Composers Datebook®

Finzi's Clarinet Concerto

Composer's Datebook - September 9, 2023


On today’s date in 1949, the British composer Gerald Finzi conducted the premiere performance of his Clarinet Concerto at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford.

During his lifetime, Finzi never achieved the fame of some other 20th-century British composers. British tenor Mark Padmore wrote a recent appreciation titled “The Quiet Man of British Music,” which included these lines:

“I want to make a case for taking the time to get to know a composer … whose plumage is discreet and whose song is quiet and subtle. Finzi might be termed one of classical music's wrens. Despite his exotic-sounding surname and mixed Italian, Sephardic and Ashkenazi heritage, Finzi was in many ways an archetypal English gentleman. ... One of his passions was the saving of old English varieties of apples. … [His] music was written slowly and often it would take many years for a piece to reach its final form.”

Finzi died in 1956, at 55, from Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was concerned his music would be forgotten after his death and added this note to his catalogue of works: "The affection which an individual may retain after his departure is perhaps the only thing which guarantees an ultimate life to his work."

Music Played in Today's Program

Gerald Finzi (1901 - 1956) – Clarinet Concerto (Alan Hacker; English String Orchestra; William Boughton, cond.) Nimbus 5665

On This Day


  • 1872 - American composer Edward Burlingame Hill, in Cambridge, Mass.;

  • 1937 - American composer Olly Wilson, in St. Louis;


  • 1965 - Mexican composer Julián Carrillo, age 90, in Mexico City;


  • 1825 - Beethoven: String Quartet in a, Op.132, at a private performance for an audience of fourteen at the Tavern "Zum Wilden Mann" (The Wild Man) in Vienna, by the Schuppanzigh Quartet; The same players gave the first public performance in Vienna on November 6 that year;

  • 1973 - Frank Martin: "Polyptyque (Six Passiontide Images for Violin and Two Small String orchestras)," in Lausanne, by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra conducted by Edmond de Stoutz, with Yehudi Menuhin the soloist.

  • 1995 - Michael Torke: "Telephone Book" for chamber ensemble (consisting of "The Yellow Pages" from 1985 and two new pieces: "The Blue Pages" and "The White Pages" composed in 1995), at the Milwaukee Art Museum by the Present Music ensemble, Kevin Stalheim conducting.

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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®