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.
- Hermannus Contractus (1013-1054) [July 18]
- John Dowland (1563-1626) [date?]
- Richard Wagner (1813-1883) [May 22]
- Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) [October 10]
- Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) [November 30]
- Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) [December 7]
- Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) [January 25]
- Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) [November 22]
- Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) [September 8]
- Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713) [8 January]
- 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!