2019 – 2020 Season Calendar
20-concert series: Mondays at 2pm and 7:30pm
|September 16 Russia Gusher
Music by Rimsky-Korsakov and His Pupils
Mikhail IPPOLITOV-IVANOV “An Evening in Georgia” Op. 71 ▪ pub. in 1935
Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859–1935), born in Gatchina near Saint Petersburg, studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. After he graduated in 1882, he became director of the Tiflis (Tbilisi) Music Academy. During his seven years in the Georgian capital, he was also conductor of the city’s orchestra and developed a lifelong interest in Georgian folk music, as reflected in his compositions such as Causasian Sketches (his most famous) and “An Evening in Georgia” (a forgotten gem). In 1893, he became professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory and later served as its director for two decades; his star pupil was Reinhold Glière. He also served as conductor of the Russian Choral Society and the Mamontova Opera in Moscow; he reorganized the Georgian State Conservatory (formerly the Tbilisi School); and he was the principal conductor at the Bolshoi Theater, where he oversaw the premieres of Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas and an important revival of Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.
Anatol LIADOV Eight Russian Folk Dances Op. 58 ▪ 1906
Liadov (1859–1924) came from a family of musicians notorious for their loose living and slack attitude toward work. His father was a conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre. He entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1870 at age 14 and soon studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, but was expelled in 1876 for failure to attend classes. Readmitted two years later, he managed to graduate and obtained various teaching positions at the Conservatory. The New Grove Dictionary discloses that “in 1905 he resigned in protest at Rimsky-Korsakov’s dismissal, but returned when Rimsky-Korsakov was reinstated. From 1885 he also taught theory at the court chapel. His ideas on teaching harmony formed the basis for Rimsky-Korsakov’s textbook on the subject (1886), and he collaborated with Balakirev and Rimsky-Korsakov on the collected edition of Glinka’s works.... When Belyayev founded a publishing house in 1884, Lyadov acted as one of the advisors, and he was appointed to the board of management as a trustee (with Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov) on Belyayev’s death in January 1904.” Although Liadov never completed a work of any size or scope, owing to his indolence and procrastination, his stature is secure as a great miniaturist (for his poetic piano pieces and orchestral tone poems). Rimsky-Korsakov admired his talent and his fellow musicians had great affection for him.
Sergei PROKOFIEV Adagio from Cinderella Op. 97bis ▪ 1944
Once upon a time, the brilliant Russian composer, who also happened to be an inveterate tinkerer and recycler of his own music, transcribed this dance from the popular ballet music—the cello and piano will do a bit of storytelling through the pas de deux of Cinderella and the Prince, from Act II of the ballet.
In following the advice of Alexander Glazunov, Prokofiev, at age 13, entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and remained there for 10 years even though he was disillusioned with the teaching. Much younger than his classmates, he made few friends and was viewed as arrogant; and he proved to be one of its most unruly students. “Lyadov’s harmony class he found dull and creatively inhibiting, and his relationship with him often developed into open clashes. His later lessons in orchestration with Rimsky-Korsakov he found equally tiresome; he was clearly too young to derive much benefit from Rimsky’s experience [New Grove Dictionary].”
Ottorino RESPIGHI Quintetto in G minor P. 21 ▪ date not known
In 1900, the Italian composer from Bologna studied composition for five months with Rimsky-Korsakov, while he was employed as first violinist in the orchestra of the Russian Imperial Theatre in Saint Petersburg during its season of Italian opera. These lessons crucially influenced his orchestration.
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Piano Trio in C minor ▪ 1897
Work on the Piano Trio began in the summer of 1897 in Senytchkovo, during an extremely creative phase. However, he was dissatisfied with the result as was his publisher, especially, even though his wife played it frequently. In his autobiography, My Musical Life, he explained, “I composed a string quartet in G major and a trio for violin, cello and piano in C minor. The latter composition remained unfinished, and both of these compositions proved to me that chamber music was not my forte; I therefore resolved not to publish them.” He had tried out parts of it with friends at home, but remained unhappy with the results. Steinberg completed the Trio in 1939, and it was published in the Steinberg edition in 1970. The David Oistrakh Trio with cellist Sviatoslav Knushevitsky and pianist Lev Oborin recorded it in 1952 on the Brilliant label.
