Composers Datebook®

More on Moran

Composers Datebook - Jan. 8, 2024


Today’s date marks the birthday in 1937 of American composer Robert Moran. A native of Denver, he studied in Berkley with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio and in Vienna with Hans Apostel, a pupil of Schoenberg and Berg.

It was in Vienna that Moran overheard an unfamiliar waltz and was surprised to learn that Austrian composers were still writing them. Intrigued, he wrote one himself and asked 24 other contemporary composers to write more for The Waltz Project, a collection recorded as a Nonesuch LP in 1980 and later choreographed by the New York City Ballet.

Moran’s catalog of works includes the choral setting Winni Ille Pu (a classical Latin translation of Winnie the Pooh) and Lunchbag Opera, scored for performers hidden in adult-size brown lunch bags, each armed with toy noise-makers to be played while strolling through — according to Moran’s instructions — “any important financial district or banking center at lunch time.”

One of Moran’s large-scale works, The Game of the Antichrist from 2012, is based on a medieval mystery play from Bavaria. It’s scored for children’s chorus, adult vocalists, organ and a small ensemble that includes an alpine horn and cocktail bar piano.

Music Played in Today's Program

Robert Moran (b. 1937) Waltz in Memoriam Maurice Ravel; Yvar Mikhashoff, p. Nonesuch LP D-79011 (out of print)

Robert Moran (b. 1937) Finale: Banishment of the Antichrist, from Game of the Antichrist Children’s Chorus of Gemeinde Vaterstetten; Vocal Ensemble Chrismos; Alexander Hermann, cond. Innova CD 251

On This Day


  • 1792 - American composer and educator Lowell Mason, in Medford, Massachusetts;

  • 1812 - Swiss composer and pianist Sigismond Thalberg, in Pâquis, near Geneva;

  • 1896 - Czech composer Jaromir Weinberger, in Prague;

  • 1899 - Russian-born American composer Alexander Tcherepnin (Gregorian date: Jan. 21);

  • 1905 - Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, in La Spezia;

  • 1924 - Russian-American composer Benjamin Lees (née Lysniansky), in Harbin, Manchuria;

  • 1924 - Austrian-born American composer Robert Starer, in Vienna;

  • 1935 - The charismatic rock 'n' roll performer Elvis Presley is born in Tupelo, Miss.;

  • 1937 - American composer Robert Moran, in Denver;


  • 1713 - Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli, age 59, in Rome;

  • 1831 - Moravian-born composer and violinist Franz Krommer, age 71, in Vienna;

  • 1998 - British composer Sir Michael Tippett, age 93, in London;


  • 1705 - Handel: opera "Almira" in Hamburg; This was Handel's first opera (see also Dec. 5 & 30 for related contemporary incidents);

  • 1720 - Handel: opera "Radamisto" (2nd version), in London (Julian date: Dec. 28, 1720);

  • 1735 - Handel: opera "Ariodante" in London at the Covent Garden Theater (Gregorian date: Jan. 19);

  • 1843 - Schumann: Piano Quintet in Eb, Op. 44, at Leipzig Gewandhaus with pianist Clara Schumann;

  • 1895 - Brahms: Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, no. 1 (first public performance), in Vienna, by clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, with the composer at the piano, as part of the Rosé Quartet's chamber music series; The first performance ever of this work occurred on September 19, 1894, at a private performance in the home of the sister of the Duke of Meiningen at Berchtesgaden, with the same performers; Brahms and Mühlfeld also gave private performances of both sonatas in Frankfurt (for Clara Schumann and others) on November 10-13, 1894; at Castle Altenstein (for the Duke of Meiningen) on Nov. 14, 1894; and on Jan. 7, 1895 (for members of the Vienna Tonkünstler Society);

  • 1911 - Florent Schmitt: "La tragédie de Salomé" for orchestra, in Paris;

  • 1927 - Berg: "Lyric Suite" for string quartet, in Vienna, by the Kolisch Quartet;

  • 1928 - Hindemith: "Kammermusik" No. 7, Op. 46, no. 2, in Frankfurt, with Ludwig Rottenberg conducting and Reinhold Merten the organist;

  • 1940 - Roger Sessions: Violin Concerto, by the Illinois Symphony conducted by Izler Solomon, with Robert Gross as soloist; The work was to have been premiered by Albert Spalding with the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky in January of 1937, but did not take place);

  • 1963 - Shostakovich: opera "Katerina Izmailova" (2nd version of "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District"), in Moscow at the Stanislavsky-Nemirovich-Dachenko Music Theater;

  • 1971 - Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15, in Moscow, by the All-Union Radio and Television Symphony, with the composer's son, Maxim, conducting;

  • 1987 - Christopher Rouse: "Phaethon" for orchestra, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti conducting;

  • 1988 - Schwantner: "From Afar . . . " (A Fantasy for Guitar and Orchestra), by guitarist Sharon Isbin with the St. Louis Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting;


  • 1923 - First broadcast in England of an opera direct from a concert hall, Mozart's "The Magic Flute" via the BBC from London;

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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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