Composers Datebook®

Duke and the Philadelphia Orchestra

Duke Ellington (1899 – 1974) (arr. Peress): "New World A-Comin" (Sir Roland Hanna, p; American Composers Orchestra; Maurice Peress, cond.) MusicMasters 7011


Composer's Datebook - July 25, 2021

2:00


July 25, 2021

Synopsis

In July of 1936, this notice concerning an upcoming Hollywood Bowl concert appeared in The Los Angeles Times: “William Grant Still will conduct two of his own works.” The nonchalance of the paper’s music and dance critic overlooked the fact that the occasion marked the first time that an African-American conductor would lead a major American orchestra.

On the second half of that July concert in Los Angeles, Still conducted his orchestral piece “The Land of Romance,” and the “Scherzo” from his “Afro-American Symphony.” The entire symphony had been premiered in 1931 by the Rochester Philharmonic – another landmark event, being the first time a symphonic work by an African-American composer was performed by an American orchestra.

Meanwhile at a 1947 outdoor concert in Philadelphia, composer and pianist Duke Ellington joined forces with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to play his “A New World a Coming,” marking Ellington’s first appearance with a symphony orchestra.  It wouldn’t be his last.

In 1963 an album appeared entitled, “The Symphonic Ellington,” featuring Ellington and his band in recordings of original compositions recorded in Europe with symphony orchestras from Paris, Stockholm, Hamburg, and the Orchestra of La Scala in Milan.  

Music Played in Today's Program

Duke Ellington (1899 – 1974) (arr. Peress): "New World A-Comin" (Sir Roland Hanna, p; American Composers Orchestra; Maurice Peress, cond.) MusicMasters 7011

On This Day

Births

  • 1883 - Italian composer, pianist and conductor Alfredo Casella, in Turin; He was the conductor of the Boston Pops from 1927-29

Deaths

  • 1969 - American opera composer, Douglas Moore, age 75, in Greenport (Long Island), N.Y.

Premieres

  • 1937 - Copland: "Music for Radio"(or "Saga of the Prairies") on CBS radio network, performed by CBS Symphony

  • 1970 - Dutilleux: "Tout un monde lointain" for Cello and Orchestra, in Aix-en-Provence

  • 1976 - Glass: opera, "Einstein on the Beach," in Avignon, France, at the Théatre Municipale; The American premiere took place as a non-season event at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on November 21, 1976)

Others

  • 1788 - Mozart finishes his Symphony No. 40 in g. K. 550

  • 1937 - Barber's Symphony No. 1 is performed at the Salzburg Music Festival is Austria, by the Vienna Philharmonic, Artur Rodzinsky, conducting; This was the first American symphonic work to be performed at this prestigious international festival; The symphony had received its world premiere performance in Rome on Dec. 13, 1935, during Barber's Rome Prize residency