Composers Datebook®

Edward Collins escapes to Wisconsin

Composer's Datebook - Aug. 19, 2023


In the 19th century, anybody who had the means would flee the stifling heat of the cities and head for someplace green and shady and cool: a country house, a spa perhaps, or maybe just a modest cabin by a lake.

In the 19th century, it was Brahms who set the fashion for composers to spend their summer months in the countryside working on their music. His Violin Concerto and Second Symphony were the products of leisurely weeks spent in the lake district of Austria’s Carinthian Alps.

For the American composer Edward Collins, who lived from 1886-1951, the city to be escaped was Chicago, and his country refuge was Cedar Lake, Wisconsin. In 1931, Collins composed a Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra. Like much of Collins’ music, it was premiered by the Chicago Symphony under conductor Frederick Stock, who encouraged young American talent, especially from a local boy like Collins, a native of Joliet, Illinois.

These days the music of Edward Collins has all but disappeared from American concert halls, but conductor Marin Alsop and the Concordia Orchestra recorded a sampling of his major orchestral works for a compact disc series funded by the late composer’s family.

Music Played in Today's Program

Edward J. Collins (1889 – 1951) Concert Piece in A minor Leslie Stifelman, piano; Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, conductor. Albany 267

On This Day


  • 1813 - American composer and journalist, William Henry Fry, in Philadelphia (see also August 10);

  • 1881 - Rumanian composer, violinist, and conductor Georges Enesco (Enescu), in Liveni-Virnaz;


  • 1929 - Russian ballet impressario Sergei Diaghilev, age 57, in Venice;


  • 1952 - Ginastera: ballet "Estancia," in Buenos Aires;

  • 1957 - Bernstein: musical "West Side Story," as a trial run in Washington, D.C. at the National Theater, choreography and direction by Jerome Robbins, conducted by Max Goberman; The show opened in New York City at the Winter Garden on September 26, 1957;

  • 1961 - Peggy Glanville-Hicks: opera "Nausicaa," in Athens, Greece;

  • 1988 - Lutoslawski: Piano Concerto, at the Salzburg Festival in Austria;


  • 1990 - At Tanglewood, Leonard Bernstein conducts the Boston Symphony in Britten's "Three Sea Interludes" from "Peter Grimes" and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 at his last concert appearance before his death; On the same program, Carl St. Clair conducted a performance of Bernstein's "Arias and Barcarolles" (as orchestrated by Bright Sheng); The Bernstein-led performances from this concert have been issued on compact disc on the Deutsche Grammophon label.

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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.

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