Sunday, October 29, 2017

October 29, 1787: Mozart's Don Giovanni premiered

Last updated August 26, 2018.

Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer)

Composed: 1787

First Performed: October 29, 1787

Sales: --

Peak: --

Quotable: --

Genre: classical > opera

Average Length: 164:20


  1. Overture, Andante

Act I

  1. Introduzione ("Notte e giorno faticar")
  2. Recitative & Duet ("Ma qual mai s'offre, oh Dei, spettacolo funesto... Fuggi, crudele, fuggi")
  3. Aria ("Ah! chi mi dice mai")
  4. Aria ("Madamina! Il catalogo e questo")
  5. Duet with Chorus ("Giovinette che fate all' amore")
  6. Aria ("Ho capito, Signor, si")
  7. Duet ("La ci darem la mano, la mi dirai di si")
  8. Aria ("Ah, fuggi il traditor")
  9. Quartet ("Non ti fidar, o misera")
  10. Recitative & Aria ("Don Ottavio, son morta!... Or sai chi l'onore")
  11. Aria ("Dalla sua pace la mia dipende")
  12. Aria ("Finch' han dal vino calda la testa")
  13. Aria ("Batti, batti, o bel Masetto, la tua povera Zerlina")
  14. Finale ("Presto, presto! priach' ei venga, por mi vo'")

Act II

  1. Duet ("Eh via buffone, eh via buffone")
  2. Trio ("Ah, taci ingiusto core")
  3. Canzonetta ("Deh, vieni alla finestra")
  4. Aria ("Metà di voi quà vadano")
  5. Aria ("Vedrai, carino, se sei buonino")
  6. Sextet ("Sola, sola in buio loco palpitar")
  7. Aria ("Ah, pieta, signori miei! Ah, pieta, pieta")
  8. Aria ("Il mio tesoro intanto")
  9. Recitative & Aria ("In qualieccessi, o Numi... Mi tradi quell' alma ingrata, quell' alma ingrata")
  10. Duet ("O statua gentilissima")
  11. Recitative & Aria ("Crudele! Ah no, mio bene... Non mi dir, bell' idol mio")
  12. Finale ("Gia la mensa e preparata")


Don Giovanni is a two-act opera was billed at the time as “drama giocoso”, which refers to a mix of serious and comedic action. WK It tells the story of seducing legend Don Juan (“Don Giovanni” in Italian) and how he is destroyed by his excesses. WK

Mozart was in Prague during the first couple months of 1787 to attend and conduct performances of several works, most notably Le nozze di Figaro, his most recent opera. While there, he was commissioned to create a new opera by impresario Pasquale Bondini. JH

It premiered in Prague on October 29, 1787. Reports suggest Mozart didn’t complete the work until that day or the day before. WK It was well-received, as was generally the case for Mozart’s work in Prague. The Prager Oberamtszeitung reported, “Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like.” WK By contrast, reviews of the opera’s first Vienna performances in 1788 “suggested mild dissatisfaction with the work’s extended length and unnecessary plot elaborations.” JH According to Operabase, it is the seventh most-performed opera worldwide. WK

The final score used double woodwinds, horns, trumpets, timpani, and strings. WK He used three onstage ensembles for a ballroom dance scene at the end of the first act. WK In addition, “Mozart creates levels of dramatic expression through recitativo secco, recitative accompagnato, and aria styles…Recitativo accompagnato is reserved for moments of great emotion, in which the accompanying orchestra virtually assumes a dramatic role. In Act Two, Scene Ten (d), the orchestra virtually speaks for the conflicted Donna Elvira… conveying her rage and slurred couplets giving musical voice to her sighs.” JH

“The dramatically stagnant da capo aria that was the mainstay of the operas of George Friedrich Handel is virtually absent from Don Giovanni. Leporello’s so-called ‘catalog aria’ (Madamina, il catalogo è questo) in Act One, Scene Five, for example, suggests both through-composed and bi-partite formal elements. Some arias in Don Giovanni, however, such as Don Ottavio’s Act One, Scene Fourteen aria (Dalla sue pace), contain traces of the ternary form idea of returning to beginning material after a section of contrasting music. Donna Elvira’s aria in Act Two, Scene Ten(d) (Mi tradì quell'alma ingrate) juxtaposes ternary and rondo form ideas, reinforcing through musical form Donna Elvira’s returning to the same position of pity and longing for Don Giovanni.” JH

