On today’s date in 1945, Artur Rodzinski conducted the New York Philharmonic in the premiere performance of an orchestral suite arranged from Aaron Copland’s ballet score Appalachian Spring.
For the ballet’s 1944 premiere at the Library of Congress, Copland called for a chamber orchestra of 13 players, but for most music lovers, it’s as a work for a larger symphony orchestra that Appalachian Spring is most often remembered.
Copland said he had conducted all of his own works but knew his Appalachian Spring best of all. He also had some specific advice for other conductors of his score.
“I have often admonished orchestras, professional and otherwise, not to get too sweet or too sentimental with it,” Copland said, “and I have reminded performers that Appalachian Spring should be played cooler than Tchaikovsky and lighter than Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.”
“My own favorite place in the whole piece,” said Copland, “is toward the end where I have marked a misterioso. I would tell string players that we don’t want to know where the up and down bows are. They must have a special sustained quality there, a kind of organ like sound, with each entry like an Amen.”
"My own favorite place in the whole piece," Copland said, "is toward the end where I have marked a misterioso. I would tell string players that we don't want to know where the up and down bows are. They must have a special sustained quality there, a kind of organ like sound, with each entry like an amen."
Music Played in Today's Program
Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990) Appalachian Spring Suite - New York Philharmonic; Leonard Bernstein, cond. Sony Classical 63082
On This Day
1970 - American composer George Frederick McKay, 71, in Stateline, Nev
1982 - Canadian pianist and occasional composer Glenn Gould, 50, in Toronto;
1803 - Cherubini: opera "Anacréon," at the Paris Opéra;
1815 - Rossini: opera, "Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra" (Elizabeth I, Queen of England), in Naples;
1910 - Korngold: pantomime, "The Snowman," at the Vienna Court Opera, conducted by Alexander Zemlinsky; Korngold was 13 at the time;
1916 - R. Strauss: opera, "Ariadne auf Naxos" (revised version), at the Vienna Court Opera, conducted by Franz Schalk, with vocal soloists Maria Jertiza (Ariadne), Selma Kurz (Zerbinetta), Lotte Lehmann (Composer), and Bela Kornyey (Bacchus); An earlier version of this opera (minus its prologue) had premiered in Stuttgart on Oct. 24, 1912, conducted by the composer;
1936 - Dvorák: Symphony No. 1 in c ("The Bells of Zlonice"), in Prague, posthumously; This symphony was composed in 1865;
1941 - Manuel Ponce: "Concierto del Sur" for guitar and orchestra, in Montevideo;
1945 - Copland: "Appalachian Spring" Orchestra Suite, at Carnegie Hall by New York Philharmonic conducted by Artur Rodzinski, with simultaneous performances the next day by the Boston Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra; the original chamber orchestra version of Copland's complete ballet score(choreographed by Martha Graham) had premiered at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on October 30, 1944;
1956 - Leon Kirchner: "Toccata" for strings, winds and percussion, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, by the Symphony of the Air, Leopold Stokowski conducting;
1956 - Martinu: Piano Concerto No. 4 ("Incantations"), at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, by the Symphony of the Air, Leopold Stokowski conducting, with pianist Rudolf Firkusny;
1959 - Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1, by the Leningrad Philharmonic conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky, with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist;
1962 - William Schuman: Symphony No. 8 (commissioned for opening season of New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center);
1982 - Glass: "Koyaanisqatsi" film score premiered at Radio City Music Hall Film Festival in New York;
1991 - Lou Harrison: "Homage to Pacifica," over KPFA radio in Berkeley, Calif.;
1997 - Michael Daugherty: "Niagra Falls" for winds, in Ann Arbor, by the University of Michigan Symphonic Band, conducted by H. Robert Reynolds.
1738 - London music publisher John Walsh the younger issues Handel's Organ Concertos, Op. 4 (Gregorian date: Oct. 15);
1739 - Handel completes in London his Concerto Grosso in F, Op. 6, no. 2 (Gregorian date: Oct. 15);
1921 - The American Academy in Rome awards American composer Leo Sowerby its first two-year composition fellowship; American composer Howard Hanson was awarded the second two-year composition fellowship on November 9, 1921; The third fellowship was awarded to Randall Thompson on June 6, 1922; The fellowship awards continue to this day.
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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.