Composers Datebook®

Hadley, Thompson, et al. in the Berkshires


Tanglewood is one of America’s most famous summer-time classical music festivals and can boast a long and impressive list of premieres and performances by famous American composers and conductors. It takes place each year around this time in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Tanglewood has been the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home for more than 60 years, but it wasn't the symphony's first location in the Berkshires. In August of 1936, the first in a three-concert series was performed at Holmwood, a former Vanderbilt estate.

The great Russian-born conductor of the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky, moved the festival to Tanglewood and expanded the concert series into a kind of intensive summer camp for young musicians and composers. Among those who particularly benefited were two young composer-conductors named Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss.

In 1940, the Berkshire Music Center (now the Tanglewood Music Center) opened, and to mark the occasion, American composer Randall Thompson's famous choral work titled Alleluia received its premiere performance.

Music Played in Today's Program

Randall Thompson (1899 – 1984) Alleluia Dale Warland Singers; Dale Warland, cond. Minnesota Public Radio 201

On This Day


  • 1854 - German pianist and composer of Polish descent Moritz Moszkowski, in Brelau;

  • 1900 - Austrian-born American composer Ernst Krenek, in Vienna;

  • 1905 - English composer, conductor and writer Constant Lambert, in London;


  • 1937 - French composer Albert Roussel, age 68, in Royan;

  • 1960 - American lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, age 65, in Doylestown, Pa.;

  • 1962 - American composer Irving Fine, age 47, in Boston;


  • 1735 - Rameau, opera-ballet "Les Indes galantes," in Paris;

  • 1906 - R. Vaughan-Williams: "Norfolk Rhapsody," in London;

  • 1913 - Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2 (first version), at Pavlovsk, conducted by A.P. Aslanov with the composer as soloist (Gregorian date: Sept. 5); A second version of this concerto premiered in Paris on May 8, 1924, conducted by Serge Koussevitzky, again with the composer a soloist;

  • 1964 - Stravinsky: "Abraham and Isaac" (dedicated to the people and the state of Israel), in Jerusalem by the Israel Festival Orchestra conducted by Robert Craft;


  • 1934 - The Berkshire Symphonic Festival in founded in Stockbridge, Mass., by American composer and conductor Henry Hadley, with the participation of the New York Philharmonic; The Festival later became associated with the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky.

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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®