Composers Datebook®

Chaminade in America

Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944) L'Ondine, Op. 101 and Scherzo in C, fr Op. 35 (Peter Jacobs, p.) Hyperion 66584

Composer's Datebook - 20220808


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August 08, 2022


The French composer and concert pianist Cecile Chaminade was born in Paris on this date in 1857. She wrote symphonic works and even operas, but it was her piano pieces and songs that became enormously popular with amateur musicians around the turn of the century, especially in America.

In the decade before World War I, over a hundred "Chaminade Clubs" sprouted up in America, where Chaminade's music was performed by and for her fans. So imagine the excitement when it was announced that Madame Chaminade herself would be giving a concert tour of Eastern and Midwest states in 1908. Chaminade's American tour opened and closed at New York's Carnegie Hall, and over a two-month period she performed in Philadelphia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Boston, and Washington DC.

In 1908, the majority of amateur musicians in America were women, but the majority of music critics were men – the latter gave Chaminade's concerts mixed reviews at best, and downright sexist put-downs at worst. For her part, Chaminade was used to that sort of reception in Europe – and the limited role society allowed women artists in her day.

But in a Washington Post interview published during her American tour, Chaminade remained optimistic: "There is no sex in art," she said. "Genius is an independent quality. The woman of the future, with her broader outlook, her greater opportunities, will go far, I believe, in creative work of every description."

Music Played in Today's Program

Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944) L'Ondine, Op. 101 and Scherzo in C, fr Op. 35 (Peter Jacobs, p.) Hyperion 66584

On This Day


  • 1857 - French composer Cécile Chaminade, in Paris;

  • 1905 - French composer André Jolivet, in Paris;

  • 1938 - Canadian composer Jacques Hétu, in Trois Rivières, Quebec;


  • 1950 - Russian composer Nikolai Miaskovsky, age 69, in Moscow;

  • 1967 - Czech-born composer Jaromir Weinberger, age 71, commits suicide at his home in St. Peterburg, Florida (where he settled in 1939); Weinberger had composed one very popular work, his 1927 opera "Schwanda, the Bagpiper," but was reportedly despondent that he was unable to produce any other equally successful works;


  • 1882 - Tchaikovsky: "1812 Overture," in Moscow (Gregorian date: Aug. 20);

  • 1942 - Poulenc: ballet "Les Animaux modèles" (The Model Animals), at the Paris Opéra;

  • 1943 - Piston: “Prelude and Allegro” for organ and strings, on a CBS radio broadcast by organist E. Power Biggs with Arthur Fiedler conducting;

  • 1976 - David Del Tredici: first version of “An Alice Symphony” (after Lewis Carroll) in San Francisco; See also Aug. 7, 1991;

  • 1984 - Berio: opera "Un re in ascolto" (A King Listens), at the Salzburg Festival in Austria;