January 9

1839 John Knowles Paine – American composer (d.1906); first American-born composer to achieve fame for large-scale orchestral music; senior member of a group of other composers collectively known as the ‘Boston Six’; the other five were Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, George Chadwick, and Horatio Parker.

1904 first performance of Claude Debussy’s three-movement suite Estampes (Prints) by Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, in Paris.

1909 first performance of Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit by Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, in Paris; ‘Gaspard’ is derived from a Persian word denoting ‘the man in charge of the royal treasures’, so ‘Gaspard of the Night’ creates allusions to someone in charge of all that is jewel-like, dark, mysterious, perhaps even morose.

1947 premiere of Kurt Weill’s Broadway show/opera Street Scene in New York City at the Adelphi Theater; lyrics by Langston Hughes, based on Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name; Weill received the first Tony Award for Best Original Score for this work.

1948 first performance of Walter Piston’s Symphony No. 3, Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra; awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1948.

1956 Waltraud Meier – German dramatic soprano and mezzo-soprano (61 years old); well known for her Wagnerian roles as Kundry, Isolde, Ortrud, Venus, Fricka, and Sieglinde, but has also had success in the French and Italian repertoire appearing as Eboli, Amneris, Carmen and Santuzza.