About the Composers
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was born in Bonn, Germany. After beginning his piano studies at an early age with his father, Beethoven quickly became a famous pianist and composer in Germany. By the age of 12, he was earning a living for his family as an organist, violist, pianist, and composer. Although Beethoven began to suffer from hearing loss as early as his 20s, he continued to compose, creating some of his most famous musical works after he had become deaf. Beethoven’s originality and innovation inspired others to change the way they composed. He amplified the power of orchestral music, and his music acted as a transition into the Romantic era of music. Fun fact: One of Beethoven’s favorite foods was a special kind of macaroni and cheese!
Concert Repertoire: Allegro con brio from Symphony No. 5
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) was a French composer with a musical family. His mother, a pianist, and his father, a composer and voice teacher, recognized Bizet’s talent early. When he was nine, his father enrolled him in the Paris Conservatory of Music, where he was known as a masterful pianist and an award-winning composer. He wrote more than 150 compositions for the piano, as well as a symphony, orchestral suites, operas, and songs. His final masterpiece, Carmen, an opera that caused an uproar at its 1875 premiere, is now celebrated and performed all over the world.
Concert Repertoire: “Toreador” from Carmen
Thomas Cabaniss (b. 1962) is a composer and educator born in Charleston, South Carolina. Residing in New York City, Cabaniss teaches at The Juilliard School and leads arts education programs throughout the city. His music ranges from chamber music to operas and film scores. He is a creative adviser for Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program, and helped launch Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, which helps pregnant women, new mothers, and their families write songs for their children. Cabaniss uses his music to encourage collaboration and help institutions support partnerships between artists and communities.
Concert Repertoire: “Come to Play”
André Filho (1906–1974) was a Brazilian actor and musician who composed many popular songs. A violinist, singer, guitarist, pianist, mandolinist, and banjo player, Filho was an active performer and composer. He wrote “Cidade Maravilhosa” (“Beautiful City”) for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival in 1935. The song was made popular by Carmen Miranda, a Brazilian-born Broadway singer and actress, and became the anthem of Rio de Janeiro.
Concert Repertoire: Cidade Maravilhosa
Arturo Márquez (b. 1950) is one of the most prominent Mexican classical composers. Born in Alamos, Mexico, he was introduced to music by his father, a mariachi musician, and his grandfather, a folk musician. Márquez’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was 11, and he remained committed to music, composing, and playing the violin in school. When he was 17 years old, Márquez went to the Mexican Music Conservatory to study composition. He later studied music in Paris before returning to California. His earlier works were experimental in style. When he returned to Mexico, Márquez wanted to reach a broader audience. He began to frequent Mexico City’s dance halls, where he discovered the danzón. His most famous works are eight danzónes that incorporate this Mexican style into classical forms. Márquez currently lives in Mexico City, where he teaches and continues to compose.
Concert Repertoire: Danzón No. 2
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was a child prodigy born in Salzburg, Austria. Hailing from a musical family, Mozart began studying music with his father, Leopold, an accomplished musician who wrote a book about violin playing and technique. Mozart was immensely talented; he began writing his first piano concerto at the age of five and was performing violin, harpsicord, and viola for Austrian royalty one year later with his sister, Maria Anna. At the age of seven, Mozart traveled around Europe with his sister and father, performing in more than 15 cities and publishing his first compositions. Mozart’s talent led him to work as a commissioned opera composer in Italy, a court musician in Salzburg, and a musician for the archbishop in Vienna. A prolific composer, Mozart mastered many different styles, including Italian opera and music in the Austrian tradition, and composed more than 600 works in his almost 36 years.
Concert Repertoire: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro
Angélica Negrón (b. 1981) is a Brooklyn-based composer and multi-instrumentalist born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she got her early musical training in piano and violin. Interested in creating intricate yet simple narratives that evoke intangible moments in time, Negrón writes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys, and electronics, as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. She has also composed scores for films, modern dance, and experimental theater. As a longtime participant in the Puerto Rican underground music scene, Negrón is a founding member of the electro-acoustic pop outfit Balún. Also active as a music educator, she is a teaching artist for the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program and co-founder of Acopladitos, a Spanish immersion music program for young children.
Concert Repertoire: “Un, dos, tres”
Jacques Offenbach (1819–1880) was a German-born French composer who grew up with a large musical family. His father, the cantor at the Cologne Synagogue, began teaching him music when he was young. Offenbach enjoyed performing with his many siblings, and quickly exhibited his strong musical talent. He enrolled as a cello student at the Paris Conservatory of Music at the age of 14. Though he did not graduate, Offenbach remained an active performer and composer. As a conductor at the Théâtre Français, Offenbach produced many of his own operas, which were known for their infectious melodies and comedic fun. He is also known as the father of the French operetta, a form of light opera similar to American musical theater.
Concert Repertoire: “Barcarolle” from The Tales of Hoffmann
Johann Strauss II (1825–1899) was born in Vienna, where his father was a famous musician. Although his father urged him not to pursue music (he wanted him to become a banker), Strauss rebelled against the idea and studied violin in secret. At the age of 19, Strauss started his own orchestra and conducted his first public concert. He went on to become a productive composer and tour internationally with his orchestra. Known as the “Waltz King,” he wrote more than 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as many operettas.
Concert Repertoire: The Blue Danube