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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Thursday, November 12

Tchaikovsky and Brahms in New York

Synopsis

These days, at symphony concerts when a new piece of music is about to be played, it’s not uncommon to overhear someone mutter, “Why do they have to program this new stuff, when there’s so much Brahms and Tchaikovsky we’d rather hear?”

Well, on today’s date in 1881, the 40th season of the New York Philharmonic Society’s concerts opened with a pair of brand-new works: first the New York premiere of the “Tragic” Overture by Johannes Brahms, and after that, the world premiere performance of the Second Piano Concerto by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The soloist in the Tchaikovsky was a certain Madame Madeleine Schiller.

Here’s what The New York Times had to say the following morning: “The return of Madame Schiller to the stage is a welcome event... the only regret being that her efforts had not been devoted to a more interesting work, for, apart from the novelty, it cannot be said that the Tchaikovsky concerto possessed any great merit. There are older works, of which one never tires and which, interpreted by Madame Schiller ... would always be welcomed.”

Ah, some things never change!

Music Played in Today's Program

Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) Tragic Overture Chicago Symphony; Daniel Barenboim, cond. Erato 95192

Peter Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 44 Barry Douglas, piano; Philharmonia Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin, cond. RCA/BMG 61633

Additional Information

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