Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Friday, September 6

Henry Kimball Hadley

Synopsis

Works by Henry Kimball Hadley rarely shows up on concert programs anymore, but in the early years of the 20th century, he ranked as a major and very popular American composer. In 1910, Gustav Mahler, during his tenure at the New York Philharmonic, conducted Hadley’s tone poem “The Culprit Fay,” and in 1920, Hadley’s opera “Cleopatra’s Night” was staged at the Metropolitan Opera.

But by the time of his death on today’s date in 1937, Hadley’s full-blown, late-Romantic style was falling out of fashion in the modernist age of Stravinsky and Schoenberg.

In other aspects of his musical career, however Hadley was quite avant-garde and forward-looking: In 1921 he became associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic -- the first American-born conductor to hold a full-time post with any major American orchestra. In 1926, he was invited by Warner Brothers to conduct the Philharmonic at the New York premiere of their silent film “Don Juan,” starting the legendary actor John Barrymore, and the following year wrote an original score for a second Barrymore silent feature entitled “When A Man Loves.”

Hadley is also credited with making the first symphonic “video,” a 10-minute Vitaphone film of Hadley conducting Wagner’s “Tannhauser” Overture that was shown in movie theaters back then and you can still see today via YouTube!

Music Played in Today's Program

Henry Kimball Hadley (1871 – 1937) The Culprit Fay Ukraine National Symphony; John McLaughlin Williams, cond. Naxos 8.559064

Additional Information

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