February 21

1801 Jan Václav Kalivoda (Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda in German) – Bohemian composer, conductor and violinist (d.1866); according to critic David Hurwitz, he "represents a sort of symphonic 'missing link' between Beethoven and Schumann," and, says Hurwitz, his symphonic music is "thrilling, and it strikingly anticipates or echoes so much of 19th century music--from Berlioz to Dvorák to Wagner, and even Sibelius…”

1836 Léo Delibes – French composer (d.1891); his most notable works include the ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) as well as the operas Le roi l'a dit (1873) and Lakmé (1883); his operas impressed Tchaikovsky enough for the composer to rate Delibes more highly than Brahms—although this may seem faint praise when one considers that the Russian composer considered Brahms "a giftless bastard."

1844 Charles-Marie Widor – French organist, composer and teacher (d.1937); organist of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, the most prominent position for a French organist, for nearly 64 years; wrote 10 organ symphonies and three for organ and orchestra.

1886 premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov version of Mussorgsky’s opera Khovanshchina in St. Petersburg; the opera had been left unfinished when Mussorgsky died in 1881; Dmitri Shostakovich revised the opera in 1959 based on Mussorgsky's vocal score, and it is this version that is usually performed today.

1891 Karl King – Ohio-born bandmaster, composer (d.1971); best known as the composer of Barnum and Bailey's Favorite (1913).

1920 premiere of Darius Milhaud’s ballet Le Boeuf sur la toît (The Ox on the Roof) in Paris; based on tunes (nearly 30 of them) from Brazilian popular music; the title comes from an old Brazilian tango; the piece was originally to have been the score of a Charlie Chaplin silent film.

1929 first performance of Ottorino Respighi’s symphonic poem Roman Festivals by the New York Philharmonic, Arturo Toscanini conducting; the longest and most demanding of the ‘Roman trilogy’ and so it is less-often programmed than its companion pieces, The Fountains of Rome (1916) and The Pines of Rome (1924).


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