Composers Datebook®

Hanson and Thomas at summer camp


Summer music camps have become a fixture of American cultural life, offering young talent a chance to rub shoulders with seasoned professional musicians, and to perform both old and new musical works.

On today's date in 1977, American composer, conductor, and music educator, Howard Hanson, conducted the premiere performance of his Seventh Symphony at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. Hanson subtitled his Seventh, "A Sea Symphony," and it includes a choral setting of passages from Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass."

For 40 years, Hanson headed the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Closer to our own time, Eastman professor Augusta Read Thomas follows in Hanson's footsteps as composer-in-residence at various summer music camps.

On today's date in 2001, at the annual Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, one of her pieces entitled "Murmurs in the Mist of Memory" received its world premiere performance. Thomas has also served as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Thomas writes, "Music of all kinds constantly amazes, surprises, propels and seduces me into a wonderful and powerful journey. I am happiest when listening to music and in the process of composing music. I care deeply that music is not anonymous and generic or easily assimilated and just as easily dismissed."

Music Played in Today's Program

Howard Hanson (1896 – 1981) Symphony No. 7 (A Sea Symphony) Seattle Symphony and Chorale; Gerard Schwarz, cond. Delos 3130

Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964) Wind Dances Louisville Orchestra; Lawrence Leighton Smith, cond. Albany/ Louisville First Edition 010

On This Day


  • 1818 - English-born French composer, pianist and music publisher Charles Henry Litolff, in London;

  • 1868 - British composer Sir Granville Bantock, in London;

  • 1896 - Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, in Havana; He composed a number of popular Latin pop melodies, including his famous "Malagueña";

  • 1921 - Czech-born, American composer and conductor Karel Husa, in Prague; He became an American citizen in 1959; In 1969 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his String Quartet No. 3;

  • 1925 - Spanish-born American composer Julián Orbón, in Aviles;


  • 1893 - Italian opera composer Alfred Caatalani, age 39, in Milan;

  • 1913 - Czech composer and cellist David Popper, age 69, in Baden (near Vienna);

  • 1970 - German-born American composer Ingolf Dahl, age 58, in Bernem Switzerland;


  • 1912 - Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1, in Moscow, with the composer (age 21) as soloist (Julian date: July 26);

  • 1977 - Hanson: Symphony No. 7 ("A Sea Symphony") at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan;

  • 1981 - Cerha: opera "Baal," at the Salzburg Festival in Austria;

  • 1981 - John Harbison: Piano Quintet, at the Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico, with Edward Auer (piano), Ani Kavafian (violin), Walter Trampler (viola), Timothy Eddy (cello);

  • 1991 - David Del Tredici: "An Alice Symphony" (first complete performance), during the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Mass.;

  • 2001 - Augusta Read Thomas: "Murmurs in the Mist of Memory," at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, by the International Sejong Soloists;


  • 1829 - Mendelssohn visits Fingal's Cave in the Hebrides Islands west of Scotland coast and starts composing the 'Hebrides' Overture.

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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.

About Composers Datebook®