January 19

1787 first performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 ‘Prague’, conducted by the composer in the Bohemian city where Mozart had a consistent and devoted following.

1853 premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Il trovatore (The Troubadour) at the Teatro Apollo in Rome;    Enrico Caruso once said that all it takes for successful performance of Il trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world.  

1873 first performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in Paris; has always been one of Saint-Saëns’s most popular pieces: the great Pablo Casals chose it for his London debut in 1905.

1884 premiere of Jules Massenet's opera Manon at the Opéra Comique in Paris; based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost; before Massenet's version, Fromental Halévy and Daniel Auber had used the subject for stage works; Puccini’s Manon Lescaut followed in 1893; Massenet also wrote a one-act sequel to Manon, Le portrait de Manon (1894), involving the Chevalier des Grieux as an older man.

1903 Boris Blacher – German composer, librettist and teacher (d.1975); regarded as one of the most influential music figures of his time; his students include Aribert Reimann, Gottfried von Einem, Kalevi Aho and Richard Wernick.

1955 Sir Simon Rattle – English conductor (62years old); rose to international fame as conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; since 2002 Principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic;  becomes Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017.

1973 Leonard Bernstein led a performance of Haydn's Mass in Time of War at a ‘Concert for Peace’ at Washington DC's National Cathedral, in protest against President Nixon on the eve of Nixon's second term in office as the Vietnam War still raged; the concert was timed to coincide with Nixon's official inaugural concert, which concluded with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

1994 first performance of John Adams’s Violin Concerto, with the Minnesota Orchestra, Edo de Waart conducting; the soloist was concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis, who had prompted the composition; “Composers who are not string players are seriously challenged when it comes to writing a concerto,” writes Mr. Adams, “and close collaborations are the rule, as it was in this case.”


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