Welcome to the O'Connor Music Studio Web Page!
  Welcome to the O'Connor Music Studio Web Page!
Welcome to the O'Connor Music Studio Web Page!  
  Today is
Composer Birthdays Of Interest To Children Books, CD's and Tapes
Quotes and Fun Facts Read More! MIDI Files
Listening Other Links Other Sites
News Items And the Winner Is...Oscar Winners And the Winner Is...Grammy Winners



    Camille Saint-Sa?ns' Carnival of the Animals is featured in Disney's Fantasia and the newly released Fantasia 2000.

         Saint-Sa?ns' birthday

         Read quotes by and about Saint-Sa?ns

         Listen to Saint-Sa?ns music

         Books and CD's by Saint-Sa?ns

             Saint-Sa?ns for Children

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Antonio Salieri lived from 1750 until 1825. Born in Legnago, he was brought as a boy to Vienna by Florian Gassmann, his predecessor as court Kapellmeister who supervised his musical training and education. He owed much to the influence and patronage of Gluck, to whom he seemed a natural successor in the field of opera. He won similar success to the latter also in Paris with his operas for the French stage. His pupils included Beethoven and Schubert, Czerny, Hummel, Moscheles and one of Mozart's sons. He was a prolific composer, principally in vocal music of all kinds.

    Thanks to Pushkin and Rimsky-Korsakov, as well as Shaffer and the film Amadeus, Salieri has been cast as the villain in the tragedy of Mozart's early death. Antonio Salieri occupied a position of great importance in the music of Vienna. From 1774 he was court composer and conductor of the Italian opera, serving as court Kapellmeister from 1788 until 1824.

    Salieri wrote some 45 operas, ranging from Tarare, with a libretto by Beaumarchais, for Paris and settings of libretti by Lorenzo da Ponte for Vienna to the Shakespearean comedy Falstaff and the operetta Prima la musica poi le parole (First the Music then the Words), staged at the imperial palace of Sch?nbrunn in 1786 on the same evening as Mozart's German Singspiel Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario).

    Salieri wrote a quantity of church music, as well as oratorios. He left still more secular vocal music, ranging from cantatas and choruses to duets and solo arias.

    Rather less instrumental music by Salieri survives. This includes music for the ballet, sinfonias, concertos and music for various smaller ensembles.

    As well as a significant quantity of ballet music, Salieri wrote concertos, including an organ concerto and a piano concerto, a Birthday Symphony and a set of variations on La folia di Spagna, (The Folly of Spain) the dance tune used by Corelli and many other Baroque composers.

    Salieri's chamber music consists principally of serenades, cassations and marches.

         Salieri's birthday

         Anniversary of Salieri's death
    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Eric Satie lived from 1866 until 1925 and was a French composer whose spare, unconvential, often witty music represents a first break with 19th century French Romanticism.

         Satie's birthday

         anniversary of Satie's death

         Read quotes by and about Satie

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


         Sax's birthday

         anniversary of Sax's death

         About the saxophone

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Scarlatti, Allessandro

    (Pietro) Alessandro (Gaspare) Scarlatti lived from 1660 until 1725 and was the father of Domenico Scarlatti. Allessandro was a leading composer of early Italian opera and one of the most important figures in developing classical harmony.

         Allessandro Scarlatti's birthday

         Scarlatti's work won a Grammy Award, Forty-Second Annual Awards

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Scarlatti, Domenico

    Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) is an important Baroque composer from Italy. He composed more than 500 keyboard sonatas, many of which are in one movement. Occasionally, he wrote them in pairs of similar or contrasting mood. Scarlatti used interesting melodies and combined them with a rhythmic vitality.

         Domenico Scarlatti's birthday

         anniversary of Domenico Scarlatti's death

         Domenico Scarlatti MIDI Section
    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Franz Xaver Scharwenka was born near Posen, Germany. He lived from 1850 until 1924 and was a pianist and composer. In 1881 he started a music school in Berlin, and spent the years from 1891 until 1898 in New York City directing the Scharwenka Music School. He composed symphonies, piano concertos, and Polish dances.