Rimsky-Korsakov was a member of “The Mighty Handful” aka “The Five,” a group whose mission was to create a national school of Russian music, free of the stifling influences of Italian opera, German lieder, and other European forms.
| September 23 Classical Spectacle
Franz DANZI Quintet in D Major Op. 54 ▪ circa 1821
Danzi’s father, the noted Italian cellist Innozenz Danzi, was one of the highest paid musicians in the Mannheim Orchestra. Franz himself joined the orchestra as a cellist at age 15. The teenager was thus immersed in a rich musical and cultural life at a significant time in the history of European concert music. In 1783, Danzi succeeded his father as a cellist in the Munich court, after Karl Theodor moved his court there. In 1807 he was appointed Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where he met Weber, and in 1812 he accepted the post of Kapellmeister at the Baden court in Karlsruhe. His career spanned the transition from the late Classical to the early Romantic styles—the origin of much of the classical music we hear today.
BEETHOVEN String Quintet in C Major “The Storm” Op. 29 ▪ 1801
Its publishing history involving sabotage is told by All Music Guide: “After having completed the piece late in 1801, Beethoven sold a copy to Count Fries for private use and sold the publication rights to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, sending them a different copy. On 9 November 1802 Beethoven learned that Fries had given his copy to Artaria for publication. The composer forced Artaria to withhold distribution of its edition until two weeks after the release of the Breitkopf & Härtel pressing in Vienna. Beethoven even tried to slow down the process at Artaria by correcting the proofs so heavily that they were useless. On 22 January 1803 Beethoven had a letter published in the Wiener Zeitung describing Artaria’s edition as ‘very faulty, incorrect, and utterly useless to players.’ The folks at Artaria were not amused and sued Beethoven over the matter, demanding a full retraction, which Beethoven never published.”
MOZART Piano Quartet No. 2 in Eb Major K. 493 ▪ 1786
Mozart was under contract with the publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister to write 3 piano quartets, a virtually new genre of his own invention. When the first (K. 478 in G minor) did not sell because of its difficulty for amateurs, Mozart was released from his obligation. Nine months later, which was two months after the completion of Le Nozze di Figaro, the second piano quartet (K. 493 in Eb Major) was published by Artaria. A little easier than the first, Alfred Einstein viewed it as “bright in color, but iridescent, with hints of darker shades.”
| October 7 Lovin’ Beehoven
Fritz KREISLER Rondino on a Theme by Beethoven ▪ circa 1905
Kreisler himself explained for the Victor Record Catalog, “This theme consists of only eight measures, which occurs in a very early and unimportant composition by Beethoven, now quite forgotten. The little theme itself is of indescribable charm and its rhythm is of such alluring piquancy that it grows by every repetition. In order to set this peculiarity off to advantage, I conceived the idea of writing a rondo around it, the rondo being a form of composition where a short tune returns obstinately in more or less regular intervals. Rondino means ‘little rondo.’ I have tried to keep the old classic style throughout the little piece, and I hope I have succeeded.”
Born in Austria, Kreisler (1875–1962) is regarded as one of the greatest violinists of all time. He was known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing, and his style is reminiscent of the gemütlich lifestyle of prewar Vienna. Numerous colleagues (too many to list here) have heaped praise on him; a sampling of 3 follows: Nathan Milstein “The influence of Fritz Kreisler will be a lasting one” ~ Pablo Casals “I salute to him the last crowned head of the Joachim-Sarasate-Ysaÿe dynasty” ~ Jascha Heifetz “At the beginning of my career I tried to imitate Kreisler.”
Martin-Joseph MENGAL Wind Quintet in Bb Major after Beethoven ▪ 1824
Mengal (1784–1851) entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 20 in 1804, and lived in that city for 21 years before returning to his birthplace, Ghent, in 1825. He then left in the aftermath of the Belgian Revolution in 1830 and became a conductor in Antwerp and The Hague, coming home again to Ghent in 1835 to assume the directorship of the new conservatory. While in Paris, Mengal was drafted into the Garde Impériale and witnessed battles near Austerlitz and Jena, won First Prize at the Conservatory in 1809, studied with Anton Reicha (“Father of the Wind Quintet”), was principal horn at the Opéra-Comique for 13 years, and wrote a number of operas and instrumental works, including the wind quintets.
