Classical Music Timeline: 1940s

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.

1940
Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987) completed The Comedians, op. 26

June 11 – Divertimento for string orchestra, Sz. 113 BB 118 by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) was first performed in Basel, Switzerland

July 1The Sea Hawk, with film score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), was released

November 9Concierto de Aranjuez, for guitar and orchestra, by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) was first performed in Barcelona, Spain

November 16 – Violin Concerto in D minor by Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

December 3 – Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940) died in Moscow, Russia

December 9 – Sextet for Piano and Winds (1939 revision), FP 100 by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was first performed in Paris, France

December 26 – Symphony No. 4, “Folk Song Symphony”, by Roy Harris (1898-1979) was first performed in Cleveland, Ohio

1941
January 3 – Symphonic Dances, op. 45 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was first performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

January 10 – Frank Bridge (1879-1941) died in Eastbourne, England

February 7 – Violin Concerto, op. 14 by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was first performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

April 17 – Adolphus Hailstork (1941-) was born in Rochester, New York

June 21Masquerade Suite by Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

June 26Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell (1904-1977) premiered in the film Dangerous Moonlight

1942
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) completed Song of the Brave, for tenor and piano, op. 89, no. 2

March 5 – Symphony No. 7, “Leningrad”, by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Leningrad at the time)

April 16 – Second Essay for Orchestra, op. 17 by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was first performed in New York, New York

June 11 – Geoffrey Toye (1889-1942) died in London, England

June 18 – Paul McCartney (1942-) was born in Liverpool, England

December 4A Ceremony of Carols, op. 28 by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was first performed (in its final form) in London, England

December 9Gayane, ballet by Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) was first performed in Perm, Russia

1943
March 12Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was first performed in Cincinnati, Ohio

March 28 – Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) died in Beverly Hills, California

June 24 – Symphony No. 5 in D major by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was first performed in London, England

1944
Percy Grainger (1882-1961) completed the orchestration of La Vallée des cloches (”Valley of the Bells”) from Miroirs by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

January 28 – Symphony No. 1, “Jeremiah”, by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was first performed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

April 16Concierto de estío, for violin and orchestra, by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) was first performed in Lisbon, Portugal

May 7Our Town, music from the film score, by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

May 8 – Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) died in Woking, England

June 7Gran Marcha de los Subsecretarios (“Grand March of the Subsecretaries”), for piano four hands, by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) was first performed in Madrid, Spain

August – Kaljo Raid (1921-2005) completed Symphony No. 1

October 30Appalachian Spring, ballet by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was first performed in Washington, D.C.

October 31Sebastian, ballet by Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007) was first performed in New York, New York

December 1 – Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123 by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

December 27 – Amy Beach (1867-1944) died in New York, New York

December 30 – Piano Sonata No. 8 in B♭ major, op. 84 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

1945
Suite from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was arranged by Artur Rodziński (1892-1958)

January 13 – Symphony No. 5 in B♭ major, op. 100 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

April 9Girl No. 217, with film score by Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978), was released

August 2 – Emil von Reznicek (1860-1945) died in Berlin, Germany

September 15 – Anton Webern (1883-1945) died in Mittersill, Austria

September 24 – John Rutter (1945-) was born in London, England

September 26 – Béla Bartók (1881-1945) died in New York, New York

October 12 – Symphony No. 3, H. 299 by Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

November 3 – Symphony No. 9 in E♭ major, op. 70 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

November 21Cinderella, ballet, op. 87 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

November 30 – Symphony No. 4, H. 305 by Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) was first performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

December 17À l’ombre de Torre Bermeja (“In the Shadow of the Crimson Tower”) by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) was first performed in Madrid, Spain

December 17A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map, for male chorus, brass, and drums, op. 15 by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was first performed in New York, New York

1946
Twenty-Four Preludes, op. 38 by Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

February 8 – Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major, Sz. 119, BB 127 by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) was first performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 16 – Granville Bantock (1868-1946) died in London, England

October 18 – Symphony No. 3 by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

October 23 – Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, op. 80 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

November 14 – Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) died in Alta Gracia, Argentina

November 27Cinco piezas infantiles (“Five children’s pieces”), for orchestra, by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) was first performed in Madrid, Spain

