Musical anniversaries in 2013

January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here is a list of the major music-related birthdays and memorials that I — and, surely, you — will be marking, to one degree or another, this year.


1000 years

  • Hermannus Contractus (1013-1054) [July 18]

450 years

  • John Dowland (1563-1626) [date?]

200 years

  • Richard Wagner (1813-1883) [May 22]
  • Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) [October 10]
  • Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) [November 30]

150 years

  • Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) [December 7]

100 years

  • Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) [January 25]
  • Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) [November 22]


400 years

  • Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) [September 8]

300 years

  • Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713) [8 January]

50 years

  • Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) [January 30]
  • Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) [December 28]


The birthdays of Wagner and Verdi loom largest; I hadn’t realized before that they were born in the same year. Neither is in my short list of favourite composers, but an anniversary year is a good opportunity to re-appraise. I would like to say that I’ll listen again this year to The Ring Cycle, and I might, but it is more likely that my Wagner-birthday observance will pivot around Tristan und Isolde, which I will be seeing live next month. As for Verdi, the public library is my friend: I am going to make an effort to see at least a few of his operas on DVD.

The same is true of Benjamin Britten’s operas: there are several that I have not heard, and more that I have not seen performed; I hope to fill those gaps this year.

My sentimental favourite is the 1000th birthday of Hermannus Contractus, who is credited with the authorship of the great Marian hymns “Salve Regina” and “Alma Redemptoris Mater” (which I am still trying to learn).

A more comprehensive list of music-related births and deaths to be marked in 2013 can be found here. (Thanks, Osbert.)

Happy New Year!

4 Responses to “Musical anniversaries in 2013”

  1. Osbert Parsley Says:

    Thanks for this list – I’d known about the Verdi and Wagner bicentennials, but hadn’t checked my own website link and so hadn’t seen all of the other anniversaries this year. I’m particularly hopeful that we’ll hear lots of Hindemith and Poulenc this year, who are both favourites of mine.

    From the longer list, I might point out a few other interesting musicians:

    Jehan Titelouze (b. 1563), the founder of the French organ school;
    Giles Farnaby (b. 1563), wonderful English virginalist;
    Johann Ludwig Krebs (b. 1713), one of the most important students of Bach;
    John Weinzweig and Violet Archer (both b. 1913), two of the most important early Canadian composers;
    Heinrich Scheidemann (d. 1663), a leader of the seventeenth-century Hamburg organ school;

    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on Peter Sellars’s production of the Ring, which I hope to make the trip to Toronto to see next month – as with his other work, there have been strong reactions both ways.

  2. cburrell Says:

    If by “the Ring” you mean “Tristan und Isolde”, then yes, I will try to share my thoughts after I’ve seen it. I wonder if we’ll be there on the same night? (February 20 for me.)

    Hindemith’s music I do not know very well. Poulenc is hit and miss with me, but I did get a ticket to see Dialogues des Carmelites in May.

    Thanks for that supplemental list of composers. I don’t have any of their music in my collection, but I suppose obscurity is a relative concept!

  3. Osbert Parsley Says:

    Thanks – of course I meant “Tristan” (it’s been a long day)! I’m planning to go on February 2nd, as part of a small pilgrimage of music students, so I’ll be beating you to it by a couple of weeks.

    Here’s a verse of a Magnificat by Scheidemann (very brief, but the best I could do on YouTube – the selection is not great for most of these composers):

  4. cburrell Says:

    I finally had a chance to listen to the link. It’s good music. Thanks.

    Sorry to hear that I won’t be seeing you at the opera. I hope you enjoy it.

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