January 12

1715 Jacques Duphly – French harpsichordist, organist and composer (d.1789); famous as a performer and teacher, but he died on July 15, 1789, the day after the storming of the Bastille, in an apartment in the Hôtel de Juigné, lonely and forgotten.

1876 Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari – Italian composer and teacher (d.1948); best known for his comic operas such as Il segreto di Susanna (The Secret of Susanna, 1909).

1894 first performances of Dvorák’s String Quartet No. 12 Op 96 and String Quintet Op 97 (both nicknamed the ‘American’), in Boston, by the Kneisel Quartet (with violist M Zach in the Quintet); both written during the summer he spent in Spillville, Iowa in 1893.

1921 Leo Smit – American composer and pianist (d.1999); often gave thematic recitals – sometimes illustrated with his own slides – and performed a great deal of new music especially works by Aaron Copland; also a talented photographer.

1926 Morton Feldman – American composer (d.1987); a major figure in 20th-century music and a pioneer of indeterminate music, a development associated with the experimental New York School of composers; works are characterized by notational innovations that he developed to create his characteristic sound: rhythms that seem to be free and floating; pitch shadings that seem softly unfocused; a generally quiet and slowly evolving music; recurring asymmetric patterns; later works, after 1977, also begin to explore extremes of duration.

1927 Salvatore Martirano – American composer (d.1995); received his undergraduate degree in 1951 from Oberlin College; worked in electronic music and invented electronic musical instruments.

1918 first performance of George Templeton Strong Jr’s tone-poem Le Roi Arthur (King Arthur), in Geneva, Switzerland, with Ernest Ansermet conducting the orchestra which would be named L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande later that same year

1934 premiere of Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service in Turin, Italy; the composer’s friend, Reuben Rinder,  cantor of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, commissioned a setting of the Union Prayer Book version of the Saturday morning Sabbath liturgy.

1944 Viktoria Postnikova – Russian pianist (73 years old); famous for her recording of Tchaikovsky's complete piano works; her husband is conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky.