Composers Datebook®

with host John Zech

Tuesday, January 3

The productive Mr. Donizetti and Mr. Williams

Synopsis

The comic opera “Don Pasquale” by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti had its first performance in Paris on this date in the year 1843. To this day it remains one of his best-loved and most often-performed works. In all, Donizetti wrote about 70 operas, sometimes turning out four per year.

Amazing as this seems today, it wasn’t at all uncommon in the 19th century, especially in Italy, where audience demand for new works was insatiable. Back then, when composers vied with each other for speed, Donizetti was asked if he believed that Rossini had written “The Barber of Seville” in only 13 days. “Why not?” quipped Donizetti, “He’s so lazy!”

In our time, the corollary of a busy opera composer like Donizetti might be a hard-pressed Hollywood composer like John Williams. To date, Williams has written approximately the same number of film scores as Donizetti wrote operas!

John Williams started out in the 1960s writing scores for TV shows like “Wagon Train” and “Gilligan’s Island,” then wrote for movies like “How to Steal a Million” and “Valley of the Dolls.” Eventually he wrote some of the most memorable film scores of our time, including those for “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” and “Schindler’s List.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) Don Pasquale Overture Philharmonia Orchestra; Riccardo Muti, cond. EMI 54490

John Williams (b. 1932) Devil's Dance, from Witches of Eastwick Boston Pops; John Williams, cond. Philips 422 385

Additional Information

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