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Cecilia This Week
A Music Web Site
Classical, Jazz, Folk & Film Reviews

April 2014


"Too many notes Mozart"
From the Schwann Catalogue.



April 1 Rachmaninoff - April 3 Castelnuovo-Tedesco - April 5 Spohr - April 6 Previn - April 9 Robeson - April 23 Prokofiev - April 29 Ellington - April 1 PDQ Bach

Jazz figures prominently in April. Andre Previn is a jazz pianist; Duke Ellington is a central figure in jazz
and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco had several west Coast jazz players as students. They were all born in April



Here are some new releases.
Information about these and other selected new releases with larger images can be found at Street Date



Permission for use has been requested of Naxos recordings.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario
April 3, 1895

He was born in Florence and known for his piano performances and as a composer. In his teens he showed real promise and studied at the Florence Conservatory with del Valle de Paz for piano and composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti. In 1913 at the premiere of Rite of Spring Pizzetti was left in complete disorientation.

By 1932 Pizzetti, with Respighi, Zandonai et al, confirmed his reactionary views in a manifesto published in several Italian newspapers attacking forward looking composers and urging a return to tradition. Pizzetti recanted somewhat later on.

Whether Pizzetti's views were reflected of Italian politics or had an effect on Castelnuovo-Tedesco's music is un-certain. We can see in one of early important pieces for piano, Questo fu il carrodella morte (1913) and in works from the 1920's some harmful stylistic characterists derived from Pizzetti: length being one. But Castelnuovo was so prolific and so little of his music has been published it's had to tell if he finally shook the influence of Pizzetti.

Many West Coast jazz musicans studied with him, so many of them that, he once jokingly referred to himself as, "the father of West Coast Jazz!"

There's a tad more at April Composers




Louis Spohr
1784 - 1859

 Spohr, Louis (Ludwig)
April 5, 1784

His ancestors can be traced back to the 17th century to the foothills of the western Harz Mountains Where Karl Heinrich Spohr (1756 - 1843) was a doctor. In 1786 the family moved to Seesen. Spohr's first musical training came from his parents, his mother was a gifted singer and pianist and his father played the flute.

Spohr became known as a violinist, conductor, teacher and composer (both prolific and successful) he was born in Brunswick and studied under Franz Eck with whom he went on tour in Russia in 1802.

His life was that of a touring virtuoso violinist and opera conductor. In both capacities he was considered one of the best. As a composer he set the stage for Wagner's music dramas with his use of Durchkomponierung (through-composed: arias that are in a continuous form, not repeated in successive stanzas as songs usually are) and the use of leitmotiv or leitmotif [sic].

He performed with Meyerbeer in Berlin in 1804. In 1805 he became Music Director for the Duke of Gotha and while on tour with his wife, harpist Dorette Scheidler met Weber in Stuttgart in 1807.

For some more see April Composers


Cecilia This Week
April 2014



Street Date (new releases -Cecilia picks )

Does classical music
have sense of
Stravinsky arrested in Boston?
Schoenberg sent to hell?
Beecham meets Hitler.

April Composers
Biographical Profiles
April 1 Rachmaninoff
April 3 Castelnuovo-Tedesco
April 5 Spohr
April 6 Previn
April 9 Robeson
April 23 Prokofiev
April 29 Ellington



Speaking of Movies - Richard Figge


The Wolf of Wall Street - - - Nebraska

The Family

Blue Jasmine

Fruitvale Station

The Great Gatsby


Gangster Squad


Beasts of the Southern Wild



Street Date (new releases)

Jazz Innovators

Public Radio Research How it has destroyed public radio
as we knew it.

Why Cecilia?
"Visions . . . " by Art Historian Judith Anne Testa,PhD.
"Purcell & Cecilia" by Marielle D. Khoury
"Ode to St. Cecilia's Day- Handel" by Anthony Sargent
"Vespers of . . ." - Alessandro Scarlatti by Denis Stevens

Director's Choice CDs of special significance.

