Composers Datebook®

Corigliano for strings

Composers Datebook - 20231130


On today’s date in 2000, the Boston Symphony gave the premiere performance of the Second Symphony of American composer John Corigliano. For strings alone, the symphony was a reworking of a string quartet that Corigliano had composed for the farewell tour of the Cleveland Quartet in 1996.

The symphony was well received, and the following year was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music.

“I am more than shocked. ... I don't know what to say,” Corigliano said upon receiving the news. “It's one of the great surprises of my life.”

Perhaps doubly surprising, since, as a young man, Corigliano pretty much ruled out writing even one symphony, let alone two.

“My thought then,” he said, “was that there were so many great symphonies [already]. I could satisfy only my ego by writing yet another. Only the death of countless friends from AIDS prompted me to write my Symphony No. 1. ... A world-scale tragedy, I felt, needed a comparably epic form.

“Then the Boston [asked] that I write a second symphony to honor the l00th anniversary of their justly famous Symphony Hall. At first I declined, stating my earlier reservations, but they were quite insistent.”

Music Played in Today's Program

John Corigliano (b. 1938) String Quartet; Cleveland Quartet Telarc 80415

On This Day


  • 1796 - German composer Carl Loewe, near Halle;

  • 1813 - French composer and pianist Charles-Henri-Valentin Alkan (née Morhange), in Paris;

  • 1861 - Austrian composer Ludwig Thuille, in Bozen, the Tyrol;

  • 1884 - Swedish composer Ture Rangström, in Stockholm;

  • 1895 - Russian composer and pianist Sergei Liapunov (Lyapunov), in Yaroslavl (see Julian date: Nov. 18);


  • 1623 - English composer Thomas Weelkes, age ca. 48, in London;

  • 1954 - German conductor and composer Wilhelm Furtwängler, age 68, near Baden-Baden;


  • 1877 - Tchaikovsky: “Variations on a Rococo Theme” for Cello and Orchestra, in Moscow, with Nicolai Rubinstein conducting, and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen as the soloist (see Julian date: Nov. 18);

  • 1885 - Massenet: "Le Cid," in Paris;

  • 1913 - Rachmaninov: choral symphonic poem, “The Bells,” in St. Petersburg, composer conducting (Gregorian date: Dec. 13);

  • 1930 - Ibert: "Divertissement," in Paris;

  • 1934 - Berg: "Five Symphonic Pieces" from "Lulu," at the State Opera, Berlin;

  • 1945 - Martinu: Symphony No. 4, in Philadelphia;

  • 1963 - Shulamit Ran: "Capriccio" for piano and orchestra, with the teenage composer as soloist, on a New York Philharmonic "Young People's Concert" conducted by Leonard Bernstein; In 1991, Ran would win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for her “Symphony” commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra;

  • 1989 - John Harbison: "November 19, 1828" for piano quartet, in Atlanta, by the Atlanta Chamber Players;

  • 2000 - Corigliano: Symphony No. 2, by the Boston Symphony, Seiji Ozawa conducting; This symphony is a reworking of Corigliano’s String Quartet of 1995, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2001;

  • 2001 - Philip Glass: "Dancissimo" for violin and orchestra, with Robert McDuffie and the Milwaukee Symphony conducted by Andrea Delfs;

  • 2001 - Tobias Picker: opera “Thérèse Raquin,” by the Dallas Opera;


  • 1903 - The old Brooklyn Academy of Music facility (at 176-194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights) burns to the ground (See Nov. 14, 1908 for gala reopening).

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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®