Composers Datebook®

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Composers Datebook - March 2, 2024


On today’s date in 1965, the now-classic and mega-iconic musical film The Sound of Music officially debuted at the Rivoli Theater at Broadway and 49th Street in New York City.

Since we at Composers Datebook are notorious for mentioning “little known facts,” let us state, for the record, that the first test audiences to see the film did so in flyover country — first in Minneapolis and subsequently in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about a month before the film’s New York debut.

The Midwestern audiences were ecstatic, and director Robert Wise knew he'd have a hit on his hands when his film, starring Julie Andrews, opened on Broadway, not far from where the stage version, starring Mary Martin, had originally debuted back in 1959.

The 1965 New York Times film review was a little snarky — well, what else is new? It began by referring to “the perceptible weakness of its quaintly old-fashioned book,” while grudgingly admiring, “the generally melodic felicity of the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein score,” and ended by opining, “Business-wise, Mr. Wise is no fool.”

No fool, indeed. Wise’s film won five Oscars and displaced Gone With the Wind as the highest-grossing film of all-time.

Music Played in Today's Program

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979): ‘My Favorite Things,’ from ‘The Sound of Music’ (arr. Hough); Stephen Hough, p. MusicMasters 60135 and/or Virgin 59509 and 61498

On This Day


  • 1824 - Bohemian composer Bedrich Smetana, in Leitomischl;

  • 1900 - German-born American composer Kurt Weill, in Dessau;

  • 1905 - American composer Marc Blitzstein, in Philadelphia;

  • 1917 - British composer John Gardner, in Manchester;

  • 1921 - British composer Robert Simpson, in Leamington;


  • 1959 - Finnish composer Yrjö (Henrik) Kilpinen, 97, in Helsinki; He was the most famous Finnish composer of art songs (lieder);

  • 2003 - Italian composer Goffredo Petrassi, 98, in Rome;

  • 2003 - Australian composer Malcolm Williamson, 71, in Cambridge, England; In 1975 he became the first non-British born composer to serve as the Queen's Master of Music;


  • 1724 - Handel: opera Giulio Cesare in London (Julian date: Feb. 20);

  • 1744 - Handel: oratorio Joseph and his Brethren in London at the Covent Garden Theater (Gregorian date: March 13);

  • 1792 - Haydn: Symphony No. 98, conducted by the composer, at the Hanover-Square Concert Rooms in London;

  • 1795 - Haydn: Symphony No. 103 (The Drumroll), conducted by the composer, at the King's Theater in London;

  • 1874 - Rimsky-Korsakov: Symphony No. 3, in St. Petersburg, with the composer conducting; This was a benefit concert for the victims of the Volga famine, and marked Rimsky-Korsakov's debut as a conductor (Julian date: Feb. 18);

  • 1887 - R. Strauss: Aus Italien (From Italy), in Munich;

  • 1911 - Scriabin: Symphony No. 5 (Prometheus: Poem of Fire), in Moscow (Gregorian date: Mar. 15);

  • 1961 - Copland: Nonet for Strings, at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., by members of the National Symphony conducted by the composer;

  • 1977 - Benjamin Lees: Dialogue for cello and piano, in New York City.

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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®