Composers Through The Years
Recommended Reading





Rachmaninoff, Sergei
April 1, 1873

He was born in Oney (Novgorod) and known as a pianist as well as a composer. He studied under Anton Arensky and Zverev and at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and Taneyev at the Moscow Conservatory.

His early work was influenced by his enthusiasm for Tchaikovsky. He was invited to conduct in London (1898) in part due to the popularity of his Prelude No. 2 in c#, Op. 3. He lived in Dresden for several years and composed his Symphony No. 2 there.

Between 1909 & 10 he gave concerts in the US. Then he returned to Moscow from 1911 to 1913 where he conducted the Moscow Philharmonic.

Nick Jones says that the failure of Rachmaninoff's First Symphony left him so despondent it took him years to recover. Finally by 1901 with the help of hypnosis he began working again on another symphony. He had proved himself successful as music director of the Imperial Grand Opera and as a conductor and concert pianist. He was in great demand.

In the summer of 1906 he was able to take his family to Dresden and devote himself to composition. In Dresden he was unknown and able to work uninterrupted but this engendered feelings of "anguish, apathy and disgust at what I had been doing in my work. . ." In spite of this feeling of self doubt he finished a rough draft of his Symphony No. 2 by January 1907 and the following January he conducted the first performance in St. Petersburg.

There's a little more at April Composers


Rachmaninoff n the 1920s










Cecilia This Week
April 2014



April 6, 1929

This US pianist and composer was born in Berlin. He studied music at Hochschule and at the Paris Conservatory. In Germany during the his first 9 years his father Jack instilled a steadfast love and desire for music. These years are recounted by Martin Bookspan and Ross Yockey in "Andre Previn: A Biography" (Doubleday 1981).

They also give us the dark details of a terrible chapter in German history as the backdrop to the Priwin family portrait. As Nazi power began to grip Germany the Priwin family left for California with a gift of first class tickets and only five dollars between them. Andre's father had waited even beyond Crystal Night (November 9, 1936 Jewish stores were vandalized and Jewish people beaten) to leave. As an attorney he believed law and due process would prevail he would wait for his turn to leave Germany when his number came up.

He was stripped of his practice. The family like many German Jews thought of themselves more as Germans than as Jews and hadn't pursued the faith very energetically. Now it seemed Judaism was all the family had.

When Andre entered the Hochschule in Berlin he took courses in piano as well as theory, harmony, counterpoint and music history and he also carried the usual subjects at private Sickelschule. The Sickelschule was close to home and just as well. The signs "Jews Keep Out" were cropping up everywhere. As he was entering the Hochschule Hitler was warning the Jewish people, "We have been very lenient... if they [the Jews] think they can be allowed on German stages, offering art to the German people... as though nothing has happened, they might take these words as a final warning, they will only have themselves to blame for whatever happens."

September 17, 1935 a friend of the Priwin's in New York [Rudolph Polk] was reading his Hearld Tribune and a story from Nuremberg telling of stringent new laws depriving German Jews of all rights of German citizens and quoting Chancellor Adolf Hitler, "...Jews in Germany will be put back abruptly to their position in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance." Polk put down his paper and said to his wife, "Soon we will be seeing the Priwins."

Andre had been singled out by Professor Breithaupt the Head of the Piano Department at the Hochschule. He personally took control of Andre's training and gave him a full scholarship. Early in 1938 Professor Breithaupt notified Jack Priwin that he needed to talk with him, "Under the circumstances," the old man sighed, "I cannot afford to have [Andre] a Jewish pupil." Jack understood and that night he told his family they were leaving Germany. Hitler came to power in 1930. The Priwins left Germany early in 1938.

Continued at April Composers

Andre Previn b1929




Paul Robeson
1898 - 1976

 Paul Robeson
April 9, 1898

He was born the son of a slave in Princeton, NJ. (His father had escaped slavery in 1860 and was pastor of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church.) After winning Phi Beta Kappa honors his junior year at Rutgers University he studied law at Columbia.

He wasn't a composer but he was one of our finest musicians who was also a world-renowned actor, singer, activist and athlete.

