February 23

1649 John Blow baptized – English composer and organist (d.1708); Jeremiah Clarke and Henry Purcell were among his pupils; buried in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey.

1685 George Frideric Handel – German-born English composer (d.1759); born the same year as J. S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti, Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era; Beethoven said he was "the master of us all... the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb”; Mozart is reputed to have said of him, "Handel understands affect better than any of us. When he chooses, he strikes like a thunder bolt."

1835 premiere of Fromental Halévy’s opera La Juive (The Jewess) at the Paris Opéra; because the story concerns an impossible love between a Christian man and a Jewish woman, the work has been seen by some as a plea for religious tolerance.

1854 first performance of Franz Liszt’s Les préludes in Weimar conducted by the composer; in the announcement in the Weimarische Zeitung  the day before the premiere, it was called Les préludes— symphonische Dichtung, and the term ‘symphonic poem’ was invented.

1900 Elinor Remick Warren – American composer and pianist (d.1991); her magnum opus was the choral symphony The Legend of King Arthur (1940).

1913 premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder (Songs of Gurre, referring to Gurre Castle in Denmark), conducted by Franz Schreker; massive cantata for five vocal soloists, narrator, chorus and large orchestra, based on poems by the Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen.

1967 Alan Gilbert – American conductor and violinist (50 years old); from 1995-1997, assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra; current Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, but plans to leave in 2017; made his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut in November 2008 with John Adams's new opera, Doctor Atomic.