Composers Datebook®

Higdon welcomes Autumn

Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962): Autumn Music –Moran Woodwind Quintet (Crystal 754)

Composer's Datebook - September 22, 2022


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September 22, 2022


As the season begins, we offer you this “Autumn Music” — a woodwind quintet by American composer Jennifer Higdon. Higdon says she wanted to write a companion piece to another famous woodwind quintet titled “Summer Music” by Samuel Barber. Higdon’s “Autumn Music” was commissioned by Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honorary society, and premiered at their 1994 national convention in Pittsburgh.

“Autumn Music,” says Higdon, “is a sonic picture of the season of brilliant colors. The music of the first part represents the explosion of leaves and the crispness of the air of fall. As the music progresses, it becomes more spare and introspective, moving into a more melancholy and resigned feeling.”

Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn in 1962, and teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her chamber and orchestral pieces have been performed by ensembles coast to coast. She’s also active as a performer and, as she explains, as an enthusiastic member of the audience:

“I love exploring new works — my own pieces and the music of others — in a general audience setting, just to feel a communal reaction to new sounds. Music speaks to all age levels and all kinds of experiences in our lives. I think it can express anything and everything.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962): Autumn Music –Moran Woodwind Quintet (Crystal 754)

On This Day


  • 1875 - Lithuanian composer Mikolajus Ciurlionis, in Varena (then the Kaunas province of the Russian Empire; Julian date: Sept. 10);

  • 1933 - Spanish composer Leonardo Balada, in Barcelona;

  • 1961 - American composer Michael Torke, in Milwaukee, Wisc.;


  • 1989 - American song composer Irving Berlin, age 101, in New York City;


  • 1869 - Wagner: opera, "Das Rheingold," in Munich at the Hoftheater, Franz Wüllner conducting; The opera was performed at the Bavarian emperor Ludwig II's request, but against the composer's wishes;

  • 1938 - Webern: String Quartet, Op. 28, at South Mountain, Pittsfield, Mass., during the Berkshire Chamber Music Festival; This work was commissioned for $750 by the American music patron, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge;

  • 1964 - Jerry Bock: musical "Fiddler On the Roof" opens on Broadway: It would run for 3,242 performances before closing;

  • 1971 - Barber: "The Lovers" for solo voice and chorus (after a poem by Pablo Neruda), in Philadelphia;

  • 1989 - Bernstein: "Arias and Barcarolles" (orchestrated version prepared by Bright Sheng), at the Tilles Center of Long Island University with the New York Chamber Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz and featuring vocalists Susan Graham and Kurt Ollmann; The first version of this work, for soloists and piano four-hands, premiered on May 9, 1988, at Equitable Center Auditorium in New York City;

  • 1990 - James MacMillan: "The Beserking" (Piano Concerto), at Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow by pianist Peter Donohoue and the Royal Scottish Orchestra, Matthias Bamert conducting;

  • 1990 - Christopher Rouse: "Jagannath" for orchestra, by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach conducting;

  • 2000 - Philip Glass: “Tirol Concerto” for piano and orchestra, by Dennis Russell Davies (piano and conductor) with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, at the 7th annual Klangspuren Festival in Schwaz, Tirol (Austria);

  • 2000 - Zwilich: "Millennium Fantasy" for piano and orchestra, by the Cincinnati Symphony, Jesús Lopez-Cobos conducting with soloist Jeffrey Biegel;


  • 1937 - During the Spanish Civil War, Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas conducts his 1935 composition “Homage to Federico Garcia Lorca” in Madrid while the city was under siege by Spanish fascist forces; The Spanish poet Lorca had been killed by the Falangists;