March 11

1829 In Berlin, Felix Mendelssohn conducts a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, signaling the revival of interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

1830 premiere of Bellini’s opera I Capuleti e I Montecchi (The Capulets and Montagues) in Venice at the Teatro la Fenice; the libretto by Felice Romani is based not on Shakespeare but on the play Giulietta e Romeo by Luigi Scevola written in 1818.

1851 premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto at La Fenice in Venice; the libretto by Francesco Maria Piave is based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo; despite serious problems with the Austrian censors who had control over northern Italian theatres at the time, the opera had a triumphant premiere.

1876 Carl Ruggles – American composer (d.1971); one of the ‘American Five’ group of composers, including Charles Ives, John J. Becker, Wallingford Riegger and Henry Cowell; best known work is Sun-Treader (1931); also a prolific painter.

1885 first performance of Peter Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony in Moscow; based on the poem by Lord Byron, dedicated to Mily Balakirev; opinion about the seldom-heard work is divided: Arturo Toscanini considered it the composer's greatest composition, but music critic David Hurwitz reports that Leonard Bernstein referred to it as "trash" and never recorded it.

1888 first performance of Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 2 in Prague, the only performance during the composer’s lifetime; after Dvorák completed it in 1865, he sent the score to be bound, but could not pay, so the binder kept it.

1897 Henry Cowell – American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario (d.1965); Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s, summed up Cowell’s contribution: “Henry Cowell's music covers a wider range in both expression and technique than that of any other living composer. His experiments begun three decades ago in rhythm, in harmony, and in instrumental sonorities were considered then by many to be wild. Today they are the Bible of the young and still, to the conservatives, "advanced."... No other composer of our time has produced a body of works so radical and so normal, so penetrating and so comprehensive. Add to this massive production his long and influential career as a pedagogue, and Henry Cowell's achievement becomes impressive indeed. There is no other quite like it. To be both fecund and right is given to few.”

1912 Xavier Montsalvatge – Spanish (Catalan) composer and music critic (d.2002); one of the most influential music figures in Catalan music during the latter half of the 20th century.

1914 William Lloyd Webber – English organist and composer (d.1982); studied at the Royal College of Music and because there was already another student there named William Webber, William used his middle name from then on as part of his name; father of West End composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

1917 first performance of Ottorino Respighi's tone poem Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome); the four sections are meant to depict Roman fountains during different periods of the day and night.

1921 Astor Piazzolla – Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player (d.1992); developed a new style termed nuevo tango.

1950 Katia Labeque – French pianist (68 years old); with Marielle, member of the piano duo, the Labeque Sisters.

1950 Bobby McFerrin – American vocalist and conductor (68 years old); the son of operatic baritone Robert McFerrin and singer Sara Copper; known for his unique vocal techniques and virtuosic singing styles.

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