Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
January 2
Did You Guess?
The Dutchman swore he would sail around the Cape of Good Hope if it took him forever, and the devil took him at his word. Once every seven years he may leave his ship in search of a woman who will redeem him from his deathless wandering if she gives him faithful, absolute love.
Can You Guess?
What Else
Ned Rorem's Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra premiered January 2, 2001. 

Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana on October 23, 1923.  His father, Rufus Rorem, was instrumental in the creation of insurance giant Blue Cross.
As a child Ned moved to Chicago with his family.  He demonstrated an early interest in composition and piano. He studied with Margaret Bonds, who introduced him to American music, and Nuta Rothschild who introduced him to  Debussy and Ravel, an experience which he said "changed my life forever."

At 17 Rorem entered Northwestern University's Music School, and received a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia 2 years later. He studied composition under Bernard Wagenaar at Juilliard, earning his B.A. and his M.A. degrees (along with the $1,000 George Gershwin Memorial Prize in composition) in 1948. In New York he worked as Virgil Thomson's copyist in return for $20 a week salary and orchestration lessons. He also worked for a time with Aaron Copland.

He studied on fellowship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood in the summers of 1946 and 1947; in 1948 his song
The Lordly Hudson was voted the best published song of that year by the Music Library Association.

Rorem lived in Morocco and France from 1949 to 1958.  He wrote about his time there in The Paris Diary and The New York Diary (1951-1961).

Since his return to the United States in 1957, Rorem has lived in New York City and Nantucket.  Best known for his extensive catalogue of songs (he has published more than 400) Rorem has also composed 3 operas, 3 piano concerti, 3 symphonies as well as several large scale chamber works.  He has continued to add to his catalogue of over 400 songs. Much of Rorem's inspiration comes from the world of poetry, with sources ranging from such sources as Walt Whitman (1983's Whitman Cantata),  Theeodore Roethke, Kenneth Koch and Paul Goodman. In 1976, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Air Music: Ten Etudes of Orchestra (First performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on December 5, 1975). 

Ned Rorem has received a Fulbright Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1968).  He has received commissions from the Ford Foundation, the Lincoln Center Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Atlanta Symphony, the Chicago Symphony and  Carnegie Hall. Conductors who have performed his music include Bernstein, Masur, Mehta, Mitropoulos, Ormandy, Previn, Reiner, Slatkin, Steinberg, and Stokowski.

An interesting quote from Rorem: "Why do I write music? Because I want to hear it - it's simple as that. Others may have more talent, more sense of duty. But I compose just from necessity, and no one else is making what I need."
Ned Rorem
1923 -  
1724 - Premiere of  Bach's Sacred Cantata No. 153 ("Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind")

1747 - Death of French composer, violinist and conductor Jean-Fery Rebel in Paris.

1843 - Premiere of Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman.

1936 - Premiere of Morton Gould's Chorale and Fugue in Jazz. Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting.

1941 - The Andrews Sisters recorded Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Click Here to Play a MIDI version of the song and see the Lyrics.

1983 - The musical Annie closed on Broadway at the Uris Theatre after 2,377 performances.

2000 - Premiere of Bright Sheng's Nanking! Nanking! in Hamburg. North German Radio Symphony, under Christoph Eschenbach.

2000 - Premiere of Christopher Rouse's Concert de Guadi for guitar and orchestra, guitarist Sharon Isbin.
In Wagner's version of The Flying Dutchman legend, the captain is forced to do something for all eternity.  Can You Guess just what the captain's fate is?

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