Composers Datebook

Del Tredici's In Wartime

David Del Tredici (b. 1937) In Wartime University of Texas Wind Ensemble;Jerry Junkin, cond. Reference Recording 104

Composers Datebook for April 30, 2019


April 30, 2019


On today’s date in 2003, the Wind Ensemble of the University of Texas at Austin, led by Jerry Junkin, premiered a new work for wind band by the American composer David Del Tredici.

Its title was “In Wartime,” as its composition and premiere coincided with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, led by the United States alongside the United Kingdom and smaller contingents from Australia, Denmark, and Poland.

“’In Wartime,’ my first piece for wind symphony, was begun on November 16, 2002, and completed on March 16 (my birthday), in 2003—as momentous a four-month period in U.S. history as I have experienced,” recalled Del Tredici.

“With my TV blaring, I composed throughout this period, feeling both irresistibly drawn to the developing news and more than a little guilty to be unable to turn the tube off. Composing music at such a time may have seemed an irrelevant pursuit, but it nevertheless served to keep me sane, stable and sanguine, despite the world's spiraling maelstrom.”

Del Tredici’s “In Wartime” has two sections: “Hymn” and “Battlemarch.” The first has the character of a choral prelude, with fragments of “Abide with Me” sounding through a welter of contrasting material. An ominous drum roll introduces the “Battlemarch” section, with the confrontation of East vs. West symbolized by musical quotes from “Salamti, Shah!” (the national song of Persia) and the opening of Wagner’s opera, “Tristan und Isolde.”

Music Played in Today's Program

David Del Tredici (b. 1937) In Wartime University of Texas Wind Ensemble;Jerry Junkin, cond. Reference Recording 104

On This Day


  • 1870 - Hungarian-born Austrian composer Franz Léhar, in Komorn;

  • 1939 - American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, in Miami, Fla.; She was the first female composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music (in 1983 for her Symphony No. 1);


  • 1728 - Handel: opera "Tolomeo, re d'Egitto" (Ptolomy, King of Egypt), in London at the King's Theater in the Haymarket (Gregorian date: May 11);

  • 1855 - Berlioz: "Te Deum," at the church of St. Eustache in Paris;

  • 1902 - Debussy: opera "Pelléas and Mélisande," in Paris at the Opéra-Comique;

  • 1925 - Hindemith: "Kammermusik" No. 3, Op. 36, no. 2, in Bochum, Germany, conducted by the composer with Rudolf Hindemith the cello soloist;

  • 1934 - Stravinsky: opera "Persephone," at the Paris Opéra, with Ida Rubinsetin in the principal role (spoken part) and the composer conducting;

  • 1973 - Lou Harrison: Concerto for Organ, at San Jose State University, with organist Philip Simpson;

  • 1991 - Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Bass Trombone Concerto, by soloist Charles Vernon with the Chicago Symphony, Daniel Barenboim conducting;

  • 1994 - John Harbison: String Quartet No. 3, at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., by the Lydian String Quartet;


  • 1932 - Opening of the first "Yaddo" Festival of Contemporary Music at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.