Composers Datebook®

Iannaccone's Appalachian Fantasias

Composers Datebook - July 3, 2024


Remember Y2K — the Millennial Year 2000? It was a time of extravagant hopes and dire predictions, as pundits and prophets weighed in as the 20th century hastened to its end.

Composers weighed in, too. The American Composers Forum and the National Endowment for the Arts collaborated on Continental Harmony, a project that commissioned new musical works for public celebrations in communities large and small in all 50 states. The ambitious commissioning project was even endorsed by the Clinton White House.

Premieres of many Continental Harmony commissions occurred on or near the Fourth of July in the year 2000. On today’s date, for example, on the eve of the Fourth, the Richmond Symphony in Virginia premiered From Time to Time: Fantasias on Two Appalachian Folksongs, an orchestra work composed by Anthony Iannaccone, who explained the title of his new piece as follows:

“The extraordinary beauty of Virginia and the resilient spirit of its people provided the inspiration for an extended tone poem based first on the folksong ‘Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair’... [and then] ‘Shenandoah,’ presented in fragments … the orchestra extracts the folk melody and recasts it as a kind of Fourth of July fireworks display.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Anthony Iannaccone (b. 1943): ‘From Time to Time’; Janacek Philharmonic; Anthony Iannaccone, conductor; Albany 486

On This Day


  • 1854 - Czech composer Leo Janácek, in Hukvaldy, Moravia

  • 1878 - American song composer George M. Cohan, in Providence, Rhode Island. He mistakenly believed he was “born on the Fourth of July” as his popular song “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” states. In 1978 the centennial of his birth was honored with a U.S. postage stamp issued on this date.

  • 1879 - French composer and conductor Philippe Gaubert, in Cahors

  • 1901 - American composer and American folksong compiler, Ruth Crawford (Seeger), in East Liverpool, Ohio. She was the second wife of the eminent American composer and ethnomusicologist, Charles Seeger (1886-1979). Charles Seeger’s son by his first marriage became the famous American folksinger, Pete Seeger.

  • 1926 - American composer Meyer Kupferman, in New York City


  • 1966 - American composer, writer, and broadcaster, Deems Taylor, 80, in New York City. For many years, he was a broadcast commentator for the national broadcasts of both the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera (two of his operas were staged at the Met). In 1967, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) established the Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in the fields of music criticism, journalism, and broadcasting. Composers Datebook won a Deems Taylor Award in 2000.

  • 1998 - English Romantic composer George Lloyd, 85


  • 1944 - Robert Wright & George Forest: musical The Song of Norway (based on the music of Norwegian composer Edward Grieg), during trial run in San Francisco. The musical opened in New York on August 21, 1944.

  • 1964 - Robert Ward: opera, The Lady From Colorado, in Central City, Colorado

  • 1967 - Havergal Brian: Symphony No. 4 (Das Siegeslied) in London. This symphony was composed in 1929.

  • 1976 - Hovhaness: Violin Concerto (Ode to Freedom) at Wolf Trap, with André Kostelanetz conducting and Yehudi Menuhin the soloist


  • 1848 - American music publisher Theodore Presser is born in Pittsburgh. In 1883 he founded in Philadelphia the famous music monthly, The Etude (which discontinued publication in 1957), and shortly thereafter the Philadelphia-based Presser music publishing firm. He was also a co-founder of the Music Teachers National Association.

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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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