All But Forgotten by History

ImageToday in WMH: 1744–Marianne von Martines (also Marianne von Martinez) is born in Vienna. Of Spanish descent, she was an important figure in Austrian musical society. A well-placed family friend arranged for the young Marianne to take keyboard lessons from Franz Joseph Haydn. She also studied voice with Porpora while Haydn, himself, accompanied on the harpsichord. She performed both on keyboard and voice as a child at the Imperial court, and was a favorite of Empress Maria Theresa.

She also studied composition with Hasse and Bonno. Her surviving works include 2 oratorios, 4 masses, 6 motets, several cantats, 3 keyboard sonatas, 1 keyboard concerto and 1 symphony. We will never know the complete catalogue of her works, however, due to a fire that destroyed most of the manuscripts in 1927. Her works were so well regarded in her day that some suggest that Mozart’s Mass K. 139 was influenced by her works.

In later life, she became a patron of the arts, hosting musical parties along with her sister. Haydn and Mozart were known to have attended these events. Her status as a musician was ever complicated by the expectations of society and a woman’s place within the social strata. Though she was known as a composer and performer, she did not seek employment or a career in music. Though lauded in her day, after her death she was nearly forgotten.

Here is an example of her work. It’s worth discovering again!



American Classical Country Tunes


Today in WMH:, 1943, American Composer, Henry Cowell abandons his experimental music style to compose “American Melting Pot.” Along with his earlier “Old American Country Set” (1937-39) this music was composed to evoke the music of various immigrant groups as well as a nostalgia of the time he spent as a youth with relatives in Kansas. The tunes were not actual folk music, but composed with the recollection of music he heard as a boy.

Photo: Henry Cowell as a Young Man, Source, Wikipedia

Be Big…Be Big or You’ll Be Dead!

Image12/4 Today in Weird Music History: 1927.  Duke Ellington and his band are scheduled to open at the Cotton Club in Harlem but still have another week left under contract in Philadelphia.  The Cotton Club sends a couple of helpful gents named Boo-Boo Hoff and Yankee Schwartz who deliver a message to the club owner in Philly: “Be big. Be big or you’ll be dead.”  The Philly owner got the message. Duke and his band open as scheduled in NYC on this day in 1927.

And You Thought Bürgermeister Meisterbürger Was Nasty

Image11/27 Today in Weird Music History: 1926. The Bürgermeister of Köln calls for the firing of conductor Eugen Szenkar after the premiere of Bela Bartok’s The Miraculous Mandarin. No word on whether he allowed children to play with toys.

More Than Just Symphonic Surprise!

Image11/26 Today in Weird Music History: 1760.  Franz Joseph Haydn is wed to Maria Anna Apollonia Keller.  The marriage is a dismal failure, possibly because Papa Haydn is secretly in love with his wife’s sister. To make matters even more awkward, the sister also happens to be a nun.

Be Careful Who You Support (at least in totalitarian regimes).


11/25 Today in Weird Music History: 1934.  Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler pens an article urging the Nazis to accept (e.g. not ban) the music of Paul Hindemith.  He is summarily removed from his conducting position in Berlin and placed under house arrest.

Today in WMH: Ohmigod! 14-Year-Old Helps Father Produce His Biggest “Fer sure” Hit.

ImageToday in Weird Music History: 1982.  Frank Zappa will surely be remembered as one of the most creative and adventurous musicians of the late 20th Century.  But for all his influence and innovation, he did not have a major hit until collaborating with his daughter, 14-year-old Moon Unit Zappa.  Like much of Zappa’s music, Valley Girl, poked fun at popular culture, but Moon Unit’s voice-overs done in “Valley Dialect” helped launch the song up the charts  beginning on this date in 1982. It would be Frank Zappa’s only Top 40 Hit.

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