March 8

1566 Carlo Gesualdo – Italian composer, lutenist and nobleman (d.1613); a composer of the late Renaissance remembered for writing intensely expressive madrigals and sacred music that use a chromatic language not heard again until the late 19th century; he was Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, and the murderer of his first wife and her lover!

1714 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – German composer (d.1788), the fifth child and second (surviving) son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach; middle name in honor of his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann, whom he succeeded as Music Director of the city of Hamburg; his personal style, an expressive and often turbulent one known as empfindsamer Stil or 'sensitive style' applied principles of rhetoric and drama to musical structures.        

1898 first performance of Richard Strauss's Don Quixote or Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character in Cologne, with cellist Friedrich Grützmacher; the solo cello represents Don Quixote, and the solo viola, tenor tuba, and bass clarinet depict Sancho Panza.

1902 first performance of Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 in Helsinki with the composer conducting; in Finland this popular work, written at a time of Russian sanctions on Finnish language and culture, has been dubbed the ‘Symphony of Independence’; some claim that the composer did not intend any patriotic message, while others believe that he wrote the piece with an independent Finland in mind.

1903 first performances of George Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2, in Bucharest conducted by the composer, who, later in life, deeply resented the way these two very popular pieces had dominated his reputation.

1904 Nikos Skalkottas – Greek composer (d.1949); his output is divided among atonal, twelve-tone and tonal works, all three categories spanning his entire composing career.

1911 Alan Hovhaness – Armenian-American composer (d.2000); among the most prolific of 20th century composers, with at least 67 symphonies and 434 opus numbers; most familiar work is his Symphony No. 2 ‘Mysterious Mountain’ (1955).

1944 Pepe Romero – Spanish classical and flamenco guitarist (73 years old), the second son of Celedonio Romero.