         Scharwenka's birthday

         Anniversary of Scharwenka's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Peter Schickele is a composer in his own right, in addition to "discovering" P.D.Q. Bach He recently arranged Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance for the new Disney movie Fantasia 2000.

         Schickele's birthday

         Grammy Winner, Forty-Second Annual Awards

         Books and CD's by Schickele

         (Schickele, Peter ) P.D.Q. Bach

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


         Schnabel's birthday

         Read quotes by and about Schnabel

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Arnold SchoenbergArnold Schoenberg lived from 1874 until 1951. He was a German composer whose revolutionary method of composition (based on a series of 12 tones called 12-Tone Music) influenced many later composers.

         Schoenberg's birthday

         anniversary of Schoenberg's death

         Read quotes by and about Schoenberg

         Schoenberg's work won a Grammy Award, Forty-Second Annual Awards

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Franz Peter SchubertFranz Peter Schubert lived between 1797 and 1828. He is considered to be a romantic composer. He was an Austrian composer who was one of the greatest creators of melody and foremost writer of 'lieder' (German songs).

    Although he only lived for 31 years, Schubert composed more than 600 songs, 22 piano sonatas and many short piano pieces. This melodic output has never been equaled either in quantity of quality. He was one of the first musicians to earn a living from the sale of his music.

    Schubert's Ave Maria was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia.

         Schubert's birthday

         Schubert's works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

         Listen to Schubert's music.

         Read quotes by and about Schubert

         Guess what my li'l Chopin played today

         Information about Schubert's Symphony in D

         Schubert MIDI Section

         Read Amazon.com's Get Started in Classical feature

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Schumann, Clara Wieck

    Clara Wieck SchumannClara Wieck Schumann was a fine pianist and composer. She married Robert Schumann

         Schumann's birthday

         anniversary of Schumann's death

         History of the Piano

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Schumann, Robert

    Robert SchumannRobert Schumann was born in Zwickau, June 8, 1810 and died in Endenich, near Bonn, July 29, 1856. He was a German composer and pianist. With Chopin and Liszt he developed much of the technique of Romantic piano music.

    He was a child prodigy, but his parents wanted him to become a lawyer. He did attend law school for a while but soon left to become a musician.

    His earliest compositions were piano pieces, but he also wrote a popular piano concerto, several symphonies, and chamber music.

    A master of the more intimate forms of musical compostitions, Schumann is unique in music history as being one of the great composers who concentrated on one musical genre at a time, with the bulk of his earliest compositions being for the piano. Schumann's piano music (and later his songs) remain supreme examples of the Romantic style of the second quarter of the nineteenth-century. Immensely influenced by literature and poetry, it is the dreamy nature of his music which most affects the listener, as can be heard in the fifth movement from the piano suite entitled Carnaval. Aside from three piano sonatas, most of his work for the instrument is in the form of suites comprising short, poetic pieces, each expressing a different mood.

    Schumann composed his 13-piece collection Scenes from Childhood in 1838, shortly after he became engaged to Clara Wieck, who also was a fine musician and the most celebrated woman pianist of her time. Clara Wieck was the daughter of his first music teacher, who had opposed their union.

    In 1840, Schumann was finally able to marry Clara Wieck. Schumann's happiness found an outlet in the great number of Lieder he wrote during that year. The first number from his song cycle Dichterliebe, Im wundersch?nen Monat mai (A Poet's Love: "In the beautiful month of May" ) is another example of the composer's harmonic and melodic style.

    In order to publicize his own music and to stimulate and improve the musical tastes of the burgeoning concert-going public, Schumann founded Die Neue Zeitschrift f?r Musik (The New Journal for Music) in 1834, and remained active as its editor for ten years. In the pages of this publication, Schumann considerably raised the standards of music criticism and did much to promote the careers of young composers such as Fr?d?ric Chopin, Hector Berlioz, and especially Johannes Brahms, who was to become a very close friend of Schumann. Throughout his life, Schumann felt himself divided by two contrasting natures: the gentle, poetic, Apollonian side, which he called "Eusebius"; and the more forthright, dramatic and stormy side he named "Florestan". Because of this rift in his personality, he feared insanity for much of his life, and eventually did spend his last years in an asylum.
         Schumann's birthday

         anniversary of Schumann's death

         Read quotes by and about Schumann

         Schumann MIDI Section
    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    James Scott (1886 to 1938) was a Ragtime composer along with Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb.

