Composers Datebook®

'Peanuts Gallery'

Composers Datebook - 20231126
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Synopsis

Music — Beethoven’s music, in particular — played an important role in the life of Schroeder, a piano-playing character in Peanuts, the comic strip created by Charles Schulz, who was born in Minneapolis on today’s date in 1922.

But new music snuck in the strip on occasion, too. In a 1990 installment, Peppermint Patty is at a young person’s concert and when informed that American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich had won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, stands up and yells, ''Way to go, Ellen!''

Turns out Schulz had been impressed by a piece by Zwilich that he heard at a concert, and the cartoonist and composer struck up a friendship. So when Zwilich was asked to write a new work for a young people’s concert at Carnegie Hall, the result was a suite titled Peanuts Gallery.

Its 1997 premiere was acknowledged in a Sunday Peanuts strip that had Schroeder telling Lucy about the new work.

“We're all in it,” he says, and goes on to list the movements, including “Schroeder's Beethoven Fantasy,” “Lullaby for Linus” and “Lucy Freaks Out.”

Of course, Lucy's only comment is: “My part should be longer.''

Music Played in Today's Program

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b. 1939) Peanuts Gallery; Jeffrey Biegel, p; Florida State University Symphony; Alexander Jiménez, cond. Naxos 8.559656

On This Day

Births

  • 1932 - Amnerican composer and teacher Alan Stout, in Baltimore;

Deaths

  • 1959 - British light-music composer Albert W. Ketèlbey, age 84, on the Isle of Wight;

Premieres

  • 1724 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 116 ("Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ") performed on the 25th Sunday after Trinity as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25);

  • 1887 - Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 4 (“Mozartiana”), on an all Tchaikovsky program in Moscow conducted by the composer (see Julian date: Nov. 14);

  • 1937 - R. Schumann: Violin Concerto in d (composed 1853 for the great violinist Joseph Joachim, who never performed it in public), in Berlin, by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Karl Boehm, with Georg Kulenkampff as soloist;

  • 1948 - Virgil Thomson: "Louisiana Story" Suite, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting;

  • 1954 - Lutoslawski: "Concerto for Orchestra," in Warsaw;

  • 1993 - Stanislaw Skrowaczewski: Chamber Concerto ("Ritornelli poi Ritornelli") in St. Paul, Minn., by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, with the composer conducting;

  • 1997 - Corigliano: "The Red Violin (Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra), by soloist Joshua Bell with the San Francisco Symphony, Robert Spano conducting;

Others

  • 1760 - Franz Joseph Haydn (age 28) marries Maria Anna Keller (age 31) in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna; Ms. Keller was the daughter of the wigmaker Johann Peter Keller, who is said variously to have assisted Haydn in his years of poverty or employed him as a music teacher.

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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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