March 12

1628 death of John Bull – English composer, musician and organ builder (age c.65); one of the most famous composers of keyboard music of the early 17th century, and left many pieces, some of which were collected in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

1710 Thomas Arne – English composer (d.1778); best known for the patriotic song Rule, Britannia; also wrote a version of God Save the King, and the song A-Hunting We Will Go; the leading British theater composer of the 18th century, working at Drury Lane and Covent Garden.

1837 Alexandre Guilmant – French composer and organist (d.1911); extremely prolific composer of works for his own instrument.

1857 premiere of the first version of Verdi’s opera Simon Boccanegra in Venice at the Teatro La Fenice; the critics liked it but the public didn’t; 23 years later, Verdi's publisher persuaded the composer to revise the opera, with text changes to be prepared by Arrigo Boito; this revised version premiered at La Scala in Milan on March 24th 1881, and this is this version which performed today.

1921 Ralph Shapey – American composer, conductor and teacher (d.2002); composition professor at the University of Chicago, where he founded and directed the Contemporary Chamber Players; a 1982 MacArthur Fellow; a “'radical traditionalist' is what I’ve been called,” he said. “My music combines two fundamentally contradictory impulses–-radical language and romantic sensibility.”

1934 first performance of Paul Hindemith’s Symphony ‘Mathis der Maler’ by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler, who faced severe criticism from the Nazi government for performing the work, given that other Hindemith scores had been denounced by the party as "degenerate" and "Jewish connected". 

1943 first performance of Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man in Cincinnati, inspired in part by a 1942 speech in which Vice President Henry A. Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the ‘Century of the Common Man.’

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