Classical Music Timeline: 1870s

This is one of a series of postings of important classical music dates, from the 17th century to the present. Included are the date and location of the birth and death of composers, and the premiere date and location of the first public performance of works. When the premiere date and location is unknown, the date or year of completion of the work is given. Though reasonably comprehensive, this is a subjective list, so the choice of composers and works is mine. If you find any errors, or if you can offer a premiere date and location for a work where only the completion date or year is listed, please post a comment here.

1870
January 5 – Liebeslieder Waltzes, op. 52, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

April 8 – Charles Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870) died in Brussels, Belgium

1871
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed The Bridal Procession Passes By, op. 19, no. 2 [later orchestrated by Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935) as the Norwegian Bridal Procession]

1872
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed the incidental music for Sigurd Jorsalfar, op. 22

May 1 – Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960) was born in Stockholm, Sweden

May 16 – Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940) was born in Lyubim, Russia

October 12 – Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England

November 10 – L’Arlésienne Suite No. 1, op. 23bis, incidental music by Georges Bizet (1837-1875) was first performed in Paris, France

1873
January 19 – Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 33, by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was first performed in Paris, France

April 1 – Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was born in Oneg, Novgorod, Russia

April 22 – Wiener Blut, op. 354, waltz by Johann Strauss II (1825-1899) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

November 2 – Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, op. 56a, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

November 10 – Henri Rabaud (1873-1949) was born in Paris, France

December 11 – String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, op. 51, no. 1, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

1874
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) completed Der Abend (The Evening) from Three Quartets, op. 64, no. 2

January 4 – Josef Suk (1874-1935) was born in Křečovice, Czech Republic

May 22Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was first performed in Milan, Italy

June 22 – Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) completed Pictures at an Exhibition, for piano

September 21 – Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

1875
January 11 – Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) was born in Kyiv, Ukraine

January 24 – Danse macabre, op. 40, by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was first performed in Paris, France

February 2 – Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) was born in Vienna, Austria

March 3 – Carmen, opera by Georges Bizet (1837-1875) was first performed in Paris, France

March 7 – Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was born in Ciboure, France

May 8 – Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes, op. 65, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Karlsruhe, Germany

June 3 – Georges Bizet (1837-1875) died in Bougival, France

September 15 – Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) died in Paris, France

October 31 – Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, op. 44, by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was first performed in Paris, France

November 18 – Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, op. 60, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

1876
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed Ballade in the Form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song in G minor, op. 24, for piano

January 12 – Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) was born in Venice, Italy

January 28 – Sérénade mélancolique in B♭ minor for violin and orchestra, op. 26, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

February 24 – Peer Gynt, op. 23, incidental music by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was first performed in Oslo, Norway

November 4 – Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op. 68, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Karlsruhe, Germany

November 18 – Slavonic March in B♭ minor, op. 31, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

November 23 – Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) was born in Cádiz, Spain

December 10 – Serenade for Strings in E major, op. 22, by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

1877
March 4 – Swan Lake, op. 20, ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

March 9 – Francesca da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasy after Dante, op. 32, symphonic poem by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

July 27 – Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960) was born in Bratislava, Slovakia

November 21 – Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) was born in Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany

December 2 – Symphonic Variations, op. 78, by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

December 9 – Cello Concerto in D minor by Édouard Lalo (1823-1892) was first performed in Paris, France

December 9 – Romance in F minor for Violin and Orchestra, op. 11, by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

December 30 – Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

1878
Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931) completed The Enchanted Forest (La forêt enchantée), op. 8

February 22 – Symphony No. 4 in F minor, op. 36, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

1879
L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2, incidental music by Georges Bizet (1837-1875) and compiled by Ernest Guiraud (1837-1892), was published

Nocturne in B major, op. 40, by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Nice, France

January 1 – Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Leipzig, Germany

February 26 – Frank Bridge (1879-1941) was born in Brighton, England

March 4 – Symphony No. 2 in B minor (revised) by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

May 16 – Czech Suite in D major, op. 39, by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

July 9 – Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) was born in Bologna, Italy

October 19 – Symphony No. 5 in F minor for Organ, op. 42, no. 1, by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) was first performed in Paris, France

October 21 – Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957) was born in Annonay, France

October 29 – Eight Pieces for Piano, op. 76, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Berlin, Germany

November 8 – Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, op. 78, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Bonn, Germany

1860s

1880s

Sibelius Violin Concerto

The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) aspired to be a virtuoso violinist, but abandoned that career because he felt that he had begun his “training for the exacting career of a virtuoso too late.” But it must have been some consolation that his violin concerto of 1904/1905—his only concerto—is one of the most inspired works of that genre in the repertoire.

There are many fine recordings of the Sibelius Violin Concerto, but one I am especially fond of is a 1951 recording with Isaac Stern and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

Here’s the conclusion of the work, nicely illustrating the passion and energy of this performance by Stern and Beecham’s Royal Philharmonic despite the primitive recording technology available at the time. Just goes to show that there were some remarkable recordings made more than 70 years ago!

Conclusion of the 1951 recording of Isaac Stern playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham, conducting

While we’re on the topic of violin concertos, here are the best I’ve heard, in chronological order of their composition. Seek them out and enjoy!

Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043 – Johann Sebastian Bach (c. 1730)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61 – Ludwig van Beethoven (1806)

Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64 – Felix Mendelssohn (1844)

Violin Concerto No. 8 in D major, op. 99 – Charles-Auguste de Bériot (c. 1845)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26 – Max Bruch (1867)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77 – Johannes Brahms (1878)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1878)

Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 53 – Antonín Dvořák (1879)

Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47 – Jean Sibelius (1905)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, op. 19 – Sergei Prokofiev (1917)

Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 63 – Sergei Prokofiev (1935)

Violin Concerto, op. 14 – Samuel Barber (1939)

Violin Concerto in D minor – Aram Khachaturian (1940)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35 – Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1945)

Violin Concerto in C major, op. 48 – Dmitry Kabalevsky (1948)

And, outstanding violin concerto movements:

Intermezzo (Poco adagio) [2nd & final movement] from Violin Concerto, op. 33 – Carl Nielsen (1911)

Sicilienne (Andantino) [2nd movement] from Concierto de estío, for violin and orchestra – Joaquín Rodrigo (1943)

Curious as to why so many violin concertos are written in the key of D major? I was.

“D major is well-suited to violin music because of the structure of the instrument, which is tuned G D A E. The open strings resonate sympathetically with the D string, producing a sound that is especially brilliant. This is also the case with all other orchestral strings.” – Wikipedia entry for D major