    Although an extremely important figure in ragtime, Scott was always viewed as second to Scott Joplin in terms of musical expertise and prowess. However, Scott developed a very unique sound within the form of ragtime. He received lessons as a boy from John Coleman, a Missouri pianist, who recognized the boy's genius. Soon after, he gained the attention of both the respected composer Charles Dumars, and the ragtime master himself, Scott Joplin, and the rest is history.
    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


         Scriabin's birthday

         Anniversary of Scriabin's death

         Scriabin's works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

         Books and CD's by Scriabin

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 to 1975) was a Russian composer renowned for his brilliant symphonies. His daring and experimental style brought him often in conflict with authorities.

    Shostakovich's Piano Concerto number 2 is featured in Disney's newly released Fantasia 2000.
         Shostakovich's birthday

         anniversary of Shostakovich's death

         Shostakovich's works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

         Other information about Shostakovich

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Heinrich Schuetz (1585- 1672) was a German composer who was born in Koestritz, Germany. Schuetz travelled to Italy to study in Venice. After his return he played an important role in bringing the Italian baroque style of music to Germany.

    His compositions include church music, psalms, motets, passions, a German requiem, and the first German opera, Dafne, produced in Torgau in 1627. As a German Protestant Schuetz contributed greatly to German cultural unity after the 30-year war.

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Cyril Meir Scott lived from 1879 until 1970. He was a composer, born in Oxton, Cheshire, NWC England, UK. As a child he studied the piano in Frankfurt, later returning there to study composition. His works won a hearing in London at the turn of the century, and in 1913 he was able to introduce his music to Vienna. His opera, The Alchemist, had its first performance in Essen in 1925. He composed three symphonies, piano, violin, and cello concertos, and numerous choral and orchestral works, but is best known for his piano pieces and songs.

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Seals, Son

    Born in Osceola, Ark., Son Seals learned guitar from his father, a former minstrel show performer and juke joint operator. He initially established himself professionally as a drummer, working with guitarist Earl Hooker and appearing behind Albert King on the 1968 Stax album "Live Wire/Blues Power."

    Seals moved to Chicago in 1971 and began fronting his own groups on the city's South Side.

    Seals helped establish Chicago-based Alligator Records as the era's premier blues label with a run of albums featuring his tough songs, brooding vocals and spikey guitar work. Signed to Alligator, he made an immediate impression with his impassioned 1973 debut "The Son Seals Blues Band." After the release of its 1977 sequel "Midnight Son," the New York Times called Seals "the most exciting young blues guitarist and singer in years."

    He won three W.C. Handy Blues Awards, and received a Grammy Award nomination in 1980 for his work on the live compilation "Blues Deluxe."

    Seals had a tempestuous relationship with Alligator and its founder-owner Bruce Iglauer, who also managed him; he departed the label in the mid-'80s, but returned to the fold in the '90s. His last album "Lettin' Go" was cut for Telarc in 2000.

    He toured widely, despite the loss of a leg to diabetes. Late in his career he opened several shows for the jam band Phish, who covered his song "Funky Bitch."

    Seals had 14 children.

         anniversary of Seal's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Andr?s Segovia lived from 1894 until 1987. He was a guitarist who was born in Linares, Spain. Largely self-taught, he gave his first concert in 1909, and quickly gained an international reputation. Influenced by the Spanish nationalist composers, he evolved a revolutionary guitar technique permitting the performance of a wide range of music, and many modern composers wrote works for him. He was created Marquis of Salobrena by royal decree in 1981.

         Segovia's birthday

         anniversary of Segovia's death

    Shaw, Artie

    Artie Shaw was born Arnold Jacob Arshawsky to a seamstress mother and photographer father in New York City on May 23, 1910, Shaw was about as restless a jazz star as one could find.