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in D Major “Eroica” Op. 55 ▪ 1804
The esteemed critic Harold Schonberg tells us that “Musical Vienna was divided on the merits of the Eroica. Some called it Beethoven’s masterpiece. Others said that the work merely illustrated a striving for originality that did not come off.”
| October 21 Formidable
Vincent d’INDY Sextet in Bb Major Op. 92 ▪ 1927
Although almost forgotten today, d’Indy was a major influence on the generation of French musicians who preceded Impressionism. Born in Paris into a family of rich Catholic aristocrats, the composer-pedagogue could trace his ancestry back to Henry IV. As a child he was passionate about the military, so much so that when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he enlisted in the National Guard at age 19. After the war he entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1872, studying with César Franck, who inspired him. In 1873 he met Liszt and Brahms in Germany; in 1875 he was the prompter for the premiere of Bizet’s Carmen; and in 1884 he was the choirmaster for a production of Wagner’s Lohengrin. In 1894 he, together with organist Alexander Guilmant and conductor Charles Bordes, founded the Schola Cantorum, where he taught until his death in 1931. As a counterbalance to his alma mater, the Paris Conservatoire, and its emphasis on opera, d’Indy’s curriculum focused on the study of the Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, and works of the late Baroque and early Classical periods. Among his many students were Isaac Albéniz, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, and, for a few months in 1920, Cole Porter.
Darius MILHAUD La Creation du Monde Op. 81b ▪ 1923
Commissioned by the Ballet suédois, the innovative ballet music in 5 movements is a remarkable example of the utilization of early jazz in Classical music, of the infusion of African roots into French music. In his day, it was a succès de scandale.
Ernest CHAUSSON Piano Quartet in A Major Op. 30 ▪ 1897
Chausson (1855–1899) earned a law degree upon his father’s insistence before he studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers were Jules Massenet and Cèsar Franck. He also visited Germany to hear Wagner. The New Grove Dictionary states that “Although he absorbed traditional harmony as taught at the Conservatoire, Chausson was clearly influenced by Wagner and ‘Franckism’.... Indeed, Chausson was to become...one of the most prominent and influential members of the Franck circle...[and a] Wagnerian....” He later developed his own sumptuous late-Romantic style, which influenced Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré, among others. His Piano Quartet, written in 5 weeks, was fully appreciated at its premiere on 2 April 1898 at the National Society of Music in Paris. Tragically, he died 18 months later at the age of 44 from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident.
| October 28 Fame in Spain
Juan Crisóstomo ARRIAGA String Quartet No. 2 in A Major ▪ circa 1823
Known as the “Spanish Mozart,” the precocious Basque composer was born in Bilbao in 1806 and soon became renowned in the city’s musical circles. By age 10, he was playing 2nd violin in a professional string quartet and had written an Octet for string quartet, bass, trumpet, guitar, and piano. His first opera, Los Esclavos Felices (“The Happy Slaves”), was written at age 13 and received considerable local success. Recognizing his extraordinary talent, his parents sent him to the Paris Conservatoire in 1821 at age 16. He studied violin with Baillot and composition with Fétis, the well-known music historian. Fétis later reported that Arriaga mastered harmony in three months and counterpoint in under two years. By 1824, at age 18, Arriaga was appointed to teach harmony and counterpoint at the Conservatoire. Ten days before his 20th birthday he died from exhaustion and a pulmonary infection.
Louise Pauline Marie HÉRITTE-VIARDOT “Spanish” Piano Quartet No. 2 Op. 11 ▪ 1883
Louise (1841–1918), born in Paris, was the daughter of the famous French mezzo-soprano of Spanish origin, Pauline Viardot; her aunt (Pauline’s sister) was the even more famous contralto and soprano singer Maria Malibran. Louise’s sister, Marianne, was for a time engaged to Gabriel Fauré. Pauline taught her to sing, but her less than robust health prevented her from having a big career. The family home drew every musician of distinction in its day, and Louise probably rubbed shoulders with the likes of Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Franck, and Lalo, to name a few. She was an outstanding pianist, became a teacher and composer, and taught singing in Saint Petersburg, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, and Heidelberg. As a composer, she wrote in virtually every genre, including some four string quartets, three piano quartets, two piano trios, and several instrumental sonatas.
Joaquín TURINA Scene Andalouse ▪ 1912
Ernesto HALFFTER Trois Homenajes Op. 49 ▪ 1988
Halffter, one of Spain’s leading 20th-century composers, was born in Madrid in 1905 and studied at the city’s German school. When he was a small boy, he composed pieces for the piano and later studied harmony with Francisco Esbrí and piano with Fernando Ember. His style is refined and clearly neoclassical. At age 13, he started to compose music for the piano. When a critic sent a copy of his string trio “Homenajes” to Manuel de Falla, this gesture began a long relationship that included composition lessons from Falla. His Sinfonietta (1927) is one of his earliest and best works, showing the influence of Domenico Scarlatti. In 1924 he took over the Bética de Cámara Orchestra in Seville, which was founded by Falla; and he was named Director of the Music Conservatory of Seville in 1934. During the 1960s he wrote music for movies, including Todo es posible en Granada “Everything’s Possible in Granada.” He remained active until almost 1989, the year he died.
