Composers Datebook®

Marsalis and Swing

Composers Datebook - June 10, 2024


Wynton Marsalis says it all began with a dare in the 1990s from German conductor Kurt Masur, then Music Director of the New York Philharmonic.

“He came to a concert of mine when I was like 28 or 29, and said he wanted me to write for the New York Philharmonic. I started laughing like, man, I have never even written for a big band,” Marsalis said.

Well, since then, jazz trumpeter Marsalis has written more than one work for a big bands like the New York Philharmonic, and in 2010 that ensemble, along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Berlin Philharmonic commissioned his Symphony No. 3 (Swing).

It was the Berlin Philharmonic who gave the first performance of the work, and on today’s date in 2010, encored their premiere on the internet.

Marsalis said, “Swing to a jazz musician means coming together, and in this case it’s about two orchestras coming together.” Marsalis included parts for himself and his jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in his new score, in contrast — and in harmony — with the forces of a traditional symphony orchestra.

Music Played in Today's Program

Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961): Symphony No. 3 (Swing); Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; St. Louis Symphony; David Robertson, conductor; Blue Engine Records BE-0017

On This Day


  • 1904 - German-born American musical composer Frederick Loewe, in Berlin

  • 1913 - Soviet composer Tikhon Khrennikov, in Elets (Julian date: May 28)

  • 1960 - English composer Mark Anthony Turnage, in Grays, Essex


  • 1899 - French composer Ernest Chausson, 44, after a bicycle accident near Limay

  • 1918 - Italian opera composer and librettist Arrigo Boito, 76, in Milan

  • 1934 - British composer Frederick Delius, 72, in Grez-sur-Loing, France

  • 1964 - American composer Louis Gruenberg, 75, in Los Angeles


  • 1732 - Handel: opera Acis and Galetea (in an English/Italian version), in London at the King’s Theater in the Haymarket, at the request of Princess Anne (Gregorian date: June 21)

  • 1865 - Wagner: opera Tristan and Isolde, in Munich at the Hoftheater, conducted by Hans von Bülow

  • 1921 - Stravinsky: Symphonies of Wind Instruments (in memory of Claude Debussy), in London at Queen’s Hall, with Serge Kousevitzky conducting. Three days earlier, on June 7, 1921, Stravinsky had attended the British premiere of the concert version of his ballet score The Rite of Spring, also at Queen’s Hall, with Eugene Goossens conducting.

  • 1939 - Bliss: Piano Concerto (with Solomon the soloist) and Vaughan Williams: Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus, at Carnegie Hall by the New York Philharmonic, with Sir Adrian Boult conducting. These works (Along with Bax’s Seventh Symphony, which premiered the previous day) were all commissioned by the British Council as part of the British Exhibition at 1939 World’s Fair.

  • 1941 - Poulenc: first public performance of Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, in Paris

  • 1968 - Britten: church opera The Prodigal Son, in Orford Church, near Aldeburgh

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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®