February 24

1607 premiere of Claudio Monteverdi's Orfeo (aka La favola d'Orfeo) at Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga's court at Mantua; the earliest surviving opera that is still regularly performed.

1766 Samuel Wesley – English organist and composer (d.1837); called by some ‘the English Mozart’; nephew of John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist Church.

1842 Arrigo Boito – Italian poet, journalist, novelist, librettist and composer (d. 1918); best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele; wrote essays under the anagrammatic pseudonym of Tobia Gorrio.

1846 Luigi Denza – Italian song composer (d.1922); his most famous song is Funiculi, Finicula (1880), inspired by the inauguration of a funicular railway at the summit of Mount Vesuvius.

1932 Michel Legrand – French composer, arranger, pianist (86years old); has won three Oscars (out of 13 nominations) and five Grammys and has been nominated for an Emmy; was 22 when his first album, I Love Paris, became one of the best-selling instrumental albums ever released.

1939 first performance of Roy Harris’s Symphony No. 3 by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting; the material in the opening was initially meant to be a violin concerto for Jascha Heifetz, but the commission fell through and Harris decided to turn it into a symphony.

1946 Jirí Belohlávek – Czech conductor (72 years old); founded the Prague Philharmonia in 1993, and is now the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate.

1955 premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s opera Susannah at Florida State University in Tallahassee; libretto by the composer is adapted the story from the Apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders; one of the most performed American operas, second to Porgy and Bess.

1972 Arcadi Volodos – Russian pianist (46 years old); legendary producer Thomas Frost has said that he "has everything: imagination, color, passion and a phenomenal technique to carry out his ideas".

1972 Teodor Currentzis – Greek conductor, musician and actor (46 years old); since 2011, Music Director of the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater in Russia.

1985 premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem in New York at St. Thomas Episcopal Church with soprano Sarah Brightman, tenor Plácido Domingo, Lorin Maazel conducting; the most popular segment is the Pie Jesu, which became a hit single.

 

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