Composers Datebook

Corigliano's "Tournaments"

John Corigliano (b. 1938) Tournaments Overture Louisville Orchestra; Sidney Harth, cond. Louisville First Edition LOU-771

Composers Datebook for January 11, 2021


January 11, 2021


In 1953, the Louisville Orchestra was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant of $500,000 to commission, premiere, and record 20th-century music to be issued on their own label, Louisville First Edition Records. By 1997 they had released nearly 150 discs, containing more than 450 compositions by living composers.

On today’s date in 1980, one of the Louisville commissions premiered and recorded by the Orchestra was “Tournaments ” by the then 41-year old American composer John Corigliano.

“As the title implies,” writes Corigliano, “’Tournaments’ is a ‘contest piece,’ a sort of mini-Concerto for Orchestra in which first desk players and entire sections vie with each other in displaying their virtuosity.”

The Louisville Orchestra received many awards for their ambitious commissioning project, while composer John Corigliano went on to win Grammys and an Oscar, not to mention the Grawemeyer and Pulitzer Prizes for Music.

Corigliano is also proud of his teaching positions at the Juilliard School and Lehman College in New York. “I think it’s good for a composer to teach,” says Corigliano, “because you always have new students, and you have to begin at the beginning and make things clear.”

Music Played in Today's Program

John Corigliano (b. 1938) Tournaments Overture Louisville Orchestra; Sidney Harth, cond. Louisville First Edition LOU-771

On This Day


  • 1856 - Norwegian composer Christian Sinding, in Kongsberg;

  • 1875 - Russian composer Reinhold Glière, in Kiev, Ukraine (Julian date: Dec. 30, 1874);

  • 1902 - French composer and organist Maurice Duruflé, in Louviers;

  • 1944 - German composer York Höller, in Leverkusen;


  • 1801 - Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa, age 51, in Venice;

  • 1901 - Russian composer Vassili Sergeievitch Kalinnikov, age 34, in Yalta (Julian date: Dec. 29, 1900);

  • 1954 - Austrian composer Oscar Straus, age 83, in Bad Ischl;


  • 1754 - Rameau: opera "Castor and Pollux" (2nd version), in Paris at the Palais Royal Opéra;

  • 1895 - Brahms: Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, no. 1 (first public performance), in Vienna, by clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, with the composer at the piano, as part of the Rosé Quartet's chamber music series; The first performance ever of this work occurred on September 19, 1894, at a private performance in the home of the sister of the Duke of Meiningen at Berchtesgaden, with the same performers; Brahms and Mühlfeld also gave private performances of both sonatas in Frankfurt (for Clara Schumann and others) on November 10-13, 1894; at Castle Altenstein (for the Duke of Meiningen) on Nov. 14, 1894; and on Jan. 7, 1895 (for members of the Vienna Tonkünstler Society);

  • 1906 - Rachmaninoff: two one-act operas "The Miserly Knight" and "Francesca da Rimini" in Moscow (Gregorian date: Jan. 24);

  • 1925 - Copland: Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, at Aeolian Hall in New York City by New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, with Nadia Boulanger the soloist;

  • 1940 - Prokofiev: ballet, "Romeo and Juliet," in Leningrad;

  • 1968 - Shchedrin: "Chimes" by the New York Philharmonic;

  • 1976 - Broadway premiere of Sondheim: musical "Pacific Overtures";

  • 1992 - John Harbison: song "The Flute of Interior Time" (text by Kabir, translated by Robert Bly), at the Shauspielhaus in Berlin, by baritone William Parker and pianist Allan Marks; This song became part of "The AIDS-Quilt Songbook" compiled by the late William Parker;

  • 1997 - Henze: opera "Venus and Adonis," in Munich at the Bavarian State Opera;

  • 2001 - American premiere of John Adams: oratorio "El Niño" at Davies Hall, San Francisco with Kent Nagano conducting the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Piedmont Children's Choir and the same soloists as the Paris world premiere performance at. Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris on December 15, 2000.


  • 1946 - German composer Paul Hindemith becomes a U.S. citizen.