In February of 1919, members of the New York Chamber Music Society gave the premiere performance of this music—an instrumental suite by the American composer Deems Taylor, titled "Through the Looking Glass." A few years later, Deems Taylor landed a job as music critic for the New York World, and following that, became known coast-to-coast as the radio commentator for New York Philharmonic broadcasts, and as the host of a popular quiz-show titled "Information, Please." His voice was also heard as the commentator for the 1940 Disney film, "Fantasia."
On today's date in 1980, another American composer premiered a musical work inspired by "Alice in Wonderland." This was David Del Tredici's "In Memory of a Summer's Day," first presented by the St. Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin. By 1980, Del Tredici had already composed several successful works inspired by the Lewis Carroll books, but "In Memory of Summer's Day" capped the lot, and won that year's Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Del Tredici was a protégé of Aaron Copland, and recalled how Copland would react to Del Tredici's compositions. "He'd say something noncommittal at first, such as 'It's very nice.' Then maybe an hour or so later, at dinner, he would turn to me, apropos of nothing, and say, 'I think the bass line is too regular, and the percussion should not always underline the main beat and would you please pass the butter.'"
Music Played in Today's Program
Deems Taylor (1885-1966)Through The Looking Glass SuiteSeattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz , cond.Delos 3099
David Del Tredici (b. 1937)In Memory of A Summer DaySt. Louis Symphony; Leonard Slatkin, cond.Nonesuch 79043
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