Episode: William Henry Fry

Composers Datebook Logo
William Henry Fry
On today’s date in 1813, William Henry Fry was born in Philadelphia. As a journalist, he was one of the most vociferous champions of American concert music, and put his money where his mouth was by becoming a composer himself, creating a number of programmatic works, including a “Niagara” symphony and another titled “Santa Claus.” Above all else, Fry was passionate about opera, and wrote several of his own. Fry was a colorful—if understandably biased—music critic. Here’s an excerpt from his 1862 review of a New York performance of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”—an opera only 9 years old at that time: “Trovatore … has a wonderful plot, beyond human comprehension; though finally we learn in the last scene that [the tenor] is made into soup by the order of his brother [the baritone], who then expresses his emotion and surprise on learning of the transaction as the curtain falls. As to the music—there are some charming, popular, ingenious, artistic … points; [but] there are others egregiously vulgar and rowdy. The Anvil Chorus, for example, is about the equal to a scene of mending a sewer set to music; or repairing a pair of cast-off leather breeches.”

Composers Datebook
Users who viewed this episode also viewed...

Composers Datebook > Handel celebrates peace

Unless you're a graduate student in 18th century European history, it's unlikely you know off the top of your head who the winners and losers were in the War of the Spanish Succession. Suffice it to say, on today's date in 1713, to celebrate the successful resolution of that conflict, a settlement known as the "Peace of Utrecht," this festive choral "Te Deum" was performed at St...

Composers Datebook > "The Hindemith Case"

On today's date in 1938, "Mathis the Painter," an opera by the German composer Paul Hindemith, had its premiere performance in Zurich, Switzerland. This work had been scheduled to be premiered in Berlin four years earlier. In 1934, the great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler had scheduled it at the Berlin Opera, but the newly-installed Nazi regime canceled the premiere...
Comments (0)

Login or Sign up to leave a comment.

Log in
Sign up

Be the first to comment.