On this day in classical music: Paul Hindemith’s “Mathis der Maler,” an opera based on the life of painter Matthias Grünewald, was given its premiere in Zurich in 1938. The work was inspired by Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece, a painting completed in 1515 that now hangs in the Unterlinden Museum at Colmar, France. Before completing the opera, Hindemith composed a three-movement symphony using themes from the opera. Today, the opera is rarely heard but the symphony “Mathis der Maler” has become an orchestral staple. Its three movements are Angelic Concert, Entombment and The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Listen to William Steinberg conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the work’s powerful finale. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFEQx0jSUhk
On this day in the musical theatre: After hits with “Oklahoma,” “Carousel” and “The King and I” Rodgers and Hammerstein turned their talents to a musical titled “Me and Juliet.” The 1953 musical, which told a story of romance that unfolded backstage at a long-running musical. Perry Como had a hit with “No Other Love,” the most popular song from “Me and Juliet.” Rodgers had borrowed the tune from his 1952 documentary “Victory at Sea.”
Musical musings: All the captivating things everyone loves in a Rodgers and Hammerstein show struggle with a book that has no velocity. To tell the truth, “Me and Juliet” looks a little like a rehearsal — beautiful, talented, full of good things, but still disorganized. As the tired sages of show business invariably remark as though one phrase could solve everything: “It needs work.” – From Brooks Atkinson’s review in the New York Times.