Composers Datebook®

Claude Goudimel, Huguenot

Composer's Datebook - Aug. 24, 2023


We tend to think our time has had a monopoly on bitter religious conflicts, but on today’s date in 1572, which happened to be St. Bartholomew’s Day, the Catholic queen dowager of France, Catherine de Medici, and her son, King Charles IX, decided that the best way to rid their kingdom of troublesome Protestants would be simply to kill them off.

A few days earlier, Catholic and Protestant nobles from across France had come to Paris to attend a noble wedding which, ironically, was intended to bring the rival religious factions closer together.

Things quickly turned ugly, and on the 24th of August the infamous “Massacre of St. Bartholomew” began and quickly spread across the entire country. Among those who perished was a French Protestant composer named Claude Goudimel, who was killed when the massacre reached Lyons.

Fortunately for posterity, not all Reformation era rulers were so bloodthirsty. The English Catholic composer Thomas Tallis managed to keep his head through the reigns of alternating Catholic and Protestant monarchs, and the Protestant Queen Elizabeth the First admired and supported the music of William Byrd, despite his openly Catholic sympathies.

Music Played in Today's Program

Claude Goudimel (1510 – 1572) Comfort, comfort Ye my people Cathedral Singers; Richard Proulx, conductor. GIA 290

On This Day


  • 1803 - French composer Adolphe Adam, in Paris;

  • 1837 - French composer and organist Théodore Dubois, in Rosnay;

  • 1910 - German-born American composer Bernhard Heiden, in Frankfurt;

  • 1919 - Danish composer Niels Viggo Bentzon, in Copenhagen;

  • 1949 - American composer Stephen Paulus, in Summit, N.J.;


  • 1985 - American composer Paul Creston, age 78, in San Diego, Calif.;


  • 1846 - Suppé: operetta "Dichter und Bauer" (Poet and Peasant), in Vienna;

  • 1907 - Elgar: "Pomp and Circumstance"March No. 4, in London;

  • 1943 - Bernstein: song-cycle "I Hate Music!" at the Public Library in Lenox, Mass., with mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel and the composer at the piano; The New York premiere of this work occurred on November 13, 1943 (the day before his surprise conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic), with the same performers;

  • 1980 - Lutoslawski: Double Concerto, for oboe, harp and chamber orchestra, in Lucerne, Switzerland by oboist Heinz Holliger, harpisy Ursula Holliger, and the Collegium Musicum conducted by Paul Sacher;


  • 1724 - Handel performs on the organ at St. Paul's Cathedral in London before the royal princesses Anne and Caroline (Gregorian date: Sept. 4);

  • 1968 - Czech conductor and composer Rafael Kubelik launches an appeal to world musicians to boycott performances in the five nations which invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20-21 until their military forces evacuate the country; The appeal was joined by Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Otto Klemperer, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Arrau, and others.

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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®