Composers Datebook®

Grove and Sullivan 'discover' Schubert

Composer's Datebook - October 5, 2023


On today’s date in 1867, two eminent British Victorians arrived in Vienna in search of Franz Schubert. Now, Schubert had been dead for 39 years, as the two Brits were quite aware. George Grove, 47, was England’s finest musicologist, and Arthur Sullivan, 25, one of the country’s most promising young composers.

Grove believed there might be forgotten manuscripts in the possession of the late composer’s relatives, so the pair met with Schubert’s nephew, a certain Herr Doktor Schneider, who said, oh, yes, come to mention it, he did have some pieces by Uncle Franz that no one had played for more than 40 years. If the two gentlemen had no objection to getting dusty, they were welcome to rummage the family’s storage closets.

The two visitors braved the dust and found orchestral parts for Schubert’s Rosamunde incidental music, tied up in a big bundle after the work’s premiere back in 1823 and untouched since then.

Grove and Sullivan spent the rest of the day carefully making a copy of their discovery. At 2 a.m., after finishing the task, their spirits must have been pretty high, since to celebrate the proper Victorian gentlemen began an impromptu game of leap-frog.

Music Played in Today's Program

Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Rosamunde Incidental Music - Chamber Music Orchestra of Europe; Claudio Abbado, cond. DG 431 655

On This Day


  • 1875 - British composer and organist Cyril Bradley Rootham, in Bristol;

  • 1962 - American composer and pianist Ken Noda, in New York City;


  • 1880 - French composer Jacques Offenbach, age 61, in Paris;

  • 1940 - Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, age 40, in Mexico City;


  • 1762 - Gluck: opera, "Orfeo ed Euridice" (1st version in Italian), in Vienna at the Kaiserliches Hoftheater;

  • 1898 - Elgar: cantata, "Caractacus," at the Leeds Festival.

  • 1972 - Argento: "A Ring of Time," by the Minneapolis Symphony, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducting;

  • 1973 - Havergal Brian: Symphony No. 28, by the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting;

  • 1988 - Daniel Pinkham: "Sonata da Camera" (Chamber Sonata) for flute (alternating alto flute) and viola, at Jordan Hall of the New England Conservatory in Boston, by flutist Fenwick Smith and violist Burton Fine;

  • 2001 - Stephen Paulus: "A Place for Hope" for chorus and chamber ensemble, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., by members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with the Choral Arts Ensemble of Rochester, Minn., conducted by Andreas Delfs;


  • 1867 - The British musicologist George Grove (of Grove Dictionary fame) and the British composer Arthur Sullivan (of later Gilbert & Sullivan fame) arrive in Vienna, seeking lost works of Schubert;

  • 1930 - The New York Philharmonic begins its famous series of weekly Sunday afternoon national broadcasts with a program from Carnegie Hall conducted by Erich Kleiber; The first-ever radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic had occurred on August 12, 1922, when a summer-time concert from Lewisohn Stadium conducted by Willem van Hoogstraten was relayed locally over WJZ in New York.

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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.

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