Alex James's Date Night - Saturday 20 June 2015, 7pm

Join Alex James as he journeys through all the most important dates in the classical music world over the week ahead.

On tonight’s show, Alex celebrates the birth on 20 June 1819 of the German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach. He is best remembered for some 100 operettas and his masterpiece, The Tales of Hoffmann, which remains an enduring work in the opera repertory.

There's also the anniversary of the first performance on this day in 1901 of Edward Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture (In London Town), a commission from the Royal Philharmonic Society. 'Cockaigne' was a term used at that time as a metaphor for gluttony and drunkenness, and it was adopted humorously to describe London. Elgar dedicated the work to his 'many friends, the members of British orchestras'. It was an immediate success and became one of his most popular works.

Among the other anniversaries that Alex is celebrating tonight is Wagner’s opera The Mastersingers of Nuremburg, premiered in Munich on 21 June 1868. And there’s a slick of birthday cake for the Oscar-winning composer of Atonement (pictured) and other great film scores, Dario Marianelli, born on the same day in 1963.

And Alex also discovers why Felix Mendelssohn didn't want his sister’s music to be published.