Donate now to support your one-stop classical music destination

Your contribution powers the wonder of classical music
Donate

Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Wednesday, February 24

Rorem's "Our Town"

Synopsis

It’s a play that both Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein wanted to make into an opera, but the playwright always said, “No.”

We’re talking about “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, a nostalgic but bitter-sweet look at life and love and death in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, set in the early 1900, complete with white picket fences, boy meets girl, and a drugstore soda counter.

It wasn’t until decades after Wilder’s death in 1975 that the executor of the Wilder estate, after a long search for just the right composer for an ”Our Town” opera, settled on Ned Rorem, and a libretto crafted by the poet J.D. McClatchy, who also happened to be an authority on Wilder’s works.

Rorem was in his 80s when the opera premiered on today’s date in 2006 at the Opera Theater at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana.

The New York Times thought the resulting opera a success, writing “’Our Town’ opens with a hymn, and Mr. Rorem retained and refracted the familiar melody, turning pat modulations slightly bitter, as if the music were heard through a lens of nostalgia that turned it sepia. This nostalgia proved a hallmark of the score.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Ned Rorem (b. 1923) Opening, fr Our Town Monadnock Music; Gil Rose, cond. New World 80790

Additional Information

{"airdates":[{"id":27969,"date":"2021-02-24","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2021/02/24/datebook_20210224_128.mp3","updated_at":"2021-01-06T17:26:21.000Z","episode":{"id":9503,"synopsis":"Rorem's \"Our Town\"","additional":"","body":"It’s a play that both Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein wanted to make into an opera, but the playwright always said, “No.” \r\n\r\nWe’re talking about “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, a nostalgic but bitter-sweet look at life and love and death in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, set in the early 1900, complete with white picket fences, boy meets girl, and a drugstore soda counter. \r\n\r\nIt wasn’t until decades after Wilder’s death in 1975 that the executor of the Wilder estate, after a long search for just the right composer for an ”Our Town” opera, settled on Ned Rorem, and a libretto crafted by the poet J.D. McClatchy, who also happened to be an authority on Wilder’s works.\r\n\r\nRorem was in his 80s when the opera premiered on today’s date in 2006 at the Opera Theater at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana. \r\n\r\nThe New York Times thought the resulting opera a success, writing “’Our Town’ opens with a hymn, and Mr. Rorem retained and refracted the familiar melody, turning pat modulations slightly bitter, as if the music were heard through a lens of nostalgia that turned it sepia. This nostalgia proved a hallmark of the score.”\r\n\r\n","playdate":"1972-02-24","pieces":[{"composer":"Ned Rorem (b. 1923)","title":"Opening, fr Our Town","performer":"Monadnock Music; Gil Rose, cond.","catalog":"New World 80790"}],"links":[{"title":"More on Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” ","href":"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Town"},{"title":"More on Rorem’s “Our Town”","href":"https://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moredetails?musicid=46251"},{"title":"More on the Indiana premiere of “Our Town”","href":"https://www.newswise.com/articles/ned-rorems-opera-our-town-to-receive-world-premiere-at-iu"}],"airdates":[{"id":27969,"date":"2021-02-24","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2021/02/24/datebook_20210224_128.mp3"}]}}],"meta":{"start_date":"2021-02-24","end_date":"2021-02-24"}}

Before you go...

Each day, John gladly shares his passion for music with you. The knowledge that he offers, and the stories he shares through Composers Datebook is made possible with your support. Please, take 2 minutes and make a gift today for your 2 minutes of daily music knowledge.