APM: Composers Datebook


Jul 16, 2017 On today's date in 1877, the Vienna Philharmonic performed for the first time in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, during a three-day music festival that included works by Mozart and others, including two living composers of that day, a 44-year old fellow named Brahms and a 64-year old named Wagner. The Philharmonic would return to Salzburg six more times for mini-festivals through 1910, some led by composer-conductors like Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. A summertime visit was scheduled in 1914, too, but the outbreak of World War I cancelled that. In 1925, an annual "Salzburg Festival" was established, with the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera as the main musical participants. The Second World War disrupted the Festival in the 1940s, but soon after it reestablished itself among the most prestigious of international musical happenings. The biggest names all performed at the Salzburg Festival: Herbert von Karajan, Luciano Pavarotti, and James Levine, to cite just a few. Traditionally, a familiar brass fanfare opens each Festival broadcast, but probably few music lovers know the name of its composer. It was written by Joseph Messner, who wrote over 700 works in nearly all genres. He was born in 1893 in the Austrian Tyrol and died in 1969 in a village near Salzburg, where he had served as church organist, conductor and composer for decades, leading many Festival concerts featuring sacred music by Mozart and others.

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