Composers Datebook®

Martinu's Third

Bohuslav Martinu (1890 – 1959) — Symphony No. 3 (National Orchestra of Ukraine; Arthur Fagen, cond.) Naxos 8.553350

Composer's Datebook - October 12, 2021


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October 12, 2021


On today’s date in 1945, Serge Koussevitzky conducted the Boston Symphony in the premiere performance of the Third Symphony of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu.

Martinu had finished the first two movements of his symphony as the Second World War was rushing to a close and later claimed he had Beethoven’s Third, the “Eroica,” very much on his mind, convinced that there was somehow an ethical force at work in the creation of a symphony, and, just as in Beethoven’s “Eroica,” it was possible to express moral and ethical ideals in music.

As an exile from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and France, Martinu had come to the United States in 1941, and his mood is understandable in the anxious yet hopeful spring and summer of 1945.

After liberation of Czechoslovakia, Martinu returned to his homeland and was offered a teaching post in Prague. Martinu, unhappy with Czechoslovakia’s new Communist rulers, declined the offer, and returned to America, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1952.  After his death in 1957, Martinu’s remains were eventually returned to his family mausoleum in Czechoslovakia, and in 1990, the Centenary of his Birth was celebrated in that country as a major cultural event.

Music Played in Today's Program

Bohuslav Martinu ( 1890 – 1959) — Symphony No. 3 (National Orchestra of Ukraine; Arthur Fagen, cond.) Naxos 8.553350

On This Day


  • 1686 - German composer and lutenist Silvius Leopold Weiss, in Breslau;

  • 1713 - Baptismal date of German composer Johann Ludwig Krebs, in Butterstedt, Weimar;

  • 1872 - English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire;

  • 1880 - English-born Canadian composer and organist Healey Willan, in London;


  • 1692 - Italian composer Giovanni Battista Vitali, in Bologna, age 60;


  • 1910 - Vaughan Williams: "A Sea Symphony" (after Walt Whitman) at the Leeds Festival;

  • 1924 - Mahler: Symphony No.10 (1st and 3rd movements only), arranged by Ernest Krenek (with additional retouching by Alexander von Zemlinksy and Franz Schalk), by Vienna Philharmonic, Franz Schalk conducting; The American premiere of these two movements was give on Dec. 6, 1949, by the Erie (Pa.) Philharmonic conducted by the composer's nephew, the Austro-American conductor Fritz Mahler (1901-1973); The English musicologist Deryck Cooke prepared the first performing edition of Mahler's entire Tenth Symphony which received its first performance on August 13, 1964, by the London Symphony conducted by Berthold Goldschmidt; Since then, Cooke has revised his arrangement, and several other musicologists have prepared their own rival performing editions of Mahler's surviving notation for this symphony;

  • 1931 - Rachmaninoff: “Variations on a Theme of Corelli (La Folia)” for solo piano, in Montréal (Canada), by the composer;

  • 1951 - Bizet: opera "Ivan le Terrible" (posthumously), in Bordeaux;

  • 1951 - Dessau: opera "Die Verurteilung des Lukullus" (The Trial of Lucullus) (2nd version), in East Berlin at the Deutsche Staatsoper;

  • 1961 - Douglas Moore: opera "The Wings of the Dove" (after the novel by Henry James), in New York;

  • 1971 - Andrew Lloyd Webber: rock musical "Jesus Christ Superstar," in New York City; A choral version of this musical was performed in Kansas City, Kan. On May 15, 1971, and a touring company was launched to present the musical on July 12, 1971; Prior to any staged presentations, the work was first released as a double LP record album in October of 1970;

  • 1984 - Olly Wilson: "Siinfonia," by the Boston Symphony, Seiji Ozawa conducting;

  • 1984 - Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: "Celebration" for orchestra, by the Indianapolis Symphony, John Nelson conducting;

  • 1997 - Sallinen: "Overture Solennel," in Monaco by the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, James DePreist conducting;

  • 1998 - Philip Glass: opera "The Voyage," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Bruce Ferden conducting;

  • 2000 - Rautavaara: Harp Concerto, in Minneapolis with harpist Kathy Kienzle and the Minnesota Orchestra, Omso Vänskä conducting;


  • 1739 - Handel completes in London his Concerto Grosso in Bb, Op. 6, no. 7 (Gregorian date: Oct. 23).