Composers Datebook®

Paul Fetler's 'Capriccio'

Composers Datebook - June 18, 2024


On today’s date in 1985, a brand-new piece of music had its premiere in a brand-new concert hall in Minnesota. American composer Paul Fetler wrote his jaunty Capriccio to celebrate both the first concert of the seventh season of conductor Jay Fishman’s Minneapolis Chamber Symphony and the new Ordway Music Theater in St. Paul, which had opened its doors to the public that year.

“When Jay Fishman commissioned me to compose a dedicatory work for their opening concert, I immediately thought of a composition which would be light-hearted, buoyant, and playful,” Felter wrote, “I felt for once that the ‘serious’ contemporary music scene (which I often find to be super serious) could stand a bit of contrast. Perhaps the time is ripe to have a few pieces which are less ‘profound,’ something with the flair of Rossini to divert the listener from the daily burdens of life.”

He concluded: “There is no story behind the Capriccio, but the whimsy and playfulness are intended to suggest a musical caper of a kind. To bring this out, I made primary use of the woodwinds, in particular the flute and piccolo, with their skips, runs, and arpeggios.”

Music Played in Today’s Program

Paul Fetler (1920-2018): Capriccio; Ann Arbor Symphony; Arie Lipsky, conductor; Naxos 8.559606

On This Day


  • 1757 - Austrian-born composer and piano maker Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, in Ruppertsthal, near Vienna. He studied with Haydn and was one of the composer’s favorite pupils.

  • 1904 - Birth of French composer and conductor Manuel Rosenthal, in Paris. His ballet arrangement of Offenbach melodies, Gaîté Parisienne, is his best-known work.

  • 1843 - Austrian cellist and composer David Popper, in Prague

  • 1905 - Estonian-born Swedish composer Eduard Tubin, in Kalaste, near Tartu (Dorpat) (Julian date: June 5)

  • 1942 - English singer, composer and former Beatle, Paul McCartney, in Liverpool


  • 1726 - French composer Michel-Richard de Lalande (La Lande, Delalande), 68, at Versailles


  • 1821 - Weber: opera Der Freischütz (The Freeshooter), in Berlin at the Königliches Schauspielhaus

  • 1923 - Gershwin: musical revue, George White’s Scandals of 1923 at the Globe Theater in New York City

  • 1958 - Britten: opera Noye’s Fludde, in Orford Church, near Aldeburgh

  • 1980 - Persichetti: Three Toccatinas for piano, by contestants in the International Piano Festival and Competition at the University of Maryland

  • 1992 - Anthony Davis: opera Tania at the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia


  • 1837 - Mendelssohn finishes his String Quartet No. 2, in Freiburg, Germany, while on his honeymoon

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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.

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