Himalaya-The Podcast Player

4.8K Ratings
Open In App
title

Composers Datebook

American Public Media

10
Followers
11
Plays
Composers Datebook

Composers Datebook

American Public Media

10
Followers
11
Plays
OVERVIEWEPISODESYOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Details

About Us

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.

Latest Episodes

Villa-lobos premieres

For over five decades, Nicolas Slonimsky, the Russian-born American composer, conductor, and witty musical lexicographer, compiled a thick reference work titled "Music Since 1900." It's a year-by-year, month-by-month, day-by-day chronicle of musical events that Slonimsky deemed significant, interesting, or simply amusing. Here, for example, is Slonimsky's entry for July 15, 1942: "Heitor Villa-Lobos conducts in Rio de Janeiro the first performances of three of his orchestral Choros: No. 6, No. 9 and No. 11, exhaling the rhythms, the perfumes and the colors of the Brazilian scene, with tropical birds exotically chanting in the woodwinds against the measured beats of jungle drums." Slonimsky did have a way with words, and certainly had fun compiling his mammoth (and highly readable) reference work. For his part, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos was equally diligent, so much so that he himself admitted he couldn't always remember everything that he had written or when he wrote it. His Choros No. 11 for piano and orchestra, however, was one work he must have remembered: it's one of his most ambitious compositions and lasts some 65 minutes. Originally the word "choro" meant improvised music by Brazilian street musicians, but Villa-Lobos always used the word in its plural form, and used it to describe a flexible form for over a dozen of his instrumental works. Villa-Lobos also wrote a unique series of works he dubbed 'Bachianas Brasileiras", which might be translated as "Tributes to Bach in the Style of Brazil."

1 MIN14 h ago
Comments
Villa-lobos premieres

Ingram Marshall's "Dark Waters"

A famous commercial for magnetic recording tape once asked the question: "Is it live—or Memorex"—suggesting it was impossible to tell the difference. These days, at concerts of some contemporary composers' works, the correct answer would be "It's live AND Memorex"—as there is a growing body of works that involve BOTH live performers and prerecorded tape. A 1995 work by the American composer Ingram Marshall, titled 'Dark Waters,' was written for an English horn soloist accompanied by a prerecorded tape of fragments from old 78-rpm recordings of Jean Sibelius' chilly tone-poem "The Swan of Tuonela." Both the live English horn part and the prerecorded tape are digitally processed and mixed at each live performance. "Those who know the Sibelius will recognize familiar strains," says Marshall. "Of course the live and taped materials are highly processed, so eventually the listener forgets about the original materials and sinks into the re-created music itself." On today's date in 1998...

1 MIN1 d ago
Comments
Ingram Marshall's "Dark Waters"

Mendelssohn sees double

On today's date in 1829, the German composer Felix Mendelssohn was in London, participating in a gala concert to raise funds for the victims of a flood in Silesia. "Everyone who has attracted the slightest attention during the season will take part," wrote Mendelssohn. "Many offers of good performers have had to be declined, as the concert, even so, will last till the next day!" Mendelssohn performed his Double Concerto in E Major for two pianos and orchestra, joined at the second piano by his friend and fellow-composer Ignaz Moscheles. While rehearsing for the concert, Mendessohn and Moscheles jointly prepared a special cadenza, and jokingly bet each other how long the audience would applaud it—Mendessohn predicting 10 minutes, and Mosceheles, more modestly, suggesting 5. In the Baroque age, Double Concertos were very popular, but by Mendelssohn's day they had become less common. In our time, Concertos for Two Pianos are even rarer. One of the most successful American Double Conce...

