Composers Datebook®

Corigliano's 'Tournaments'

Composers Datebook - Jan. 11, 2024


In 1953, the Louisville Orchestra was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant of $500,000 to commission, premiere and record 20th-century music to be issued on its own label, Louisville First Edition Records. By 1997, it had released nearly 150 discs, containing more than 450 compositions by living composers.

On today’s date in 1980, one of the Louisville commissions premiered and recorded by the orchestra was Tournaments by the then-41-year-old American composer John Corigliano.

“As the title implies,” Corigliano writes, “Tournaments is a ‘contest piece,’ a sort of mini-Concerto for Orchestra in which first-desk players and entire sections vie with each other in displaying their virtuosity.”

The Louisville Orchestra received many awards for its ambitious commissioning project, while Corigliano went on to win Grammys and an Oscar, not to mention the Grawemeyer and Pulitzer prizes.

Corigliano also is proud of his teaching positions at the Juilliard School and Lehman College in New York.

“I think it’s good for a composer to teach,” he says, “because you always have new students, and you have to begin at the beginning and make things clear.”

Music Played in Today's Program

John Corigliano (b. 1938) Tournaments Overture; Louisville Orchestra; Sidney Harth, cond. Louisville First Edition LOU-771

On This Day


  • 1856 - Norwegian composer Christian Sinding, in Kongsberg;

  • 1875 - Russian composer Reinhold Glière, in Kiev, Ukraine (Julian date: Dec. 30, 1874);

  • 1902 - French composer and organist Maurice Duruflé, in Louviers;

  • 1944 - German composer York Höller, in Leverkusen;

  • 1975 - American composer Daniel Nass, in Buffalo, Minnesota;


  • 1801 - Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa, age 51, in Venice;

  • 1901 - Russian composer Vassili Sergeievitch Kalinnikov, age 34, in Yalta (Julian date: Dec. 29, 1900);

  • 1954 - Austrian composer Oscar Straus, age 83, in Bad Ischl;


  • 1754 - Rameau: opera "Castor and Pollux" (2nd version), in Paris at the Palais Royal Opéra;

  • 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);

  • 1906 - Rachmaninoff: two one-act operas "The Miserly Knight" and "Francesca da Rimini" in Moscow (Gregorian date: Jan. 24);

  • 1925 - Copland: Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, at Aeolian Hall in New York City by New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, with Nadia Boulanger the soloist;

  • 1940 - Prokofiev: ballet, "Romeo and Juliet," in Leningrad;

  • 1968 - Shchedrin: "Chimes" by the New York Philharmonic;

  • 1976 - Broadway premiere of Sondheim: musical "Pacific Overtures";

  • 1992 - John Harbison: song "The Flute of Interior Time" (text by Kabir, translated by Robert Bly), at the Shauspielhaus in Berlin, by baritone William Parker and pianist Allan Marks; This song became part of "The AIDS-Quilt Songbook" compiled by the late William Parker;

  • 1997 - Henze: opera "Venus and Adonis," in Munich at the Bavarian State Opera;

  • 2001 - American premiere of John Adams: oratorio "El Niño" at Davies Hall, San Francisco with Kent Nagano conducting the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Piedmont Children's Choir and the same soloists as the Paris world premiere performance at. Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris on December 15, 2000.


  • 1946 - German composer Paul Hindemith becomes a U.S. citizen.

Love the music?

Donate by phone

Show your support by making a gift to YourClassical.

Each day, we’re here for you with thoughtful streams that set the tone for your day – not to mention the stories and programs that inspire you to new discovery and help you explore the music you love.

YourClassical is available for free, because we are listener-supported public media. Take a moment to make your gift today.

More Ways to Give

Your Donation


Latest Composers Datebook® Episodes


Latest Composers Datebook® Episodes


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®