Enrique GRANADOS Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 49 ▪ 1894
| November 11 Artisti a Venezia
Music Without Words by Italian Opera Composers
The first operas of both Rossini and Wolf-Ferrari premiered in Venice (La cambiale di matrimono at the Teatro San Moisè and Cenerentola at La Fenice, respectively); Verdi’s Ernani, Attila, Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Simon Boccanegra also premiered in Venice, all at La Fenice.
Gioachino ROSSINI Sonata à quattro No. 1 in F Major ▪ 1804
Rossini, however, disparaged his juvenilia: “Six dreadful sonatas composed by me at the country estate of my friend Agostino Triossi, when I was at a most infantile age, not even having taken a lesson in accompaniment, the whole composed and copied out in three days.” Penned for his host’s instrument, the double bass, Triossi played the bass part, with his cousins on first violin and cello, and Rossini on second violin. He recalled that everyone played “like dogs.” His transcriptions for flute, clarinet, bassoon, and horn, done in 1828, enhance especially the timbres of their sunny disposition and precocious, enchanting melodies.
Giuseppe VERDI String Quartet in E minor ▪ 1873
Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI Sinfonia da camera in Bb Major Op. 8 ▪ 1901
Born and raised in Venice, Wolf-Ferrari was throughout his life torn between the serious culture of his German father and the sunny bel canto nature of his mother, a Venetian noblewoman. He studied painting and music in Rome and Munich, then returned to Venice in 1895 without completing his final exam, and soon after met Verdi in Milan. The Sinfonia was written in 1901 at age 25, at the height of his first surge of creativity. The year before, his first published opera, Cenerentola, which premiered at the Teatro La Fenice, was a fiasco. After he revised it back in Munich, it became a hit in Bremen in 1902, and his cantata La vita nuova brought him international fame in 1903. The enthusiasm for his succeeding comic operas continued until World War I and were the most performed in the world. Before the 1930s, Wolf-Ferrari’s music, including his orchestral and chamber works, was frequently programmed and championed by Mahler and Toscanini. His popularity has since plunged drastically.
|November 18 “Comrades” in Science
What did Elgar, Taneyev, and Borodin have in common? A keen interest in science. Borodin was a chemist and physician by profession. Elgar’s favorite diversion was chemistry, and he carried out experiments in a lab erected in his back garden. Some of his musical manuscripts still bear the stains of chemicals! Taneyev was a unique mathematician of music.
Sir Edward ELGAR “The Mission” (Harmony Music 5) ▪ 1879
Elgar was almost entirely self-taught. Although he hoped to study at the Leipzig Conservatory, his father, an organist and music dealer, could not afford this luxury. After abandoning his job as a clerk Elgar accepted a post conducting the Worcester and County Lunatic Asylum attendants’ band in Powick, just outside Worcester. There, he honed his music skills, making arrangements of pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn for the unconventional band. He also formed a wind quintet “for which he not only composed but also played regularly during the years 1878–79. Elgar’s younger brother Frank was a competent oboist while...his friends Hubert Leicester (later to become Mayor of Worcester) and Frank Exton were flautists of near professional standard. Hubert’s brother William was co-opted to play the clarinet, while Elgar taught himself to play the bassoon to complete the quintet. The five met on Sunday afternoons to play together in a garden shed and Elgar attempted to provide a new composition or arrangement for them to rehearse each week—a daunting task. Elgar later claimed to have prepared many of these works in the organ loft at St George’s during the sermon.” The 7 best-known pieces were named “Harmony Music,” a name which Elgar took from Harmoniemusik, German for wind ensembles. The pieces have also come to be known as the “Shed Music”—delightful melodies that “display a remarkable understanding of classical sonata form and structure for a self-taught provincial English musician of the late nineteenth Century.... As a whole, the wind music is of considerable significance in charting Elgar’s musical development [elgar.org].”
When Elgar’s family moved from Malvern to Plas Gwyn in Hereford, he set up a dark room for photography in 1906, and he may have also performed his first experiments in the basement of the house. “In 1908 he converted a garden shed into a laboratory, calling it his ‘Ark.’ In that year he wrote to his friend Ivor Atkins: ‘I have invented a glass machine for making H2S and it is to be manufactured and brought out called the “Elgar Sulp. Hy. Apparatus designed by Sir Edward Elgar.” In December 1908 he demonstrated this piece of equipment to the Atkins family. It was made for the composer by the firm of Philip Harris and comprised an outer glass container whose base was drilled with 15 small holes, into which fitted a hollow cone communicating by a small aperture with the outer vessel and terminating in the nozzle for the discharge of the gas. Atkins recorded that this was standard equipment in school laboratories, in regular use in Hereford and Worcester... [Peter Cooper, Pharmaceutical Journal].”
