February 19

1743 Luigi Boccherini – Italian composer and cellist (d.1805); went to Madrid in 1761, flourishing under royal patronage, until one day when the King expressed his disapproval at a passage in a new trio, and ordered it changed, when the composer doubled the passage instead, he was immediately dismissed; his many works have been catalogued by the French musicologist Yves Gérard.

1880 Arthur Shepherd – American composer and conductor (d.1958); was Assistant Director of the Cleveland Orchestra, and taught at Western Reserve University; composed more than 100 works, including symphonies, string quartets and songs.

1906 Grace Williams – Welsh composer (d.1977); famous for Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes (1940), and for Penillion, written for the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1955.

1914 premiere of Riccardo Zandonai’s most famous opera Francesca da Rimini at the Teatro Regio in Turin; in 2013 it was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role.

1923 first performance of Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 6 in Helsinki with composer conducting; 20 years later, the composer wrote that "the sixth symphony always reminds me of the scent of the first snow".

1926 György Kurtág – Romanian-born Hungarian composer (92 years old); named an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001.

1949 first performance of Irving Fine’s Partita for Winds in New York City by the New Art Wind Quintet.

1971 Gil Shaham – American-born Israeli violinist (47 years old); career took off in 1989 when he was called in to replace an ailing Itzhak Perlman for a series of concerts with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony; his sister is the pianist Orli Shaham; he is married to the Australian-born violinist Adele Anthony.           

1977 Vittorio Grigolo – Italian tenor (41 years old); at age 13 he played the shepherd boy in a performance of Tosca at Rome's opera house, where he shared the stage with Pavarotti, and was given the nickname 'Il Pavarottino'.

1999 first performance of John Adams’s Naïve and Sentimental Music by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting; title alludes to an essay by Friedrich Schiller, On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry, that contrasts a creative personality that creates art for its own sake (the ‘naïve’) versus one conscious of other purposes, such as art’s place in history (the ‘sentimental’); the composer says inspirations came from the slowly developing harmonies of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony and the atmosphere of the Sonoma coastline, where the piece was composed.


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