1 MIN2 d ago
Comments
Mendelssohn sees double

Rouse's Violin Concerto

On today’s date in 1992, a new violin concerto by the American composer Christopher Rouse had its premiere performance in Colorado with the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra led by Leonard Slatkin and violin soloist Cho-Liang Lin, to whom the new work was dedicated. A sense of past masters of the Violin Concerto was never far from Rouse’s mind when writing this work, as he explained in his own program notes: “I have long been drawn to the two-movement concerto form as exemplified by Bartok's Violin Concerto, and I resolved to structure my own concerto [similarly] ... The opening movement is an elegiac barcarolle ... The second movement, a toccata, follows without pause and requires enormous virtuosity of the soloist. “The language of the concerto is, of course, more dissonant than that found in nineteenth century counterparts ... I ... find this to be one of my more ‘objective’ compositions, lacking as it does any stated or unstated program, though I hope that ... will not lead t...

1 MIN3 d ago
Comments
Rouse's Violin Concerto

MacDowell goes "modern"

These days, when "Modern Music" is on the program, a sizeable chunk of the concert hall audience might start nervously looking for the nearest exit—but that wasn't always the case. On today's date in 1882, a 21-year old American composer and pianist named Edward MacDowell took the stage in Zurich, Switzerland, to perform his "Modern Suite" for piano at the 19th annual conference of the General Society of German Musicians, a showcase for new music whose programs were arranged by none other than Franz Liszt. Liszt had met MacDowell earlier that year, and when MacDowell sent him the music for his "Modern Suite" for solo piano, Liszt asked the young composer to play it himself at the Society's conference in Zurich. Now, in an era when piano virtuosos like Liszt always played from memory, MacDowell premiered his "Modern Suite" with his own manuscript score propped up in front of him at the piano. This struck contemporaries as rather odd, but MacDowell's explanation was (quote): "I had n...

1 MIN4 d ago
Comments
MacDowell goes "modern"

Elgar lights up?

On today’s date in 1919, the British composer Edward Elgar finished a work he labeled jokingly as his “Opus 1001” – a 50 second “Smoking Cantata,” intended, according to the manuscript score, as "an edifying, allegorical, improving, expostulatory, educational, persuasive, hortatory, instructive, dictatorial, magisterial, inauditory work.” The score was completed at the Hertfordshire home of a wealthy banker named Edward Speyer, one of Elgar’s oldest friends, to whom the manuscript was given. When Elgar came to stay, Speyer had only one request, that the composer and his musician friends, “Kindly do not smoke in the hall or on the staircase.” That’s also the full text of Elgar’s cantata. In the middle of Elgar’s manuscript, he drew a medieval hell's mouth, belching smoke. The little score was discovered, performed, and recorded for the first time in July 2003.

1 MIN5 d ago
Comments
Elgar lights up?

Wendy Carlos and "Tron"

On today’s date in 1982, a sci-fi movie titled “Tron” opened in theaters across the country, targeting an audience fascinated by the then still-new craze for computer gaming. In the movie, a programmer–played by Jeff Bridges–is transported from the real world into a fantastic digital universe INSIDE a computer program, where he becomes a kind of freedom fighter for the program’s oppressed and exploited components. OK, the plot is far-fetched, but nonetheless “Tron” became a cult classic–in part because of its musical score created by Wendy Carlos, famous for her wildly successful “Switched-On Bach” album featuring Bach played on a Moog synthesizer. Originally the idea was for Carlos to write synthesizer music for just the “computer world” scenes, and for another composer to write a conventional orchestral score for the “real world” scenes. But Carlos convinced the producers to let her do it all, and so orchestral portions of her score were recorded in London by the Lo...

1 MIN6 d ago
Comments
Wendy Carlos and "Tron"

John Williams, musical tree-hugger?

On today's date in the year 2000, amid the greenery of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, violinist Gil Shaham gave the outdoor, open-air premiere of this new concerto at the Tanglewood Festival. The concerto is entitled—appropriately enough—"TreeSong." Accompanying Shaham was the Boston Symphony, conducted by the concerto's composer, John Williams. Williams says this music was inspired by one particular tree in Boston's Public Garden, a kind of redwood that Botanists would identify as "metasequoia glyptostroboides," but which John Williams identified simply as "my favorite tree." "For years," said Williams, "I loved to take walks in the Public Gardens, and I grew infatuated with this Chinese tree, the dawn redwood... It not only looked lovely, but it seemed animate, even intelligent." By chance, Williams met the retired Harvard University botanist Dr. Siu-Ying Hu, who had actually planted his favorite tree back in the late 1940's. She told Williams the dawn redwood was thou...

