I learned today that March is the birth month for more than 30 composers. For sure, every month can claim the birth of 30 composers, but March offers a truly all-star cast. Here are 26 of the best known: J. S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Barber, Bartók, Bennett, Blitzstein, Boulez, Chopin, D’Indy, Haydn, Honegger, Hovhaness, Lloyd Webber, Mussorgsky, Piazzolla, Rimsky-Korsakov, Ruggles, Smetana, Sondheim, Johann Strauss, Telemann, Villa Lobos, Vivaldi, Walton, Weill, and Wolf.
J. S. Bach is, of course, one of my Guys. Born on March 21, his birthdate marks the onset of spring and of the astrological sign of Aries. He has been the most significant musician in my life since high school.
But there’s virtually no one I’ve ever heard of, musical or otherwise, who was born on my birthday, March 23. Growing up in Baltimore in the 1960s, the only person I’d heard of who was born on my birthday was the Baltimore Oriole’s reserve outfielder Sam Bowens, a career .233 hitter and, apparently, alcoholic. More famous people include rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, and Erich Fromm, the German social psychologist, but I have to say that they seem a little “out there” to me.
I have just discovered, however, that Roger Bannister, the British runner who ran the first sub-four-minute mile, was born on March 23, and I think I’ll run with Bannister as my birthday model. Bannister’s time, set in 1954 when I was 44 days old, was 3 min 59.4 sec.. His record lasted all of 46 days, he having reached the record with minimal training, while practicing as a junior doctor.
He is quoted as saying “I found longer races boring. I found the mile just perfect.” Short and sweet. I think I’d like to meet Bannister, still living at age 87.