“In keeping with the function of the opera overture to introduce the opera’s important themes, the music that begins the overture, marked by alternations between the D minor tonic and its dominant, returns in the Commendatore’s scene in Act Two, Scene Fifteen. The drama of this scene is set in relief by the light use popular music in the preceding party scene, where the on-stage musicians play melodies from arias by Martín y Soler, Sarti, and even Mozart’s own Le nozze di Figaro during Don Giovanni’s party. Don Giovanni’s canzonetta (Deh, vieni alla fenestra, o mio Tesoro) in Act Two, Scene Three, an airy strophic song scored for pizzicato strings and mandolin, is a similarly witty musical juxtaposition of planes of realism.” JH

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Post Malone hit #1 with “Rockstar”


Post Malone with 21 Savage

Writer(s): Austin Post, Shayaa Abraham-Joseph, Louis Bell, Carl Austin Rosen, Jo Vaughn Virginie, Olufunmibi Awoshiley (see lyrics here)

Released: September 15, 2017

First Charted: October 7, 2017

Peak: 18 US, 11 DG, 114 ST, 5 RR, 114 RB, 14 UK, 16 CN, 17 AU, 26 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.8 UK, 13.26 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1417.6 video, 2655.69 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

As the lead single from his second album, “Rockstar” took Post Malone to new heights. “Congratulations,” from his debut album, had gone top 10 on the U.S. pop and R&B charts, but “Rockstar” gave Post Malone his first #1 on those charts as well as countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. WK The song was also nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year and won Song of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The song was marketed with an unusual, albeit unofficial YouTube video consisting solely of an audio of the song’s chorus. While some considered it a trick to qualify for downloads, others called it a clever marketing scheme which may have been responsible for its #1 status. Spin magazine said, “the chorus loop may be a weirdly hypnotic, post-Vine marketing gimmick, but it seems like it worked.” WK However, they also named it one of the worst songs of 2017. WK

Lyrically, the song is a celebration of the hedonistic lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. English singer-songwriter Ian Dury’s 1977 single “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll” first popularized the phrase. SF Post Malone and 21 Savage, with whom he duets on the track, both brag about the amount of sex and drugs which they have incorporated into their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyles. SF

Musically, the song grew out of two chance meetings between Post Malone and Tank God, a young producer who was working on a session next door at Quad Studios in New York. Tank God ran into Post Malone again in a sneaker store in Los Angeles and asked if he could play some beats for Post Malone. SF When it was recorded, T-Pain and Joey Badass were first featured on the song before they were replaced by 21 Savage. SF


Last updated 4/24/2023.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 25, 1885: Brahms' Symphony No. 4 premiered

Last updated August 31, 2018.

Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Johannes Brahms (composer)

Composed: 1884-85

First Performance: October 25, 1885

Sales: --

Peak: --

Quotable: --

Genre: classical > symphony


  1. Allegro non troppo
  2. Andante moderato
  3. Allegro giocoso
  4. Allegro energico e passionato

Average Duration: 40:30


“That Brahms initially approached the symphonic form with trepidation is fairly evident from the chronology of his works. It wasn't until the age of 43 that he completed his First Symphony. Indeed, the composer’s output to that point suggests a conscious process of self-education. A number of smaller-scale orchestral works, including the Variations on a Theme of Haydn and the proto-symphonic Piano Concerto No. 1, suggest preparation for what Brahms clearly saw as the elusive of compositional enterprises. He was to meet the challenge with a skill and individual spirit, one of Classicism refracted through the prism of high omanticism, that led many to pronounce him heir to Beethoven.” MR

