Introduction & Allegro Maurice Ravel
What happened on this day in music history? Which composers were born on this day, who died, what music was written, and what was performed? Introducing our brand new book The Big Book of Classical Music by Darren Henley, Sam Jackson and Tim Lihoreau, jam-packed with quotes, facts and juicy info about the world of classical music - for all 366 days of the year! We've picked a selection of important dates and facts to whet your appetite, so what are you waiting for?
It might be New Year's Day, but there's a lot going on in the classical world on January 1st. Seven-year-old Mozart gives a concert for King Louis XV of France in 1764, Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto is first performed in 1846, and Mahler conducts in the USA for the first time in 1908.
Valentine's Day isn't a great day for Hector Berlioz in 1847, who heads off to St Petersburg without letting his lover know. Rewind 150 years to 1697, and there's surprisingly important news from Handel's family - his father, a man strongly opposed to classical music, died on this day, leaving the 11-year-old composer free to pursue his interests.
St Patrick's Day: a fine day for classical music. It's first day the instructions on how to dance the 'fandango' are found in a letter written by a Spanish priest in 1712, but, perhaps more classically, it's the anniversary of Chopin's official public debut, performing his Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1830.
Russian composer Rachmaninov, born on this day in 1873, is anything but an April Fool's joke. He's responsible for some of the most intense pieces of music the Romantic era has to offer - one of which, The Rock, was given its first performance on this day in 1894, the composer's 21st birthday.
May Day marks the day Czech composer Dvorak died in his home city of Prague in 1904. But it's not all doom and gloom: Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro received its premiere in 1786 - and opera was all the better for it.
It's the longest day of the year: plenty of time for the greatest classical musicians to get involved in live performance. There's certainly a lot to remember on this day: in 1868, Wagner's opera The Mastersingers of Nuremburg was premiered in 1868, Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory followed a few years later in 1902, and Peter Maxwell-Davies' Farewell to Stromness was heard for the first time in 1980.
The best American composers were clearly out celebrating Independence Day on this day in history. As it happens, the 4th of July is a big day for English composers: Byrd died on this day in 1623, Handel (an honorary Englishman, at least) finished work on his oratorio Semele in 1742, and Vaughan Williams' English Folksongs Suite was first performed at the Royal Military School of Music.
As a date in the calendar, August 22nd is seemingly unremarkable. Perhaps we should instate a public holiday in celebration of the great French composer Debussy's birthday, born in 1862. Handel, too, deserves a mention: he began working on the score for Messiah on this day in 1741 - only to finish it 24 days later.
While many sea-faring folk will be planning their calendar around the most important day in the Pirate calendar, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the classical music world is marking the anniversary of the first performance of Mahler's epic Symphony No. 7, premiered in Prague in 1908.
She's the first composer whose life history we know, but Hildegard of Bingen's inspirational life came to an end on 31st October 1179. Halloween also marks the day, in 1828, that Schubert fell ill after eating dodgy fish at a restaurant.
November 1st, All Saints' Day, is an important day for Wagner. In 1853 he started work on his operatic triumph, Das Rheingold, and, just 18 years later to the day, he wrote to the authorities in Bayreuth proposing a brand new opera house. It went on to become one of the most famous opera houses in the world, with the schedules dictated by Wagner himself.
Classical music never stops, even on Christmas Day! There's understandably a lot of music written for this important day in the Christian calendar, including Bach's Magnificat and Christmas Oratorio, first performed in Leipzig in 1723 and 1734 respectively. Mozart, too, spent the day working, finishing work on his Flute Quartet in D on Christmas Day 1777.