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 Noonday 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!