1 MIN1 w ago
Comments
John Williams, musical tree-hugger?

Handel celebrates peace

Unless you're a graduate student in 18th century European history, it's unlikely you know off the top of your head who the winners and losers were in the War of the Spanish Succession. Suffice it to say, on today's date in 1713, to celebrate the successful resolution of that conflict, a settlement known as the "Peace of Utrecht," this festive choral "Te Deum" was performed at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. It was written by a very ambitious 28-year old German composer named George Friedrich Handel. Handel had come to England for a 6-month visit in 1710, and then for good in the spring of 1712. We're not sure if Handel wrote his "Utrecht Te Deum" in response to an invitation from the British royal family, or wrote it "on spec" to win their favor. In any case, when performed by the Royal Musicians and the choir of the Chapel Royal on July 7, 1713, it made a tremendous impression. Handel was commissioned to provide many more festive choral and instrumental works for British monarchy i...

1 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Handel celebrates peace

Louis Armstrong and American music

On today's date in 1971, jazz great Louis Armstrong died in New York City at the age of 69. He was born in New Orleans, and for years, all the standard reference books listed his birthday as the Fourth of July, 1900. Well, it turned out that wonderfully symbolic date was cooked up by Armstrong's manager Joe Glaser. Louis himself wasn't sure when he was born, so the 4th of July seemed as good a date as any, and was accepted as fact for many years. Eventually documents were discovered that proved Armstrong was actually born on August 4, 1901. Armstrong earned the nickname "Satchmo"—short for "Satchelmouth"—and in later years he was affectionately dubbed "Pops." If the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is to be believed, Armstrong was the central figure in the development of jazz in the 20th century. In the 1960s, radical blacks criticized Armstrong as an "Uncle Tom" too eager to please white audiences, forgetting that it was Armstrong, alone among his jazz peers, who courageously crit...

1 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Louis Armstrong and American music

Latest Episodes

Villa-lobos premieres

For over five decades, Nicolas Slonimsky, the Russian-born American composer, conductor, and witty musical lexicographer, compiled a thick reference work titled "Music Since 1900." It's a year-by-year, month-by-month, day-by-day chronicle of musical events that Slonimsky deemed significant, interesting, or simply amusing. Here, for example, is Slonimsky's entry for July 15, 1942: "Heitor Villa-Lobos conducts in Rio de Janeiro the first performances of three of his orchestral Choros: No. 6, No. 9 and No. 11, exhaling the rhythms, the perfumes and the colors of the Brazilian scene, with tropical birds exotically chanting in the woodwinds against the measured beats of jungle drums." Slonimsky did have a way with words, and certainly had fun compiling his mammoth (and highly readable) reference work. For his part, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos was equally diligent, so much so that he himself admitted he couldn't always remember everything that he had written or when he wrote it. His Choros No. 11 for piano and orchestra, however, was one work he must have remembered: it's one of his most ambitious compositions and lasts some 65 minutes. Originally the word "choro" meant improvised music by Brazilian street musicians, but Villa-Lobos always used the word in its plural form, and used it to describe a flexible form for over a dozen of his instrumental works. Villa-Lobos also wrote a unique series of works he dubbed 'Bachianas Brasileiras", which might be translated as "Tributes to Bach in the Style of Brazil."

1 MIN14 h ago
Comments
Villa-lobos premieres

Ingram Marshall's "Dark Waters"

A famous commercial for magnetic recording tape once asked the question: "Is it live—or Memorex"—suggesting it was impossible to tell the difference. These days, at concerts of some contemporary composers' works, the correct answer would be "It's live AND Memorex"—as there is a growing body of works that involve BOTH live performers and prerecorded tape. A 1995 work by the American composer Ingram Marshall, titled 'Dark Waters,' was written for an English horn soloist accompanied by a prerecorded tape of fragments from old 78-rpm recordings of Jean Sibelius' chilly tone-poem "The Swan of Tuonela." Both the live English horn part and the prerecorded tape are digitally processed and mixed at each live performance. "Those who know the Sibelius will recognize familiar strains," says Marshall. "Of course the live and taped materials are highly processed, so eventually the listener forgets about the original materials and sinks into the re-created music itself." On today's date in 1998...

