Composers Datebook®

Sallinen's 'Palace Rhapsody'

Composers Datebook - July 6, 2024


In the 18th century, the operas of Mozart were so popular in Prague that their tunes were arranged for small wind bands to play on street corners so musicians could collect the 18th century equivalent of a buck or two tossed into an open instrument case.

Now, as popular as contemporary opera composer Aulis Sallinen might be in his native Finland, we doubt the same motivation was at work in the minds of a music foundation in Manchester, England, and the College Band Directors National Association of the United States when they commissioned Sallinen to write a piece for wind band. Sallinen crafted the new work based on tunes from his satirical opera The Palace.

The premiere of Sallinen’s Palace Rhapsody was duly given by the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra at the Cheltenham Festival in the U.K. on today’s date 1997.

Sallinen freely confessed he was thinking of those wind band arrangements of Mozart when he fulfilled his commission, however, which is not all that surprising, since the libretto for Sallinen’s 20th century opera is somewhat inspired by Mozart’s 18th Century opera, The Abduction from the Sergalio.

Music Played in Today's Program

Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935): The Palace Rhapsody; Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic; Ari Rasilainen, conductor; CPO 999972

On This Day


  • 1864 - Brazilian composer Alberto Nepomuceno, in Fortaleza

  • 1898 - German composer Hans Eisler, in Leipzig

  • 1906 - English composer Dame Elizabeth Lutyens, in London


  • 1971 - Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, 71, in New York City

  • 1973 - German conductor and composer Otto Klemperer, 88, in Zürich

  • 1999 - Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo, 97, in Madrid


  • 1963 - Leslie Bassett: Variations for Orchestra, in Rome. Following the American premiere on October 22, 1965 with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy, this work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1966.

  • 1968 - David Del Tredici: Syzygy (to a text by James Joyce), in New York City

  • 1977 - Tippett: opera, The Ice Break at Covent Garden in London


  • 1913 - In Paris, the Grand Prix de Rome music award is given to 19 year-old French composer Lili Boulanger (1893-1918), the first woman to be so honored

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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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