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

Honegger plays rough

10/19/2017
More
Rugby is a style of football that originated in England at Rugby School and was one of several similar games played at British public boy's schools during the 19th century. It's also the name of a tone poem written by the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger that premiered in Paris at the Théâtre des Champes-Elysées on today's date in 1928 at the very first concert of the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, conducted by the famous Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet. In describing his tone poem, Honegger...

Duration: 00:01:58


Moross's First, Copland's Third

10/18/2017
More
Two very fine American symphonies had their premiere performances today. On today's date in 1943, the British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham led the Seattle Symphony in the premiere performance of the Symphony No. 1 by a 30-year old composer named Jerome Moross. The slow movement of the Moross symphony was inspired by the American hobo tune "The Midnight Special." As Moross once said, "A composer must reflect his landscape and mine is the landscape of America. I don't do it consciously, it is...

Duration: 00:01:58


Schuman starts on third

10/17/2017
More
On today's date in 1941, the Boston Symphony gave the first performance of a new symphony by a 31-year old American composer named William Schuman. It is numbered as Schuman's Third Symphony but, in reality, you might as well say it's his First. Now, Bill Schuman was not an early devotee of the New Math. The explanation is a fairly simple one: Schuman had written two earlier symphonies, but these were composed very much under the influence of his teacher, the American composer Roy Harris. It...

Duration: 00:01:58


A Domestic Postscript from Richard Strauss

10/16/2017
More
Of all the orchestral works of Richard Strauss, the one that premiered in Dresden on today's date in 1925 ranks amount the least-known. For starters, it has an odd title, "Parergon to the Symphonia Domestica." "Parergon" means "an ornamental accessory or embellishment," and so Strauss meant his new work, written for piano left-hand and orchestra, was a follow-up to his earlier "Symphonia Domestica," a tone-poem written two decades years earlier, and a musical depiction of one day in the...

Duration: 00:01:58


Britten for young persons

10/15/2017
More
Liverpool may be renowned as the birthplace of The Beatles, but it has other claims to fame as well. On today's date in 1946, for example, one of Benjamin Britten's best-known orchestral works received its first concert performance in that British city. "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" was its title, with "Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell" appended as an explanatory subtitle. Britten himself preferred the "Young Person's Guide" as its official title, and regularly...

Duration: 00:01:58


Dvořák's Violin Concerto

10/14/2017
More
On today's date in 1883, the premiere of Antonín Dvořák's Violin Concerto was given in Prague by the Czech violinist František Ondrícek with the National Theatre Orchestra. Some program notes still state that Dvořák himself conducted the premiere, but in fact it was a Czech conductor named Moric Anger, an old friend of the Dvořák's and his one-time roommate, who had that honor. The concerto was commissioned by one of the most distinguished violinists of Dvořák's day, Joseph Joachim, an old...

Duration: 00:01:58


Daniel Asia's "Black Light"

10/13/2017
More
On today's date in 1991, Dennis Russell Davies conducted a Carnegie Hall concert by the American Composers' Orchestra that included the premiere performance of a new orchestral work entitled "Black Light." Its composer was Daniel Asia, a Seattle native who has emerged as one of the most productive contemporary composers of orchestral works. Asia has written four symphonies to date, and a number of concertos and shorter orchestral works. The final page of the score for Asia's "Black Light" is...

Duration: 00:01:58


Zwilich celebrates

10/12/2017
More
As far as housewarming gifts go, a nice bottle of champagne is common, or maybe a bouquet of flowers. Even an electric can-opener might be appropriate, depending on the circumstances. But if you're a composer, and the occasion is the ceremonial opening performance at a new concert hall, you write a celebratory piece of music. On today's date in 1984, for the inaugural concert of the Indianapolis Symphony's new home, the Circle Theater, composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich wrote an orchestral work...

Duration: 00:01:58


Prokofiev's Sixth and Seventh

10/11/2017
More
By a coincidence of fate, the last two symphonies of the Soviet composer Sergei Prokofiev both premiered on today's date: Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony premiered in Leningrad in 1947, and Prokofiev's Seventh, his last Symphony, in Moscow, in 1952. The Sixth Symphony is tragic in tone, and Prokofiev confided that it was about the physical and emotional wounds suffered by his countrymen during the Second World War. The Sixth was premiered at the opening concert of the Leningrad Philharmonic's...

Duration: 00:01:58


Berio's "Sinfonia" in New York

10/10/2017
More
In literature, the "stream of consciousness" style of prose writing was made famous by the 20th century Irish novelist James Joyce. In Joyce's "Ulysses," the thoughts of the novel's characters shift from the distracting sights and sounds from Dublin's streets to interior monologues, often including snatches of real or recollected snatches of music. In music, something similar occurred on today's date in 1968, when the Italian composer Luciano Berio conducted the Swingle Singers and the New...

