Early in his career, Wagner learned both the elements and the practical, political realities of his craft by writing a handful of operas which were unenthusiastically, even angrily, received. Beginning with Rienzi (1838-40) and The Flying Dutchman (1841), however, he enjoyed a string of successes that propelled him to immortality and changed the face of music. His monumental Ring cycle of four operas — Das Rheingold (1853-54), Die Walküre (1854-56), Siegfried (1856-71) and Götterdämmerung (1869-74) — remains the most ambitious and influential contribution by any composer to the opera literature.
The Brilliant, Troubled Legacy of Richard Wagner
A great music lover, Renoir was one of the first admirers of Wagner in France. At the beginning of 1882, when the painter was travelling in the south of Italy, he had the opportunity to visit Palermo where Wagner was staying. After two fruitless attempts, Renoir was finally introduced to the “maestro” who, the day before, had put the final notes to Parsifal.
The course of this meeting is well known thanks to a letter from Renoir to one of his friends, dated 15 January 1882:
William Grant Still (1895-1978)
African American Composer, Arranger, Conductor & Oboist
Dean of African American Composers
On this date in 1895, William Grant Still was born. He was an African American musician and composer.
Still was the first African American to conduct a major symphony orchestra, the first African-American to have an opera, “Troubled Island” (1949) performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera, “A Bayou Legend,” performed on national television (1981).
The period from 1926 to the early 1940s was Still’s most prolific. During this time he wrote “Levee Land” (1925), a suite for orchestra and soprano that combines traditional western musical elements with jazz; “From the Black Belt” (1926), a work for chamber orchestra based on seven short character sketches; “Sahdji” (1930), a choral ballet based on an African story, and “Afro-American Symphony.”
World renowned violinist Nora Clench was a child prodigy, born Esther Leonora Clench in what is now Ontario, Canada. Nora made her debut as a violinist at the age of 8. When she was fifteen she entered the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, and after graduating in 1889 she became first violinist and leader of an orchestra in Buffalo, New York. She later toured Europe and eventually moved to London. • In 1900 Clench temporarily gave up playing the violin in order to go to Paris to paint. When she returned to music she founded the all-female “Nora Clench Quartet”, which played a prominent role in the music of fin de siecle London. • Clench again retired from the violin in 1908, at the age of 41, when she married the Australian landscape painter Arthur Streeton. The Nora Clench Quartet continued without her. In 1923, the Streeton family moved to Australia. In 1937 Streeton was given a knighthood for his services to fine art, and Clench became Lady Streeton. • Nora Clench died in Australia in 1938; her husband died in September 1943 after a long illness. The couple’s property with its house, studio and cottage, in 5 acres of garden, remains in the ownership of the Streeton family today.
Biography & Photos~
Program of her farewell appearance~ https://archive.org/details/cihm_36309
Nude Study (1903) attributed to Nora Clench
Marian Anderson, contralto, was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color. Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.
The message of Marian Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial concert~
Remembering Marian Anderson~ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june97-anderson_02-26/
Marian Anderson: A Life in Song~ http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/anderson/