    He formed and reformed bands, married and divorced eight times, gave up music for more than 30 years and put down his clarinet in 1954 never to play it in public again, quitting at age 44.

    Critics dismissed his work at first. But soon they hailed him as a unique voice in swing-era jazz, especially for his beautiful tone and control of his instrument's top register.

    The Down Beat critic Howard Mandel once wrote: "In Shaw's lips and hands the clarinet bent as pliantly as a blade of grass; it thrilled him to make glissandi, fast or sad melodies, and wonderful virtuosic turns."

    Among his famous songs were a 1938 rendition of "Begin the Beguine," which made him a national star and chief rival to legendary clarinetist Benny Goodman, "Oh, Lady Be Good," "Stardust," "Indian Love Call" and "Frenesi."

    He once said the success of "Begin the Beguine" was like an anchor around his neck.

    As smooth as his tone was, Shaw was a man at war with himself. A crusty, self-declared perfectionist, Shaw gave up the clarinet because he said could not reach the level of artistry he desired.

    In 1981, he ended a long musical intermission by reorganizing a band that bore his name and played his music -- but with another clarinetist, Dick Johnson, leading the orchestra and playing the solos Shaw made famous.

    Shaw traveled with the orchestra as a guest host and sometime conductor of the band's signature opening number, "Nightmare."

    Shaw's bands in the 1930s and 1940s featured a who's who of jazz greats including Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich, Roy Eldridge and "Hot Lips" Page. At the height of his popularity, he earned $30,000 a week, a huge sum for the Depression Era.

    He was one of the few white bandleaders who sought out black talent. Decades after Billie Holiday sang with him, Shaw still marveled at the sound of her voice.

    "When she sang something, it came alive. I mean that is what jazz is all about," he once said.

    Shaw called himself a difficult man, a view his eight former wives, including novelist Kathleen Winsor and actresses Evelyn Keyes, Ava Gardner and Lana Turner might have agreed with. He recalled once almost erupting when a woman asked if he could play something with a Latin beat.

    Of Shaw's string of former wives, manager Curtis recalled, "He said he never had to pay any alimony because they were all as rich as he was."

    It was once a national joke to have as many wives as Artie Shaw had.

    In a 1985 interview with Reuters, Shaw said he gave up playing when he decided he was aiming for a perfection that could kill him.

    "I am compulsive. I sought perfection. I was constantly miserable. I was seeking a constantly receding horizon. So I quit," he said.

    "It was like cutting off an arm that had gangrene. I had to cut it off to live. I'd be dead if I didn't stop. The better I got, the higher I aimed. People loved what I did, but I had grown past it. I got to the point where I was walking in my own footsteps," he said in that interview.

    Shaw spent his time as a guest on television game shows, writing an autobiography and a novel, traveling and lecturing.

    But starting in the 1980s, Shaw returned to the road with his revived band as its host and sometime conductor of its opening number before turning over to Johnson.

         Shaw's birthday

         anniversary of Shaw's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Jean SibeliusJean Sibelius (1865 until 1957) was the most famous composer in Finland. He is the best known of the Finnish composers chiefly remembered for his seven symphonies (Finlandia). In 1897, at the age of 32, Sibelius was awarded a lifelong pension by the Finnish government so that he could devote all his time to composing.

         Sibelius's birthday

         Read quotes by and about Sibelius

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Bedrich Smetana Bedrich Smetana lived from 1824 until 1884. He wrote national music based on Bohemian folk tunes. Smetana was a child prodigy, playing is a string quartet by the age of 5 and composing by the age of 8.

    He had to teach to support himself, but he maintained his Like Beethoven, Smetana did not allow his loss of hearing to stop him from composing. One of his greatest works was composed after his hearing was gone.

    In The Bartered Bride he produced one of the greatest of all comic operas.

         Smetana's birthday

         anniversary of Smetana's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Bessie Smith (1894 to 1937) was perhaps the most influential female blues singer to ever live, so much so that she was given the nickname "the Empress of the Blues". She was born into poverty in the 1890s, and started her singing career young. She was blessed with a deep, expansive voice that was powerful yet still had a very expressive quality to it. She rose to fame in the 1920s during the Depression, after she moved to New York City and began recording with jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. Sadly, she was killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1937, after her career was in shambles, and she had began turning to alcohol.

