Composers Datebook®

Cindy McTee's Symphony No. 1

Composer's Datebook - October 24, 2023


On today’s date in 2002, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Leonard Slatkin conducted the National Symphony in the premiere of a new symphony by American composer Cindy McTee.

McTee subtitled her Symphony No. 1, Ballet for Orchestra, saying: “Music is said to have come from dance — [and] the impulse to compose often begins as a rhythmical stirring and leads to a physical response — tensing muscles, gesturing with hands and arms, or quite literally, dancing. … There is also much pleasure to be gained from observing the gestures of a conductor, or from seeing the coordinated bowing of the string sections within an orchestra. My Ballet for Orchestra emerged out of a similar kinesthetic/emotional awareness and a renewed interest in dance music.”

McTee’s symphony makes passing allusions to earlier works by Stravinsky, Ravel, Barber and even Penderecki, tossing in some jazz and folk fiddling allusions for good measure. But Allan Kozinn, reviewing the new symphony for the New York Times, wrote: “Ms. McTee's sense of organization kept the work from becoming a pastiche: As diverse as its ideas were, they seemed to unfold naturally within an orchestral fabric that used the ensemble's full coloristic range.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Cindy McTee (b. 1953) Symphony No. 1 (Ballet for Orchestra) - Detroit Symphony; Leonard Slatkin, cond. Naxos 8.559765

On This Day


  • 1811 - German composer, conductor and pianist Ferdinand Hiller, in Frankfurt am Main;

  • 1882 - Hungarian operetta composer Imre [Emmerich] Kálman, in Siófok;

  • 1925 - Italian composer Luciano Berio, in Oneglia, Imperia;

  • 1929 - American composer George Crumb, in Charleston, West Virginia;

  • 1931 - Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina, in Chistopol, Tatar (USSR);


  • 1799 - Austrian violinist and composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, age 59, at Castle Rothlottia, near Neuhaus (Bohemia);

  • 1948 - Austrian composer Franz Lehár, age 78, in Bad Ischl;

  • 1949 - Cuban composer and violinist Joaquin Nin y Castellanos, age 70, in Havana;

  • 1971 - American composer Carl Ruggles, age 95, in Bennington, Vermont;


  • 1737 - Rameau: opera "Castor et Pollux," in Paris at the Palais Royal Opéra;

  • 1885 - Jhn. Strauss Jr.: operetta, "The Gypsy Baron," in Vienna;

  • 1910 - Victor Herbert: operetta, "Naught Marietta," in Syracuse, N.Y.;

  • 1930 - Roussel: Symphony No. 3, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting;

  • 1931 - Robert Russell Bennett: "Abraham Lincoln" Symphony, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting;

  • 1936 - Miaskovsky: Symphony No. 16, in Moscow;

  • 1940 - John Alden Carpenter: Symphony No. 1 (revised version), by Chicago Symphony, Frederick Stock conducting;

  • 1946 - Bernstein: ballet "Facsimile," at the Broadway Theater in New York City by the Ballet Theater, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, with composer conducting;

  • 1946 - Cowell: Symphony No. 4 ("Short Symphony"), by the Boston Symphony, Richard Burgin conducting;

  • 1970 - Penderecki: "Kosmogonia," at the United Nations in New York City;

  • 1992 - Libby Larsen: Marimba Concerto ("After Hampton"), by the Long Beach Symphony, with soloist William Moersch and JoAnn Falleta conducting;

  • 1994 - Harrison Birtwistle: opera "The Second Mrs. Kong," at Glyndeborune;

  • 1997 - Geoffrey Burgon: Piano Concerto, in Singapore, with soloist Joanna MacGregor and the Singapore Symphony;

  • 1997 - Corigliano: "DC Fanfare," in Washington, D.C., by the National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting;

  • 2001 - Steve Reich: orchestral version of "Different Trains," by the Philadelphia Orchestra, David Robertson, conducting;


  • 1818 - Felix Mendelssohn, age 9, plays his first public concert, in Berlin;

  • 1919 - First performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Rothwell, conductor.

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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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