Musical anniversaries in 2021

January 11, 2021

There is quite a raft of musical anniversaries to celebrate this year. From a thorough list (Thanks again, Osbert) I have culled the following set:

Memorials

  • 25 years:
    • Vagn Holmboe
    • Mieczyslaw Weinberg
    • Toru Takemitsu
  • 50 years:
    • Marcel Dupré
    • Igor Stravinsky
  • 100 years:
    • Camille Saint-Saëns
    • Engelbert Humperdinck
  • 150 years:
    • Daniel-François-Esprit Auber
    • Sigismond Thalberg
  • 400 years:
    • Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
    • Michael Praetorius
  • 500 years:
    • Robert Fayrfax
    • Josquin Desprez

Birthdays

  • 100 years: Malcolm Arnold
  • 150 years: Alexander von Zemlinsky
  • 450 years: Michael Praetorius
  • 500 years: Philippe de Monte
  • 800 years: Alfonso X El Sabio

It’s the year of Michael Praetorius, in a sense, who gets both a birthday and a memorial commemoration, but the big names this year, at least for me and my house, will be Stravinsky and Josquin. I’ve planned a listening project for each: for Stravinsky, I’ll be focusing on the three big ballets (The Rite, Petrouchka, and The Firebird) and his choral music, with a smattering of other things thrown in; for Josquin I hope to listen through all of his 60-odd motets, 60-odd chansons, and 18 Mass settings. It should be great!

I’m also looking forward to spending time with Takemitsu, whose beguilingly dissonant music always lures me back, and Thalberg, whose virtuoso piano works have been given an airing in a few recent records by top-shelf piano virtuosos (this and this). I did a large Weinberg listening project just a few years ago, but I intend to revisit some of the highlights.

Strange to think that Josquin and Fayrfax died in the same year. I’d have put them in adjacent centuries if asked at the bus stop.

I’m not really sure what I should listen to from Dupré or Sweelinck; I don’t have much in my collection. Suggestions welcome.

6 Responses to “Musical anniversaries in 2021”


  1. Are you not a fan of Saint-Saëns? He stands out to me as a notable name in the list.

  2. cburrell Says:

    I forgot about that septet, Mac. It sounds intriguing. I see that I have one record in my collection with the septet on it, so I’ll make a point of including it in my miniature “Saint-Saens anniversary celebration”.

  3. Rob G Says:

    Just got an email from Hyperion — the Brabant Ensemble has a new 500th anniversary Josquin CD out this week, “Motets and Mass Movements.” Looks like it might be a “best of” sort of thing. May have to get that one!

    • cburrell Says:

      I got that email too, and I’m looking forward to hearing that disc at some point. The Brabant Ensemble is a good group of singers.

      I should think about doing a post on my favourite Josquin recordings. There are some great ones out there.


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