Composers Datebook®

María Joaquina de la Portilla Torres

María Grever (1885 – 1951) – Júrame (Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Fort Worth Symphony; Miguel Harth-Bedoya, cond.) Decca 4757576

Composer's Datebook - 20210914


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September 14, 2021


Today’s date marks the birthday in 1885 of María Joaquina de la Portilla Torres, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Under her married name of Maria Grever, she became the first female Mexican composer to achieve international fame. She composed her first song at age four, studied in France with Claude Debussy among others, and at 18, one of her songs sold 3 million copies.

At age 22, she married Leo A. Grever, an American oil company executive, moved to New York City, and by the 1930s was composing for Paramount and 20th Century Fox films. Her best-known song is probably "What A Difference A Day Makes" (originally "Cuando vuelva a tu lado"), written in 1934. Her songs have been recorded by singers ranging from the Andrews Sisters and Frank Sinatra to Dinah Washington and Aretha Franklin to Plácido Domingo and Juan Diego Flórez.

“I am interested in Jazz and Modern Rhythms,” said Grever, “but above all, in Mexican Music … There is such a cultural richness in Mexican Music, its Hispanic and indigenous origins ... It is my wish and yearning to present these native rhythms and tunes from a real perspective, but with the necessary flexibility to appeal to a universal audience."

Music Played in Today's Program

María Grever (1885 – 1951) – Júrame (Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Fort Worth Symphony; Miguel Harth-Bedoya, cond.) Decca 4757576

On This Day


  • 1737 - Austrian composer Johann Michael Haydn, in Rohrau; He was the younger brother of Franz Joseph Haydn (b. 1732);

  • 1760 - Italian composer Luigi Cherubini, in Florence (although August 14 is occasionally cited as his birthdate);

  • 1910 - American composer and eminent theatrical conductor Lehman Engel, in Jackson, Miss.;

  • 1910 - Swiss composer Rolf Liebermann, in Zurich;


  • 1854 - Bruckner: Mass in Bb ("Missa Solemnis") in St. Florian, Austria;

  • 1952 - Frank Martin: Concerto for Harpsichord, in Venice;

  • 1954 - Britten: opera "The Turn of the Screw," in Venice at the Teatro La Fenice;

  • 1968 - Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 12, in Moscow, by the Beethoven Quartet;

  • 1978 - Barber: Third Essay for Orchestra, by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta;

  • 1994 - Richard Danielpour: Cello Concerto, commissioned and performed by San Francisco Symphony conducted by Herbert Blomstedt, with soloist Yo-Yo Ma;

  • 1996 - Stockhausen: "Freitag aus Licht" (Friday from Light), at the Leipzig Opera;

  • 1997 - Saariaho: "Graal Théâtre" (chamber version), in Helsinki, by the Avanti Ensemble and violinist John Storgards.

  • 2002 - David Amram: Flute Concerto ("Giants of the Night"), in New Orleans by the Louisiana Philharmonic conducted by Klauspeter Seibel, with James Galway the soloist;

  • 2002 - Colin Matthews, Judith Weir, Poul Ruders, David Sower, Michael Torke, Anthony Payne, and Magnus Linberg: "Bright Cecilia: Variations on a Theme by Purcell," at Royal Albert Hall in London, with the BBC Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting; This set of orchestral variations on a Purcell theme was commissioned by BBC Music magazine to celebrate its 10th anniversary;


  • 1731 - J.S. Bach performs organ recitals in Dresden on Sept. 14-21;

  • 1741 - Handel finishes scoring his famous oratorio, "Messiah," begun on August 22 (The entire work was composed in a period of 24 days); These dates are according to the Julian "Old Style" calendar (Gregorian dates: Sept 2 to Sept. 25);

  • 1914 - W. C. Handy copyrights his most famous song, "The St. Louis Blues";

  • 1973 - The Philadelphia Orchestra gives a concert in Beijing, the first American orchestra to perform in Red China; Eugene Ormandy conducts symphonies by Mozart (No. 35), Brahms (No. 1) and the American composer Roy Harris (No. 3).