June 24, birthday of Francesco Araja (1709): Overture from “Tsefal i Prokris”

Francesco Araja was born and educated in Naples, Italy. He was brought to Russia along with an entire opera company and became “Composer to the Tzars.” Lived there for 25 years and wrote the first opera in the Russian language, Цефал и Прокрис (Tsefal i Prokris – Cephalus and Prokris). Based on episodes from Ovid, “Metamorphoses,” it became a big hit with the Empress, who bought him a fancy sable coat. I had to pick this piece today because I spent a year in Naples from 1980-81. An amazing place.

June 24, birthday Harry Partch: “And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma”

Harry Partch was the son of missionaries who fled China during the Boxer Rebellion and settled in Arizona. There he grew up listening to songs of the Yaqui Indians, Spanish music, and his mother singing songs in Mandarin Chinese. Classically trained, he rejected Western 12-tone music and composed in just intonation, using semitones. He invented his own instruments on which he could produce his compositions that were written with 29 tones and even 43 tones to the octave.

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