January 25

1817 premiere of Gioacchino Rossini's La Cenerentola (Cinderella), in Rome; composer was only 25 years old but the work (written in 3 weeks!) has some of his finest writing for solo voice and vocal ensembles.

1851 Jan Blockx – Belgian composer, pianist and teacher (d.1912); a leader of the Flemish nationalist school in music.

1856 Wilhelm Heckel – German instrument-maker (d.1909); inventor of the ‘heckelphone’, a double-reed instrument of the oboe family, pitched an octave below the regular oboe; first used in Richard Strauss's opera Salome, and subsequently in his Elektra and Alpine Symphony.

1858 At the wedding of Princess Victoria (eldest child of Queen Victoria) and Prince Friedrich of Prussia, the bride processed to Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin, and she and her husband exited to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; overnight, these two selections set the standard for wedding music to this day.

1886 Wilhelm Furtwängler – German composer and conductor (d.1954); controversial career during the Nazi years, but one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century, but also a distinguished composer, with three mature symphonies (the Third unfinished), a Symphonic Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, and some chamber and choral pieces.

1902 first performance of Franz Schmidt’s Symphony No. 1, in Vienna; won the Beethoven Prize in 1900 and shows a mature absorption of the styles of Anton Bruckner (Schmidt’s counterpoint teacher at the Vienna Conservatory) and Richard Strauss.

1909 premiere of Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra at the Dresden State Opera; based on ancient Greek mythology, but the opera—and its libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal—is highly modernist and expressionist; the title role is one of the most demanding in the dramatic soprano repertoire.

1911 Julia Smith – American composer and pianist (d.1989); best known for her operas and orchestral works, which have all been performed; her music incorporates elements of jazz, folk music and 20th-century French harmony.

1913 Witold Lutoslawski – Polish avant-garde composer (d.1994); one of the major European composers of the 20th century, and one of the preeminent Polish musicians during his last three decades.

1921 Alfred Reed – American composer and conductor (d.2005); had more than 200 published works for concert band, orchestra, chorus, and chamber ensemble; also traveled extensively as a guest conductor, performing in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

1987 first performance of Paul Schoenfield’s Café Music for piano trio at a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concert; the composer writes, “The idea to compose Café Music first came to me in 1985 after sitting in one night for the pianist at Murray’s Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Murray’s employs a house trio which plays entertaining dinner music in a wide variety of styles. My intention was to write a kind of a kind of high-class dinner music—music which could be played at a restaurant but might also (just barely) find its way into a concert hall.”