Sergei TANEYEV Piano Quartet in E Major Op. 20 ▪ 1920
A pupil of Nikolai Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky at the Moscow Conservatory, Taneyev graduated in 1875 with a gold medal in composition and performance (the first in the history of the Conservatory to achieve this honor). He in turn taught Glière, Rachmaninov, Grechaninov (see February 3), Scriabin, Medtner, and Prokofiev. Taneyev became close friends with Tchaikovsky and was held in such high regard that Tchaikovsky sought his opinion of his own works. Taneyev’s critics have called him the “Russian Brahms” and he may also be a “Russian Bruckner.” Tchaikovsky had even dubbed him the “Russian Bach” (Bach was one of his early inspirations). Perhaps Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart heard this Quartet too—the popular song “Blue Moon” written in 1934 sounds very much like the theme in the Adagio movement.
Taneyev was also an erudite scholar. In addition to music, he studied—for relaxation—mathematics and natural science, as well as social science, history, and the philosophies of Plato and Spinoza. He is a unique mathematician of music and regarded counterpoint as a branch of mathematics. He demonstrated that the conditions for vertical shifting at all intervals operate according to the same mathematical principles, and that his system allowed these conditions to be efficiently calculated.
Alexander BORODIN “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor ▪ completed in 1890 after his death by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov
The “Polovtsian Dances” offer an exhilarating climax to the opera’s second act when Prince Igor and his son Vladimir are taken prisoner by the Polovtsian leader, Khan Konchak, who entertains them lavishly and calls on his slaves to perform the rousing dances. Beyond the opera, the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev presented Polovtsian Scenes and Dances at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 1909 as part of his first Saison Russe. “Most famously, a number of its themes were incorporated into the 1953 Broadway musical Kismet, best known of which is the ‘Gliding Dance of the Maidens,’ adapted into the song ‘Stranger in Paradise.’ And at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Polovtsian Dances opened the games as a flying girl swept through a winter dreamscape [Classicfm].”
The illegitimate son of a Georgian prince and his mistress, Borodin was by profession a chemist and physician, but his passion was music. Between 1856 and 1870 he was a member of “The Five,” a group whose mission was to create a national school of Russian music, free of the stifling influences of Italian opera, German lieder, and other European forms. It was during this time, in 1858, that he earned his MD. A department head at the Medical-Surgical Academy in Saint Petersburg once admonished him in the midst of a lecture, “Mr Borodin, busy yourself a little less with songs. I’m putting all my hopes in you as my successor, but all you think of is music: you can’t hunt two hares at the same time.” “One of his professors, Zinin, who had studied under Liebig, urged him to abandon medicine in favour of chemistry because he was wasting too much time on music. Borodin was sent to the laboratory of Erlenmayer, where he studied together with Mendeleef. He devised a method for detecting organic nitrogen by means of a sodium hypobromide reaction, and worked on fluorine compounds. He received a doctorate for a dissertation on similarities between arsenical and phosphoric acids and became chemistry professor in St Petersburg in 1864. He continued research into aldehydes and their condensation reactions, and assays of urea [Cooper].” As a child, he experimented freely with fireworks.
| December 2 Great Danes
Carl NIELSEN String Quintet in G Major FS 5 ▪ 1888–1889
Nielsen (1865–1931) was born into a poor family, the seventh of 12 children. His father, who was much in demand as a village musician, gave him violin lessons as did the local school teacher. Initially, he played in a military orchestra in Odense. He then studied at the Copenhagen Conservatory from 1884 to 1886, thanks to financial assistance from benefactors. According to Emilie Demant Hatt, a sweetheart 8 years younger, Nielsen completed the Quintet on 1 January 1889. The work was well received when it was first played on the 13th of that month at a private chamber music society in Copenhagen, and then again on 28 April 1889, when it was presented at the Hornung & Møller concert hall by the newly-formed society for contemporary Danish music called “Symphonia.” Both Niels Gade and J.P.E. Hartmann were present. Socialdemokraten reported that the Quintet “was performed nicely by the composer himself [on second violin] and Messrs. Ludvig Holm, Osvald Poulsen, [Kristian] Sandby and F.O. Hansen.” Politiken characterized it as “extraordinarily fresh and pleasing...it testified to a healthy, fertile talent for instrumental composition.” Praise also came from Berlingske Tidende, which wrote, “As a whole this work...makes a beautiful impression, thanks to an appealing melodiousness, a rounded form and no ordinary powers of invention in harmonic terms.” But the Quintet was played only a few times during Nielsen’s lifetime and somehow sank into oblivion. It was, however, played at his 60th birthday celebration on 9 June 1925, and toward the end of his life, when Nielsen suggested that his “unknown” Quintet be played by an admirer and his ensemble. In gratitude for its resurrection, the piece was dedicated to the Thorvald Nielsen Quartet in 1931.
