Composers Datebook

Madeleine Dring

Madeleine Dring (1923 - 1977) Three Piece Suite Cynthia Green Libby, oboe; Peter Collins, piano Hester Park 7707

Composers Datebook for March 26, 2020


March 26, 2020


She's been called a "British Gershwin" but perhaps a "British Poulenc" might more accurately describe the genial and graceful music of Madeleine Dring, a woman whose diverse and energetic creative life was cut short, when, at the age of 53, she died suddenly on today's date in 1977.

Madeleine Dring was born into a talented musical family in 1923, and she showed early promise. On her tenth birthday she won a scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, and eventually studied composition with Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Gordon Jacob. Dring was soon providing incidental music and songs for amateur and professional theatrics. She was also a gifted singer and actress, and performed occasionally on stage and television.

Dring married the British oboist, Roger Lord, and a number of her chamber works feature that instrument. This one bears the witty title, "Three-Piece Suite."

Six volumes of her songs were published after her death, largely through the persistence of her husband, and many of her other works have been published, performed, and recorded with increasing frequency, especially in the United States.

Sadly, Dring died just when women composers began to receive increasing attention from music historians, performers, and audiences worldwide. In the year 2000, a biography and study of Dring's career were published in England.

Music Played in Today's Program

Madeleine Dring (1923 - 1977) Three Piece Suite Cynthia Green Libby, oboe; Peter Collins, piano Hester Park 7707

On This Day


  • 1925 - French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, in Montbrison;


  • 1566 - Spanish composer and organist Antonio de Cabezón, age c. 56, in Madrid;

  • 1827 - German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, age 56, in Vienna;

  • 1918 - Russian composer Cesar Cui, age 83, in Petrograd (St. Petersburg);

  • 1977 - British composer, pianist and actress Madeleine Dring, age 53, in Streatham, London;


  • 1723 - J.S. Bach: "St. John Passion," at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig;

  • 1735 - Handel: Organ Concerto Op. 4, no. 5 in London as an intermission feature during a revival performance of Handel's oratorio "Deborah" at the Covent Garden Theater (Gregorian date: April 6);

  • 1827 - Rossini: opera "Moïse et Pharaon" (Moses and Pharaoh) at the Paris Opéra; This is the 3rd and French-language version of Rossini's Italian opera "Mosè in Egitto" (see March 3 and 7 above);

  • 1943 - William Schuman: cantata "A Free Song" (after Walt Whitman), in Boston; This work won the first Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1943;

  • 1958 - Henry Cowell: "Ongaku" a symphonic suite on Japanese themes, by the Louisville Orchestra. Robert S. Whitney conducting;

  • 1958 - Lutoslawski: "Marche funèbre" (in memory of Béla Bartók), in Katowice, Poland;

  • 1960 - Ralph Shapey: "Evocation" for violin, piano and percussion, in New York City;

  • 1984 - Philip Glass: Act V ("The Rome Section"), from "The CIVIL warS," at the Rome Opera, Marcello Panni conducting;

  • 1986 - Ned Rorem: "The End of Summer" for clarinet, violin, and piano, at Patkar Hall in Bombay (India), by the Verdehr Trio;

  • 1998 - Zwilich: Violin Concerto, at Carnegie Hall in New York, by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Hugh Wolff conducting, with soloist Pamela Frank;

  • 2001 - Corigliano: "Mannheim Rocket," in Mannheim (Germany), by the Mannheim National Theater Orchestra;


  • 1828 - Franz Schubert gives a concert of his own works in Vienna, to great success.