         Smith's birthday

         anniversary of Smith's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    (Joshua) Stephen Sondheim was born in 1930 in New York City. Is is a composer, lyricist who received tutoring from family friend Oscar Hammerstein II and at age 17 was a production assistant for Richard Rodgers and Hammerstein. He wrote some music for television shows and for the play Girls of Summer (1956) before making his debut on Broadway by writing lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (1957) and Jule Styne's Gypsy (1959). He first wrote music as well as words for the successful farce, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). With producer-director Harold Prince he wrote both words and music for a string of innovative works, including A Little Night Music (1973) - which contained his best-known song, "Send in the Clowns" - and Pacific Overtures (1976), which combined elements of the Broadway musical with Japanese Kabuki theater. He won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in drama for Sunday in the Park with George (1984). Known for their often complex wordplay, evocative music, and unconventional subject matter, his works for stage, screen, and television mark him as one of the true artists of modern musical theater, one of the few who could inspire fans to wait overnight in freezing weather for tickets to merely a revue featuring his songs. He himself remains a private person, never courting publicity, and about all the public knows of him is that he enjoys word-based puzzles and party games.
         Sondheim's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Fernando Sor lived from 1778 until 1839. He is a Catalan composer chiefly known for his many compositions for guitar, his own instrument. Although originally opposed to the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, he later accepted a position under the French government and was, in consequence, obliged to seek refuge abroad, in London, and in Paris, where he established himself as a successful performer, teacher and composer.

    Sor published a quantity of music for guitar, some of it pedagogical in purpose and some of it for concert performance. His M?thode pour la guitarre, published in 1830, is among the most important books on guitar technique.

    Sor wrote a number of boleros and seguidillas for voices and guitar, in addition to Spanish, Italian and English songs and duets for voice and piano.

    Sor's opera Telemaco nell'isola de Calipso (Telemachus on the Island of Calypso) was staged in Barcelona in 1797. Sor's other theatre music was principally for the ballet, including a successful Cendrillon (Cinderella), a march from which he arranged for guitar.
         Sor's birthday

         anniversary of Sor's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


         Sousa's birthday

         Read quotes by and about Sousa

         Read about Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever"

         Listen to Sousa's music, "Stars and Stripes Forever"

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    SPEBSQSA The SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America) was founded April 11, 1938 by 26 singing, striped-shirted gentlemen. Now we know that?s 6? quartets worth, but that?s what it took to get the organization humming. So, let?s head for the barbershop and ask for a "shave & a haircut, two bits!" or a refrain of Sweet Adeline.

    By the way, Sweet Adeline, the love song that became a favorite of barbershop quartets, was written in 1903 by Richard Gerard and Henry Armstrong and there really was a sweet Adeline. She was opera singer Adelina Patti.

    Today, female barbershop quartets are called Sweet Adelines.

         SPEBSQSA's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Heinrich Engelhard Steinway

         Steinway's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Isaac Stern is a violinist who was born in Kremenets, Russia in 1920. Brought in infancy to the U.S.A. by his family, he grew up in San Francisco and took up the violin at age eight, later studying at the city's conservatory from 1928 until 1931 and debuting with the orchestra at age 11. After years of further study and growth, he achieved an outstanding success at his Carnegie Hall debut in 1943. He went on to a career in the highest rank of international violinists - the only one to have been entirely trained in America. From 1961 he often played chamber music with pianist Eugene Istomin and cellist Leonard Rose; for many years he was president of New York's Carnegie Hall, which he helped save from demolition. An intense and individual player, he both mastered the standard repertoire and introduced many new works. As a cultural ambassador he made tours of Russia in 1956 and of China in 1979.

