The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Composer of the Day app is a great way to start a new week | July 17, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

Which composer was born today?

What is he or she best known for?

And what does his or her music sound like in FREE samples?

Finding out is a great way to start a new week.

And start every day.

So here is a website you might want to look at and check every day. It has one-sentence mini-biographies of 366 composers (yep – one for Leap Year) and links to music samples.

It also allows you to search backwards, although not forward beyond “today” – one improvement it could make that would also making planning for blogs and listening a lot easier. The Ear bets that would give it a 5 rating.

It is called Composer of the Day and it is compiled by Wittenberg University. Here is what it looks like:

composer of the day app

It is a FREE app that is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. You can find it in the iTunes stores.

The Ear has it and likes it and uses it.

So does WQXR. That is the famous classical music radio station in New York City and the most listened-to classical music station in the U.S. And WQXR named it among the Top Five classical music apps for iPhones.

So do others, who give it a 4+ rating.

So you might like it too.Try and see.

Here are links:


And use the COMMENT section tell us what you think.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. The Symphony Hall channel Of XM radio’s announcers use it too, I think. And maybe the Wisconsin Public Radio folks. A great resource.

    Comment by ANN C BOYER — July 17, 2016 @ 8:41 am

    • WPR definitely uses John Zeck and “Composer’s Datebook.” That’s where I first heard it.

      It’s a great resource, and accessible to all.

      Comment by fflambeau — July 17, 2016 @ 11:22 pm

      • Here’s what Zeck has to say for July 17:


        On today’s date in 1717, King George and his entourage took a barge trip on the river Thames, traveling from Whitehall to Chelsea, accompanied by about 50 musicians, also on barges. A contemporary newspaper account reported that they performed “the finest Symphonies, composed express for this occasion by Mr. Handel, which his Majesty liked so well that he caused it to be played three times in going and returning.”

        Another report refers to “trumpets, horns, oboes, bassoons, flutes, recorders, violins and basses” being employed. In our time, Handel’s “Water Music”—as the three suites have come to be known—is one of the best-known and best-loved works of the entire Baroque Age.

        In 1985, three hundred years after the birth of Handel, American composer Libby Larsen composed a Symphony she titled “Water Music,” written as a tribute to Handel and as an expression of her own enthusiasm for sailing.

        Libby Larsen is one of today’s busiest American composers, and in the year 2000 the American Academy of Arts and Letters presented Larsen with its Award in Music, honoring her lifetime achievements as a composer. When asked how she finds time to balance her busy life as a composer, wife and mother, Larsen answers: “I can’t not do it —having a life and a life in music is as natural and necessary to me as breathing.”

        Music Played in Today’s Program

        George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) Water Music Royal Philharmonic: Sir Yehudi Menuhin, cond. MCA 6186

        Libby Larsen (b. 1950) Symphony (Water Music) Minnesota Orchestra; Sir Neville Marriner Nonesuch 79147
        Additional Information

        On Handel’s life and works
        On Libby Larsen

        On This Day

        1832 Swedish composer August Söderman, in Stockholm
        1875 English composer, pianist, and music scholar Sir Donald Tovey, in Eton
        1935 American composer and musical satirist Peter Schickele, in Ames, Iowa. He “discovered” and performed the music of P.D.Q Bach (1807-1742?)


        1937 French composer and conductor Gabriel Pierné, age 73, in Ploujean, Brittany
        1967 Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, age 40, in Huntington, Long Island (New York


        1717 Handel: “Water Music” on the river Thames, during a royal barge trip from Whitehall to Chelsea (Gregorian date: July 28)
        1927 Milhaud: opera “L’enlèvement d’Europe” (The Rape of Europa), in Baden-Baden at the Stadthalle
        1975 Sallinen: opera, “The Horseman” at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland
        1983 Sir Lenox Berkeley: Cello Concerto, in Manchester.


        1877 Otto Dessoff conducts the Vienna Philharmonic on its first concert tour to Salzburg, as part of a three-day “Salzburger Musikfest” (Salzburg Music Festival) on July 17-19. The orchestra would return to Salzburg in 1879, 1891, 1901, 1904, 1906, and 1910, for special concerts, and in 1925 the annual “Salzburg Festival” was established, with the Vienna Philharmonic as the Festival’s prominent participant.”

        It is also linked into music playing at

        Source: “Composer’s Notebook”

        Comment by fflambeau — July 17, 2016 @ 11:26 pm

  2. Much better, in my opinion, is “Composer’s Notebook” hosted by John Zeck over at

    He gives us for the current date: Births, Deaths, Premieres, and Other Musical Notes. He has good taste and a nice sense of humor; and this feature is more accessible and does not constitute a product endorsement.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 17, 2016 @ 7:01 am

    • Should read: “Composer’s Datebook.”

      Comment by fflambeau — July 17, 2016 @ 7:07 am

      • Thanks for the tip.
        Will check it out.
        And it would be good if this app were usable for non-Apple or Android phones — an computers as well. Perhaps they are working on it. It would be a smart move and increase the consumer approval reading, I bet.

        Comment by welltemperedear — July 17, 2016 @ 9:05 am

  3. As I understand it, this only works with an iPhone.

    That sounds like too much of a product endorsement. It is possible to do without this.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 17, 2016 @ 6:45 am

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