Composers Datebook®

Thorvaldsdottir's 'Aiōn'

Composers Datebook - May 24, 2024


In 1895, H.G. Wells published The Time Machine, a sci-fi classic that fired the imagination of Victorian readers. How fantastic it would be to be able to experience past, present, and future at will!

Well, on today’s date in 2019, Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir invited the audience at that year’s Point Music Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, to experience past, present and future all at once via the premiere of an orchestral work she titled Aiōn, after the ancient Greek god of time.

The title is a metaphor, as Thorvaldsdottir put it, “connected to a number of broader ideas: How we relate to our lives, to the ecosystem, and to our place in the broader scheme of things, and how at any given moment we are connected both to the past and to the future, not just of our own lives but across — and beyond — generations.”

At the 2019 premiere, dancers from the Iceland Dance Company moved in and around the players of the Gothenburg Symphony, creating striking visuals to accompany music one reviewer described as “weirdly unearthly, or awesome with oceanic majesty,” and another suggested that “[Aiōn] has the same archaic brutality as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Anna Thorvaldsdottir (b. 1977): Aiōn; Iceland Symphony Orchestra; Eva Ollikainen, conductor; innova 810 (original release) and Sono Luminus 92268

On This Day


  • 1886 - French conductor and composer conductor Paul Paray, in Le Tréport

  • 1903 - Soviet-Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian (Gregorian date: June 6)

  • 1936 - American composer Harold Budd, in Los Angeles

  • 1941 - American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan (born Robert Zimmerman), in Duluth, Minnesota


  • 1968 - American composer Bernard Rogers, 75, in Rochester, New York

  • 1974 - American composer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, 75, in New York City

  • 1996 - American composer Jacob Druckman, 67, in New Haven, Connecticut


  • 1803 - Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9 (Kreutzer Sonata), in Vienna, with violinist George Bridgetower and Beethoven at the piano

  • 1810 - Beethoven: incidental music for Goethe’s play Egmont, in Vienna at the Hofburg Theater

  • 1833 - Marschner: opera Hans Heiling, in Berlin at the Königliches Opernhaus

  • 1899 - Massenet: Cendrillon, in Paris

  • 1906 - Delius: Sea Drift (to a text by Walt Whitman), in Essen, Germany

  • 1911 - Elgar: Symphony No. 2, at the London Festival with the Queen’s Hall Orchestra conducted by the composer

  • 1918 - Bartók: opera Bluebeard’s Castle, at the Budapest Opera

  • 1939 - Elliott Carter: Pocahontas Ballet, at the Martin Beck Theater in New York City , with an orchestra conducted by Fritz Kitzinger. Following Carter’s ballet, the New York premiere of Copland's ballet Billy the Kid was presented (Copland’s ballet had been premiered in Chicago on October 16, 1938)

  • 1948 - John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera arranged by Benjamin Britten, in Cambridge

  • 1970 - Panufnik: Universal Prayer, at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City, Leopold Stokowski conducting

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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®