This ballade is dedicated to Pauline de Noailles. The inspiration for this Ballade is usually claimed to be Adam Mickiewicz’s poem Undine, but sometimes reported to be Mickiewicz’s Świtezianka; There are structural similarities with the “Raindrop Prelude” which was inspired by the weather in Majorca during Chopin’s disastrous vacation with George Sand. These include a repetitive A-flat which modulates into a repetitive G-sharp during the C-sharp minor section.
Nikita Khrushchev’s response, when asked by the selection committee of the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 whether they were allowed to give an American, Van Cliburn, the first prize of a competition that initially set out to prove Russian cultural superiority after the scientific success of Sputnik. Van Cliburn performed Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto in the final round. His recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto was the first classical album to ever “go platinum.”
Van Cliburn, the gifted pianist who electrified America by winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, in 1958, passed away this morning, at age seventy-eight. Cliburn was remarkable for many reasons—for his musical gift, certainly, but also for his odd career. He achieved worldwide fame at twenty-three, when he won the Competition, which was held in Moscow in the midst of the Cold War, and he embarked on a number of successful concert tours. But he gradually gave up performing and announced his retirement in 1978, when he was only forty-four years old.
The New Yorker’s archives contain two snapshots of Cliburn around the time of his Moscow success.
1667 Death of German composer Johann Jacob Froberger in Hericourt.
1704 Birth of German composer Carl Heinrich Graun in Saxony.
1744 Birth of composer Joseph Beer in Bohemia.
1746 Birth of German violinist and composer Karl Stamitz in Mannheim.
1747 J.S. Bach meets with King Frederick II of Prussia in Potsdam.
1769 Birth of composer Giuseppe Farinelli.
1793 Death of Italian composer Pietro Nardini in Florence.
1800 Death of Italian composer Nicoló Piccini in Passy, suburban Paris.
1818 Death of Bohemian composer Leopold Kozeluch in Vienna.
1824 FP of Beethoven's Choral Symphony No 9, at the Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna. Beethoven kept time but the musicians followed the assistant conductor, Michael Umlauf.
1825 Death of Italian composer Antonio Salieri in Vienna, at age 74.
1829 Death of Italian composer Mauro Giuliani.
1833 Birth of German composer Johannes Brahms in Hamburg.
1836 Death of German composer Norbert Burgmüller in Aachen.
1840 Birth of Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
1850 Birth of Hungarian conductor Anton Seidl in Budapest.
1861 Birth of Hindu poet and composer Rabindranath Tagore.
1873 Birth of American composer Clarence Dickenson.
1883 Opening of The Royal College of Music in London.
1883 Birth of composer Gino Roncaglia.
1888 FP of Lalo’s opera Le Roi d'Ys in Paris.
1901 Birth of Belgian composer Marcel Poot in Vilvorde.
1907 Birth of composer Jef van Durme.
1908 Birth of Dutch composer Wouter Paap in Utrecht.
1910 Birth of German composer Heinrich Konietzny in Gliawitz.
1910 Birth of pianist Edward Kilenyi.
1913 Birth of clarinetist David Glazer.
1915 Sinking of the Lusitania taking the life of Irish composer O'Brien Butler Whitehall.
1918 Birth of composer Argeliers Leon.
1919 Birth of English violinist Emanuel Hurwitz.
1926 FP of Darius Milhaud’s opera Les malheurs d'Orphée at the Théatre de la Monnaie in Brussels.
1927 Birth of Swedish soprano Elisabeth Soderstrom in Stockholm.
1931 Birth of Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell in Lulea.
1931 Birth of Swedish tenor Helge Brilioth in Vaxjo.
1936 Birth of English composer Cornelius Cardew in Winchcombe.
1942 Death of Austrian conductor Felix Weingartner in Winterthur, Switzerland.
1944 FP of revised version of Aaron Copland's Our Town film score suite. Boston Pops conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
1945 Birth of composer Ann Gebuhr.
1945 FP of Fran Martin´s In Terra Pax, an oratorio, on radio broadcast celebrating the end of WWII, in Geneva.
1947 FP of Virgil Thomson’s opera The Mother of Us All in NYC.
1949 FP of Hans Werner Henze’s opera Das Wundertheater in Heidelberg, Germany
1950 Birth of English composer Philip Lane.
1954 Birth of American composer Frank Halferty.
1958 American pianist Van Cliburn signs contract with RCA Victor records.
1961 Birth of American conductor Robert Spano.
1963 Birth of American composer Mike Christianson.
1964 Birth of Scottish composer Kevin Mayo in Stirling.
1970 Death of English composer John Raynor in Sussex.
1981 Death of American composer Peggy Stuart Cooledge in Cushing, ME.
1985 FP of David Ward-Steinman's Chroma Concerto for multiple keyboards, percussion, and chamber orchestra. Noveau West Chamber Orchestra conducted by Terry Williams, with the composer and Amy-Smith-Davie, soloists, in Scottsdale, AZ.
1988 FP of Karheinz Stockhausen’s opera Montag von Licht ‘Monday from Light’ at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
1988 FP of Michael Torke’s ballet Black and White. NY City Ballet Orchestra, David Alan Miller conducting, at the New York State Theater.
1993 FP of Harrison Birtwistle's Five Distances for Five Instruments at the Purcell Room, by the Ensemble InterContemporain, in London.
1998 FP of Joan Tower's Tambor. Pittsburgh Symphony, Mariss Jansons conducting.
1999 FP of Robert X. Rodriguez' Bachanale concertino for Orchestra. San Antonio Symphony, Christopher Wilkins conducting.
2002 Death of Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge.
2002 Death of British contralto Monica Sinclair in London.
2005 FP of Richard Danielpour and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison's Margaret Garner at Detroit Opera House