Composers Datebook®

Salzburg and Messner

Composer's Datebook - July 17, 2023


On today’s date in 1877, the Vienna Philharmonic performed for the first time in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, during a three-day music festival that included works by Mozart and others, including two living composers of that day, a 44-year old fellow named Brahms and a 64-year old named Wagner.

The Philharmonic would return to Salzburg six more times for mini-festivals through 1910, some led by composer-conductors like Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler.

In 1925, an annual “Salzburg Festival” was established, with the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera as the main musical participants. The Second World War disrupted the Festival in the 1940s, but soon after it reestablished itself among the most prestigious of international musical happenings.

Traditionally, a familiar brass fanfare opens each Salzburg Festival radio broadcast, but probably few music lovers know the name of its composer.

It was written by Joseph Messner, who wrote over 700 works. He was born in 1893 in the Austrian Tyrol and died in 1969 in a village near Salzburg, where he had served as church organist, conductor and composer for decades, leading many Festival concerts featuring sacred music by Mozart and others.

Music Played in Today's Program

Wolfgang Mozart (1756 - 1791) Menuetto and Trio, fr Haffner Symphony Vienna PhilharmonicRafael Kubelik, conductor. Seraphim 68531

Joseph Messner (1893 - 1969) Salzburg Festival Fanfare Salzburg Mozarteum Orch;Ivor Bolton, conductor. Oehmns CD 734

On This Day


  • 1832 - Swedish composer August Söderman, in Stockholm

  • 1875 - English composer, pianist, and music scholar Sir Donald Tovey, in Eton

  • 1935 - American composer and musical satirist Peter Schickele, in Ames, Iowa; He "discovered" and performed the music of P.D.Q Bach (1807-1742?)


  • 1937 - French composer and conductor Gabriel Pierné, age 73, in Ploujean, Brittany

  • 1967 - Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, age 40, in Huntington, Long Island (New York


  • 1717 - Handel: "Water Music" on the river Thames, during a royal barge trip from Whitehall to Chelsea (Gregorian date: July 28)

  • 1927 - Milhaud: opera "L'enlèvement d'Europe" (The Rape of Europa), in Baden-Baden at the Stadthalle

  • 1975 - Sallinen: opera, "The Horseman" at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland

  • 1983 - Sir Lenox Berkeley: Cello Concerto, in Manchester.


  • 1877 - Otto Dessoff conducts the Vienna Philharmonic on its first concert tour to Salzburg, as part of a three-day "Salzburger Musikfest" (Salzburg Music Festival) on July 17-19; The orchestra would return to Salzburg in 1879, 1891, 1901, 1904, 1906, and 1910, for special concerts, and in 1925 the annual "Salzburg Festival" was established, with the Vienna Philharmonic as the Festival's prominent participant

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®