Composers Datebook®

Gabriel Kahane

Gabriel Kahane (b. 1981) – “What brings you here?” from “Emergency Shelter Intake Form” (Alicia Hall Moran, ms; Oregon Symphony; Carlos Kalmar, cond.) Digital download

Composer's Datebook - May 12, 2022


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May 12, 2022


The American composer and singer songwriter Gabriel Kahane claims someone once described one of his songs as having been from the wastepaper basket of Schubert – but, Kahane hastens to add, “I think he meant that as a compliment.”

Certainly Kahane is a successful songwriter, and if not quite as prolific as the 19th century Viennese composer, is quite productive on a number of 21st century platforms and takes his inspiration from quintessential 21st century experiences. On today’s date in 2018, for example, the Oregon Symphony premiered his “Emergency Shelter Intake Form,” a song-cycle or oratorio inspired by the questionnaire homeless people have to take to secure a shelter bed.

“I live in Brooklyn,” said Kahane, “and I had volunteered at a shelter in Manhattan. I started thinking about the banality of going through that crushing bureaucracy on top of experiencing extreme poverty. That led to the intake form as a jumping-off point for the libretto. It is somewhere between found text and my own extrapolations that began with this sterile administrative form.”

The Oregon Symphony’s premiere performance of Gabriel Kahane’s “Emergency Shelter Intake Form” was recorded, and, in equally quintessential 21st century fashion, is available as a download.

Music Played in Today's Program

Gabriel Kahane (b. 1981) – “What brings you here?” from “Emergency Shelter Intake Form” (Alicia Hall Moran, ms; Oregon Symphony; Carlos Kalmar, cond.) Digital download

On This Day


  • 1739 - Bohemian composer Johann Baptist Wanha (Vanhall) in Nechanicz;

  • 1754 - German composer and publisher (of Mozart and Beethoven) Franz Anton Hoffmeister, in Rottenburg;

  • 1755 - Italian violinist and composer Giovanni Viotti, in Fontanetto da Po;

  • 1842 - French composer Jules Massenet, in Montaud, near St.-Etienne, Loire;

  • 1845 - French composer Gabriel Fauré, in Pamiers (Ariège);

  • 1903 - English composer Sir Lennox Berkeley, in Boar's Hill, near Oxford;

  • 1941 - American composer, harpsichordist and organist Anthony Newman, in Los Angeles;


  • 1871 - French opera composer Daniel-François Auber, age 89, in Paris;

  • 1884 - Bohemian composer Bedrich Smetana, age 60, in Prague;

  • 1931 - Belgian composer, violinist and conductor Eugene Ysaÿe, age 72, in Brussels;


  • 1736 - Handel: opera "Atalanta" in London at the Covent Garden Theater; Handel dedicated the opera to the recently-married Frederick, Prince of Wales (Gregorian date: May 23);

  • 1832 - Donizetti: "L'Elisir d'Amore" (Elixir of Love), in Milan;

  • 1894 - R. Strauss: opera "Guntram," in Weimar , with Strauss conducting;

  • 1917 - Bartók: ballet "The Wooden Prince," in Budapest;

  • 1926 - Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1, by Leningrad Philharmonic, Nikolai Malko conducting;

  • 1937 - Walter Damrosch: "The Man Without a Country," in New York at the Metropolitan Opera;

  • 1938 - Honegger: opera "Joan of Arc at the Stake" (concert performance) in Basel, Switzerland, at the Grosser Musiksaal; The first staged production occurred in Zürich on June 13, 1942;

  • 1938 - Korngold: premiere showing of Warner Brothers' film "The Adventures of Robin Hood";

  • 1943 - Glière: Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra, in Moscow;

  • 1944 - Ginastera: "Overture to the Creole Faust," in Santiago, Chile;

  • 1980 - John Harbison: Concerto for Piano, at Alice Tully Hall in New York, with soloist Robert Miller and the American Composers Orchestra, Gunther Schuller conducting;

  • 1983 - Earle Brown: "Sounder Rounds" for orchestra, in Saarbrücken, Germany;

  • 2002 - Steve Reich & Beryl Korot: multi-media presentation "Three Tales" ("Hindenburg," "Bikini," and "Dolly") at the Vienna Festival in Austria, by members of the Ensemble Moderne and Synergy Vocals, directed by Bradley Lubman.