On today’s date in 1948, at a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall, the London Symphony gave the premiere performance of the Serenade in G Major by the British composer Ernest John Moeran. Moeran was born in 1894 in London, but Ireland became his adopted home and musical inspiration during the last decades of his life.
Moeran was fascinated by folksongs, and his method of collecting them was to sit in a country pub and wait until an old man started singing. He would note down the song and ask for more. In the 1920s, Moeran became drinking companion of another British composer, music critic, and fellow folk song aficionado Peter Warlock, a talented but rather notorious character who was the model for the outrageously Bohemian composer depicted in Anthony Powell’s string of novels collectively titled A Dance to the Music of Time.
Warlock’s most famous work was his Capriol Suite, an affectionate reworking of Renaissance tunes, and Moeran’s Serenade, similar in tone, was perhaps a tribute to his old boon companion. Moeran’s 1948 Serenade proved to be last major work, as he died suddenly two years later, at 55, in his beloved Ireland.
Music Played in Today's Program
E. J. Moeran (1894 - 1950) Serenade in G Northern Sinfonietta of England;Richard Hickox, cond. EMI 74991-2
On This Day
1661 - German composer and organist Georg Böhm, in Hohenkirchen (near Ohrdruf), Thuringia;
1862 - Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock, in Amsterdam;
1917 - Brazilian composer and guitarist Laurindo Almeida, in São Paulo;
1953 - American composer John Zorn, in New York City;
1875 - Depressed by the failure of his commercial ventures, violinist and conductor Ureli Corelli Hill, age 73, commits suicide by swallowing morphine in Patterson, New Jersey; Hill had played in the pit orchestra for the first performances of Italian opera in New York City staged by Manuel Garcia in 1825; He conducted the first American performance of Handel's "Messiah" with orchestral accompaniment in 1831; In 1842, he was one of the founding members of the New York Philharmonic, served as its first president, conducted portions of its first concert, and performed with the orchestra until 1873, when he retired due to his age;
1996 - American composer Otto Luening, age 96, in New York;
1924 - Rudolf Friml: operetta, "Rose Marie," to rave reviews, in New York;
1960 - Walton: Symphony No. 2 at the Edinburgh Festival by the Royal Liverpool Orchestra conducted by John Pritchard;
1966 - Nino Rota: ballet, "La Strada" (The Road) (after his score for the Fellini film), at La Scala in Milan;
1972 - Penderecki: Cello Concerto, at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland;
1975 - Kokkonen: opera "The Last Temptations" in Helsinki;
1980 - Peter Maxwell Davies: opera "The Lighthouse," in Edinburgh;
1992 - Reimann: opera "Das Schloss" (The Castle), after the novel by Franz Kafka, in Berlin at the Deutsche Oper;
1773 - The Empress Maria Therese is entertained by Haydn's chamber orchestra at the country estate of Prince Nicholas of Esterhazy. It is possible, but not certain, that Haydn's Symphony No. 48 was performed on this occasion (The symphony known today by the nickname "Maria Therese").
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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.