Composers Datebook-logo

Composers Datebook

American Public Media

Composers Datebook is a daily two-minute program designed to inform, engage, and entertain listeners with timely information about composers of the past and present. Each program notes significant or intriguing musical events involving composers of the past and present—with appropriate and accessible music related to each.

Composers Datebook is a daily two-minute program designed to inform, engage, and entertain listeners with timely information about composers of the past and present. Each program notes significant or intriguing musical events involving composers of the past and present—with appropriate and accessible music related to each.
More Information

Location:

Saint Paul, MN

Description:

Composers Datebook is a daily two-minute program designed to inform, engage, and entertain listeners with timely information about composers of the past and present. Each program notes significant or intriguing musical events involving composers of the past and present—with appropriate and accessible music related to each.

Language:

English

Contact:

480 Cedar Street St. Paul, MN 55101 1-800-228-7123


Episodes

Tower's Violin Concerto

4/24/2018
More
“In an ideal musical world,” says Joan Tower, “a composer should have a friendly, creative, and ongoing working relationship with performers for whom she writes.” For Tower, who has emerged as one of the most successful American composers of her generation, a friendly, creative, and ongoing relationship with chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras, and soloists has resulted in a number of musical works. Tower’s Violin Concerto, for example, was written for the American violin virtuoso Elmar...

Duration:00:01:58

Gabriela Lena Frank's "Three Latin American Dances"

4/23/2018
More
On today’s date in 2004, the Utah Symphony and conductor Keith Lockhart premiered “Three Latin-American Dances” by the American composer Gabriela Lena Frank. Just a few days later, the same forces recorded Frank’s music for a compact disc release, to be sandwiched between Bernstein’s Symphony Dances from “West Side Story” and Rachmaninoff’s “Symphony Dances.” Frank’s first dance, entitled “Jungle Jaunt” opens with what she calls “an unabashed tribute” to the URBAN jungle evoked in...

Duration:00:01:58

Husa's "Apotheosis of This Earth"

4/22/2018
More
Today is Earth Day—an annual event started in 1970 by then-Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as an environmental teach-in. Senator Nelson wasn’t the only one concerned back then, either: the Czech-born composer Karel Husa had noticed dead fish floating on a lake located near a power plant. “The plant was producing hot thermal pollution which in turn killed all those fish,” Husa recalled. “In addition, I noticed more beer cans in the water and algae in greater quantities.” A wind band...

Duration:00:01:58

Sean Hickey's Clarinet Concerto

4/21/2018
More
OK -- say you were paid to listen to and promote hundreds of new classical recordings every month and travel the world to broker new deals for one of the largest recorded music companies of our day. The question is, “What would you do in your spare time?” Well, if you’re a composer, the answer is easy: write your own music, of course. That’s the case for Sean Hickey, whose “day job” is being the Senior Vice-President for Sales and Business Development at Naxos of America, but who also finds...

Duration:00:01:58

Biblical Torke

4/20/2018
More
Religious music, like the religious experience itself, comes in all shapes, forms, moods, and colors. On today’s date in the year 2002, for example, this setting of the Song of Isaiah had its premiere performance at the Milwaukee Art Museum during a concert by the Present Music ensemble. The composer of the new setting was a native of Milwaukee named Michael Torke, who writes: “I have always considered that a central religious experience is one of uplifting joy, as opposed to other spiritual...

Duration:00:01:58

Violin Concerto No. 2 by George Tsontakis

4/19/2018
More
According to Webster’s Dictionary, a concerto is “a piece for one or more soloists and orchestra with three contrasting movements.” And if you ask the average Classical Music Lover to describe a Violin Concerto, it’s likely he or she will think of the big 19th century Romantic concertos by Beethoven or Tchaikovsky, works in which there seems to be a kind of dramatic struggle between soloist and orchestra. But on today’s date in 2003, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and its concertmaster...

Duration:00:01:58

Bernstein's Fancy Free

4/18/2018
More
It was on today’s date in 1944 that the Jerome Robbins-Leonard Bernstein ballet “Fancy Free” was first danced by the Ballet Theater at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. It was a big hit. Bernstein himself conducted, and alongside Robbins and set designer Oliver Smith, took some 20 curtain calls. “The ballet is strictly wartime America, 1944,” wrote Bernstein, “The curtain rises on a street corner with a lamp post, a side-street bar, and New York skyscrapers making a dizzying...

Duration:00:01:58

Holst and Hammersmith

4/17/2018
More
The British composer Gustav Holst lived and worked in a West London neighborhood called Hammersmith for many years—and in 1930, Holst gave that name to a work for wind band he wrote on commission from the BBC. “Hammersmith” opens with a "Prelude" representing the river Thames, which, said Holst, "goes on its way unnoticed and unconcerned." A “Scherzo” section represents the hustle and bustle of Hammersmith’s market, exemplified, according to Holst’s daughter, by a large woman at a fruit...

Duration:00:01:58

Persichetti and Tania Leon for band

4/16/2018
More
In the years following the end of World War II, the “baby boom” led to a dramatic rise in the number of high school and college music programs across the country. By the mid-1950s, a number of well-known American composers started receiving commissions from these schools for new works for wind band. In the past half-century, the Symphony for Band, by American composer Vincent Persichetti, has been one of the most frequently performed. It was commissioned by the Washington University Chamber...

