February 20

1763 Adalbert Gyrowetz – Bohemian composer (d.1850); mainly wrote instrumental works, with many string quartets and symphonies; his hometown is Budweis, known for its superior beer since the 13th century (and the true home of ‘Budweiser’ lager). 

1770 Ferdinando Carulli - Italian composer (d.1841); wrote for classical guitar and was the author of the influential Méthode complète pour guitare (1810), which contains music still used by student guitarists today.

1791 Carl Czerny – Austrian composer, pianist and teacher (d.1857); his vast musical production amounted to over a 1,000 works; his books of studies are still widely used in piano teaching.

1816 premiere of Gioacchino Rossini's comedy Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) at the Teatro Argentina in Rome with the composer conducting; its original title was not The Barber of Seville, but Almaviva, or The Useless Precaution, because Giovanni Paisiello’s Barber had been very popular at the time; Paisiello’s version was eclipsed immediately and forever.              

1827 first performance of Felix Mendelssohn's concert overture A Midsummer Night's Dream, written when the composer was 17 years, 6 months old; according to George Grove, founder of the famous dictionary of music and musicians, this is "the greatest marvel of early maturity that the world has ever seen in music".

1911 Robert McBride – American composer (d.2007); late in life he developed an ear disorder that caused him to hear pitches a half-step off, and so he was unable to listen to music at all.

1940 Christoph Eschenbach – German conductor and pianist (78 years old); studied conducting with George Szell; Herbert von Karajan was his mentor for nearly twenty-five years.

1948 Barry Wordsworth – English conductor (70 years old); principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra 1989-2006, and now holds the title of conductor laureate.

1953 Riccardo Chailly – Italian conductor (65 years old); first music director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, 1999-2005, and now has the title of Conductor Laureate with La Verdi; he is the music director of both the La Scala opera company in Milan and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.


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