Composers Datebook®

Kirkpatrick plays Ives

Composers Datebook - Jan. 20, 2024


On today’s date in 1939, pianist John Kirkpatrick gave a recital at Town Hall in New York City that included the New York premiere of the Concord Sonata, by American composer Charles Ives.

Ives had self-published his Concord Sonata some 20 years earlier and sent copies of it free to anyone he thought might be interested, including then-prominent composer and teacher Rubin Goldmark, who, in 1921, was giving composition lessons to young Aaron Copland. Copland recalled seeing the Concord Sonata on Goldmark’s piano but was not allowed to borrow it.

“You stay away from it,” Goldmark warned him. “I don’t want you to be contaminated by stuff like that.”

In 1934, Kirkpatrick saw a copy of the Concord Sonata in Paris and wrote Ives: “I have decided quite resolutely to learn the whole sonata.”

It would take him five years, but Kirkpatrick’s Town Hall recital would put both him and Ives on the map.

A New York Times critic wrote, “This sonata is exceptionally great music — it is, indeed, the greatest music composed by an American, and the most deeply felt and essential. ... Kirkpatrick’s performance was that of a poet and a master, an unobtrusive minister of genius.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Charles Ives (1874-1954) Piano Sonata No. 2 (Concord, Mass., 1840-1860) Marc-André Hamelin, piano New World 378

On This Day


  • 1586 - German composer Johann Hermann Schein, in Grünhain;

  • 1855 - French composer Ernest Chausson, in Paris;

  • 1869 - Russian composer and violinist Julius Conus, in Moscow (Gregorian date: Feb. 1);

  • 1894 - American composer Walter Piston, in Rockland, Maine;


  • 1952 - American composer and music educator Arthur Farwell, age 79, in New York;


  • 1649 - Cesti: opera "Orontea," in Venice;

  • 1726 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 13 ("Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen") performed on the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany as part of Bach's third annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1725/27);

  • 1856 - Brahms: Two Sarabandes (in a & b) and Gavotte in A (arranged from Gluck's "Paris ed Elena"), for piano, in Vienna;

  • 1880 - Brahms: Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79, for piano, in Krefeld;

  • 1892 - Catalani: opera "La Wally," in Milan;

  • 1933 - Gershwin: musical "Pardon My English," at the Majestic Theater in New York City; This show included the classic Gershwin songs "Isn't It a Pity," "My Cousin in Milwaukee," and "So What?";

  • 1939 - Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 ([Concord, Mass. 1840-1860), by John Kirkpatrick, in New York City;

  • 1941 - Bartók: String Quartet No. 6, in New York City, by the Kolisch Quartet;

  • 1944 - Hindemith: "Symphonic Metamorphosis on a Theme of Weber," by the New York Philharmonic, Artur Rodzinski conducting;

  • 1956 - Hanson: “Elegy” (to the Memory of Serge Kousseviztky), by the Boston Symphony, Charles Munch conducting;

  • 1961 - Poulenc: "Gloria," in Boston;

  • 1977 - Tobias Picker: Sextet No. 3, at Alice Tully Hall in New York City, by Speculum Musicae;

  • 1979 - Rochberg: String Quartets Nos. 4-6 ("The Concord Quartets"), at the University of Pennsylvania, by the Concord Quartet.


  • 1626 - Payments to the royal musician, lutenist and composer John Dowland cease, and his son, Robert Dowland, succeeds him in his post at court; This date is often cited as the day the famous elder Dowland died, but his burial at St Ann Blackfriars was not recorded until a month later, on February, 20, 1626, which suggests the elder Dowland had perhaps been too ill to continue in service as of January 20-21 when the records state the transfer took place, and that the elder Dowland might have in fact died sometime in mid-February;

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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®