January 5

1871 Frederick Shepherd Converse – American composer and teacher (d.1940); among his notable students: Alan Hovhaness and Florence Price; his opera The Pipe of Desire (1910) became the first American work ever to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera; best known for his symphonic poem The Mystic Trumpeter (1904), based on the poem of the same name from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

1880 Nicolai Medtner – Russian composer and pianist (d.1951); wrote a substantial number of compositions, all of which include the piano.

1929 Peter-Lukas Graf – Swiss flutist and conductor (88 years old); has taught at the Basel Music Academy since 1973.

1932 first performance of Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in Vienna with pianist Paul Wittgenstein (who had commissioned it) and the Vienna Symphony conducted by Robert Heger;  before the premiere, in 1931 Alfred Cortot made an arrangement for piano two-hands and orchestra, but Ravel did not approve of it; Cortot ignored the composer’s wishes and played his arrangement, which caused Ravel to ask many conductors not to engage Cortot to play his concerto; after Ravel's death in 1937, Cortot resumed playing his arrangement, and even recorded it.

1942 Maurizio Pollini – Italian pianist and conductor (75 years old); his first recordings for Deutsche Grammophon in 1971 included Stravinsky's Trois mouvements de Petrouchka and Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata and are still considered a landmark of 20th century piano discography.


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