December 6 – Maximilian Steinberg (1883-1946) died in Saint Petersburg, Russia

1947
January 8 – Piano Concerto, op. 44 by Richard Arnell (1917-2009) was first performed in New York, New York

February 15 – Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) was first performed in St. Louis, Missouri

February 15 – John Adams (1947-) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts

March 5 – Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) died in Rome, Italy

June 14 – Michael Mauldin (1947-) was born in Port Arthur, Texas

August 20 – Concerto for Bassoon and Strings with Percussion by Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) was first performed in London, England

October 23Starlight Roof Waltz by George Melachrino (1909-1965) was first performed in London, England

November 12Flourish, Mighty Land, cantata for chorus and orchestra, op. 114 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

November 29The Legend of Ohrid, ballet by Stevan Hristić (1885-1958) was first performed in Belgrade, Serbia

1948
William Grant Still (1895-1978) completed Miniatures, for flute, oboe, and piano

January 21 – Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) died in Venice, Italy

April 21 – Symphony No. 6 in E minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was first performed in London, England

May 4Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

June 27 – George Templeton Strong (1856-1948) died in Geneva, Switzerland

October 29 – Violin Concerto in C major, op. 48 by Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

October 30The Red Pony, suite from the film score, by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was first performed in Houston, Texas

1949
Clive Richardson (1909-1998) completed Beachcomber

Robert Farnon (1917-2005) completed How Beautiful is Night

January 14 – Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) died in Madrid, Spain

September 8 – Richard Strauss (1864-1949) died in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

September 11 – Henri Rabaud (1873-1949) died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

December 2Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

1930s

1950s→

Classical Music Timeline: 1930s

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.

1930
August 7 – Veljo Tormis (1930-2017) was born in Kuusalu, Estonia

November 28 – Symphony No. 2 in D♭ major, op. 30, “Romantic” by Howard Hanson (1896-1981) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

December 17 – Peter Warlock (1894-1930) died in London, England

1931
Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) completed Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite III, P172

Percy Grainger (1882-1961) completed the orchestral version of Blithe Bells (Ramble on Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze”)

September 8A Choral Fantasia, op. 51 by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was first performed in Gloucester, England

October 3 – Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) died in Copenhagen, Denmark

November 22Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofé (1892-1972) was first performed in Chicago, Illinois

December 2 – Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931) died in Paris, France

1932
February 8 – John Williams (1932-) was born in New York, New York

March 17La donna serpente, opera by Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) was first performed in Rome, Italy

April 2 – Symphony No. 9 by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) was first performed in Munich, Germany

April 22 – Isao Tomita (1932-2016) was born in Tokyo, Japan

May – Piano Quartet in A minor, op. 67 by Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) was first performed (location unknown)

September 5 – Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor, FP 61 by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was first performed in Venice, Italy

1933
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) completed Cavatina

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) completed Pastorale for Violin and Piano

Aita Donostia (1886-1956) completed Urruti-jaia [Festive Song], for chamber orchestra

January 23 – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Sz. 95, BB 101 by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) was first performed in Frankfurt, Germany

April 9 – Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) died in Leipzig, Germany

August 30 – Overture to The School for Scandal, op. 5 by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was first performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 10 – Gloria Coates (1933-2023) was born in Wausau, Wisconsin

October 15 – Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra (Piano Concerto No. 1), op. 35 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

1934
February 23 – Edward Elgar (1857-1934) died in Worcester, Worcestershire, England

MarchBrook Green Suite, for string orchestra, H. 190 by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was first performed in London, England

March 21 – Franz Schreker (1878-1934) died in Berlin, Germany

April 3The Haunted Ballroom, ballet by Geoffrey Toye (1889-1942) was first performed in London, England

May 25 – Gustav Holst (1874-1934) died in London, England

June 10 – Frederick Delius (1862-1934) died in Grez-sur-Loing, France

September 27 – Fantasia on “Greensleeves” by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and arranged for string orchestra and harp by Ralph Greaves (1889-1966) was first performed in London, England

November 7 – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in A minor, op. 43 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was first performed in Baltimore, Maryland

December 21Lieutenant Kijé, suite, op. 60 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Paris, France

December 31Egyptian Nights, symphonic suite, op. 61 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in a radio broadcast from Moscow, Russia

