Composers Datebook®

Musgrave's Postcard

Composer's Datebook - August 5, 2023


On today’s date in 2012, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the BBC’s SCOTTISH Symphony, under the direction of SCOTTISH conductor Donald Runnicles, gave the world premiere of a new orchestral piece by the SCOTTISH composer Thea Musgrave.

You might be forgiven for asking, “Were any bagpipes involved?” No, but the piece did involve the next best thing­ – ­if you’re Scottish that is–namely the Loch Ness monster. The new piece was entitled Loch Ness – A Postcard from Scotland and here’s how Thea Musgrave described her new work:

“This Scottish loch is famous for its monster - only very occasionally seen. In this lighthearted work he, the monster (a tuba), emerges from the depths (E flat) to find the sun (A major) coming out from a thick mist (string clusters).

“As he plays he is warmed by the sparkling sun (trumpets) and by the strains of an ancient Scottish melody. As the sun goes down, he dives back into the deep waters with a big splash. Then a cool moon rises, a light breeze ruffles the surface of the waters, and all is at peace.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Thea Musgrave (b. 1928) Loch Ness – A Postcard from Scotland BBC National Orchestra of Wales; William Boughton, conductor. Lyrita 372

On This Day


  • 1623 - Italian opera composer Marc Antonio Cesti, in Arezzo;

  • 1694 - Italian composer and organist Leonardo Leo, in San Vito degli Schiavi(near Brindisi); He was one of the founders of the Neapolitan School of composition;

  • 1811 - French composer Ambroise Thomas, in Metz;

  • 1926 - French composer of American parentage Betsy Jolas, in Paris;


  • 1891 - English-born French composer, pianist and music publisher Charles Henry Litolff, age 73, in Bois-Colombes (near Paris);

  • 1916 - English composer George Butterworth, age 31, in France, as a British soldier during the battle of Pozières;


  • 1956 - Ned Rorem: Symphony No. 2, at La Jolla, Calif.;

  • 1972 - David Del Tredici: "Vintage Alice" for soprano and chamber ensemble (to a text by Lewis Carroll), in Saratoga, California;

  • 2000 - Richard Danielpour: Violin Concerto ("A Fool's Paradise"), at the Saratoga Center for the Performing Arts, in Saratoga, N.Y., by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit, with soloist Chantal Juillet;


  • 1717 - J.S. Bach appointed Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold at Coethen, but is at first prevented by his current employer, Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar, from taking up the post (Bach was even imprisoned for a time by Duke Wilhelm Ernst);

  • 1978 - The citizens of Patowan, Utah, decided to name a local mountain Mr. Messiaen, in honor of the French composer, Olivier Messiaen, who spent a month in Utah in 1973 an composed a symphonic work, "Des canyons aux etoiles" (From the canyons to the stars), which glorified the natural beauty of the region.

Love the music?

Donate by phone

Show your support by making a gift to YourClassical.

Each day, we’re here for you with thoughtful streams that set the tone for your day – not to mention the stories and programs that inspire you to new discovery and help you explore the music you love.

YourClassical is available for free, because we are listener-supported public media. Take a moment to make your gift today.

More Ways to Give

Your Donation


Latest Composers Datebook® Episodes


Latest Composers Datebook® Episodes


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®