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  • Writer's pictureAmy B

5 Interesting Facts of Music History

Two flutes found in a cave in Germany are made of bird bone and mammoth ivory. These instruments are dated to what is considered the prehistoric period of music, or the time before music was notated. Due to the lack of notation, it’s difficult to know what music was like in the prehistoric era, but one can safely assume it was used in similar ways to today: for recreation and religious rituals.

Click the link above to listen to it. Hurrian Hymn Text H6 (circa 1400 BCE) is the world’s earliest written music so far discovered. The 3400 year old Hurrian Hymn was discovered in Ugarit, ancient northern Canaan (now modern Syria) in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuneiform text of the ancient Hurrian language.

Click the link above to see a video of Leonard Warren performing on television ten years before his tragic death in 1960. Eyewitnesses including Rudolf Bing report that Warren had completed Don Carlo’s Act III aria, which begins Morir, tremenda cosa (“to die, a momentous thing”), and was supposed to open a sealed wallet, examine the contents and cry out “E salvo, o gioia” (He is safe, oh joy), before launching into the vigorous cabaletta. Bing reported that Warren simply went silent and fell face-forward to the floor. The cause of death was determined to be a cerebral hemorrhage; Warren was only forty-eight years old.

(Click the link above to hear the song.) The music for this song was composed by Shostakovich at the request of Dolmatovsky for a play in verse he was producing which needed an “aeronautical beacon,” or a song for a pilot to sing to help him navigate through the Alps. The song apparently proved popular with real pilots because cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin sang “The Homeland Hears” while in orbit around the earth in April 1961.

Click the link above to listen. Domenico Scarlatti composed his “Cat’s Fugue” after his cat, Pulcinella, walked across his keyboard.

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