Composers Datebook®

Happy birthday, Brian Eno

Composers Datebook - May 15, 2024


Crossword puzzle solvers know the three-letter answer to the clue “Composer Brian” is: E-N-O. But even fans of this British composer, performer and producer might not know his full name, which is Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno.

Brian Eno was born in Suffolk, England on today’s date in 1948. He studied painting and music, and in his early 20s played synthesizer with the glam rock band Roxy Music before embarking on a solo career. In 1978, he released the album Music for Airports, which was, quite literally, meant as calming music that could be played in airports, since Eno was so annoyed by the inane, perky muzak he usually heard there.

Eno coined the term “ambient music” to describe his album, whose release coincided with the early days of minimalist movement, itself a reaction to music deemed too complex and complicated.

“I was quite sick of music that was overstuffed,” Eno said, commenting, “In the late 60s and early 70s, recording went from two-track to four-track to eight-track to 16-track to 32-track, and music got more and more grandiose, sometimes with good effect, but quite often not.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Brian Eno (b. 1948): Music for Airports; Brian Eno, synthesizers; Polydor 2310 647

On This Day


  • 1567 - Baptismal date of Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi, in Cremona

  • 1808 - Irish composer Michael William Balfe, in Dublin

  • 1908 - Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson, in Akarp (near Lund)

  • 1941 - American composer and pianist Richard Wilson, in Cleveland


  • 1913 - Debussy: ballet Jeux (Games), at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées by the Ballet Russe, Pierre Monteux conducting

  • 1920 - Stravinsky: ballet Pulcinella, by Ballet Russe at the Paris Opéra, with Ernest Ansermet conducting

  • 1939 - Douglas Moore: opera The Devil and Daniel Webster, in New York City

  • 1949 - Hindemith: Concerto for Winds, Harp and Orchestra, in New York

  • 1949 - Randall Thompson: Symphony No. 3, Columbia University, in New York, Thor Johnson conducting

  • 1958 - Cage: Piano Concerto, in New York City

  • 1960 - Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7, in Leningrad, by the Beethoven Quartet

  • 1972 - Rochberg: String Quartet No. 3, at Tully Hall in New York City, by the Concord Quartet

  • 1992 - Stephen Paulus: Air on Seurat (The Grand Canal), for cello and piano, at the National Cello Competition at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona

  • 1993 - Steve Reich: opera The Cave, in Vienna at the Wiener Festspielhaus


  • 1750 - First documented report of an audience standing during the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel's Messiah. On May 1 and 15 in 1750, Messiah had been performed as a benefit for the Foundling Hospital charity (Gregorian dates: May 12 and 26, respectively).

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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®