Top Five Composer Anniversaries in 2011

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010 is in the bag, and so are celebrations for the year’s two big birthday boys, Schumann and Chopin, as each one’s 200th ushered plenty of his music into concert halls around the globe. As 2011 gears up, another group of birthdays and anniversaries are receiving their due on stages, with one composer hanging around for a second straight year. Here are the top five anniversaries for the coming 12 months:

1. The biggest boldface name on the list of 2011 anniversaries is Franz Liszt, who would have turned 200 years old in October. Expect several concerts this season that try to bring about a greater appreciation for Liszt as a composer as well as a virtuoso. The pianist Stephen Hough, who has incorporated Liszt’s Concerto No. 1 into several upcoming performances, recently eulogized the Hungarian composer in The Guardian.

    2. Last year marked Samuel Barber’s 100th; this year marks the centenary for his longtime companion, Gian Carlo Menotti. Though his best-known opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, gets play around the holidays, his other works are finding stages. The Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. will present his opera, The Medium. Closer to home, Dicapo Opera will stage a new production of Menotti’s 1954 opera, The Saint of Bleecker Street.

        3. If it seemed like orchestras were just celebrating Gustav Mahler, it’s because they were. Last year was the 150th anniversary of his birth, and this year is the 100th anniversary of his untimely death. Marking both occasions, Valery Gergiev completes a cycle of Mahler’s symphonies that started last November with the Mariinsky Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in February with the London Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall.

        4. Finally we come to an anniversary where the composer can participate. Steve Reich will undoubtedly be piling up air miles this year as ensembles around the world celebrate his 75th birthday. A five-day Reich festival in Stockholm kicks off the festivities, which continue through London, Barcelona, Paris and of course New York.

        5. As renaissance music gains in popularity, so does the interest Tomas Luis de Victoria, Spain’s great 16th and early 17th century composer, who died 400 years ago. The Tallis Scholars and Blue Heron (both of whom found themselves in Alex Ross’s most recent column in The New Yorker) will pay homage to de Victoria’s death with concerts this spring.


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          Comments [6]

          Julia Figueras from Rochester, NY

          I'll join the Hovhaness queue, and add Michael Torke, who turns 50 in September. In any case, I'd much rather celebrate the birth than the death of a composer.

          Jul. 07 2011 09:23 AM
          Bob from NYC

          The Alan Hovhaness birthday centennial is March 8th. Each year, more and more listeners are be treated to the treasury of masterpieces of an American composer whose work continues to touch the hearts, minds and souls of music lovers around the world.

          Mar. 04 2011 07:12 PM
          franklyn w. commisso from NY

          2011 is also the bicentennial of Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885), friend of Felix Mendelssohn, and a prolific composer for the piano. CDs of his three concerti and 3 sonatas are available. Hopefully Hiller can get some deserved air time. Leon Botstein's performance of his Destruction of Jerusalem needs funding for a recording project.

          Jan. 10 2011 11:26 AM

          I second the note on Hovhaness... I'm still bitter about the way the station basically ignored Rimsky-Korsakov's anniversary two years ago. Such great opera. I hope Hovhaness gets some recognition throughout the year, not just the day he was born.

          Jan. 07 2011 08:25 PM
          Jennifer from NY

          What about Alan Hovhaness celebrating his 100th anniversary on March 8th?

          Jan. 07 2011 05:23 PM
          Kenneth Bennett Lane

          FRANZ LISZT was born in Raiding, Hungary October 22, 1811 and died at Bayreuth, Germany on July 13, 1886 in the town with the performance site of the Wagner-performing Festspielhaus. Richard Wagner was the stepson of Liszt, having married his daughter Cosima.
          Liszt was such a tiny, puny, child who almost died at birth, yet managed to perform his final concert at age seventy
          five ! So phenomenal was his piano playing as a child that he got free training from Salieri and Czerny for their love of his talent. It is written that even Beethoven kissed the child's cheeks, astonished at the phenome. but that did not stop Cherubini from refusing Liszt entrance to the Conservatoire simply because Liszt was not French. He championed the new music and its composers. He conducted Wagner's "Lohengrin" and "Tannhauser," Berlioz's "Benvenuto Cellini," and Weber's "Euryanthe" and scores of composers who derived their eminence due to his efforts. His famous attire as an abbe reflected his composing oratorios and requiems sheerly for the religiosity and spiritual satisfactionit evidently gave him. He was a gallant, a womanizer, Countesse d' Agoult and Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein and many others being his ardent lovers. His tone poems, "Les Preludes" and "Mazeppa" and Hungarian Rhapsodies are chestnuts of most pleasurable familiarity to symphony orchestras and their audiences. This year we celebrate his 200th birthday anniversary !!!

          Jan. 06 2011 06:11 PM

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