1935
William Grant Still (1895-1978) completed Summerland

January 28 – Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) died in Moscow, Russia

March 10 – Auvo Sarmanto (1935-) was born in Helsinki, Finland

March 24Music for a Scene from Shelley, tone poem, op. 7 by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was first performed in New York, New York

April 10 – Symphony No. 4 in F minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was first performed in London, England

May 17 – Paul Dukas (1865-1935) died in Paris, France

May 29 – Josef Suk (1874-1935) died in Benešov, Czech Republic

July 17 – Peter Schickele (1935-2024) was born in Ames, Iowa

November 6 – Symphony No. 1 in B♭ minor by William Walton (1902-1983) was first performed in London, England

December 1 – Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 63 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Madrid, Spain

December 4 – Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935) died in Oslo, Norway

1936
January 29Summer’s Last Will and Testament, cantata by Constant Lambert (1905-1951) was first performed in London, England

March 21 – Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

April 11Music for Children, for piano, op. 65 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

April 18 – Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) died in Rome, Italy

May 2Peter and the Wolf, a symphonic fairy tale for children, op. 67 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

May 10The Plow That Broke the Plains, with documentary film score by Virgil Thomson (1896-1989), received its public premiere in Washington, D.C.

July 22 – Krasimir Kyurkchiyski (1936-2011) was born in Troyan, Bulgaria

October 2Dona Nobis Pacem, cantata for soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was first performed in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England

October 28 – Carl Davis (1936-2023) was born in Brooklyn, New York

November 11 – Edward German (1862-1936) died in London, England

1937
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) completed Four Marches for Military Band, op. 69

January 19Hollywood Suite by Ferde Grofé (1892-1972) was first performed in New York, New York

January 31 – Philip Glass (1937-) was born in Baltimore, Maryland

March 12 – Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) died in Paris, France

March 29 – Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) died in Lausanne, Switzerland

May 7 – “Walking the Dog (Promenade)” by George Gershwin (1898-1937) premiered in the film Shall We Dance. This may be the last instrumental composition by Gershwin.

May 8The Prince and the Pauper, with film score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), was released

July 11 – George Gershwin (1898-1937) died in Los Angeles, California

July 12 – Piano Concerto in D♭ major, op. 38 by Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

September 30 – Valentin Silvestrov (1937-) was born in Kyiv, Ukraine

November 21 – Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op. 47 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

December 28 – Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) died in Paris, France

1938
Howard Hanson (1896-1981) completed Suite from Merry Mount

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) completed Cinco piezas del siglo XVI (Five Pieces of the Sixteenth Century), for piano

January 5Songs of Our Days, cantata for mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, chorus, and orchestra, op. 76 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

February 16 – John Corigliano (1938-) was born in New York, New York

February 22Colas Breugnon, opera, op. 24 by Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

May 26 – William Bolcom (1938-) was born in Seattle, Washington

October 5Serenade to Music in D major by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was first performed in London, England

October 19 – “September Song”, from Knickerbocker Holiday by Kurt Weill (1900-1950) was first performed in New York, New York

November 5Adagio for Strings in B♭ minor by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was first performed in New York, New York

December 30 – Romeo and Juliet, ballet, op. 64 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Brno, Czech Republic

1939
Percy Grainger (1882-1961) completed “The Duke of Marlborough” Fanfare (BFMS No. 36)

March 9Cuatro piezas para piano by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) was first performed in Paris, France

May 17Alexander Nevsky, cantata, op. 78 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

June 2 – Enrique Fernández Arbós (1863-1939) died in San Sebastián, Spain

June 22 – Heikki Sarmanto (1939-) was born in Helsinki, Finland

November 21 – Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 54 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

December 21Zdravitsa, cantata for chorus and orchestra, op. 85 by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

1920s

1940s

Classical Music Timeline: 1890s

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.

