Composers Datebook

Takemitsu and Tanaka

Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996) November Steps Katsuya Yokoyama, shakuhachi; Kunshi Isuruta, biwa; Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, cond. Philips 426 667 Karen Tanaka (b. 1961) Night Bird Claude Delangle, saxophone BIS 890


Composers Datebook for November 9, 2020

2:00


November 09, 2020

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1967, the New York Philharmonic gave the premiere performance of a new piece entitled “November Steps” by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, a work commissioned by the Philharmonic as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations. In addition to the usual instruments of the Western symphony orchestra, Takemitsu included in his score two traditional Japanese instruments: the shakuhachi flute and the biwa, a kind of Japanese lute.

Eight years after the Takemitsu premiere, an organization called Music from Japan was founded to help make other Japanese contemporary music feel “at home” in America. Music from Japan has presented some 400 works across the U.S. and premiered over 40 new works, many of them specially commissioned.

On today’s date in the year 2000, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Music from Japan presented a gala concert at Carnegie Hall, which included the premiere of a new orchestral work by the talented young Japanese composer Karen Tanaka, one of the rising stars of her generation. Among Tanaka’s recorded works is a piece entitled “Night Bird” for two decidedly Western instruments: saxophone and piano.

Music Played in Today's Program

Toru Takemitsu (1930 - 1996) November Steps Katsuya Yokoyama, shakuhachi; Kunshi Isuruta, biwa; Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, cond. Philips 426 667

Karen Tanaka (b. 1961) Night Bird Claude Delangle, saxophone BIS 890

On This Day

Births

  • 1907 - American composer Burrill Phillips, in Omaha, Nebraska;

Deaths

  • 1951 - Hungarian-born American operetta composer, Siegmund Romberg, age 64, in New York City;

Premieres

  • 1879 - Dvorák: String Sextet No. 1, Op. 48, in Berlin;

  • 1881 - Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2, in Budapest, by the National Theater Orchestra conducted by Alexander Erkel and the composer as the soloist;

  • 1901 - Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 (first complete performance), in Moscow, with Alexander Siloti conducting and the composer as soloist (see Julian date: Oct 27); The second and third movements had been premiered in Moscow on Dec. 2/15, 1900, by the same conductor and soloist (Rachmaninoff finished the first movement of this concerto on April 21/May 4, 1901);

  • 1926 - Hindemith: opera, "Cardillac" (1st version) in Dresden at the Sächisches Staatstheater;

  • 1940 - Rodrigo: "Concierto de Aranjuez" for guitar and orchestra, in Barcelona;

  • 1945 - American premiere of Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting.

  • 1967 - Takemitsu: "November Steps" for biwa (Japanese lute), shakuhachi (bamboo flute) and orchestra, by the New York Philharmonic, Seiji Ozawa conducting;Corigliano: Oboe Concerto, in New York City;

  • 1975 - Corigliano: Oboe Concerto, at Carnegie Hall in New York City by the American Symphony, with Kazuyoshi Akiyama conducting Bert Lucarelli the soloist;

  • 1994 - Michael Torke: “Nylon” for guitar and chamber orchestra, at the Assembly Rooms in Derby (U.K.), by the East of England Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Nabarro, with Nicola Hall the soloist;

  • 2000 - Karen Tanaka: "Guardian Angel," at Carnegie Hall in New York, by the Brooklyn Philharmonic;

  • 2002 - David Del Tredici: “Grand Trio” for piano, violin and cello, in College Park, Md., by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio;

Others

  • 1760 - Joseph Haydn signs a marriage contract with Maria Anna Keller (after her younger sister, whom Haydn reportedly preferred, became a nun); See also Nov. 26 below for the actual ceremony;

  • 1784 - Mozart finishes his String Quartet in Bb, K. 458 ("The Hunt");

  • 1878 - Leopold Damrosch conducts first concert of the New York Symphony Society Orchestra in Steinway Hall; This orchestra merged with its older competitor, the New York Philharmonic, in 1928;

  • 1921 - The American Academy in Rome awards American composer Howard Hanson its second two-year composition fellowship; The first fellowship was awarded to Leo Sowerby on October 4, 1921; The third fellowship was awarded to Randall Thompson on June 6, 1922; The Academy's fellowship awards for composers continue to this day.