1 MIN1 d ago
Comments
Ingram Marshall's "Dark Waters"

Mendelssohn sees double

On today's date in 1829, the German composer Felix Mendelssohn was in London, participating in a gala concert to raise funds for the victims of a flood in Silesia. "Everyone who has attracted the slightest attention during the season will take part," wrote Mendelssohn. "Many offers of good performers have had to be declined, as the concert, even so, will last till the next day!" Mendelssohn performed his Double Concerto in E Major for two pianos and orchestra, joined at the second piano by his friend and fellow-composer Ignaz Moscheles. While rehearsing for the concert, Mendessohn and Moscheles jointly prepared a special cadenza, and jokingly bet each other how long the audience would applaud it—Mendessohn predicting 10 minutes, and Mosceheles, more modestly, suggesting 5. In the Baroque age, Double Concertos were very popular, but by Mendelssohn's day they had become less common. In our time, Concertos for Two Pianos are even rarer. One of the most successful American Double Conce...

1 MIN2 d ago
Comments
Mendelssohn sees double

Rouse's Violin Concerto

On today’s date in 1992, a new violin concerto by the American composer Christopher Rouse had its premiere performance in Colorado with the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra led by Leonard Slatkin and violin soloist Cho-Liang Lin, to whom the new work was dedicated. A sense of past masters of the Violin Concerto was never far from Rouse’s mind when writing this work, as he explained in his own program notes: “I have long been drawn to the two-movement concerto form as exemplified by Bartok's Violin Concerto, and I resolved to structure my own concerto [similarly] ... The opening movement is an elegiac barcarolle ... The second movement, a toccata, follows without pause and requires enormous virtuosity of the soloist. “The language of the concerto is, of course, more dissonant than that found in nineteenth century counterparts ... I ... find this to be one of my more ‘objective’ compositions, lacking as it does any stated or unstated program, though I hope that ... will not lead t...

1 MIN3 d ago
Comments
Rouse's Violin Concerto

MacDowell goes "modern"

These days, when "Modern Music" is on the program, a sizeable chunk of the concert hall audience might start nervously looking for the nearest exit—but that wasn't always the case. On today's date in 1882, a 21-year old American composer and pianist named Edward MacDowell took the stage in Zurich, Switzerland, to perform his "Modern Suite" for piano at the 19th annual conference of the General Society of German Musicians, a showcase for new music whose programs were arranged by none other than Franz Liszt. Liszt had met MacDowell earlier that year, and when MacDowell sent him the music for his "Modern Suite" for solo piano, Liszt asked the young composer to play it himself at the Society's conference in Zurich. Now, in an era when piano virtuosos like Liszt always played from memory, MacDowell premiered his "Modern Suite" with his own manuscript score propped up in front of him at the piano. This struck contemporaries as rather odd, but MacDowell's explanation was (quote): "I had n...

1 MIN4 d ago
Comments
MacDowell goes "modern"

Elgar lights up?

On today’s date in 1919, the British composer Edward Elgar finished a work he labeled jokingly as his “Opus 1001” – a 50 second “Smoking Cantata,” intended, according to the manuscript score, as "an edifying, allegorical, improving, expostulatory, educational, persuasive, hortatory, instructive, dictatorial, magisterial, inauditory work.” The score was completed at the Hertfordshire home of a wealthy banker named Edward Speyer, one of Elgar’s oldest friends, to whom the manuscript was given. When Elgar came to stay, Speyer had only one request, that the composer and his musician friends, “Kindly do not smoke in the hall or on the staircase.” That’s also the full text of Elgar’s cantata. In the middle of Elgar’s manuscript, he drew a medieval hell's mouth, belching smoke. The little score was discovered, performed, and recorded for the first time in July 2003.

