Composers Datebook®

Kernis goes dancing

Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960) 100 Greatest Dance Hits (David Tanenbaum, guitar; The Chester Quartet) New Albion 083

Composer's Datebook - July 14, 2021


download audio

July 14, 2021


A new guitar concerto by Aaron Jay Kernis received its premiere at a Minnesota Orchestra concert on today’s date in 1999. The idea for this concerto was prompted by a friend of Kernis’s, guitarist David Tanenbaum, who was looking for a new work for guitar and orchestra that he could pair with the most performed of all such works, Joaquín Rodrigo's “Concierto de Aranjuez.”

For his new concerto, Kernis reworked parts of two earlier works he had composed for Tannenbaum: part of a Partita for solo guitar became the concerto’s opening movement, followed by two movements drawn from a Kernis chamber work for guitar and string quartet entitled “100 Greatest Dance Hits.”

The middle movement, entitled "Slow Dance Ballad" is, says Kernis, "the kind of music my parents would like – what they hope to find on the radio dial." In its original form, this movement was entitled “MOR, i.e. Middle of the Road: Easy Listening.”

The concerto’s finale is entitled "Salsa Posada," a Spanish pun referring both to the craze for old fashioned salsa dancing and the condiment of the same name, perhaps a little “off” or past its prime.

Music Played in Today's Program

Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960) 100 Greatest Dance Hits (David Tanenbaum, guitar; The Chester Quartet) New Albion 083

On This Day


  • 1874 - Russian-born American double-bass player, conductor and new music patron, Serge Koussevitzky, in Vishny-Volochok (Gregorian date: July 26)

  • 1901 - English composer Gerald Finzi, in London

  • 1930 - American composer Eric Stokes, in Haddon Heights, N.J.


  • 1674 - English composer and chorister, Pelham Humfrey, age 27, in Windsor; An entry in Samuel Pepy's famous diary describes him in 1667 as being "full of form, and confidence, and vanity," and disparaging "everything and everybody's skill but his own."


  • 1942 - Wm. Schuman: "Newsreel," at a New York Philharmonic concert at Lewisohn Stadium, conducted by Arthur Smallens

  • 1948 - Kurt Weill: folk opera "Down in the Valley" at the University of Indiana in Bloomington

  • 1949 - Britten: "Spring Symphony" at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam

  • 1999 - Kernis: "Concierto de Dance Hits," in Minneapolis, by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by David Miller, with guitarist David Tanenbaum