Composers Datebook®

Singleton in Atlanta

Composers Datebook - Jan. 9, 2024


In the musical world, there are many creative people with innovative ideas, but far fewer with the ability and persistence to raise the funds necessary to realize their visions.

Today, a tip of the hat to American composer John Duffy, who, in 1982, was president of Meet the Composer, an organization that secured funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and other foundations for a large-scale residency program that paired rising American composers with major American orchestras. The composers included John Corigliano, Joan Tower, Stephen Paulus, Christopher Rouse, Libby Larsen and Alvin Singleton. Each wrote special works for their orchestras, works that were premiered and recorded as part of the program — a major career boost for any young composer.

For example, Singleton was the composer chosen for the Atlanta residency, and on today’s date in 1988, that orchestra premiered his work After Fallen Crumbs.

The unusual title doesn’t refer to arts funding, however apt that might seem, but derives from an earlier choral piece by Singleton whose text dealt with world hunger and closed with the lines, “An ant can feed a family with the fallen crumbs of an elephant.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Alvin Singleton (b. 1940) After Fallen Crumbs; Atlanta Symphony; Louis Lane, cond. Nonesuch 79231

On This Day


  • 1839 - American composer John Knowles Paine, in Portland, Maine;


  • 1724 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 154 ("Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren") performed on the 1st Sunday after Epiphany as part of Bach's first annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1723/24);

  • 1880 - Rimsky-Korsakov: opera "May Night," in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: Jan. 21);

  • 1904 - Debussy: "Estampes," by Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, in Paris;

  • 1909 - Ravel: "Gaspard de la Nuit," by Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, in Paris;

  • 1937 - Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 4, in Los Angeles, by the Kolisch Quartet;

  • 1939 - Bartók: "Rhapsody" (two movements) for clarinet, violin, and piano, in New York City, with clarinetist Benny Goodman, violinist Joseph Szigeti, and the composer at the piano; For the 1940 recording session of this work, commissioned by Goodman, Bartók added a middle movement and changed the title to "Contrasts";

  • 1947 - Roger Sessions: Symphony No. 2, by the San Francisco Symphony, Pierre Monteux conducting;

  • 1947 - Kurt Weill: opera "Street Scene," in New York City at the Adelphi Theater;

  • 1948 - Walter Piston: Symphony No. 3, Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra; This work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1948;

  • 1976 - William Bolcom: "Seasons" for guitar, in New York City;

  • 1987 - Joan Tower: "Silver Ladders," by the St. Louis Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting;

  • 1988 - Alvin Singleton: "After Fallen Crumbs" for orchestra, by the Atlanta Symphony, Michael Palmer conducting.

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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®