysical Avangardism / Rivandori via Wikimedia Commons  Ordinarily, we know symphonies as symphony number whatever in whatever key. If we know them by a nickname, such as “Bear” or “Jupiter,” the composer seldom supplied it. Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique broke all kinds of molds. For one thing, it is the first of four of his symphonies, but not a one bears a number, and only two have the word “symphony” in the title at all. How did he become such a bull in a china shop? Early life of Hector Berlioz Hector Berlioz was the eldest child of a prominent physician, born in 1803 in ..read more
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Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, by Alexander Borodin
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
9M ago
Polovtsian Dances, Bolshoi Theatre, November 15, 2020 (screen shot) Plenty of people have composed music as a hobby, but none more successfully than Alexander Borodin, a chemist by profession. As a hobbyist, he did not produce a lot of music, but his works include symphonies, chamber music, and an opera—some of the loveliest music in the repertoire. The opera, Prince Igor, includes the ever-popular “Polovtsian Dances,” which formed the tune of the Broadway hit “Stranger in Paradise.” Its success is remarkable, because he never finished the opera. Borodin’s early life Alexander Borodin, born ..read more
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Hail Columbia: almost the national anthem
Musicology for Everyone
by David Guion
10M ago
Early printing of Hail Columbia, with a portrait of President John Adams “Hail Columbia” is not a well-known song today, but it has a prominent place in American history. It became a hit immediately after its first performance and remained popular for more than a century. Of all patriotic songs before the Civil War, only “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America” rivaled “Hail Columbia” in popularity. The former uses the old English drinking song “Anacreon in Heaven” and the latter the English national anthem “God Save the King.” Oscar Sonneck, who examined these and many of the patriotic song ..read more
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