Composers Datebook®

Marsalis and Swing

Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961 ): Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3) (Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; St. Louis Symphony; David Robertson, cond.) Blue Engine Records BE-0017

Composer's Datebook - June 10, 2021


June 10, 2021


Wynton Marsalis says it all began with a dare in the 1990s from the late German conductor Kurt Masur, then the music director of the New York Philharmonic.  “He came to a concert of mine,” said Marsalis, “when I was like 28 or 29, and said he wanted me to write for the New York Philharmonic. I started laughing like, man, I have never even written for a big band.”

Well, since then jazz trumpeter Marsalis has written more than one work for a big bands like the New York Philharmonic, and in 2010 that ensemble, along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Berlin Philharmonic commissioned his Third Symphony, a work titled “Swing Symphony.”

It was the Berlin Philharmonic who gave the first performance of the work, and on today’s date in 2010 encored their premiere on the internet.

Said Wynton Marsalis, “Swing to a jazz musician means ‘coming together, and in this case it’s about TWO orchestras coming together.” Marsalis included parts for himself and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in his new score, in contrast – and in harmony – with the forces of a traditional symphony orchestra.

Music Played in Today's Program

Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961 ): Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3) (Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; St. Louis Symphony; David Robertson, cond.) Blue Engine Records BE-0017

On This Day


  • 1904 - German-born American musical composer Frederick Loewe, in Berlin;

  • 1913 - Soviet composer Tikhon Khrennikov, in Elets (Julian date: May 28);

  • 1960 - English composer Mark Anthony Turnage, in Grays, Essex;


  • 1899 - French composer Ernest Chausson, age 44, after a bicycle accident near Limay;

  • 1918 - Italian opera composer and librettist Arrigo Boito, age 76, in Milan;

  • 1934 - British composer Frederick Delius, age 72, in Grez-sur-Loing, France;

  • 1964 - American composer Louis Gruenberg, age 75, in Los Angeles;


  • 1732 - Handel: opera "Acis and Galetea" (in an English/Italian version), in London at the King's Theater in the Haymarket, at the request of Princess Anne (Gregorian date: June 21);

  • 1865 - Wagner: opera "Tristan and Isolde," in Munich at the Hoftheater, conducted by Hans von Bülow;

  • 1921 - Stravinsky: "Symphonies of Wind Instruments" (in memory of Claude Debussy), in London at Queen's Hall, with Serge Kousevitzky conducting; Three days earlier, on June 7, 1921, Stravinsky had attended the British premiere of the concert version of his ballet score "The Rite of Spring," also at Queen's Hall, with Eugene Goossens conducting;

  • 1939 - Bliss: Piano Concerto (with Solomon the soloist) and Vaughan Williams: "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus," at Carnegie Hall by the New York Philharmonic, with Sir Adrian Boult conducting; These works (Along with Bax's Seventh Symphony, which premiered the previous day) were all commissioned by the British Council as part of the British Exhibition at 1939 World's Fair;

  • 1941 - Poulenc: first public performance of Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, in Paris;

  • 1968 - Britten: church opera "The Prodigal Son," in Orford Church, near Aldeburgh.