Carl REINECKE Trio in A Major Op. 264 ▪ 1903
Reinecke was born in 1824 near Hamburg in the town of Altona, then under the jurisdiction of Denmark (until 1864). Taught by his father Rudolf, a widely respected teacher and music theorist, he started composing at age 7, and at 11 he made his first public appearance as a pianist. He was also a top-notch orchestral violinist; and at age 18 he toured Sweden and Denmark as a pianist, being especially successful in Copenhagen. In 1846 he was appointed court pianist to the King of Denmark in Copenhagen, where he accompanied the violin virtuoso Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst and gave solo recitals. As a teacher of composition and piano, he had few equals; and as the director of the Leipzig Conservatory, he transformed it into one of the most renowned in Europe. Among his many students were Grieg, Bruch, Sinding, Svendsen, Janáček, Weingartner, Albeníz, Delius, Arthur Sullivan, Ethel Smyth, and George Chadwick. He was also the conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra until 1895. According to the New Grove Dictionary, “As a composer Reinecke was best known for his numerous piano compositions, representing virtually every musical form of the time and stylistically nearer to Schumann than to Mendelssohn.... His chamber music is distinguished.”
Otto MALLING Piano Quartet in C minor Op. 80 ▪ 1903
Born in 1848, Malling was educated in Copenhagen, where he studied with Gade and Emil Hartmann at the Copenhagen Conservatory. He was an organist in several Copenhagen churches; and he also taught harmony, counterpoint, composition, and orchestration at the Conservatory, where he became director from 1899 until his death in 1915.
| December 16 Warhorses
SCHUBERT “The Shepherd on the Rock” D. 965a ▪ 1828
Richard STRAUSS String Sextet from “Capriccio” ▪ 1940
WAGNER Wesendonck Lieder ▪ 1857–1858
Wagner set music to 5 poems that Mathidle had written during her years as his lover. In a letter to Liszt dated December 1854, Wagner revealed, “Since I have never enjoyed in life the real happiness of love, I will erect to this most beautiful of all dreams a memorial in which, from beginning to end, this love shall for once drink its fill.” The result was the Wesendonck Lieder, and upon its completion, he reportedly stated, “I have done nothing better than these songs.”
Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST Grand Caprice on Schubert’s Der Erlkönig Op. 26 ▪ 1854
Ernst, a Moravian-Jewish virtuoso and Paganini’s greatest successor, often performed with Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Wagner, Clara Schumann, Joachim, and other friends.
BRAHMS Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor “Werther” Op. 60 ▪ 1875
Work on the Quartet began as early as 1855, during a very difficult period for the young composer, torn between despair for his friend Robert Schumann, then confined in a mental asylum, and love for his wife Clara. Upon its revision and completion twenty years later, the older Brahms confessed to his publisher through a grim allusion, “On the cover you must have a picture, namely a head with a pistol to it. Now you can form some conception of the music! I’ll send you my photograph for the purpose.” Thus, the moniker “Werther,” after Goethe’s archetypal Romantic hero in his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, who shot himself for the unrequited love of a married woman, whose husband he honored and admired.
| January 6 Austro-German Gems
MOZART Clarinet Quartet No. 1 in Bb Major ▪ between 1779 and 1781
The Violin Sonata, dedicated to his pupil Josepha Barbara Aurnhammer, a talented pianist, was written in Salzburg during the 1779–80 season or shortly before his departure for Vienna in 1781. After his death in 1791, Mozart’s widow Constanze sold his manuscripts. The Leipzig publishers Breitkopf & Härtel approached her in 1799 and bought about forty of the autographs. Later that year, she accepted an offer from Johann Anton André for the remaining 300 autographs and a few copies. Shortly after, André published 3 clarinet quartets based on transcriptions of the Violin Sonatas K. 317d and K. 374f, and Piano Trio K. 496.
