Composers Datebook®

Captain Jinks

Composer's Datebook - September 20, 2023


On today’s date in 1975, the Kansas City Lyric Theater opened its 18th season with the world premiere of a new opera by Jack Beeson, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. As if to prove that everything is “up-to-date” in Kansas City, even before this world premiere, this Missouri company could boast a long tradition of staging contemporary operas by American composers.

Captain Jinks was the sixth of some 10 operas composed by Jack Beeson, who was born in Muncie, Indiana, in 1921.  Beeson blames the radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera for his catching the opera bug.

“When I was about 12,” Beeson says, “the Met started regularly broadcasting on Saturday afternoons, and I was seduced. With what spending money I had, I bought scores, and I would place the score up on the piano, and with a little radio on the piano and a big radio across the room, I would accompany the Met.”

Some of Beeson’s other operas include The Sweet Bye and Bye from 1957, Lizzie Borden from 1965 and Sorry, Wrong Number from 1999. He also taught for many years at Columbia University in New York City, mentoring hundreds of his composition students.

Music Played in Today's Program

Jack Beeson (1921 – 2010) — Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (Kansas City Lyric Theatre; Russell Patterson, cond.) TROY 1149/50

On This Day


  • 1880 - Italian composer Ildebrando Pizetti, in Parma;

  • 1885 - Frequently cited birth date of American composer and jazz pianist Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, in New Orleans; This date has been proven incorrect (See October 20, 1890);

  • 1900 - Finnish composer Unno Klami, in Virolahti;


  • 1908 - Spanish violin virtuoso and composer Pablo de Sarasate, age 63, in Biarritz;

  • 1957 - Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, age 91, in Järvenpää;


  • 1878 - Tchaikovsky: "Valse-scherzo" for violin and orchestra, in Paris, with Nicolai Rubinstein conducting and Stanislaw Barcewicz the soloist;

  • 1930 - first public performance of Elgar: "Pomp and Circumstance" March No. 5, at Queen's Hall in London, Sir Henry Wood conducting; The first performance ever of this music occurred two days earlier, when Elgar himself recorded his new march at HMV's London studios;

  • 1954 - Stravinsky: "In Memoriam Dylan Thomas," in Los Angeles, conducted by Robert Craft; Stravinsky had met the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas the previous year, and they had discussed collaborating on an opera project, but Thomas died on November 9, 1953;

  • 1975 - Jack Beeson: opera "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" in Kansas City, Mo.

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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®