The concert during the Festival by the New Zealand String Quartet entitled TEN (music composed in 1810, 1910 and 2010) prompts us (rather given to dates and things) to look at all the other anniversaries this year.
Of course it’s the 200th birthday of Chopin and Schumann. But did you know about the other major composers born in 1810? Otto Nicolai, composer of Die lustige Weibe von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor); he was born, like Kant and ETA Hoffmann, in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad); Ferdinand David – dedicatee of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto, composer and concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra; and his name-sake the French composer Félicien-César David who wrote the once famous and popular ode-symphony Le désert, and operas such as Christophe Colomb (1847), La perle du Brésil (1851), Ferenc Erkel, the father of Hungarian opera (notably Bánk Bán), who acquainted Berlioz with the tune of the Rákóczi March which he used in La damnation de Faust.
Samuel Sebastian Wesley the last in the line of the notable musical and theological family, was born in 1810; and Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye (of The Copenhagen Steam Railway Gallop).
It was the date of Rossini’s first opera: La Cambiale di Matrimonio, in Venice. Beethoven premiered his Emperor Concerto.
250 years ago, in 1760, Luigi Cherubini was born in Florence; Jean-Francois Lesueur, near Abbeville in Picardy: he was one of the most significant pre-Berlioz French composers; he taught Berlioz who admired him. In that year, Dussek and Matteo Albeniz (note that he, an almost anonymous composer, was born exactly a century before his famous name-sake) were born. Christoph Graupner died in 1760; he, you will remember, was the second choice, after Telemann withdrew, for the position of Cantor at St Thomas church in Leipzig to which Bach was appointed, after Graupner could not gain release from his employer in Darmstadt. Graupner wrote the Leipzig authorities a generous letter endorsing their appointment of Bach.
Go back to 1710: births included Thomas Arne (and his opera Thomas and Sally appeared in 1760); Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, eldest son of Johann Sebastian; William Boyce (but perhaps 1711); and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi who might have been the greatest composer of his generation but was dead within 26 years.
On a visit to London Handel completed Rinaldo in 1710 and it was premiered the following year.
350 years ago, in 1660, Alessandro Scarlatti was born; and also Johann Kuhnau, Johann Hoffman, and André Campra, the most important French opera composer between Lully and Rameau; his opera-ballet Les Fêtes vénitiennes appeared in 1710.
In 1610, the only thing we can think of is the publication of Monteverdi’s Vespers.
In 1560 Gesualdo was born, almost more famous as murderer than as composer (for sensational detail that would make even The Dominion Post blush, go to Wikipedia).
A century earlier, 1510, Louis Bourgeois, French musician, was born.
Going forward in 50 year steps, 1860 was a fertile year. Mahler, Hugo Wolf, Isaac Albeniz and Ignaz Paderewski were born. And others of perhaps less importance: Gustave Charpentier (Louise), Emil Reznicek (Donna Diana), Alberto Franchetti who wrote Cristoforo Colombo and Germania, and Edward MacDowell, were born. Minor German composer Friedrich Silcher, died (he wrote ‘folksongs’, such as Die Lorelei). It was the year of Tannhäuser’s Paris fiasco.
In 1910, a good year for Americans, Samuel Barber and William Schuman were born. And Balakirev and organ composer Carl Reinecke died.
Stravinsky’s first ballet for Diaghilev, Firebird, was performed in Paris. Mahler’s 8th symphony was premiered in Munich and his 9th symphony finished; Elgar’s Violin Concerto and Bartok’s 1st String Quartet premiered. Premieres: Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, Massenet’s Don Quichotte at Monte Carlo, with Chaliapin in title role, Delius’s opera A village Romeo and Juliet; Bloch’s Macbeth,
In 1960 Ernst Dohnanyi, Hugo Alfven and Rutland Boughton (The Immortal Hour – remember?) died. Shostakovich wrote his 7th and 8th string quartets. And Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was premiered.