Composers Datebook

Composers Datebook is a daily two-minute program designed to inform, engage, and entertain listeners with timely information about composers of the past and present. Each program notes significant or intriguing musical events involving composers of the past and present—with appropriate and accessible music related to each.


The Panufniks

At Westminster Abbey on today’s date in 1998 a haunting new setting of the Latin mass written by the British composer Roxanna Panufnik received its premiere performance. Roxanna Panufnik was born in London in 1968, and if her family name sounds familiar, it’s because her father was Andrzej Panufnik, one of the greatest Polish composers of the 20th century. Roxanna’s interest in music began early: “I was three years old ... when I said ‘Mummy, I want a violin with a stick to make it sing!’ I started violin, piano and flute. But I only wanted to make up my own music. When I was 12, [the composer] Oliver Knussen, visiting my parents, told me I should write down my improvisations. It all went from there.” And in response to questions about having a famous composer as her father, she says: “My father had enormous integrity, always teaching me to be myself... Early in my career I was very sensitive to being compared to him and a few stray remarks about nepotism dented my confidence. However, I plodded on and now I’m thrilled to be regularly programmed alongside him and I’m so proud of where and who I came from.”