1 MIN5 d ago
Comments
Elgar lights up?

Wendy Carlos and "Tron"

On today’s date in 1982, a sci-fi movie titled “Tron” opened in theaters across the country, targeting an audience fascinated by the then still-new craze for computer gaming. In the movie, a programmer–played by Jeff Bridges–is transported from the real world into a fantastic digital universe INSIDE a computer program, where he becomes a kind of freedom fighter for the program’s oppressed and exploited components. OK, the plot is far-fetched, but nonetheless “Tron” became a cult classic–in part because of its musical score created by Wendy Carlos, famous for her wildly successful “Switched-On Bach” album featuring Bach played on a Moog synthesizer. Originally the idea was for Carlos to write synthesizer music for just the “computer world” scenes, and for another composer to write a conventional orchestral score for the “real world” scenes. But Carlos convinced the producers to let her do it all, and so orchestral portions of her score were recorded in London by the Lo...

1 MIN6 d ago
Comments
Wendy Carlos and "Tron"

John Williams, musical tree-hugger?

On today's date in the year 2000, amid the greenery of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, violinist Gil Shaham gave the outdoor, open-air premiere of this new concerto at the Tanglewood Festival. The concerto is entitled—appropriately enough—"TreeSong." Accompanying Shaham was the Boston Symphony, conducted by the concerto's composer, John Williams. Williams says this music was inspired by one particular tree in Boston's Public Garden, a kind of redwood that Botanists would identify as "metasequoia glyptostroboides," but which John Williams identified simply as "my favorite tree." "For years," said Williams, "I loved to take walks in the Public Gardens, and I grew infatuated with this Chinese tree, the dawn redwood... It not only looked lovely, but it seemed animate, even intelligent." By chance, Williams met the retired Harvard University botanist Dr. Siu-Ying Hu, who had actually planted his favorite tree back in the late 1940's. She told Williams the dawn redwood was thou...

1 MIN1 w ago
Comments
John Williams, musical tree-hugger?

Handel celebrates peace

Unless you're a graduate student in 18th century European history, it's unlikely you know off the top of your head who the winners and losers were in the War of the Spanish Succession. Suffice it to say, on today's date in 1713, to celebrate the successful resolution of that conflict, a settlement known as the "Peace of Utrecht," this festive choral "Te Deum" was performed at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. It was written by a very ambitious 28-year old German composer named George Friedrich Handel. Handel had come to England for a 6-month visit in 1710, and then for good in the spring of 1712. We're not sure if Handel wrote his "Utrecht Te Deum" in response to an invitation from the British royal family, or wrote it "on spec" to win their favor. In any case, when performed by the Royal Musicians and the choir of the Chapel Royal on July 7, 1713, it made a tremendous impression. Handel was commissioned to provide many more festive choral and instrumental works for British monarchy i...

1 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Handel celebrates peace

Louis Armstrong and American music

On today's date in 1971, jazz great Louis Armstrong died in New York City at the age of 69. He was born in New Orleans, and for years, all the standard reference books listed his birthday as the Fourth of July, 1900. Well, it turned out that wonderfully symbolic date was cooked up by Armstrong's manager Joe Glaser. Louis himself wasn't sure when he was born, so the 4th of July seemed as good a date as any, and was accepted as fact for many years. Eventually documents were discovered that proved Armstrong was actually born on August 4, 1901. Armstrong earned the nickname "Satchmo"—short for "Satchelmouth"—and in later years he was affectionately dubbed "Pops." If the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is to be believed, Armstrong was the central figure in the development of jazz in the 20th century. In the 1960s, radical blacks criticized Armstrong as an "Uncle Tom" too eager to please white audiences, forgetting that it was Armstrong, alone among his jazz peers, who courageously crit...

1 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Louis Armstrong and American music
hmly
Welcome to Himalaya LearningDozens of podcourses featuring over 100 experts are waiting for you.