1890
Feuillet d’album by Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894) was first published

February 2 – Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88, B163 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

June 21 – Death and Transfiguration, op. 24, tone poem by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was first performed in Eisenach, Germany

October 17 – Piano Quartet No. 2 in E♭ major, op. 87, B162 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

November 4Prince Igor, opera by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

November 8 – César Franck (1822-1890) died in Paris, France

December 8 – Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) was born in Polička, Czech Republic

1891
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed Two Melodies for String Orchestra, op. 53

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed Lyric Pieces, Book V, op. 54 (some were orchestrated later as the Lyric Suite)

Norwegian Dances, op. 35, by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was orchestrated by Hans Sitt (1850-1922)

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) completed Beau Soir

Josef Suk (1874-1935) completed Piano Quartet in A minor, op. 1

January 15 – Marche Solennelle by Edward German (1862-1936) was first performed in London, England

March 16 – Fantasy Pieces, op. 2, for oboe and piano, by Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) was first performed in Copenhagen, Denmark

April 18 – Symphony in B♭ major, op. 20 by Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) was first performed in Paris, France

April 27 – Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was born in Sontsivka, Ukraine

October 9 – Requiem in B♭ minor, op. 89, B165 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Birmingham, England

December 12 – Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet in B minor, op. 115, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Berlin, Germany

1892
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) completed Seven Fantasies for Piano, op. 116

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) completed Capricho árabe (Arabic Caprice), for solo guitar

March 19 – The Nutcracker Suite, op. 71a, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

March 27 – Ferde Grofé (1892-1972) was born in New York, New York

April 6 – Symphony No. 4 in D minor, op. 13, B41 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

April 22 – Édouard Lalo (1823-1892) died in Paris, France

May 6 – Ernest Guiraud (1837-1892) died in Paris, France

September 26 – Prélude in C♯ minor, op. 3, no. 2 from Morceaux de fantaisie by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was first performed in Moscow, Russia

October 21 – Te Deum, op. 103, B176 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in New York, New York

December 18 – Symphony No. 8 in C minor, WAB 108, by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

1893
January 18 – Mass in D by Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was first performed in London, England

January 30 – Intermezzo in E♭ major, op. 117, no. 1, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in London, England

March 4 – Symphony No. 2 in G minor, “Sintram”, by George Templeton Strong (1856-1948) was first performed in New York, New York

August 21 – Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) was born in Paris, France

October 28 – Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 74 “Pathétique” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

November 6 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) died in Saint Petersburg, Russia

November 23 – Karelia Suite, op. 11 by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was first performed in Helsinki, Finland

December 16 – Symphony No. 9 in E minor, op. 95, B178 “From the New World” by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in New York, New York

December 23 – Hänsel und Gretel, opera by Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921), was first performed in Weimar, Germany

1894
Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) completed Caucasian Sketches, Suite No. 1, op. 10

January 1 – String Quartet No. 12 in F major, op. 96, B179 “American” by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

January 22 – Six Pieces for Piano, op. 118, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in London, England

January 22 – Rhapsody in E♭ major, op. 119, no. 4, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in London, England

February 25 – Serenade for Strings in E♭ major, op. 6 by Josef Suk (1874-1935) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

March 16 – Méditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was first performed in Paris, France

May 17 – Richard Strauss (1864-1949) completed Ruhe, Meine Seele, op. 27, no. 1 at Weimar, Germany. He completed an orchestral song version of this piece in 1948.

September 13 – Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894) died in Paris, France

October 30 – Peter Warlock (1894-1930) was born in London, England

December 16 – Silent Woods, for cello and orchestra (or piano), op. 68, no. 5, B182 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Basel, Switzerland

December 22 – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, symphonic poem by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was first performed in Paris, France

1895
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) completed the Viola Sonata in F minor, op. 120, no. 1 (version of Clarinet Sonata, op. 120, no. 1)

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) completed the Viola Sonata in E♭ major, op. 120, no. 2 (version of Clarinet Sonata, op. 120, no. 2)

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed Two Nordic Melodies for String Orchestra, op. 63

Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) completed Armenian Rhapsody on National Themes, op. 48

Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897) completed Suite gothique, op. 25 for organ

January 3 – Borys Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968) was born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine

April 3 – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) was born in Florence, Italy

May 11 – William Grant Still (1895-1978) was born in Woodville, Mississippi

July 5 – Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) was born in London, England

November 5 – Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, op. 28 tone poem by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was first performed in Cologne, Germany

December 13 – Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection”, by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was first performed in Berlin, Germany

