Wednesday, October 15, 1975

100 years ago: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 performed for first time

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (composer)


Composed: 1875


First Performed: October 15, 1875


Van Cliburn’s Recording: May 30, 1958


Peak: 17 US (Van Cliburn)


Sales (in millions): 2.5 US (Van Cliburn)


Genre: classical > piano concerto


Parts/Movements:

  1. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito
  2. Andantino simplice – Prestissimo
  3. Allegro con fuoco


Average Duration: 34:00

Rating:

4.208 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Work:

Tchaikovsky composed his first piano concerto between November 1874 and February 1875. He wanted pianist Nikolai Rubinstein to perform the piece and played it for him in an empty classroom on Christmas Eve 1874. Rubinstein was highly critical of the work, responding with a list of demanded changes before he would play it. Tchaikovsky was devastated by the criticism, but wrote to Rubinstein, “I shall not change a single note, and I shall publish the concerto as it is now.” WK

While he did make some changes, none were substantial and the concerto debuted in Boston on October 15, 1875 with Hans von B├╝low performing. WK Tchaikovsky would later revise it in “in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888,” WK which is usually the version now played. Rubinstein later retracted his criticisms and championed the work. WK

Form-wise, the concerto is lopsided with “the broad melodies of the first movement run its length out to nearly 25 minutes, more than the length of the two remaining movements combined.” JS Tchaikovsky surprises the listener “by going straightway into a full-fledged cadenza for the piano solo, a powerful treatment of the theme.” JS

“The second movement is tender, beginning with pizzicato chords so quiet as to be almost whispers. A flute melody of young adolescent tenderness is the main theme of the movement. There is a central section with a delicate waltz.” JS

“The finale opens with a rushing string figure and a powerful drum stroke. The main theme is an arresting, galloping dance made up of many short phrases. Yet another romantic theme provides contrast.” JS

In 1958, pianist Van Cliburn’s recording of the concerto topped the Billboard album charts, selling an estimated 2.5 million copies. Both Van Cliburn and Arturo Toscanini’s recordings of the concerto have been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame and Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

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Last updated 4/17/2022.

Saturday, October 11, 1975

Saturday Night Live premiered: October 11, 1975

Originally posted October 11, 2011.



In 1975, a late night show called NBC’s Saturday Night began its run on television. That show became better known as Saturday Night Live and is still airing 700+ episodes and 37 seasons later. The show has snagged 21 Emmys, a Peabody, and three Writers Guild of America awards. It also been inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and ranked by TV Guide as one of the top 50 shows of all time.

The show was built around sketch comedy featuring the show’s regular cast of “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” alongside weekly guest hosts. Some of the most popular sketches went on to become full-length feature movies such as The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World. However, the show also became well known for its live musical guests.

Among the most frequent musical guests are Beck, Eminem, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Randy Newman, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, and James Taylor, all of whom have appeared at least five times. Dave Grohl has appeared more than any other musical guest – ten in all. In addition to his six appearances with the Foo Fighers, he’s also appeared with Nirvana twice, Them Crooked Vultures once, and with Tomy Petty & the Heartbreakers once.

The shows first episode featured Billy Preston and Janis Ian as musical guests. The first season also featured Abba, Jimmy Cliff, Art Garfunkel, Al Jarreau, Anne Murray, Randy Newman, Martha Reeves, Leon Russell, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, and Bill Withers.



Among the more infamous musical moments on the show are appearances by guests who were banned for their antics. Perhaps the most infamous was Sinead O’Connor’s a cappela performance of Bob Marley’s “War” after which she tore up a picture of the Pope and asked the audience to fight the real enemy.

Early on in SNL’s history, Elvis Costello was banned after playing “Radio Radio” when he was supposed to play “Less Than Zero” on December 17, 1977. However, all was forgiven when he appeared on the 25th anniversary mocking his original appearance. He interrupted the Beastie Boys just as they were starting to play “Sabotage” and then they joined him for “Radio Radio”.




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