Composers Datebook®

Michael Daugherty's 'Brooklyn Bridge'

Composers Datebook - Feb. 25, 2024


“Pssst. Hey, buddy – wanna buy a bridge? No? Well, how about a clarinet concerto, then?”

As most of us know, the Brooklyn Bridge is not for sale, but this New York icon has reputedly been sold to many unsuspecting visitors. After its opening in 1883, Harper's Monthly wrote, “The wise man will not cross the bridge in five minutes, nor in 20, [but] will linger to get the good of the splendid view about him.”

American composer Michael Daugherty did just that and came up with a concerto for clarinet and wind ensemble that premiered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then, on today’s date, in 2005 was performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

“Like the four cables of webs of wire and steel that hold the Brooklyn Bridge together,” Daugherty says, “my ode to this cultural icon [in] four movements: East (Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights); South (Statue of Liberty); West (Wall Street and the lower Manhattan skyline); and North (Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center). In the final movement, I imagine Artie Shaw, the great jazz swing clarinetist of the 1940s, performing in the once glorious Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Michael Daugherty (b. 1954): Brooklyn Bridge; Maureen Hurd, clarinet; Rutgers Wind Ensemble; William Berz, cond. Naxos 8.57252999

On This Day


  • 1727 - French composer and organist Armand-Louis Couperin, in Paris;

  • 1943 - George Harrison (of the Beatles), in Liverpool, England;


  • 1643 - Italian composer Marco da Gagliano, age 60, in Florence;

  • 1682 - Italian composer Alessandro Stradella, age 37, is murdered in Genoa, apparently in retaliation for running off with a Venetian nobleman's mistress;

  • 1906 - Russian composer Anton Arensky, age 44, in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Terijoki, Finland (Julian date: Feb. 12);


  • 1705 - Handel: opera "Nero," in Hamburg; This was Handel's second opera;

  • 1850 - R. Schumann: "Concertstück (Concert Piece)" for Four Horns and Orchestra, by the horn quartet of Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Julius Rietz conducting that orchestra;

  • 1877 - Tchaikovsky: symphonic-fantasy “Fancesca da Rimini,” in Moscow (Gregorian date: Mar. 9);

  • 1881 - Tchaikovsky: opera “The Maid or Orleans,” at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg (Julian date: Feb. 13);

  • 1888 - Benjamin Godard: opera "Jocelyn," in Brussels;

  • 1905 - Koussevitzky: Double-Bass Concerto, in Moscow, with the composer as soloist (Julian date: Feb. 12);

  • 1911 - Victor Herbert: opera "Natoma.", in Philadelphia;

  • 1932 - Carl Ruggles: "Sun-Treader" for orchestra, by the Paris Symphony, Nicholas Slonimsky conducting;

  • 1973 - Broadway premiere of Sondheim: musical "A Little Night Music"

  • 1993 - Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Symphony No. 3, by the New York Philharmonic, Jahja Ling conducting;

  • 2001 - Robert Capanna: String Quartet No. 2, in Philadelphia, by the Mendelssohn String Quartet.

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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®