January 15

1775 death of Giovanni Battista Sammartini – Italian composer, oboist, organist, choirmaster and teacher (age c.74); Gluck was among his students, and was highly regarded by younger composers including Johann Christian Bach; contributed to the formation of the concert symphony through the shift from a brief opera-overture style and the introduction of a new seriousness and use of thematic development that anticipate Haydn and Mozart.

1890 premiere of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg with choreography by Marius Petipa; anticipates Sondheim’s Into the Woods in that the scenario conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, based on the Brothers Grimm version of Charles Perrault's La Belle au bois dormant, incorporates other Perrault characters such as Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Tom Thumb.

1893 Ivor Novello (David Ivor Davies) – Welsh composer and actor (d.1951); wrote songs and stage musicals; first big hit was Keep the Home Fires Burning, enormously popular during the First World War.

1909 Elie Siegmeister – American composer, educator and author (d.1991); wrote a number of important books on music and released an instructional album, Invitation to Music, on which he discusses the fundamentals of music.

1923 premiere of Gabriel Pierné’s ballet Cydalise et le chèvre-pied (Cydalise and the Satyr) at the Paris Opéra; most recognizable pieces in the ballet is The Entry of the Little Fauns.

1941 first performance (outdoors and in the rain) of Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at Stalag VIII-A, a German prisoner of war camp in Görlitz, Silesia, with the composer at the piano; the audience numbered about 400 fellow prisoners and guards; Messiaen later recalled: "Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension."

1946 Joseph Kalichstein – Israeli-American pianist and teacher (71 years old); professor at Juilliard and member of a famous trio with violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson.

1958 premiere of Samuel Barber's Vanessa at the Metropolitan Opera under the baton of Dimitri Mitropoulos; features an original English libretto by Gian-Carlo Menotti, who also directed; Barber revised the opera in 1964, reducing the four acts to the three-act version most commonly performed today.

1960 Aaron Jay Kernis – American composer (57 years old); achieved success as a composer at age 23 when his work Dream of the Morning Sky was premiered by the New York Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta conducting; his Pulitzer-winning Musica Instrumentalis (1997) is based on the last movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9.

1998 first performance of Christopher Rouse’s Der gerettete Alberich (Alberich Redeemed) for percussion and orchestra, by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi, with soloist Evelyn Glennie; inspired by the treacherous Nibelung dwarf king from Wagner’s Ring Cycle.


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