Composers Datebook®

Lindberg by Weill, Hindemith and Waxman

Kurt Weill (1900-1950) – Lindbergh's Flight (Cologne Radio Orchestra; Hermann Scherchen, cond.) Capriccio 60012 Franz Waxman (1906-1962) – The Spirit of St. Louis (studio orchestra; Franz Waxman, cond.) BMG/RCA 2283


Composer's Datebook - July 27, 2022

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July 27, 2022

Synopsis

It was on this day in 1929 that the first performance was given of a radio cantata – not on the radio, oddly enough, but in a concert hall in Baden-Baden, Germany. It was entitled “Lindbergh’s Flight,” with a text by Bertolt Brecht, and music by both Kurt Weill AND Paul Hindemith. This cantata was intended for a later radio broadcast and meant to illustrate both the literal and philosophical aspects of Charles A. Lindbergh’s first-ever solo flight across the Atlantic two years earlier in 1927.

Today, when planes whiz back and forth across the Atlantic every day, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers, we have to remember that in 1927, the number of people flying to Europe nonstop was just ONE, namely Lindbergh, and the feat made headline news around the world.

Three decades after Lindbergh’s flight, composer Franz Waxman would write the film score for “The Spirit of St. Louis,” a 1957 Hollywood version of the Atlantic crossing starring Jimmy Stewart.

And speaking of Atlantic crossings, Waxman, Weill and Hindemith – all German-born composers – would emigrate to the U.S. in the 1930s, their flight a result of the racial laws and artistic repression that followed the rise of Nazi ideology in Europe.

Music Played in Today's Program

Kurt Weill (1900-1950) – Lindbergh's Flight (Cologne Radio Orchestra; Hermann Scherchen, cond.) Capriccio 60012

Franz Waxman (1906-1962) – The Spirit of St. Louis (studio orchestra; Franz Waxman, cond.) BMG/RCA 2283

On This Day

Births

  • 1867 - Spanish composer and conductor Enrique Granados, in Lérida; He died at sea in 1916, a victim of the sinking by a German submarine of the S.S. Sussex in the English Channel during World War I)

  • 1877 - Hungarian composer and pianist Ernö (Ernst) von Dohnányi; He was the grandfather of the German-born conductor Christoph von Dohnányi

  • 1899 - American composer Harl McDonald, near Boulder, Colorado; He worked as the business manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years, and that orchestra performed a number of his pieces under both Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy

  • 1912 - Russian-born composer and conductor Igor Markevitch, in Kiev (Julian date: July 14)

Deaths

  • 1924 - Italian-German composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni, age 58, in Berlin

Premieres

  • 1941 - Paul Creston: "Prelude and Dance" and "A Rumor," in New York

  • 1941 - Bernard Herrmann: Symphony No. 1, on a radio broadcast by the Columbia Symphony with the composer conducting

Others

  • 1733 - J.S. Bach sends a letter to Frederic Augustus, Elector of Saxony, requesting an official title to bolster his reputation in Leipzig; Accompanying the letter, Bach sends the "Kyrie" and "Gloria" from his Mass in b minor

  • 1966 - Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "Torn Curtain" opens in New York — without the film score that Bernard Herrmann had composed for it (The famous director fired Herrmann during the score's first recording sessions when Hitch discovered Herrmann had composed a "symphonic" score and not the "pop" score that Hitch had specifically requested)