Composers Datebook®

Mr. Dukelsky and Mr. Duke

Vladimir Dukelsky (1903 – 1969) — Zephyr et Flore Ballet (Hague Orchestra; Gennady Rozhdestvensky, cond.) Chandos 9766 Vernon Duke (1903 – 1969) — Autumn in New York (Dawn Upshaw, soprano; orchestra; Eric Stern, cond.) Nonesuch 79531


Composer's Datebook - October 10, 2021

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October 10, 2021

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1903, a baby boy was born in the Russian railroad station of Parfianovka. The proud parents of little Vladimir Dukelsky were both musical, and so lulled him to sleep with Italian opera arias – presumably the SLOW ones!

Not surprisingly, little Vladimir grew up to become a composer. After the Russian Revolution, Dukelsky ended up playing the piano at movie theaters and cabarets in Constantinople. It was there that he first heard the music of George Gershwin.

In 1921, Dukelsky came to the United States and thereafter pursued a remarkable dual career: as Vladimir Dukelsky, he composed concert music for the likes of the Ballet Russe and the Boston Symphony; as “Vernon Duke,” following Gershwin’s example, he composed popular songs for Broadway and Hollywood. Some of his songs, like “April in Paris” and “Autumn in New York,” became pop standards.

Said Vladimir Dukelsky, “There isn’t a note of jazz in my serious music, and there are no symphonic overtones in my musical-comedy output. My versatility, far from being a boon, has in reality been infuriating… The critical boys seem to think there is something monstrous about a composer writing two different kinds of music under two different names.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Vladimir Dukelsky (1903 – 1969) — Zephyr et Flore Ballet (Hague Orchestra; Gennady Rozhdestvensky, cond.) Chandos 9766

Vernon Duke (1903 – 1969) — Autumn in New York (Dawn Upshaw, soprano; orchestra; Eric Stern, cond.) Nonesuch 79531

On This Day

Births

  • 1813 - Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, in Le Roncole, near Parma. Probable true date of his birth, according to parish records, though Verdi celebrated it on the 9th, the date he believed correct;

  • 1903 - Russian-born American composer and songwriter Vernon Duke (Vladimir Dukelsky), in Pskov (Julian date: Sept. 27);

  • 1906 - American composer Paul Creston (Giuseppe Guttoveggio), in New York;

  • 1920 - American Jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk, in Rocky Mount, N.C.;

Deaths

  • 1825 - Russian composer Dimitri Bortniansky, age c. 74, in St. Petersburg (Julian date: Sept. 28);

Premieres

  • 1919 - R. Strauss: opera, "Die Frau ohne Schatten" (The Woman Without a Shadow) at the Vienna Staatsoper, conducted by Franz Schalk, and with vocal soloists Lotte Lehmann (Barak's wife), Maria Jeritza (The Empress), Karl Oestvig (The Emperor), Richard Mayr (Barak), and Lucie Weidt (The Nurse);

  • 1931 - Walton: oratorio, "Belshazzar's Feast," at the Leeds Festival;

  • 1935 - Gershwin: opera "Porgy and Bess" at the Alvin Theater in New York City; The opera had a trial run in Boston which opened on September 30, 1935;

  • 1938 - Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 1, in Leningrad, by the Glazunov Quartet;

  • 1948 - Bernstein: song-cycle, "La Bonne Cuisine" (Four Recipes for Voice and Piano), at Town Hall in New York City, with mezzo-soprano Marion Bell and pianist Edwin MacArthur;

  • 1968 - Berio: "Sinfonia," by New York Philharmonic and The Swingle Singers, with the composer conducting;

  • 1985 - Benjamin Lees: Symphony No. 4 ("Memorial Candles") in Dallas, with Pinchas Zukerman the soloist;

Others

  • 1739 - Handel completes in London his Concerto Grosso in D, Op. 6, no. 5 and possibly his Concerto Grosso in F, Op. 6, no. 9 as well (Gregorian date: Oct. 21).

  • 1739 - Handel completes in London his Concerto Grosso in G, Op. 6, no. 1 (see Julian date: Sept. 29);