1896
Souvenir d’un lieu cher (Memory of a Beloved Place), op. 42, for Violin and Orchestra (arranged by Alexander Glazunov), by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was first published

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed Symphonic Dances, op. 64

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed Lyric Pieces, Book VIII, op. 65

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) completed Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra), for solo guitar

Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) completed Woodland Sketches, op. 51

Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940) completed Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 1 in G major, op. 1, no. 1

January 10 – Sonatina in G major, for violin and piano, op. 100, B183 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Brno, Czech Republic

March 16Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was first performed in Berlin, Germany

March 19 – Cello Concerto in B minor, op. 104, B191 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in London, England

May 20 – Clara Schumann (1819-1896) died in Frankfurt, Germany

June 3 – The Water Goblin, symphonic poem, op. 107, B195 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

June 3 – The Noon Witch, symphonic poem, op. 108, B196 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Prague, Czech Republic

October 11 – Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) died in Vienna, Austria

October 28 – Howard Hanson (1896-1981) was born in Wahoo, Nebraska

November 25 – Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) was born in Kansas City, Missouri

November 27 – Also sprach Zarathustra, op. 30, tone poem by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was first performed in Frankfurt, Germany

December 27 – Poème, for violin and orchestra, op. 25 by Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) was first performed in Nancy, France

1897
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) completed Der Abend, op. 34, no. 1 (“The Evening”), for chorus

January 3 – Symphony in C by Paul Dukas (1865-1935) was first performed in Paris, France

March 28 – Symphony No. 1 in D minor, op. 13 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

April 3 – Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) died in Vienna, Austria

May 29 – Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) was born in Brno, Czech Republic

June 12 – Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986) was born in Łódź, Poland

October 11 – Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897) died in Paris, France

1898
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) completed Sicilienne, op. 78, for cello and piano

February 12 – Roy Harris (1898-1979) was born in Chandler, Oklahoma

March 20 – The Wild Dove, symphonic poem, op. 110, B198 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was first performed in Brno, Czech Republic

September 26 – George Gershwin (1898-1937) was born in Brooklyn, New York

November 13 – Four Sacred Pieces by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was first performed in its entirety in Vienna, Austria

1899
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed the orchestration for Two Lyric Pieces, op. 68

Percy Grainger (1882-1961) completed Fisher’s Boarding-House

January 7 – Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was born in Paris, France

March 3 – Ein Heldenleben, op. 40, tone poem by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was first performed in Frankfurt, Germany

June 3 – Johann Strauss II (1825-1899) died in Vienna, Austria

June 10 – Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) died in Limay, Yvelines, France

June 19 – Variations on an Original Theme, op. 36 “Enigma Variations” by Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was first performed in London, England

1880s

1900s

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

Korngold & The Prince and the Pauper

Robert J. Mauch and Errol Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper, 1937

Sometimes you hear a piece of film music that is so good that it makes you want to see the film. That is certainly what brought me to the 1937 film adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) wrote the film score for The Prince and the Pauper. Here is the Main Title:

André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon 289 471 347-2)

Korngold reused this theme in his wonderful Violin Concerto of 1945:

André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra; Gil Shaham, violin
(Deutsche Grammophon 439 886-2)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a Viennese compositional wunderkind whose father was the overbearing Julius Leopold Korngold (1860-1945), chief music critic for the Neue Freie Presse and the most influential music critic in all of Vienna during Erich’s formative years. (Another Leopold was also an overbearing father to another extraordinarily talented child prodigy whose middle name was Wolfgang.) Undoubtedly molded by his father’s extreme distaste for atonal modernism, young Erich developed a style that was tonal and melodic. However, the classical music world was “evolving” away from tonality and Romanticism, and as often happens with composers who write new music using an old idiom, they are largely ignored or, worse yet, forgotten. Fortunately, Erich Wolfgang Korngold was discovered by Hollywood where his tonal music was appreciated, and he went on to write scores for sixteen Hollywood films to great acclaim. He also wrote a great deal of classical music not associated with films that has been neglected for decades and only recently is receiving a fresh hearing and long-overdue appreciation.

The Prince and the Pauper, starring Billy & Bobby Mauch, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Phyllis Barry, and many other notable actors, is a delightful movie suitable for the entire family. Highly recommended!