Composers Datebook®

Monserrate Ferrer Otero

Composers Datebook - Jan. 7, 2024


A remarkable shift of focus in music history occurred in the latter part of the 20th century when performers and musicologists began turning their attention to neglected works by women composers of the past and present. Composers such as Hildegard von Bingen, Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Rebecca Clarke and Florence Price began to receive the attention they deserved.

Much work remains to be done on this front, however.

Take the case of Monserrate Ferrer Otero, also known as Monsita Ferrer, born in San Juan on this date in 1885. She began playing the piano at an early age and later pursued composition studies in New York. She was one of Puerto Rico’s first professional woman composers and in 1956 served as an adviser in the planning of its Conservatory of Music. Although enjoying success during her lifetime, only a few of her works are still performed today. This slow waltz, Bajo el Oro del Crepúsculo (or Under the Gold of Twilight) was dedicated to fellow travelers aboard the luxury liner Victoria Luisa.

A string quartet and most of her other vocal and piano works remain unpublished long after Ferrer‘s death in 1966.

Music Played in Today's Program

Monserrate Ferrer Otero (1885-1966) Bajo el Oro del Crepúsculo (Vals lento); Kimberly Davis, p. from album ‘La Ondina: Una Colección de Música Puertorriqueña para Piano’

On This Day


  • 1899 - French composer and pianist Francis Poulenc, in Paris;

  • 1917 - American composer Ulysses Kay, in Tucson, Ariz.;


  • 1964 - American composer Colin McPhee, age 62, in Los Angeles;


  • 1725 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 124 ("Meinen Hesum lass ich nicht") performed on the 1st Sunday after Epiphany as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25);

  • 1857 - Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A, in Weimar, with the composer conducting and his pupil, Hans von Bronsart, the soloist;

  • 1895 - Brahms: Two Sonatas for clarinet and piano (Op. 120, no. 1 in f & No. 2 in Eb), in Vienna at a private performance for members of the Tonkünstler Society, with clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld and the composer at the piano; The first public performances of these pieces took place at the Rosé Quartet's chamber concert series on Jan. 8 (Sonata No. 2) and Jan. 11 (Sonata No. 1); See also Jan. 8 & 11 below for more information on early performances of these two sonatas;

  • 1897 - Loeffler: “The Death of Tintagiles” for orchestra, by the Boston Symphony, Emil Paur conducting;

  • 1898 - Glazunov: ballet "Raymonda" (Gregorian date: Jan. 19);

  • 1898 - Rimsky-Korsakov: "Sadko," in Moscow at the Solodovnikov Theater, Esposito conducting (Julian date: Dec. 26, 1897;

  • 1933 - Gruenberg: opera "Emperor Jones" (after the play by Eugene O'Neill), at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City;

  • 1942 - Copland: "Statements" for Orchestra, at Carnegie Hall by New York Philharmonic conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos;

  • 1952 - Gail Kubik: "Symphonie-Concertante" in New York City; This work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1952;

  • 1955 - Martinu: Symphony No. 6 ("Fantaisies symphoniques"), by the Boston Symphony, with Charles Munch conducting;

  • 2000 - Danielpour: "The Night Rainbow," in Santa Anna, Calif., by the Pacific Symphony, Carl St. Clair conducting;


  • 1955 - Marian Anderson makes her Metropolitan Opera debut as Ulrica in Verdi's "Un Ballo in Mascera" (A Masked Ball); She is the first African-American singer to perform as an opera soloist on the Met stage; Subsequent distinguished African-American singers who performed as members of the Met company included Robert McFerrin, Sr. (Bobby McFerrin Jr.’s father), Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Kahtleen Battle and Jessye Norman.

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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®