On today's date in 1962, the Symphony No. 5 for strings, by the German-born American composer Gene Gutchë, received its premiere performance at Chatauqua, New York.
Romeo Maximilian Eugene Ludwig Gutchë was born in Berlin in 1907. His father, a well-to-do European businessman, was not amused by the notion of his son "wasting" his time on music, even though the famous Berlin-based composer-pianist Ferrucio Busoni confirmed the young man's talent. So "Gene" Gutchë ran away from home, abandoning any hope of a sizeable inheritance in the process, and came to America.
He studied at the Universities of Minnesota and Iowa, and, in 1950, at age 43 produced his first symphony. Gutchë would go on to compose six symphonies in all, plus an hour-long symphonic work for chorus and orchestra titled "Akhenaten," premiered by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony in 1983. For most of his life, despite fellowships and commissions, Gutchë lived modestly with his wife, Marion, in a cottage in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
"I like to think in each of us a greatness resides," wrote Gutchë. "Music is a reflection of what we are. Every artist is compelled to egomania—a delusion of grandeur—which hypnotizes him to express his ideas in the grand manner."
Gutchë died in the fall of 2001—one year after this Cincinnati Symphony recording of his Fifth Symphony was reissued on compact disc.
Music Played in Today's Program
Gene Gutchë (1907 - 2001) Symphony No. 5, Op. 34 Cincinnati Symphony; Max Rudolf, cond. CRI 825
On This Day
1865 - Russian composer Alexander Glazunov, in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: August 10)
1887 - Hungarian born American operetta composer Sigmund Romberg, in Nagy Kanizsa; He came to the U.S. in 1909, and settled in New York City, where his over 70 operettas were produced from 1914-1945
1900 - Soviet composer Alexander Mosolov, in Kiev (Gregorian date: August 10)
1925 - Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, in Chios; He achieved international fame for his score for the 1965 film "Zorba the Greek"
1856 - German composer Robert Schumann, age 46, at an insane asylum in Endenich (near Bonn
1879 - Dvorák: String Quartet in Eb, Op. 51, in Berlin, by the Joachim Quartet
1962 - Gene Gutchë: Symphony No. 5 for strings, in Chautauqua, N.Y.
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About Composers Datebook®
Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.
He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.