Composers Datebook®

Roman and the Danza

Composers Datebook - 20231113


While for Puerto Ricans, the bomba and the plena are more familiar representatives of their proud dance tradition, the musical form known as danza holds a special place in their hearts.

Danza originated in southern Puerto Rico in the early 19th century, originally similar to the waltz, but over time it absorbed Afro-Cuban influences. Manuel Gregorio Tavárez, a 19th-century Puerto Rican composer raised the danza to a cultivated artform, and accordingly he was dubbed “the Chopin of America.”

A 21st-century Puerto Rican composer, Dan Román, paid tribute to Tavárez and other earlier danza masters in a piece for cello and piano called Retrospectos, or Retrospectives. This new work premiered on today’s date in 2007 at the University of Colorado at Boulder, played by the Montserrat Duo, which had commissioned the piece.

“Each movement of my piece uses a different aspect of the Danza,” Román says. “Each movement also explores a particular composer from among the most significant authors of the genre. However, the source material is always treated as series of analytical objects that become manipulated to nearly the point of abstraction.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Dan Román (b. 1974) Retrospectos; Beth Ringel, vcl; Alex Maynegre, p. Innova 904

On This Day


  • 1854 - American composer George Whitefield Chadwick, in Lowell, Mass.;

  • 1856 - Russian composer Sergei Taneyev, in near Moscow (Gregorian date: Nov. 25);

  • 1921 - Finnish composer Joonas Kokkonen, in Iisalmi;


  • 1868 - Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, in Passy, near Paris, age 76;

  • 1951 - Russian composer Nicolas Medtner, age 70, in London;


  • 1893 - Sibelius: "Karelia Suite," in Viborg, Finland;

  • 1933 - Ruth Crawford Seeger: String Quartet, at the New School in New York City, by the New World String Quartet;

  • 1943 - Martinu: Symphony No. 1, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting;

  • 1953 - Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 5, in Moscow, by the Beethoven Quartet;

  • 1964 - Yardumian: Symphony No. 2 ("Psalms"), with vocalist Lili Chookasian, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting;

  • 1997 - Poul Ruders: Symphony No. 2, at Lincoln Center in New York, by the Riverside Symphony, George Rothman conducting;

  • 2002 - Tavener: “Ikon of Eros” for soloists, chorus and orchestra, at the St. Paul (Minnesota) Cathedral, with Jorja Fleezanis (violin), Patricia Rozario (soprano), Tim Krol (baritone), the Minnesota Chorale and Minnesota Orchestra, Paul Goodwin conducting;


  • 1937 - First "official" radio broadcast by the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Pierre Monteux conducting; Arthur Rodzinski had conducted a "dress rehearsal" broadcast on Nov. 2, 1937; Arturo Toscanini's debut broadcast with the NBC Symphony would occur on Christmas Day, 1937;

  • 1940 - Disney releases “Fantasia,” an animated film based on classical music favorites ranging from Bach to Stravinsky; Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the soundtrack, and in one famous scene Stokowski shakes hands with Mickey Mouse.

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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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