Is 2020 really just the year of Beethoven? 5 other important birthdays to celebrate this year

While the majority of the classical music world is losing their s**t over Beethoven’s upcoming 250th birthday, let’s remember there are 5 other very important birthdays we should be celebrating this year.

  1. Barbara Strozzi’s 400th birthday

Barbara Strozzi, baptised 6th August 1619, was one of the first women to publish under her own name. Strozzi was said to be the most prolific composer of secular vocal music in Venice at the time, she was also an accomplished singer. Her music is simply stunning, full of poise and precisely written.

 

2. Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday

The infinitely cooler member of the Schumann family turns 200 on 13th September 2019. Clara Schumann was a brilliant composer and one of the first virtuoso pianists in the world. She toured all over Europe, was at the very epicentre of the European music scene, knew anyone who was anyone and was hugely influential, Brahms was said to be madly in love with her. For much of her life she was the chief breadwinner in the Schumann family. She maintained a busy concert tour schedule all while being pregnant most of the time and caring for an increasingly ill husband. Her compositions, while comparatively few, are masterpieces of the Romantic era, full of drama and passion. Her output includes a piano concerto, piano sonata, tons of songs, trios and romances.

 

3. Galina Ustvolskaya’s 100th birthday

Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (17th June 1919 – 22nd December 2006) would be 100 this year. Dubbed ‘The Lady with the Hammer’ her music was said to have “the concentrated light of a laser beam that is capable of piercing metal.”  Ustvolskaya wrote immensely heartfelt pieces which initially seem brutal and harsh but are deeply moving. Her teacher Shostakovich said of her: “It is not you who are under my influence, it is I who am under yours.” She publicly acknowledged 21 pieces she wrote from 1944 to 1988, disregarding the Soviet patriotic pieces she was grudgingly forced to write. These 21 pieces include 6 piano sonatas, 5 symphonies and chamber music with various unusual but effective instrument combinations. This Composition No. 1 was written for piccolo, tuba and piano.

 

4. Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Sonata turns 100!

The poor viola is the middle child of the string family, stuck between the ever popular, (overused?) violin and the low, mellow cello, somewhat the hipster instrument of the orchestra. Rebecca Clarke was a violist though so it was only fitting for her that she write a true masterpiece for her instrument. I give you her Viola Sonata, premiered at the Berkshire Music Festival in 1919.

 

5. Dorothy Howell’s Lamia turns 100!

Dorothy Howell’s symphonic poem Lamia was premiered by Sir Henry Wood at the Proms on 10th September 1919, he liked it so much he conducted it at the Proms 4 times in the next 8 years. In this centenary year get down to the Proms on 22nd August to hear it performed live by CBSO and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

 

So there you have it – 5 other important birthdays we should be celebrating this year.

And that’s just the historical composers. Groundbreaking film score and electronic composer Wendy Carlos turns 80 this year and Eleanor Alberga celebrates her 70th birthday.

One final note – celebrating means a special occasion, doing something out of the ordinary. Beethoven is the most performed composer every year, along with Mozart and Bach. Most concert seasons feature around 10% Beethoven. In 2017 out of 17,741 performances, 3,000 of those were Beethoven (according to Bachtrack, full stats here.) That’s 16%! Hundreds of incredible composers across the world and Beethoven makes up 16% of all performances! 2019 is the same boring percentage of Beethoven they trot out every year, hardly extraordinary.

It’s like when your parents take you to McDonalds for your birthday as a child. It’s such a rare treat and it tastes so good. Then when you leave home you get Maccy D’s every Friday night at 1 o’clock on the way back from the pub. Suddenly it doesn’t taste that good. It does the trick alright, I mean it fills you up but that lovely taste, that memorable connection just isn’t there anymore.

Let’s bring back that loving feeling. 8 months into The Daffodil Perspective radio show and I’ve played Beethoven once. There’s so much other awesome music out there. let’s celebrate it all.

 

Elizabeth de Brito

The Daffodil Perspective Producer

 

 

The Daffodil Perspective 28th April 2019

Tracklist

Airtime Composer Work Performer Album Link to Buy
0.00 Sinding The Rustle of Spring Eva Knardahl (piano) Great Norwegian Performers 1945-2000 (Simax 2008) Presto
3.49 Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre Harpsichord Suite no 1 in D minor Allemande Elisabetta Guglielmin (harpsichord) Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre Pieces De Clavecin (Aavea 2017) Presto
7.29 Couperin Pieces De Clavecin 1 in G Major Menuet Et Double Lawrence Cummings (harpsichord) Couperin: Music for Harpsichord Vol 1 (Naxos 1997) Presto
11.08 Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre Cephale et Procris Overture Peter Sykes (harpsichord) Na’ama Lion (baroque flute) Protegee Of The Sun King Music by Jacquet de la Guerre (Centaur 2005) Presto
15.58 Marchand Harpsichord Suite in D Minor Davitt Moroney (harpsichord) Le Clavecin Français: Louis Marchand & Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (Plectra Music 2007) CDBaby
19.20 Marais 2nd Suite for Viol Allemande Anne Gallet, Hopkinson Smith, Jordi Savall Marin Marais: Pieces for Viol from the Five Books (Heritage 2010) Presto
23.04 Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre Violin Sonata No. 6 Adagio Les Dominos Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Sonatas for violin and basso continuo (Ricercar 2011) Presto
28.19 Dorothy Howell Lamia Karelia Philharmonic Orchestra British Orchestral Premieres (Lyrita 2018) Presto
43.56 Bax Tintagel Royal Scottish National Orchestra Bax: Symphony No. 7 et al(Naxos 2003) Presto
59.23 Andrea Reinkemeyer In The Speaking Silence Post Haste Reed Duo Donut Robot (Aerocade Music 2019) Bandcamp
1.09.13 Josephine Lang An Der See Heike Hallaschka (soprano) Heidi Kommerrell (piano) Josephine Lang: Lieder (Audite 2003) Amazon
1.15.13 Grazyna Bacewicz Piano Sonata No. 2 3rd Mvt Morta Grigliunaite (piano) Bacewicz: Piano Music (Piano Classics 2019) Presto
1.19.47 Victoria Bond Instruments of Revelation High Priestess Chicago Pro Musica Victoria Bond: Instruments of Revelation (Naxos American Classics 2019) Presto
1.25.37 Piazzolla Libertango Moscow Chamber Orchestra Showpieces & Encores (Delos 2002) Presto