Composers Datebook®

Castelnuovo-Tedesco in New York

Composers Datebook - April 12, 2024


On today’s date in 1933, the New York Philharmonic presented the premiere performance of Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

He was born in Florence in 1895 and enjoyed early success in Europe, but, because he was Jewish, the increasingly harsh racial policies of Mussolini forced Castelnuovo-Tedesco and his family to immigrate to the U.S. His passage was assisted by Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini and violin virtuoso Jasha Heifetz, who were also the conductor and soloist for the Carnegie Hall premiere of his new concerto.

Two weeks earlier, Toscanini and other prominent American musicians had signed a public cable to Hitler protesting the persecution of Jewish artists. For his part, Castelnuovo-Tedesco gave his new concerto a title: The Prophets.

“The title,” he wrote, “does not represent a precise and detailed program, but is intended only as an indication of the ethical environment … the choice of a solo violin might suggest the flaming and fanciful eloquence of the ancient prophets.”

Castelnuovo-Tedesco settled in California, where he taught and found work in Hollywood. He composed 100 film scores, became an American citizen in 1946, and died in Beverly Hills in 1968.

Music Played in Today's Program

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968): Violin Concerto No. 2 (The Prophets); Jascha Heifetz, violin; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Alfred Wallenstein, conductor; RCA BMG 7872

On This Day


  • 1772 - Italian composer and violinist Pietro Nardini, in Livorno

  • 1801 - Austrian composer and violinist Josef Lanner, in Vienna

  • 1932 - Bulgarian-born American composer Henri Lazarof, in Sofia


  • 1814 - British composer, music journalist and historian Charles Burney, 88, in Chelsea


  • 1735 - Handel: Organ Concertos Op. 4, (Julian date: April 1)

  • 1747 - Handel: oratorio Judas Maccabaeus (Julian date: April 1)

  • 1826 - Weber: opera Oberon, in London at Covent Garden, conducted by the composer

  • 1867 - Offenbach: operetta Le Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein (The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein), in Paris

  • 1892 - Loeffler: String Quartet, second and third movements, at Boston’s Union Hall by the Adamowski Quartet. The same ensemble had premiered the second movement of this four-movement quartet in Philadelphia during the 1889-90 season; that performance being the first public performance of any of Loeffler's compositions.

  • 1907 - Henry Hadley: tone poem Salome (after Oscar Wilde), by the Boston Symphony, Karl Muck conducting

  • 1930 - Janácek: opera From the House of the Dead, in Brno at the National Theater. The score for this performance was extensively reorchestrated by two pupils of Janácek. More recent performances have used editions prepared by Rafael Kubelik or Charles Mackerras which are closer to Janácek's original score.

  • 1933 - Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Violin Concerto No. 2 (The Prophets), at Carnegie Hall by the New York Philharmonic, with Arturo Toscanini conducting and Jascha Heifetz as soloist

  • 1957 - Wallingford Riegger: Symphony No. 4, at the University of Illinois, Urbana

  • 1978 - Ligeti: opera La Grand Macabre, in Stockholm at the Royal Opera

  • 1995 - John Williams: Bassoon Concerto (The Five Sacred Trees), by Judith LeClair and the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur


  • 1877 - American premiere of Verdi's opera Don Carlos 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®