“Each of the movements bears the distinct stamp of the composer’s personality. The first begins with a theme in E minor based upon the interval of a third, which also provides a structural and motivic foundation for the remainder of the work. There is a notable sense of unrest from beginning to end, and the tragic, even fatalistic atmosphere is further and stunningly underlined by the final, minor-key plagal (IV-I) cadence. The second movement, which opens with a brief, melancholy sort of fanfare, gives way to the quietly accompanied winds in perhaps one of the loveliest of any of the composer’s themes, granted particular plangency through the use of the flat sixth and seventh scale degrees borrowed from the minor mode. This material is gradually developed into soaring, tutti lyricism that fades into ethereal quiet.” MR

“The third movement, a lusty, stomping, duple dance, proved so popular in Brahms’ lifetime that audiences constantly demanded that it be repeated. The last movement is perhaps most notable of all, cast as it is in the "archaic" Baroque form of a chaconne — variations over a ground bass. The chaconne’s subject is in fact a slight modification of that used by Bach in his Cantata No. 150; though deceptively simple — essentially an ascending minor scale segment from the tonic note to the dominant, then a leap back to the tonic — Brahms uses this skeleton as the basis for an increasingly elaborate and thematic harmonic framework. From its first presentation, which is not as a bass line, but as a theme in the winds, Brahms gradually weaves some 34 variations that steadily build in intensity, as though in defiance to the oppressive, insistent rotation of the ground. The final variations lead directly into an ending which reconfirms the weight of tragedy and pathos borne by the first movement.” MR

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 19, 1923: first performance of Ravel's orchestra version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition

Last updated August 30, 2018.

(ELP version)

Tableaux d’une Exposition (Pictures at an Exhibition)

Modest Mussorgsky (composer)

Composed: 1874

Reworked for Orchestra: 1922 (by Ravel)

First Performance: October 19, 1923

Live Rock Performance by ELP: March 26, 1971

Sales: 0.5 million in US (ELP)

Peak: 10 US, 3 UK (ELP)

Quotable: From piano suite to orchestral work to “one of the seminal documents of the progressive rock era.” – Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Genre: classical > orchestra/progressive rock


  1. Promenade
  2. No. 1, The Gnome
  3. Promenade
  4. No. 2, The Old Castle
  5. Promenade
  6. No. 3, Tuileries
  7. Promenade
  8. No. 4, Bydlo
  9. Promenade
  10. No. 5, Unhatched Chickens
  11. No. 6, Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
  12. No. 7, The Market Place at Limoges
  13. No. 8, Catacombes
  14. No. 9, Baba-Yaga (La cabane sur des pattes de poules)
  15. No. 10, Great Gate of Kiev

ELP’s Track Listing:

  1. Promenade
  2. The Gnome
  3. Promenade
  4. The Sage
  5. The Old Castle
  6. Blues Variations
  7. Promenade
  8. The Hut of Baba Yaga
  9. The Curse of Baba Yaga
  10. The Great Gates of Kiev [The End]
  11. Nutrocker (3/18/72) #70 US

Average Duration: 32:20


When Viktor Hartmann, an architect and stage designer, died in 1873, librarian and critic Vladimir Stasov arranged a memorial showcasing Hartmann’s work. Mussorgsky, a friend of Hartmann, was moved to compose a piano suite. In the century since Pictures at an Exhibition debuted, more than a dozen versions have been made, “but none that challenge the finesse, subtlety, and cumulative impact of Maurice Ravel’s (1875-1937), made for Sergey Koussevitzky” RD who premiered his version on October 19, 1923 in Paris and made the first recording of Exhibition in 1930. RD A version with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (arranged by Ravel) was recorded in 1951 and has been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame and Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

“Ravel left out only one of the PromenadesRD while developing a score which included “triple winds, alto saxophone, two harps, and lots of percussion.” RD “A more heavily scored ‘Promenade’ introduces Tuileries, the famous Parisian garden, with winds reproducing the ‘dispute of children after play’ in B major. Bydlo with solo tuba follows lumberingly in duple meter – Hartmann’s sketch of a Polish ox-cart on large wooden wheels. Following a tranquil ‘Promenade’ for winds and low-strings, Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells is a ‘scherzino’ in F major, illustrating children’s’ costumes from which legs protrude.” RD.

Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle was Stasov’s euphemistic title for a pair of drawings Hartmann called ‘Two Polish Jews, one rich, one poor.’ While Goldenberg pontificates weightily, the solo trumpet natters obsequiously in triplets. The ensuing Marketplace at Limoges is another scherzino, where marketing women gossip and quarrel.” RD

“Without pause, solemn brass chords transport us to Catacombs beneath Paris, where Hartmann sketched himself and two companions. The scene continues with Cum mortuis in lingua morta: ‘skulls begin to glow dimly from within.’ Another ‘Promenade,’ in effect a ‘Requiescat,’ leads to The Hut on Fowl’s Legs, a clock shaped as the witch Baba Yaga’s hut, from which she flies astride a mortar, used to mash human bones into paste. The Great Gate of Kiev concludes without a break – a contest design commemorating Tsar Aleksandr’s escape from assassins. On one side is a bell tower, and in the middle a cupola shaped like an old Bogatir helmet. Processional music in E flat includes a grandiose expansion of the ‘Promenade’ theme, leading to an awesome climax punctuated by bass drum, tubular bells, and tam-tam.” RD

Years later, Pictures at an Exhibition was significant as “one of the seminal documents of the progressive rock era, a record that made its way into the collections of millions of high-school kids who never heard of composer Modest Mussorgsky and knew nothing of…Victor Hartmann.” BE Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s recording of Pictures, “with its bracing live ambience and blazing pyrotechnics, was the album that put the group over.” BE “It wasn’t the first treatment of a classical piece in this manner…but it was the first to reach a mass audience or get heavy radio play.” BE It “made a fairly compelling case for adapting classical pieces in this way” BE “and introduced the notion of ‘classical rock’ to millions of listeners.” BE

“It worked on several levels that allowed widely divergent audiences to embrace it – with the added stimulus of certain controlled substances, it teased the brain with its mix of melody and heavy rock, and for anyone with some musical knowledge, serious or casual, it was a sufficiently bold use of Mussorgsky’s original to stimulate hours of delightful listening.” BE

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October 17, 1967: First stage production of Hair

Originally posted August 11, 2008. Last updated September 3, 2018.

Hair (cast/soundtrack)

Galt MacDermot/ Gerome Ragni/ James Rado (composers)

First Stage Production: October 17, 1967

Cast Album Recorded: May 6, 1968

Soundtrack Recorded: December 1978 – January 1979

Cast Album Charted: August 3, 1968

Soundtrack Charted: April 7, 1979

Sales (in millions):
US: 5.0 C, 0.5 S
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 5.5 C+S

US: 113-c, 65 S
Canada: 114-c
Australia: 128-c

C cast album
S soundtrack

Quotable: --

Genre: show tunes

Album Tracks – Cast Album:

  1. Aquarius
  2. Donna
  3. Hashish
  4. Sodomy
  5. Colored Spade
  6. Manchester England
  7. I’m Black
  8. Ain’t Got No
  9. I Believe in Love *
  10. Ain’t Got No (Reprise) *
  11. Air
  12. Initials *
  13. I Got Life
  14. Going Down *
  15. Hair
  16. My Conviction
  17. Easy to Be Hard
  18. Don’t Put It Down
  19. Frank Mills
  20. Be-In *
  21. Where Do I Go?
  22. Electric Blues
  23. Manchester England (Reprise) *
  24. Black Boys
  25. White Boys
  26. Walking in Space
  27. Abie Baby
  28. 3-5-0-0
  29. What a Piece of Work Is Man
  30. Good Morning Starshine
  31. The Bed *
  32. The Flesh Failures (Let the Sun Shine In)
* unique to cast album

Album Tracks – Soundtrack:

  1. Aquarius
  2. Sodomy
  3. Donna/ Hashish
  4. Colored Spade
  5. Manchester England
  6. Abie Baby/ Fourscore **
  7. I’m Black/ Ain’t Got No
  8. Air
  9. Party Music **
  10. My Conviction
  11. I Got Life
  12. Frank Mills
  13. Hair
  14. L.B.J. **
  15. Electric Blues/ Old Fashioned Melody **
  16. Hare Krishna **
  17. Where Do I Go?
  18. Black Boys
  19. White Boys
  20. Walking in Space
  21. Easy to Be Hard
  22. 3-5-0-0
  23. Good Morning Starshine
  24. What a Piece of Work Is Man
  25. Somebody to Love **
  26. Don’t Put It Down
  27. The Flesh Failures (Let the Sun Shine In)
** unique to soundtrack

