Composers Datebook®

Byrne and Eno in Minneapolis

David Byrne (b. 1952) –High Life (Balanescu Quartet) Argo 436 565 Brian Eno (b. 1948) arr. Gordon –Music for Airports (Bang on a Can All-Stars) Point Music 314 536 847

Composer's Datebook - 20220615


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June 15, 2022


On today’s date in 1980, a week-long festival entitled “New Music America” came to a close in Minneapolis with a concert at that city’s Guthrie Theater. The program included the premiere of “High Life for Strings,” composed by David Byrne, a musician best known for his work with a rock band called The Talking Heads.

Byrne later recalled, “When I participated in the New Music America festival in Minneapolis, minimalism and New-Age noodling were making big in-roads into a scene that had been more insular and academic. My piece, for a dozen strings was on a program with Philip Glass.” Byrne says he was influenced by the intricate rhythms of West African pop music.

Brian Eno was another rock musician represented during the Festival in Minneapolis. Some years earlier, Eno had been so irritated by the inane, chirpy muzak he heard while traveling that he composed a soothing ambient synthesizer score he called “Music for Airports.” Appropriately enough, during the 8 days of the Festival, Eno’s score was broadcast 24 hours a day throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Decades after its composition, composer Michael Gordon arranged Brian Eno’s synthesizer score for acoustic instruments, and recorded this arrangement of “Music for Airports” with the “Bang on a Can All-Stars.”

Music Played in Today's Program

David Byrne (b. 1952) –High Life (Balanescu Quartet) Argo 436 565

Brian Eno (b. 1948) arr. Gordon –Music for Airports (Bang on a Can All-Stars) Point Music 314 536 847

On This Day


  • 1763 - Baptismal date of German composer Franz Danzi, in Mannheim;

  • 1843 - Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, in Bergen;

  • 1864 - French composer Guy Ropartz, in Guingamp, Brittany;

  • 1894 - American composer and arranged Robert Russell Bennett, in Kansas City, Mo.;

  • 1900 - American composer Otto Luening, in Milwaukee, Wis.;


  • 1772 - French composer and organist Louis-Claude Daquin, age 77, in Paris;

  • 1893 - Hungarian opera composer Ferenc Erkel, age 82, in Budapest;


  • 1810 - Beethoven: "Egmont" Overture and Incidental Music, at the Court Theater in Vienna, as part of a production of Goethe's drama of the same name;

  • 1889 - Sousa: "Washington Post March," in Washington, D.C., outside the Smithsonian Institution, composer conducting the U.S. Marines Band;

  • 1914 - Miaskovsky: Symphony No. 1, in Pavlovsk (Julian date: June 2);

  • 1980 - David Byrne: "High Life for Strings,," at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, during the New Music America Festival;

  • 1989 - Michael Torke: ballet "Slate," at the New York State Theater, by the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Hugo Fiorato;

  • 1991 - Thomas Oboe Lee: "Seven Jazz Pieces" for string quartet, at Brandeis University, by the Lydian String Quartet;

  • 1991 - David Ward-Steinman: "Cinnabar" for viola and piano, in Ithaca, N.Y., at the 19th Annual Viola Congress by violist Karen Elaine with the composer at the piano;


  • 1707 - J.S. Bach appointed organist at Blasiuskirche, Muehlhausen;

  • 1733 - In London the "Opera of the Nobility" is established by several noblemen and supported by the Prince of Wales, as a rival opera company to Handel's company, the "Royal Academy"; Porpora's opera "Arianna in Nasso" (Ariadne on Naxos) opens their first season on December 29th that year; The company folded in 1737, with its final opera performance on June 11, 1737, at the King's Theater in the Haymarket (The original home of Handel's company); These dates are all according to the Julian "Old Style" calendar still in use in England that year.