Duration: 00:01:58


Dvořák Back Home

10/9/2017
More
After two and a half years in America as Director of National Conservatory of Music in New York City, the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák and his family returned to Prague for good in April of 1895, and moved into his summer house in the Czech countryside. In a letter to a friend, Dvořák wrote, “I am basking in God’s nature and am contentedly idle. I am not doing anything, which will probably surprise you, but it’s true, it really is. I’m just lazing around and I haven’t touched my pen!” Well,...

Duration: 00:01:58


Ligeti's "out there" Violin Concerto

10/8/2017
More
On today's date in 1992, one of the strangest—and some would say most strikingly original—violin concertos of the late 20th century had its premiere performance in Cologne, Germany. It was written by the Transylvanian-born Hungarian composer, György Ligeti. This Violin Concerto combined several aspects of Ligeti's style, a style that tends to divide audiences pro or con in performance. It's hard for performers or audiences to remain indifferent where Ligeti's music is concerned. Ligeti...

Duration: 00:01:58


Jake Heggie's opera "Dead Man Walking"

10/7/2017
More
As the 20th century drew to its close, some who followed the demographics of American audiences for classical music noticed a strange phenomenon: opera was suddenly a "hot" ticket, and the audience for opera performances was getting younger. Simultaneous with this demographic shift was the appearance on the scene of a number of new American operas on American themes. On today's date in 2000, one of these new operas received its premiere performance in San Francisco. "Dead Men Walking," an...

Duration: 00:01:58


Music for the movies

10/6/2017
More
On today's date in 1927, a landmark film entitled "The Jazz Singer" received its premiere showing at the Warner Theater in New York. "The Jazz Singer" starred Al Jolson and is usually credited with being the first "talkie"—the first motion picture to successfully incorporate prerecorded music and spoken dialogue. The musical score for "The Jazz Singer" was a potpourri of melodies including Hebrew liturgical chant, pop tunes of the day, and bits of Tchaikovsky tossed in for good measure....

Duration: 00:01:58


Grove and Sullivan "discover" Schubert

10/5/2017
More
On today's date in 1867, two eminent British Victorians arrived in Vienna in search of Schubert. Now, Schubert had been dead for 39 years, but the two Brits were quite aware of that fact. George Grove, age 47, was England's finest musicologist, and Arthur Sullivan, age 25, one the country's most promising young composers. These two were in search of lost works by Schubert. Grove believed there must be forgotten manuscripts in the possession of the late composer's relatives. Grove and...

Duration: 00:01:58


Copland's"Appalachian Spring" Suite

10/4/2017
More
On today's date in 1945, Artur Rodzinski conducted the New York Philharmonic in the premiere performance of an orchestral suite arranged from Aaron Copland's ballet score "Appalachian Spring." The whole country got to hear the work a day or two later when the Philharmonic's weekly radio broadcast from Carnegie Hall included the new Copland suite as part of the program. For the ballet's 1944 premiere at the Library of Congress, Copland called for a chamber orchestra of 13 players, but for...

Duration: 00:01:58


Corigliano starts at the beginning

10/3/2017
More
On today's date in 1984, the Milwaukee Symphony and conductor Lukas Foss premiered a new work for narrator and orchestra by the American composer John Corigliano. The new piece was entitled "Creations," and was based on the creation story in the Biblical book of Genesis. "Creations" began as a 1971 commission for a television pilot. The original idea was to have a variety of major composers illustrate in music selected chapters from the Bible, with the text narrated by Sir Laurence...

Duration: 00:01:58


Steve Heitzeg's "Nobel Symphony"

10/2/2017
More
In the year 2001, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, commissioned American composer Steve Heitzeg to write a "Nobel Symphony." In 1866, the Swedish engineer and scientist Alfred Nobel had invented dynamite. This patent helped him amass a great fortune. Nobel was troubled by the destructive power and potential misuse of his invention, and passionate about furthering the cause of world peace. In his will, Nobel wrote,...

Duration: 00:01:58


Gabriela Lena Frank's "Hilos"

10/1/2017
More
On today’s date in 2010, at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music in Nashville, the ALIAS ensemble gave the premiere performance of a new chamber world by the American composer Gabriela Lena Frank. Her new work was entitled “Hilos,” the Spanish word for “threads,” and was an eight-movement quartet for piano, violin, cello and clarinet. Now, it’s not unusual for composer to be inspired by or to tap into traditions inspired by their particular cultural background, but Gabriela Lena...

Duration: 00:01:58


The Twlight Zone

9/30/2017
More
"This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality: you're on a through-route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable... Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of mind itself. Ladies and Gentlemen, you're entering the wondrous dimension of imagination…" Next stop The DATEBOOK Zone. OK, all kidding aside, but "submitted for your approval" as Rod Serling used to say, this is the COMPOSERS DATEBOOK for September 30th. I'm John Zech. On today's date...

Duration: 00:01:58

See More