Composers Datebook

by American Public Media · · · · 12 subscribers

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.

On today’s date in 1923, the comedy team of Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles were the star attraction in a new musical they had written called “Runnin’ Wild,” which opened at the Colonial Theater at Broadway and 62nd Street. In their day, Miller and Lyles were the African-American equivalent of Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy. The plot of “Runnin’ Wild,” like many Broadway musicals of that day, was flimsy: two Southern con-men on the run head north to St. Paul, Minnesota, but find the natives too strange and the climate too cold, so they return home disguised as ...

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Tags: education, music, society & culture

Older Episodes

Ince's "Flight Box" Oct. 28, 2018
On today’s date in 2001, this music helped open a new art museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The building was designed by Santiago Calatrava, and its roof looks a little like the wings of a large, gra...
Daniel Asia's Fourth Oct. 27, 2018
On today’s date in 1993, the American composer Daniel Asia conducted the Phoenix Symphony in the premiere performance of his Symphony No. 4. The work included a slow movement, written as an orchest...
On today’s date in 1930, “The Age of Gold,” a new ballet by the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich opened at the State Academic Theater in Leningrad. At that time, it was trendy for Soviet Art to ...
The real story behind Richard Strauss’ decision to use a chamber orchestra for his opera “Ariadne on Naxos” is rather complicated and frankly mundane. We prefer a much more “colorful” version, even...
On a number of occasions, the American composer Steve Reich has suggested that his intensely personal brand of music-making works best in small-ensemble situations. But on today’s date in 2001, at ...
On today's date in 1959, the Detroit Symphony under the eminent French conductor Paul Paray gave the first performance of some music by the eminent American composer Walter Piston. Piston had stu...
George Frideric Handel is the composer credited with “inventing” the organ concerto back in the 18th century. Handel was a virtuoso performer on the organ, and, as a special added attraction duri...
Let’s face it. Brevity and wit are not always qualities one associates with new music. But today we offer a sample: this comic overture is less than 5 minutes long, and opens, as you just heard, w...
On today’s date in 1950, the famous oboist Marcel Tabuteau gave the premiere performance of this “Pastorale” for solo oboe, harp, and strings, with his colleagues from the Philadelphia Orchestra an...
Chadwick wins a prize Oct. 19, 2018
Every composer who enters a competition hopes to get a letter like this one, which showed up in the Boston mailbox of George Whitefield Chadwick in 1894: “I take pleasure in announcing that your s...
In 1958, the state of Minnesota was celebrating its centennial, and decided to commission a symphony in honor of the occasion. Now, thanks to Garrison Keillor, just about everyone these days knows...
By the mid-1940s, the famous American bandleader Paul Whiteman was not as popular as he once was during the 20s and 30s. Even so, his name and orchestra were still a draw, and Whiteman was ever hop...
There are some operas which are rarely—if ever—staged, but whose music becomes famous—even wildly popular—in the concert hall. Everyone has heard the overture to Rossini’s “William Tell,” for examp...
The expatriate American composer Conlon Nancarrow is famous for writing pieces for player pianos. Nancarrow apparently came to the conclusion that the rhythmically complex, intricate contrapuntal...
Imagine the cocktail party bragging rights you’d have if you had attended the first night of “Girl Crazy,” a new musical that opened in New York on today’s date in 1930. That show marked the Broadw...
Diamond's Second Oct. 13, 2018
On today’s date in 1944, a 29-year-old American composer named David Diamond had his Second Symphony premiered by the Boston Symphony under the famous Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky. Diamond...
Martinu's Third Oct. 12, 2018
On today’s date in 1945, the Third Symphony of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu had its premiere performance at Symphony Hall in Boston. The new symphony’s dedication read: “To Serge Koussevit...
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then composers must really have a thing about birds. For centuries, composers have imitated bird song in their music: Vivaldi’s “Goldfinch” concerto...
On today’s date in 1903, a baby boy was born in the Russian railroad station of Parfianovka. The proud parents of little Vladimir Dukelsky were both musical, and so lulled the little boy to sleep w...