Notes: “In 1999, a 20th anniversary edition of Hair [US OST] was issued with ‘Party Music’ and ‘My Conviction’ included as bonuses sporting a significantly expanded liner notes booklet.” LP

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Aquarius/ Let the Sun Shine In (The Flesh Failures) [THE 5th DIMENSION] (3/8/69) #1 US, #11 UK, sales: 1 million
  • Easy to Be Hard [CHERYL BARNES] (4/28/79) #64 US


“With a score by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and composer Galt Macdermot,” CD-C Hair was “the first and best musical of the hippie peace and love generation.” CD-C “The show and the album were quite different to the usual Broadway fare.” CD-CHair was both celebratory and anticlimactic at the same time. Heralded by many at the time as being a rejuvenation for musical theater, it was also supposed to ‘speak’ for the youth. The problem with that is that any time you attempt to allow a piece of written work to speak for a generation, it invariably fails. It is undoubtedly impossible for one musical to classify every attitude held by a person under 30 at that time. Given this fact, Hair was destined to be considered a disappointment.” SE

“However, if you take the score out of this context and listen to it simply as a snippet of some prevalent beliefs of the time, or simply as a fictional work, it is really quite wonderful. As Claude’s best friend is expelled from high school and the love of Claude’s life loves someone else, Claude must struggle with the decision to submit to government regulations in which he doesn't believe. A youthful exuberance covers the proceedings, with the first act ending with the infamous nude sequence.” SE

“The music is heartening and invigorating, including the classics Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, Let the Sunshine In, Frank Mills (which was covered by the Lemonheads on their 1992 album It’s a Shame About Ray), and Easy to Be Hard. The joy that has been instilled in this original Broadway cast recording shines through, capturing…exactly what [its creators] were aiming for – not to speak for their generation, but to speak for themselves.” SE

The cast album was recorded in RCA Studio B in New York, New York on May 6, 1968. CD-CThe “principal cast includes: Ronald Dyson (Ron); James Rado (Claude); Gerome Ragni (Berger); Steve Curry (Woof); Lamont Washington (Hud); Lynn Kellogg (Sheila); Sally Eaton (Jeanie); Melba Moore (Dionne); Shelley Plimpton (Crissy); Diane Keaton (Waitress); Jonathan Kramer (Young Recruit); Paul Jabara (General Grant); Lorrie Davis (Abraham Lincoln); Donnie Burks (Sergeant).” CD-CThe album won a Grammy for best score from an Original Cast album. CD-C

More than ten years later, Milos Forman directed the “cinematic version…As with most adaptations from the stage, the results can be either hit or miss. While the film did not generate much in the way of critical or viewer acclaim, this album contains some noteworthy variations on the 1968 play. At the center is music from Galt MacDermot and James Rado, which likewise has remained as a sort of late-1960s aural time capsule.” LP

“In more than a few cases, the movie’s luminous cast take the tunes to a new level. In particular, Treat Williams’ portrayal of Berger shines throughout, especially on secondary numbers such I Got Life, which he turns into one of the best on-screen performances.” LP

“John Savage turns in a stellar rendering of the central figure, Claude, whose middle American roots and values are challenged by the freedom offered in the burgeoning counterculture. His substance-induced Where Do I Go becomes not only a pivotal point in the movie, but one of the best cuts on this disc.” LP

“The support is of equal value with Beverly d’Angelo’s ‘Good Morning Starshine’ and Cheryl Barnes’ reading of ‘Easy to Be Hard’ being among the strongest versions available. Nell Carter’s big screen debut could not have been more perfectly cast. She captures the essence of Abie Baby and White Boys with a perfect blend of soul and drama. Additionally, Carter plays a significant role in ensemble pieces such as I Got No. The contributions of Melba Moore are not only worth mentioning due to her exceptional rendering of 3-5-0-0, but she is the only member of both the motion picture as well as the original Broadway company. Rock vocalist/ actress Ellen Foley’s solo on Black Boys should be mentioned as a cameo appearance highlight.” LP

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