Alexander Ernst FESCA Grand Septuor No. 1 in C minor ▪ 1842
Fesca, a piano prodigy born in Karlsruhe in 1820, was first taught by his father, Friedrich Ernst Fesca, a composer and music director of the Ducal Court Orchestra of Baden. At age 14 he went to Berlin to study at the Royal Prussian Academy of the Arts. In 1838 he returned to Karlsruhe, where his first opera Mariette was performed. The following year he began the first of a number of concert tours, earning recognition as a piano virtuoso. In 1841 he became chamber virtuoso to Prince Carl Egon von Fürstenburg. At age 28, in 1849, he succumbed to tuberculosis (as did his father). Fesca’s considerable oeuvre includes six piano trios, two piano quartets, a piano sextet, and two septets for piano, winds, and strings. Robert Schumann, in reviewing some of Fesca’s youthful piano pieces in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, wrote, “even if not manifesting a unique power and view of art, all contain within a fresh seed of life”—an opinion applicable to the Septets. A critic in Fesca’s day described his septets as belonging to the “field of higher, nobler entertaining music.” Giacomo Meyerbeer, whom Fesca met at least once in 1841, also highly praised his first three piano trios.
SCHUMANN Piano Trio No. 3 in G minor Op. 110 ▪ 1851
At the Trio’s first rehearsal in late October, Clara Schumann was deeply impressed with its fervor and exuberance, noting, “It is original and increasingly passionate, especially the scherzo, which carries one along with it into the wildest depths.” She also played it for Liszt at a musical soirée the following March. It was dedicated to Niels Gade, whose music was esteemed by Schumann.
| January 20 Schubert and His Best Pal
Franz LACHNER Nonet in F Major ▪ 1875
The South German composer was Schubert’s most intimate friend in Vienna, and after his return to Munich in 1836, he conducted the Vienna Court Opera and became an important figure in that city. The works of Beethoven he performed were considered exemplary. Graham Johnson clarifies the relationship between Lachner and Schubert: “Lachner was the most successful composer of the Schubert circle, the only one of Schubert’s younger musical friends to become a musical celebrity outside Vienna.... Lachner is [also] the ‘missing’ link between Schubert and Schumann. He was born in Bavaria, and he was to return there as a favourite son; in the intervening years, one may call these his ‘Schubert period’, he lived in Vienna where he was a pupil of Sechter and the Abbé Stadler. He was a friend of the composer from about 1823, although we have no idea how he was introduced to the Schubert circle. In 1826 Lachner was appointed to a post at the Kärntnertor Theatre. He was with Schubert on many occasions in the last years of the composer’s life, but his memoirs of the time are not always reliable. He seems to have been more interested than many of his contemporaries in Schubert’s instrumental works. He claimed he often discussed his current compositions with Schubert, and that the two men showed their sketches to each other. This must have been something rare indeed: since his break with Mayrhofer, Schubert had no one among his friends, apart from Schober perhaps, with whom he might have had this kind of exchange. Lachner returned to Munich in 1836 and he played an increasingly dominant part in the musical life of that city. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lachner’s return to Munich, Moritz von Schwind dedicated to him the ‘Lachner roll’, twelve-and-a-half metres of remarkably witty drawings on a roll of paper thirty-four centimetres high. This depicted Lachner’s career from its beginnings, and included several drawings of Schubert surrounded by his friends. Schwind’s own close position to Schubert, and the integrity of his memories, verifies the strength of the connection between Lachner and his immortal mentor.”
SCHUBERT Piano Trio in Eb Major Op. 100 ▪ 1827
| February 3 A Dark Side
Erkki MELARTIN Trio Op. 154 ▪ 1929
Overshadowed by Sibelius his whole life and to this day, in spite of recognition that his compositions are of equal worth, must have been somewhat disheartening. Yet Melartin (1875–1937) cast off the pall of unfairness and wrote about 1000 works, including 6 symphonies that garnered praise at their premieres, although only the 6th was printed by 2 Danish friends for his 60th birthday. While his most important works are these 6 symphonies, he is thought of as a miniaturist and most remembered for his songs and piano pieces, including salon music, which brought him the greatest popularity. His chronic ill health was also a significant factor affecting his life. Melartin’s style ranged from late Romanticism to restrained Expressionism, in an individual voice. In the early decades of the 20th century he introduced Finnish audiences to the music of Mahler, Strauss, and other contemporary composers. He was also a conductor, philosopher, mystic, naturalist, painter, linguist, and an influential teacher.
