Classical Music Anniversaries 2013

For the past couple of years I’ve looked forward to the new year and anniversaries of famous classical composers. This year is no different. I look forward to seeing box sets and celebrations of each of their music.

Looking back 450 years we have the celebration of the birth of English bard, John Dowland. Particularly known for his works for lute and voice, there are so many recordings already available but I’d love to see his works in the wider world.

Strangely enough Richard Wagner and Guiseppe Verdi, the fathers of German and Italian Opera as we know it respectively were born in the same year, 1813. 200 years on, their names are known in the furthest corner of the world. Firstly you must read the book, Verdi and/or Wagner by Peter Conrad. It’s a fascinating look at the two men and how they danced around each other through their lives. However when you want to discover their music, there is much to listen to. Not only their operas, which are of course sublime in their own accord, but also the separate orchestral works. Start with a compilation disc, then work your way up to a full opera. The joys, sorrows and humour, there is everything in these operas and they’re not to be missed.

britten_and_pears Another two important composers were Benjamin Britten and Witold Lutoslawski and a hundred years later they were born in 1913. Britten is considered the pre-eminent English composer of the 20th Century. With his long term partner, tenor Peter Pears they created many recordings both of Britten’s works and other. Meanwhile Lutoslawski was the Polish equivalent, a composer and conductor as varied as Britten. Oft left behind in the shadows of other more popular composer, this is a composer you must not miss out on. So use this, their hundred year anniversaries, to discover all of their works.

On the sadder side of things, there are couple of anniversaries of composers passing as well. It’s been fifty years since the passing of French composer, Francis Poulenc and German-American composer, Paul Hindemith. Both amazing chamber music composers, their music is a real treat. As a woodwind player I adore their music, both to play and to listen to.

There are a couple of other composers who are well worth looking at for their anniversaries this year. Arcangelo Corelli, Peitro Mascagni, and Carlo Gesualdo born and died between 400-150 years ago. Each of them are composers who won’t be forgotten.