Composers Datebook®

Banfield's Symphony No. 6

Composers Datebook - 20231118


We all have our heroes and role models — people we admire and hope to emulate if we can. Composers, of course, are no different.

On today’s date in 1995, American composer William C. Banfield’s Symphony No. 6 received its first public performance by the Akron Symphony, the same ensemble that recorded the new work for a Telarc compact disc release that same year. Banfield titled the work Four Songs for Five American Voices and explained it as follows:

“As creators, innovators, performers and composers, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan have made an incredible impact on my life and art. Their presence in American music and culture will never be forgotten, and the memory of them will always bring to [one's] mind a memorable melody, and to [one's] face, a smile."

The symphony is made up of four instrumental movements: “If Bernstein Wrote It...,” “In an Ellington Mood,” “I’m Dizzy Over Miles” and “Someone Said Her Name Was Sarah.”

That last movement, Banfield says, “was simply written to pay homage to the sweet and lyrical facility of singer Sarah Vaughan, who was ingenious in her vocal execution and style.”

Music Played in Today's Program

William C. Banfield (b. 1961) Someone Said Her Name Was Sarah, from Symphony No. 6; Akron Symphony; Alan Balter, cond. Telarc 80409

On This Day


  • 1786 - frequently cited birthdate of German composer Carl Maria Von Weber, in Eutin, Oldenburg (the exact date is not certain);

  • 1836 - British playwright Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, in London; Gilbert provided most of the witty librettos for the famous operettas of Sir Arthur Sullivan;

  • 1895 - Russian composer and pianist Sergei Liapunov (Lyapunov), in Yaroslavl (Gregorian date: Nov. 30);

  • 1860 - Polish composer, piano virtuoso, and statesman, Ignace Jan Paderewski, in Kurylowka, Podolia/Russian Poland(see Julian date: Nov. 6);

  • 1909 - American song writer and lyricist Johnny Mercer, in Savannah, Ga.;


  • 1953 - American composer and American folksong compiler, Ruth Crawford (Seeger), age 52, in Chevy Chase, Md.; She was the step-mother of the famous folk singer Peter Seeger;

  • 1999 - American composer and author Paul Bowles, age 88, in Tangier, Morocco;


  • 1875 - Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 3 in c, Op. 60, in Vienna, by the Hellmesberger Quartet, with the composer at the piano;

  • 1877 - Tchaikovsky: “Variations on a Rococo Theme,” in Moscow (Gregorian date: Nov. 30);

  • 1883 - Dvorak: "Husitska" Overture at the opening of the Czech National Theater in Prague;

  • 1891 - Tchaikovsky: symphonic balled "The Voyevode" in Moscow (Julian date: Nov. 6);

  • 1953 - Peter Mennin: Symphony No. 6, by the Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky;

  • 1968 - Paul Creston: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, in Montevallo, Alabama;


  • 1741 - Handel arrives in Dublin for an extended stay, involving a number of concerts in the Irish capital, including the premiere of his latest oratorio "Messiah" the following Spring (Gregorian date: Nov. 29);

  • 1928 - Mickey Mouse debuts in "Steamboat Willie," in New York; This was the first animated cartoon with synchronized pre-recorded sound effects and music -- the latter provided by organist and composer Carl Stalling of Kansas City; Stalling would later provide memorial music for many classic Warner Brothers cartoons;

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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®