Ruggles and Cowell anniversaries
Carl Ruggles (1897 - 1971) Sun-Treader Cleveland Orchestra; Christoph von Dohnanyi, conductor. Cleveland Orchestra 75th Anniversary CD Edition 093-75 Henry Cowell (1897 - 1965) Homage to Iran Leopold Avakian, violin; Mitchell Andrews, piano; Basil Bahar, Persian drum CRI 836
Composer's Datebook - Mar. 11, 2023
Today's date marks the birth anniversaries of two major 20th century American composers: Carl Ruggles was born in East Marion, Massachusetts on today's date in 1876, and Henry Cowell, in Menlo Park, California in 1897.
Ruggles was a tough old bird, who wrote a small handful of tough, uncompromising musical works. He was the conductor of a symphony orchestra in Winona, Minnesota from 1908-1912, a teacher at the University of Miami from 1937-1943, and a talented painter to boot. His first music to be performed in public was entitled A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, an apt description of Ruggles himself, a crusty loner who once claimed the only man he ever met who could out-swear him was his friend and colleague Charles Ives. He eventually retired to an old schoolhouse in Arlington, Vermont.
Ruggles's striking orchestral works, with titles like Sun-Treader and Men and Mountains, are occasionally revived, but he remains just a name for most 21st century concert-goers.
Henry Cowell was a much more genial, out-going sort: a composer, performer and teacher who wrote a great deal of music, ranging from the dissonant and experimental to the beguilingly lyrical. Cowell was an early apostle of what we now call "world music," and in 1956 undertook a world tour, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the US State Department, which included lengthy stays in Iran, India and Japan, and resulted in Cowell writing a number of musical works incorporating ideas and musical instruments from those countries.
Music Played in Today's Program
Carl Ruggles (1897 - 1971) Sun-Treader Cleveland Orchestra; Christoph von Dohnanyi, conductor. Cleveland Orchestra 75th Anniversary CD Edition 093-75
Henry Cowell (1897 - 1965) Homage to Iran Leopold Avakian, violin; Mitchell Andrews, piano; Basil Bahar, Persian drum CRI 836
On This Day
1876 - American composer Carl Ruggles, in Marion, Mass.;
1897 - American composer Henry Cowell, in Menlo Park, Calif.;
1791 - Haydn: Symphony No. 92, conducted by the composer, at the first of his London concerts; Haydn had composed this symphony at the request of a French count in 1788-89, and presumably its first performance took place in Paris around that time; The symphony's nickname, "Oxford," derives from a July 7, 1791, performance conducted by Haydn at the Sheldonian Theater at Oxford University, where Haydn was awarded an honorary degree;
1830 - Bellini: opera "I Capuleti e I Montecchi" (The Capulets and Montagues), in Venice at the Teatro la Fenice;
1851 - Verdi: opera "Rigoletto," in Venice at the Teatro La Fenice;
1867 - Verdi: opera "Don Carlos" (1st French-language version in 5 acts) at the Paris Opéra;
1886 - Tchaikovsky: "Manfred" Symphony (after Byron), in Moscow (Gregorian date: Mar. 23);
1888 - Dvorak: Symphony No. 2 in Bb, in Prague; This symphony was composed in 1865;
1915 - Ravel: ballet "Ma Mère l'Oye" (Mother Goose), at the Paris Opéra; This orchestral score is based on an earlier Ravel work of the same name for two pianos;
1917 - Respighi: tone-poem "The Fountains of Rome," in Rome;
1929 - Colin McPhee: Concerto for Piano with Wind Octet, in Boston;
1999 - Corigliano: "A Dylan Thomas Trilogy," at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with soloists and the National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting;
1829 - Mendelssohn conducts a revival performance of J.S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" in Berlin.