Duration:00:01:58

Handel's famous Largo

4/15/2018
More
A few years back, when RCA records issued a boxed set of 100 favorite Boston Pops recordings made by Arthur Fiedler, they included Handel’s celebrated “Largo.” Over a hundred years earlier, the Theodore Thomas Orchestra had established this melody as a favorite with 19th century American audiences. Back then, Handel was best-known for his sacred oratorios, and his “Largo” acquired a kind of honorary “halo” by association. Also, the Italian text for the melody began “Ombra mai fui,” and since...

Duration:00:01:58

Delibes on stage and TV

4/14/2018
More
A number of the quintessentially “French” operas are set in other lands. Bizet’s “Carmen” is set in Spain and Gounod’s ”Faust” is in Germany, to cite just two examples. But Spain and Germany were familiar next-door neighbors for 19th century Frenchmen, and in that colonizing age, Parisian audiences also enjoyed traveling to much more exotic corners, all the while safely ensconced in their plush balcony seats, of course. One of the grandest of French grand operas, Meyerbeer’s “L’Africaine,”...

Duration:00:01:58

Gould at West Point

4/13/2018
More
In 1952, the West Point Military Band celebrated that famous military academy’s Sesquicentennial by asking prominent composers to write celebratory works to mark the occasion. Among those who responded with a new piece was the American composer Morton Gould, whose “West Point Symphony” received its premiere performance on today’s date in 1952, at a gala concert featuring the West Point Academy Band conducted by Francis E. Resta. There are two movements in Gould’s “West Point Symphony.” They...

Duration:00:01:58

Henri Lazarof

4/12/2018
More
Today’s date marks the birthday of a significant American composer with an intriguing name, sounding at once both French and Slavic. Henri Lazarof was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, on April 12, 1932, and began his musical studies at the age of 6. He graduated from the Sofia Academy at the age of 16, studied composition in Rome with the Italian modernist Goffredo Petrassi, came to the United States in 1957 for further study, and eventually settled in California, securing a teaching position at the...

Duration:00:01:58

A Purcell premiere?

4/11/2018
More
On today’s date in 1689, London celebrated the coronation of William and Mary of Orange as the new Protestant monarchs of Britain. Thirty-nine musicians participated in the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, all wearing specially-tailored scarlet robes. One of them was Henry Purcell, today regarded as the greatest British composer of his time. That same date is sometimes offered as marking the premiere performance of Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas” a few miles away in Chelsea at Josias...

Duration:00:01:58

Skrowaczewski's "Imaginary Passacaglia"

4/10/2018
More
In 1960, composer and conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski emigrated from Poland to become the music director of the Minneapolis Symphony, as the Minnesota Orchestra was called in those days. In the decades that followed, Skrowaczewski, or “Stan” as his friends and admirers affectionately called him, became one of the most respected conductors of our time, famous for his interpretations of a wide range of repertory from Bruckner, Bartok and Stravinsky to the works of his Polish contemporaries,...

Duration:00:01:58

Festival Music for Vienna, by Strauss

4/9/2018
More
In 1943, before allied bombing made it unsafe, Vienna was the primary residence of the German composer Richard Strauss. Now, in a city mad about music and opera, the presence of a composer of Strauss’s stature was not something that went unnoticed or unappreciated. The previous year, the Vienna City Council awarded Strauss its Beethoven Prize, and the composer, for his part, felt obliged to write a little something as a thank-you gesture. The resulting piece was entitled “Festival Music for...

Duration:00:01:58

Larsen's "Calamity Jane" songs

4/8/2018
More
Song settings form a significant part of the output of the American composer Libby Larsen. Like many other composers, she’s set poems of Emily Dickinson and Rainer Maria Rilke—but she has also penned a song-cycle entitled “Try Me, Good King: Last Words of the Wives of Henry VIII.” Another, for mezzo-soprano and handbell choir entitled “Hell’s Belles,” is set to words of formidable women such as Talulah Bankhead, Billy Jean King, and Gertrude Stein. On today’s date in 1989, Larsen’s “Songs...

Duration:00:01:58

A Passion for Bach

4/7/2018
More
In 1723, the Leipzig Town Council appointed Johann Sebastian Bach as the new Kantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Despite what he might have felt about everything they expected him to do, Bach apparently did like that Church: it was there that his family worshiped and 12 of his 20 children were baptized. But Bach was responsible for music at TWO Leipzig churches: St. Thomas and St. Nikolaus Church. In Bach’s day, St. Thomas was regarded as the lesser of the two, with St. Nikolaus Church...

Duration:00:01:58

Ravel's Duo

4/6/2018
More
In 1920, a French publisher commissioned several works in memory of Claude Debussy, who had died two years earlier. Maurice Ravel’s contribution was a single-movement piece for violin and cello. The next year, Ravel expanded this music into a 4-movement sonata he titled “Duo” —perhaps thinking of the “Duo” for the same two instruments by Zoltán Kodály. And if Ravel’s music at times sounds a little Hungarian, perhaps another reason was his meeting with Béla Bartók around the time he was...

Duration:00:01:58

Barber's Cello Concerto

4/5/2018
More
In a 1964 essay, the American composer Samuel Barber wrote: “I want my music to be of use to people, to please them, to enhance their lives... I do not write for posterity.” And in a 1979 interview, he said: “I write for the present, and I write for myself... I think that most music that is really good will be appreciated by the audience—ultimately.” Barber was 35 years old when he composed his Cello Concerto in 1945, finishing the work around the same time he was discharged from the U.S....

Duration:00:01:58

Try Premium for 30 days

Live games for all NFL, MLB, NBA, & NHL teams
Commercial-Free Music
No Display Ads