         Stern's birthday

         Anniversary Stern's death

         Read quotes by and about Stern

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    William Grant Still lived from 1895 until 1978. He was a composer who was born in Woodville, Miss. He has been called "the dean of Afro-American composers". Still worked with W. C. Handy and graduated from Oberlin College. His music, while classical in technique, grew out of black life; his works include the Afro-American Symphony (1931).

         Still's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Karlheinz Stockhausen was born in 1928 and has been among the leading avant-garde figures in German music since the 1950s. In spite of material difficulties, he studied in Cologne with Frank Martin and was subsequently strongly influenced by attendance at Darmstadt, where summer sessions contributed largely to the development of new music. He went on to study with Messiaen in Paris. Parallel to his work in electronic music, he explored the human element in performance, moving from total serialism, in which every aspect of a piece is controlled by a predetermined serial pattern, to a more flexible approach.

    The numbering of Stockhausen's works allows his earlier compositions the numbering of fractions, with his Kontre-Punkte of 1952 as the first whole number, No. 1. A varied and fascinating series of compositions includes Stimmung for electronically treated voices, Mantra, for two pianos, woodblocks and crotales, the result of a visit to the Osaka World Fair, at which his music was featured. Zyklus has an important part in modern percussion repertoire, while work continues on Licht, a project divided into seven days and involving dramatic use of instrumental performance. The size of this work, calculated to reach completion in 2002, is characteristic of the composer's Wagnerian tendencies.

    Of particular interest in the development of Stockhausen's ideas is Gruppen, first performed in 1958, and using three orchestras surrounding the audience. Use of short-wave radio occurs in Hymnen, Spiral and his celebration of the bicentenary of Beethoven's birth, Kurzwellen mit Beethoven (Short-Wave with Beethoven). Aus den sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days), a series of fifteen compositions, is written without notes but with verbal directions to performers, on whose particular imagination and ability he as so often relies. His continuing work Licht (Light) allows a significant dramatic element for solo trumpet in Donnerstag (Thursday), but all in all the comprehensive nature of Stockhausen's work and its development over the last forty years defy succinct summary.

         Stockhausen's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Leopold (b. Antoni Stanislaw Boleslawowicz) Stokowski lived from 1882 until 1977. He was a conductor who born in London, England. After musical studies in London, Paris, and Germany, Stokowski came to America in 1905 and four years later was named conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony. He left that post in 1912 for a long and celebrated tenure as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, in which he cultivated a popular but later dated creaminess of sound. Stokowski became the great matinee idol of conductors - that despite his bold championing of advanced composers including Var?se, Berg, and Schoenberg - and was for awhile linked with Greta Garbo. Resigning from Philadelphia in 1938, he went on to conduct for shorter periods orchestras including the NBC Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony (1955 to 1962), and American Symphony (1962 to 1973), the latter of which he founded. His popularity is reflected in the fact that he appeared in several movies, notably One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937), Fantasia (1940) and Disney's newly released Fantasia 2000.
         Stokowski's birthday

         anniversary of Stokowski's death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


         Anniversary of Stradivari's death

         Read information about a Mendelssohn family Stradivari violin.

         Read information about another Stradivari violin.

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Strauss, Johann Jr.

    Johann Strauss Jr. (1825 - 1899) was the most famous of a musical family. He formed his own orchestra in Vienna and became known as The Waltz King.

    Although his father wanted him to become a bank clerk, the supremely talented and devastatingly handsome Johann Strauss, Jr, was drawn to music. At the age of 19 he started his own orchestra, eventually providing orchestras for 14 of Austria's ballrooms.

    The Blue Danube was one of the more than 500 waltzes he composed and it became his "theme song".

    When Strauss visited the United States in 1872, he conducted 20,000 musicians and singers in a huge performance of The Blue Danube at the Boston Peace Jubilee.
         Strauss' birthday

         anniversary of Strauss' death

         More about "The Blue Danube" waltz by Strauss.

         Listen to Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz.

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    Strauss, Johann Sr.

    Johann Strauss, Sr. was an Austrian composer, best known for his "Radetzky March."
         Strauss's birthday

         Read quotes by and about Strauss

    Strauss, Richard


    Richard Strauss was born June 11, 1864 in Munich, Germany. He died on September 8, 1949 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He was a German composer and conductor known for his intense emotionalism in his symphonic poems. He characterized himself as 'composer of expression' which is born out in his colorful orchestration. In his operas he employed Wagnerian principles of music drama, but in a more compact form.

