January 16

1728 Niccolò Piccinni – Italian composer (d.1800); little known today, but in his time one of the most popular composers of opera, especially Neapolitan opera buffa.

1739 premiere of George Frideric Handel's oratorio Saul; the Dead March in Act 3 has been played at state funerals in the United Kingdom, including that of Winston Churchill; it was performed at the funeral of George Washington and many times during the journey of the body of Abraham Lincoln after his assassination to Springfield, Illinois.

1905 Ernesto Halffter – Spanish composer and conductor (d.1989); studied composition with Manuel de Falla and completed Falla’s unfinished opera Atlántida; the brother of Rodolfo Halffter, also a composer.

1922 first performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams's A Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 3) in London, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult; among the least performed of the composer’s symphonies, but it has gained the reputation of being a subtly beautiful elegy for the dead of World War I and a meditation on the sounds of peace.

1934 Marilyn Horne – American mezzo-soprano (83 years old); Oberlin faculty member, frequently conducts master classes; specialized in roles requiring a large sound, beauty of tone, excellent breath support, and the ability to execute difficult coloratura passages; recipient of the National Medal of Arts (1992) and the Kennedy Center Honors (1995).

1934 Richard Wernick – American composer (83 years old); best known for his chamber and vocal works; his Visions of Terror and Wonder won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

1943 Gavin Bryars – English composer and double-bassist (74 years old); was a founding member of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, an orchestra whose membership consisted of performers who “embrace the full range of musical competence”; its members included Brian Eno, whose Obscure Records label would later release works by Bryars.

1943 Brian Ferneyhough – English composer (74 years old); his music is characterized by highly complex notation and the extensive use of irregular nested rhythmic tuplets; often referred to as the ‘Father of New Complexity’.

 

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