September marks the birthday of three significant composers in musical history. Below I’ll highlight some of their major accomplishments. This summary will only scratch the surface of these brilliant minds, so, if you like what you read and/or hear, do some research of your own and dive deeper into the lives of these significant composers!
Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904): Hailing from what is now the Czech Republic, Dvořák was skilled in adapting and assimilating folk tunes into his compositions. He was known as a master symphonist, with his 9th symphony “New World” being his magnum opus. Dvořák composed this piece while he was director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. He’s stated that his influences were African-American spirituals, especially heard in the Largo section of the work.
Dimitri Shostakovich (September 25, 1906 – August 9, 1975): Shostakovich was a Russian pianist and composer whose style embodied both neoclassical and atonality. He would have a strained relationship with his country of origin for sounding too “Western” at times. Keep in mind this was the Soviet Union during the Cold War Era. Nevertheless, Shostakovich’s music has had a vast influence over the composers proceeding him. One piece has been used extensively in movies and commercials, see if you can spot it!
Arnold Schoenberg (September 13, 1874 – July 13, 1959): Schoenberg was an Austrian composer who developed the twelve-tone technique of composition. This new style of music was atonal, in other words, lacking a key center. For the amateur listener listening to twelve-tone music can be difficult, so understanding the inner workings is key to true appreciation! It is pertinent to also note that Schoenberg also composed tonal music early in his music career. Schoenberg’s legacy would affect many composers after him such as Berg, Webern, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Babbitt.