March 2

1792 first performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 98, conducted by the composer, at the Hanover-Square Concert Rooms, during his first visit to London; the first and fourth movements were encored.

1795 first performance of Haydn's Symphony No. 103Drumroll’ during the composer’s second London visit, as part of a series called the ‘Opera Concerts’ at the King's Theater; the orchestra was unusually large for the time, about 60 players; nickname comes from the long roll on the timpani with which the work begins.

1813 Sir George Alexander MacFarren – English composer and musicologist (d.1887); eyesight became impaired at an early age, resulting eventually in total blindness; nevertheless had an active career and a composer and teacher.

1824 Bedrich Smetana – Czech composer (d.1884); widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music; best known for his opera The Bartered Bride, for the symphonic cycle Má vlast (My Homeland) which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer's native land, and for his String Quartet No. 1 ‘From My Life’; became totally deaf by the age of 50.

1900 Kurt Weill – German-born American composer (d.1950); best known for his collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, like The Threepenny Opera (1928); held the ideal of writing music that served a socially useful purpose; apart from Mack the Knife from The Threepenny Opera, his most famous songs include Alabama Song (from Mahagonny), Surabaya Johnny (from Happy End), Speak Low (from One Touch of Venus), Lost in the Stars, My Ship (from Lady in the Dark), and September Song (from Knickerbocker Holiday).

1904 Theodor Seuss Geisel – American writer and cartoonist, ‘Dr. Seuss’ (d.1991); famous author of children’s books.

1905 Marc Blitzstein – American composer, lyricist, and librettist (d.1964); won national attention in 1937 when his pro-union musical The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down by the Works Progress Administration; known too for his Off-Broadway translation/adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and for his opera Regina, an adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play The Little Foxes.

1917 John Gardner – English composer (d.2011); wrote prolifically but best known for the Christmas carol Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, written for St Paul's in London, as was another popular carol setting, The Holly and the Ivy.

1921 Robert Simpson – English composer and long-time BBC producer and broadcaster (d.1997); wrote 11 symphonies and 15 string quartets, and books and articles on the music of Beethoven, Bruckner, Nielsen and Sibelius.

1944 Leif Segerstam – Finnish conductor and composer (74 years old); also professor of conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki; students include Susanna Mälkki and Sasha Mäkilä.


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