In 1921 he appeared in Eugene O'Neill's play All God's Children Got Wings. And with his role The Emperor Jones in 1924 his reputation as an actor was firmly established.

He gave his first concert, solely of Negro Spirituals, in 1925. It was the first time this music had been presented in a formal concert setting. Throughout his lifetime Spirituals were the most successful, of all his music, with the public. He soon made a coast-to-coast tour of the US and became internationally famous as well. After a concert in 1929 a leading European critic wrote, "When the man began to sing one of these Negro spirituals filled with the deepest melancholy - when slow and full came the first words, "Wade in the Water" - the hall suddenly grew hushed and still; we were listening to organ-tones of a purity seldom heard. And what followed - one spiritual after another - confirmed the phenomenon which the Negro singer represents - a voice which is no mere function of the larynx, but of which the motive force is the soul."

For more see April Composers


Cecilia This Week
April 2014






"Duke"Ellington, Edward Kennedy
April 29, 1899

He was born in Washington, New Columbia (to be the 51st State!). His father was a butler and later worked as a blueprint maker in for the Navy. His family was always modestly well-to-do. Ellington started piano lessons in 1906 at the age of 5. His name was given him by a young neighbor because of his dress and demeanor. At Armstrong High, Washington's leading manual training school, he became absorbed in art and won a poster contest sponsored by the NAACP.

He continued to study music at school and with Henry Grant, a private teacher, but learned even more listening to the ragtime pianists around town during his time in Washington. He turned down a scholarship to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Instead he played gigs, organized and managed bands as well as painting signs. He married Edna Thompson 1918. He was doing very well supplying bands for parties and dances. Toby Hardwicke, bass and saxophones; Arthur Whetsol, trumpet; Sonny Greer, drums and Elmer Snowdon, banjo made up his own band.

There's more at Ellington

The Duke ellington Band of 1928



Prokofiev on Michigan Avenue Chicago.
His "Love for Three Oranges" was first staged in Chicago.

Prokofiev, Sergei
April 23, 1891

History has created a division of 20th century Russian composers between those who left Russia and those who stayed during the Soviet regime. Some of those composers who stayed are referred to as Soviet Composers.

According to Michael Fine, from the early expatriate stars, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninov, to Alfred Schnittke and the major musical figures of the closing days of the Soviet Union, the discussion of political influence on creativity has received more and more attention. Today it is a popular filter through which the music of many Russian composers is viewed in the West. Shostakovich has come under the greatest scrutiny of all, and has been in the center of more controversy than any of the others. Authors and critics have made their careers with interpretation over the personal/political interpretation of his music. Oddly the music of Sergei Prokofiev has largely been left alone in political matters, yet he was surely as affected by his political environment as any of the other composers of his time.
Continued at .April Composers



Alexander Tairov, Paul Robeson, Alissa Koonen
and Prokofiev at an anniversary matinee
at the Moscow Chamber Theater.

Cecilia This Week
April 2014


The First 25 Centuries in Western Music.
Occasionally we present an important era or composer in our music. This month it's Prokofiev.



Prokofiev as a boy of 10.
His musical talent was first
developed by his mother,
a gifted pianist.

Here's a young Prokofiev in 1917,
the year he left the Soviet Union after
composing the Scythian Suite and his Classical Symphony

Prokofiev in a London Street, 1921,
and behind him is Ernest Ansermet
who was conducting Diaghilev's
Ballet Russe.

A scene from A Love for Three Oranges -
the 1964 production at the Malegot in St. Petersburg.
It was written for the Chicago Opera in 1919

This is "The Chicago Opera Theater" of Prokofiev's time found in the book, 'Prokofiev, His Life and Times' is available from the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra Gift Shop. Prokofiev premiered his opera A Love for Three Oranges in Chicago.


Prokofiev and the film director & innovator Eisenstein at Alma-Ata 1942,
where they collaborated on Eisenstein's epic film Ivan the Terrible.

Here Prokofiev is playing the score of his Chout
(The Tale of the Buffoon) for Diaghilev (standing left)


Prokofiev's Era
Continues Here