Composers Datebook®


Composers Datebook - March 26, 2024


On today’s date in 1828, Franz Schubert gave his first — and only — public concert in Vienna, which opened with the first movement of a recently composed string quartet. We don’t know for sure which one, since Schubert was writing a lot of new music then, but most likely it was from his String Quartet in G, which we know as No. 15.

Schubert’s friends had tried to promote his music by holding “Schubertiades,” informal house concerts at which his music would be performed and wine and free food offered, but that didn’t help Schubert earn any money. And being a prolific composer — as Schubert certainly was — created its own problems. What publishers Schubert had couldn’t keep up with him.

And then, as now, star performers — not composers — seemed to get all the money and attention. In Schubert’s day, it was Italian violin virtuoso Nicolo Paganini who got all the press and big fees. Schubert’s single concert earned him 800 florins, for example, while Paganini, who arrived in Vienna the same month as Schubert’s concert, made over 6,000 florins per concert, and by the time he left Vienna later in 1828 had netted 75,000 florins.

Music Played in Today's Program

Franz Schubert (1795-1828): String Quartet in G; Emerson String Quartet; DG 459151

On This Day


  • 1925 - French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, in Montbrison


  • 1566 - Spanish composer and organist Antonio de Cabezón, 56, in Madrid

  • 1827 - German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, 56, in Vienna

  • 1918 - Russian composer Cesar Cui, 83, in Petrograd (St. Petersburg)

  • 1977 - British composer, pianist and actress Madeleine Dring, 53, in Streatham, London


  • 1723 - J.S. Bach: St. John Passion, at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig

  • 1735 - Handel: Organ Concerto Op. 4, no. 5 in London as an intermission feature during a revival performance of Handel's oratorio Deborah at the Covent Garden Theater (Gregorian date: April 6)

  • 1827 - Rossini: opera Moïse et Pharaon (Moses and Pharaoh) at the Paris Opéra; This is the 3rd and French-language version of Rossini's Italian opera Mosè in Egitto (see March 3 and 7)

  • 1943 - William Schuman: cantata A Free Song (after Walt Whitman), in Boston; This work won the first Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1943

  • 1958 - Henry Cowell: Ongaku a symphonic suite on Japanese themes, by the Louisville Orchestra. Robert S. Whitney conducting

  • 1958 - Lutoslawski: Marche funèbre (in memory of Béla Bartók), in Katowice, Poland

  • 1960 - Ralph Shapey: Evocation for violin, piano and percussion, in New York City

  • 1984 - Philip Glass: Act V (The Rome Section), from The CIVIL warS, at the Rome Opera, Marcello Panni conducting

  • 1986 - Ned Rorem: The End of Summer for clarinet, violin, and piano, at Patkar Hall in Bombay (India), by the Verdehr Trio

  • 1998 - Zwilich: Violin Concerto, at Carnegie Hall in New York, by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Hugh Wolff conducting, with soloist Pamela Frank

  • 2001 - Corigliano: Mannheim Rocket, in Mannheim, Germany, by the Mannheim National Theater Orchestra


  • 1828 - Franz Schubert gives a concert of his own works in Vienna, to great success

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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®