    Strauss was composing by the age of six, having received basic instruction from his father, a virtuoso horn player. This was, however, his only formal training. The elder Strauss instilled in his son a love of the classical composers, and his early works follow in their path. Strauss' first symphony premiered when he was seventeen, his second (in New York) when he was twenty. By that time, Strauss had directed his energies toward conducting, and in 1885 he succeeded Hans von B?low as conductor of the orchestra in Meiningen. For the next forty years, he conducted orchestras in Munich, Weimar, Berlin and Vienna.

    As a conductor, Strauss had a unique vantage point from which to study the workings of the orchestra. From this vantage point he developed a sense for orchestration that was unrivaled. He immediately put this sense to use in a series of orchestral pieces that he called "tone poems", including Macbeth, Don Juan, Tod und Verkl?rung, Till Eulenspeigels lustige Streiche and Don Quixote. These works are intensely programmatic, and in the last two, Strauss elevated descriptive music to a level not approached since the techniques of text painting during the Renaissance. He also used his knowledge of orchestral techniques to produce a revised version of Hector Berlioz's important orchestration treatise; this edition remains a standard to this day.

    After the turn of the century, Strauss began to shift his focus to opera. With his principal librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, he created two forward-looking and shocking works: Salome, based on Oscar Wilde's controversial play, and Elektra, Hoffmannsthal's version of the classical Greek tragedy. In these works, the intense emotions and often lurid narrative elicited a more daring and demanding musical language full of extreme chromaticism and harsh timbres. But with his next opera, Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss seems to have left this aside, turning to a more focused, almost neoclassical approach in his later works. With this, Strauss settled into a comfortable place in German musical society, perhaps too comfortable, given his willingness to acquiesce to the artistic maneuverings of the rising Nazi regime. In the end, he broke with the Nazis on moral grounds, and died virtually penniless in the aftermath of the Second World War.

    Musical Examples:
    • Don Quixote
    • Suite from Le Bourgoise gentilhomme, Op.60, Prelude
    • Also Sprach Zarathustra

      One of Richard Strauss' most popular works is Also Sprach Zarathustra since it was made popular in the 1968 Stanley Kubrick science-fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

      Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (Thus Spoke Zarathustra or Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed in 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical treatise of the same name. The composer conducted its first performance on 27 November 1896 in Frankfurt. A typical performance lasts half an hour.

      The work has been part of the classical repertoire since its first performance in 1896. The initial fanfare -- entitled "Sunrise" in the composer's program notes -- became particularly well known to the general public due to its use in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as the theme music of the Apollo program. The fanfare has also been used in many other productions.

      The piece starts with a sustained double low C on the double basses, contrabassoon and organ. This transforms into the brass fanfare of the Introduction and introduces the "dawn" motif (from "Zarathustra's Prologue", the text of which is included in the printed score) that is common throughout the work: the motif includes three notes, in intervals of a fifth and octave, as C--G--C (known also as the Nature-motif). On its first appearance, the motif is a part of the first five notes of the natural overtone series: octave, octave and fifth, two octaves, two octaves and major third (played as part of a C major chord with the third doubled). The major third is immediately changed to a minor third, which is the first note played in the work (E flat) that is not part of the overtone series.

      "Of Those in Backwaters" (or "Of the Forest Dwellers") begins with cellos, double-basses and organ pedal before changing into a lyrical passage for the entire section. The next two sections, "Of the Great Yearning" and "Of Joys and Passions", both introduce motifs that are more chromatic in nature.

      "Of Science" features an unusual fugue beginning in the double-basses and cellos, which consists of all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. It is one of the very few sections in the orchestral literature where the basses must play a contra-b (lowest b on a piano). "The Convalescent" acts as a reprise of the original motif, and ends with the entire orchestra climaxing on a massive chord. "The Dance Song" features a very prominent violin solo throughout the section. The end of the "Song of the Night Wanderer" leaves the piece half resolved, with high flutes, piccolos and violins playing a B major chord, while the lower strings pluck a C.

