At the dawn of the 20th century Teddy Roosevelt was president and America was in an upbeat, prosperous mood. Cultural affairs were not forgotten, either. To the already established American symphony orchestras in cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati and San Francisco, new ensembles would spring up in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Seattle.
On today's date in 1903, it was Minneapolis' turn. On November 5th that year, a German-born musician named Emil Oberhoffer led the first concert of the newly formed Minneapolis Symphony. In those days it was a 50-piece ensemble, but in the course of the next 100 years, would double in size and change its name to the "Minnesota" Orchestra.
As this is the Composers Datebook, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the Minnesota Orchestra has enjoyed a special relationship with a number of leading American composers.
Aaron Copland conducted the orchestra on a memorable televised Bicentennial Concert in 1976, and the orchestra has given the premiere performances of works by Charles Ives, John Adams, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others. Two young American composers, Stephen Paulus and Libby Larsen, served as composers-in-residence with the orchestra in the 1980's, and more recently, Aaron Jay Kernis served as the orchestra's new music advisor.
Another long-time Minnesota resident, Dominick Argento, was appointed the orchestra's composer emeritus. Argento's "A Ring of Time" was premiered by the orchestra in 1972 as part of their 70th anniversary celebration.
Labels: American Public Media, Composers Datebook, Dominick Argento, Minnesota Orchestra, New Music