I usually like to start the year by reviewing which composers will have significant anniversaries over the next 12 months. Here are notable birthdays and memorials coming up in 2016:
- Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) [30 March]
- Erik Satie (1866-1925) [17 May]
- Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) [1 April]
- Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) [22 January]
- George Butterworth (1885-1916) [5 August]
- Max Reger (1873-1916) [11 May]
- György Ligeti (1923-2006) [12 June]
It’s a rather weak year, all things considered, with no ‘A-list’ composers. As such, we have a nice opportunity to explore the music of some lesser-known figures. Speaking for myself, I am planning ‘listening projects’ around the music of Satie, Gesualdo, Butterworth, and Dutilleux.
- Read David Bentley Hart’s appreciation of George Butterworth, who died in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme.
- Learn a little about Henri Dutilleux at The Music Salon (here and here).
- Whatever you do, don’t waste your time with Werner Herzog’s film Gesualdo. Instead, buy this and listen over and over and over…
- Let your soundtrack of 2016 include Satie’s Vexations, all 9+ hours of which can be heard right here:
Of course, there are many other, even less well-known composers marking anniversaries this year, including Giovanni Paisello, Malcolm Arnold, Manuel Cardoso, and — if we stretch the definition of “composer” to the breaking point — Milton Babbitt. A full list can be found here (Thanks, Osbert.).