Who would have thought that the month of May would usher in a baby boom of nascent – and soon to become – famous people!
Pride of place here seems to go to the Duke of Wellington, who was born on May 1, 1769. He defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. His name lives on musically in one of Beethoven’s less distinguished works (the first movement is heard here on YouTube): Battle Symphony or Wellingtons Sieg, Op. 91 first performed in Vienna on December 8, 1813. This “symphony” is a programmatic composition in which are imitated the sounds of thundering cannon and firing muskets.
I acknowledge the Iron Duke’s greatness on the field of battle, but shall devote myself now to the main thrust of this blog – the honoree Alessandro Scarlatti, who was born on May 2, 1660.
Better known as the father and tutor of his gifted son, Domenico, Alessandro was born in Palermo, Sicily and died in Naples, Italy, in October 24, 1725. His greatest contributions were to the stage, where he helped develop the traditions and techniques of Italian opera. Also, he was one of the first composers to write string quartets, a form in which he produced four works. In addition, he wrote 12 concerti grossi, some sonatas and suites for solo instruments and accompaniments, and some pieces for the piano.
For those not into numerology, Number 1 people are ambitious – they always rise in whatever their profession or occupation may be. Indeed, they desire to become the heads of whatever their line of business happens to be.
Number 2 persons are gentle by nature, imaginative, artistic and romantic. They are also inventive, but not particularly forceful in carrying out their ideas.
Not to exclude many others known internationally who saw the light of day in the month of May, here’s a short list of worthies, including some outstanding Americans composers:
Johannes Brahms – May 7, 1833
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – May 7, 1849
Louis Moreau Gottschalk – May 8, 1829
Milton Babbitt – May 10, 1916
Anatol Liadov – May 11, 1855
Irving Berlin – May 11, 1888
Jules Massenet – May 12, 1842
Gabriel Faure – May 12, 1845
Arthur Sullivan – May 13, 1842
Claudio Monteverdi – May 15, 1567
Friedrich Gulda – May 16, 1930
Eric Satie – May 17, 1866
Richard Wagner – May 22, 1813
William Bolcom – May 26, 1938
Gyorgy Ligeti – May 28, 1923
Erich Wolfgang Korngold – May 29, 1897
Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen; Wikipedia; Cheiro’s Book of Numbers