by Daniel Hathaway
British tenor Peter Pears, the lifelong companion of composer Benjamin Britten, was born in Farnham on this date in 1910. Pears created many of the major roles in Britten’s operas, and the two frequently collaborated in recitals, like this one, an informal concert of English traditional songs recorded in 1964 at London’s Riverside Studios for an audience of friends.
Britten wrote almost exclusively with specific performer friends in mind. Listen here to a classic recording of his Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with hornist Dennis Brain and Peter Pears — who chose the poetry for this and many other Britten song cycles.
One year after Pears’ birth, the famous organ in John Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia was first played (it’s now part of the Macy’s empire). Enjoy a video that traces its history and evolution here.
On June 22, 1955, Cleveland-based composer Jeffrey Mumford was born in Washington, D.C. Winner of numerous awards and commissions, Mumford currently serves as Distinguished Professor at Lorain County Community College in Elyria. Click here to watch a performance of his 2015 work becoming… performed on March 3, 2019 by the Cleveland Institute of Music New Music Ensemble.
And in 1974, French-born composer Darius Milhaud died on this date in Geneva. Always interested in jazz, Milhaud picked up a taste for South American music when he served for two years as secretary to Paul Claudel, France’s ambassador to Brazil. He emigrated to the United States in 1940 and joined the faculty at Mills College in Oakland, California, and later at the Music Academy of the West, where Dave Brubeck and Burt Bacharach were among his students. Many of his operas were performed during the summer season at the Central City Opera House in California, and a Darius Milhaud prize is awarded every year at the Cleveland Institute of Music for a performance of his music,
Watch a documentary of Milhaud’s personal and professional life here, and enjoy a performance of his jazz-inspired ballet score, La Création du Monde performed by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra here.
ON THE WEB AND AIRWAVES TODAY:
Lunchtime with The Cleveland Orchestra today features violinist Julia Fischer in the Brahms Concerto, and tonight’s MET Opera HD archives present a 2017 production of Verdi’s La traviata. See the Concert Listings for details.
So is Josh Cantor, the organist for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park — one of the few remaining organists who provide live tunes for major league games. Cantor has found ways to keep himself fit and sane during the pandemic, including playing an online concert every afternoon. Read the New York Times story here.