June 29, birthday of Giovanni Maria Sabino: Viri sancti

Giovanni Maria Sabino (30 June 1588 – April 1649) was a contemporary of Monteverdi who lived in Naples. He was the first composer to introduce violins to a Motet. Whether or not they hit it off, you decide.

Viri sancti

June 29, birthday of José Pablo Moncayo: Huapango (1941)

José Pablo Moncayo
(1928-1996)
was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in 1912. He studied music at Conservatorio Nacional de Música under a teacher who studied in Paris under Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas. It was through his composition teacher, Carlos Chavez, that he met and became friends with Aaron Copland. You can hear the cross pollination of cultures in Moncayo’s works.

Huapango

Cumbres (1940/1953)

June 28, birthday of Joseph Joachim: Cadenza from Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D

Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) at the age of 12 took the stage under the baton of Felix Mendelssohn and performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D with this cadenza from the 3rd movement written by the boy violinist himself. While this concerto is probably one of my two favorite pieces of classical music of all time, this cadenza is my all time favorite of the many that have been written for this piece. It was the one Christian Ferras performed on my old LP of Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, and it’s the piece (or just the 3rd movement) that I want played at my funeral.

Here’s the full concerto played by Benjamin Marquise Gilmore.

June 27, birthday of Elmo Hope: Minor Bertha

Elmo Hope (1923 – 1967) was born in NYC to children of Jamaican immigrants.  He and Bud Powell grew up together.  They both attended Benjamin Franklin High School, played classical music and became enamored of jazz.  At 17, Hope was shot as a bystander by police chasing a mugger (the bullet lodging in his spine) and later charged with the robbery.  The charges were dropped after the police produced no white or black witnesses.  Hope left high school and started playing in jazz halls.  He and Powell became friends with Thelonius Monk.  Like many of his contemporaries, he became addicted to heroin, which helped destroy his health.  His wife claimed that the doctors screwed up the methadone does he was given to kick heroin, and he died of a heart attack in 1967.

He was amazingly innovative as this piece demonstrates, with its 35 bar form.

Another piece from 1980, Prism, sounds like a bit of a retrospective of all musical styles from Baroque to Broadway.

June 26, birthday of Jacob Druckman: Windows (1972)

Jacob Druckman (1928-1996) was born in Philadelphia, educated at Julliard, and later studied in Paris and under Aaron Copland.  He taught at Yale and in 1972 he won the Pulitzer Prize for this work.

Another piece from 1980, Prism, sounds like a bit of a retrospective of all musical styles from Baroque to Broadway.

June 24, birthday of Francesco Araja (1709): Overture from “Tsefal i Prokris”

Francesco Araja was born and educated in Naples, Italy. He was brought to Russia along with an entire opera company and became “Composer to the Tzars.” Lived there for 25 years and wrote the first opera in the Russian language, Цефал и Прокрис (Tsefal i Prokris – Cephalus and Prokris). Based on episodes from Ovid, “Metamorphoses,” it became a big hit with the Empress, who bought him a fancy sable coat. I had to pick this piece today because I spent a year in Naples from 1980-81. An amazing place.

June 24, birthday Harry Partch: “And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma”

Harry Partch was the son of missionaries who fled China during the Boxer Rebellion and settled in Arizona. There he grew up listening to songs of the Yaqui Indians, Spanish music, and his mother singing songs in Mandarin Chinese. Classically trained, he rejected Western 12-tone music and composed in just intonation, using semitones. He invented his own instruments on which he could produce his compositions that were written with 29 tones and even 43 tones to the octave.

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