      One of the major compositional themes of the piece is the contrast between the keys of B major, representing humanity, and C major, representing the universe. Because B and C are adjacent notes, these keys are tonally dissimilar: B major uses five sharps, while C major has none.

    • Orchestral music, including symphonic poems: Macbeth (1888), Don Juan (1888-1889), Tod und Verkl?rung (Death and Transfiguration, 1889), Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, 1895), Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1896), Don Quixote (1897) and Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life, 1898); 2 symphonies (Domestic, 1903 and Alpine, 1915); 3 concertos (2 for horn, 1 for oboe)
    • 15 operas, including Salome (1905), Elektra (1909), Der Rosenkavalier (The Cavalier of the Rose, 1911), Ariadne auf Naxos (1912) and Die schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman, 1935)
    • Choral works (with and without orchestra), chamber works
         Strauss's birthday

         anniversary of Strauss's death

         Read quotes by and about Strauss

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Igor StravinskyIgor Stravinsky lived between 1882 and 1971. He is considered to be a twentieth century composer. Both Stravinsky and Prokofiev were students of Rimsky-Korsakov. Stravinsky is a Russian composer renowned for his ballet scores beginning with Firebird, and Petrushka for the Ballets Russes in Paris.

    Rite of Spring created a scandal because of its complex rhythms and polytonal harmonies. Despite this, Stravinsky's music greatly influenced contemporary music. After residing in France he moved in 1939 to the U.S. where he continued writing music for the stage.

    His most famous works are for the ballet. His two most popular are The Firebird (featured in Fantasia 2000), based on a legend of a prince capturing a Firebird and receiving a magic feather, and Petrushka, in which a lovable doll is brought to life.

    Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia.

         Stravinsky's birthday

         Anniversary of Stravinsky's death

         Read quotes by and about Stravinsky

         Los Angeles Philharmonic's 2000-01 seasonal repertory

         Books and CD's by Stravinsky

         Stravinsky's works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

         Read Amazon.com's Get Started in Classical feature

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Jules Styne
         Listen to music by Styne

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Joseph Suk lived from 1875 until 1935. He was born in Krhaechaovice, Czech Republic and was a composer and violinist. He studied in Prague under Dvorák, whose daughter he married, and carried on the master's Romantic tradition by his violin Fantaisie (1903), the symphonic poem Prague, and particularly by his deeply felt second symphony, Asrael (1905), in which he mourned the deaths of his master and of his wife. He was for 40 years a member of the Czech Quartet, and in 1922 became professor of composition in the Prague Conservatory.

         Suk's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Arthur (Seymour) Sullivan was an operetta composer. He teamed up with Sir William Gilbert to write H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance and others. A recent movie about Gilbert and Sullivan, Topsy-Turvey, won an Oscar in 2000.

         Sullivan's birthday

         anniversary of Sullivan's death

    And the Winner Is...    Topsy-Turvey, a movie about Gilbert and Sullivan won an Oscar, Seventy-Second Annual Awards

         Read about Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta "The Pirates of Penzance"

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page

    von Supp?

    Franz von Supp? was an Austrian composer of light operas, notably "Poet and Peasant". He lived from 1819 until 1895.

         von Supp?'s birthday

         anniversary of von Supp?'s death

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page


    Shin'ichi Suzuki was born in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan and is a very famous music teacher. He studied in Tokyo and Berlin, and with three of his brothers founded the Suzuki Quartet. His mass instruction methods of teaching young children to play the violin have been adopted in many countries, and adapted to other instruments.

         Suzuki's birthday

    Top of "S" section  ||  Top of page
    A line of music

    Many thanks to Dearest for everything!

  The O'Connor Music Studio
is located
in Fairfax, Virginia
Over 30 Years
Piano, Organ
Electric Keyboard
For more information:
Email Mary O'Connor

Copyright ? 1998-
All rights reserved.

Site design and maintenance by
O'Connor O'Riginals Web Design