Jean SIBELIUS String Trio in G minor ▪ 1894
RACHMANINOFF Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor ▪ 1892
Georgs PELĒCIS Music from Behind the Wall ▪ 1984
Born in Riga in 1947 (then Soviet-dominated—behind the Iron Curtain), Pelēcis grew up at a time when music was bound by strict social and political constraints. He later studied with Aram Khachaturian at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, graduating in 1970, and completed the music theory post-graduate course in 1977. He is currently a Professor at the Latvian Academy of Music, and has also worked in a creative capacity at Oxford and Cambridge. Musica Baltica described his style as follows: “The musical tonality of Georgs Pelēcis seems to reverberate some amazingly clear positive spirit. This very quality, whose genetic ancestry can be found partly in Renaissance and Baroque music and partly in the minimalist aesthetic, brings a spiritual strength to the composer’s creative output and brings to Latvian music a previously unknown, freshly breathing and pulsating activity. From all the style classifications which the composer himself and musical critics have given to his works, the most precise would be new consonant music, where euphony is the harmonic ideal.... His music...reveals a deeply understood knowledge of the music of past cultures.”
Alexandr GRECHANINOV Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor Op. 38 ▪ 1906
Grechaninov (1864–1956) was a late starter as he was held back by his father; his piano lessons did not begin till age 14. Three years later he went to the Moscow Conservatory and studied counterpoint and theory with Anton Arensky and form with Sergei Taneyev. When a disagreement with Arensky occurred in 1890 over composition teaching he left and studied with Rimsky-Korsakov at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In 1906, he himself began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory and Gnessin School of Music. After the Revolution, he lost his annual stipend of 2000 rubles and became anxious in Soviet Russia, which resulted in his departure for Paris in 1925. He then immigrated to the United States in 1939 at age 75, making his home in New York City in 1940. Grechaninov was a piano and choral teacher for most of his career, and he composed in all genres, but has a special place in two fields: children’s music and liturgical music, the latter testifying to his liberal religious outlook. His music was influenced by Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Mainly decadent in style, he never abandoned Russian lyricism.
| February 17 Choice Mozart
MOZART Sonata-Sextet in F Major K. 497a ▪ 1786
The musicologist Alfred Einstein called this substantial and often dramatic Sonata “the crowning work of its kind” and Mozart himself marked the title page “Grande Sonate,” implying a more ambitious treatment of the form. Received enthusiastically in Vienna, it was very likely written for members of the Jacquin family or at least for performance at the Jacquin home.
MOZART Divertimento for string trio K. 563 ▪ 1788
Alfred Einstein noted, “It is a true chamber-music work, and grew to such large proportions only because it was intended to offer . . . something special in the way of art, invention, and good spirits. . . . Each instrument is primus inter pares, every note is significant, every note is a contribution to spiritual and sensuous fulfillment in sound.”
| March 2 French Finesse
Maurice RAVEL Introduction and Allegro ▪ 1905
Commissioned by the Érard Company to demonstrate the expressive range of the firm’s double-action pedal harp, “the sweet and nostalgic Introduction begins with parallel winds, then strings, soon enhanced by upward arpeggios from the harp. During the ensuing Allegro the harp expands on melodic material from the Introduction. The entire piece revels in rhapsodic and evocative song-like passagework suggestive of dream states and unfettered romance [Steven Lowe].”
Camille SAINT-SAËNS Clarinet Sonata in Eb Major Op. 167 ▪ 1921
DEBUSSY Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp ▪ 1915
Written at a time when he was feeling low from the military conflict of the Great War and his own illness (he had colon cancer), Debussy expressed ambivalence about its emotional effect in a letter to his friend, the Swiss journalist Robert Godet, “[The music is] so terribly melancholy that I can’t say whether one should laugh or cry. Perhaps both at the same time?”
Gabriel FAURÉ Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor Op. 15 ▪ 1879
| March 16 Irish Emeralds
BEETHOVEN Irish Song ▪ 1814
John FIELD Divertissement No. 1 H. 13 ▪ circa 1810
ArkivMusic deems Field “the greatest Irish musical figure of the Romantic era” and summarizes his importance, noting that he “developed a highly influential keyboard style that provided a direct path to the music of Chopin. ...Field wrote music that calls for characteristically expressive and sensitive performance rather than virtuosic bravura. According to renowned and respected musicians like Spohr, Glinka, and Hummel, Field’s playing was marked by a particular sweetness and delicacy and an emphasis on color and tasteful expressivity. Such qualities are reflected in Field’s best-known and most influential compositions, primarily his nocturnes. ...the development of an independent composition emphasizing mood rather than thematic development or embellishment was both original and important. The development of the keyboard character piece paved the way for generations of Romantic composers, including [Brahms, Liszt,] Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Chopin, all of whom were indebted to Field.”
Regarding his life, in a nutshell, “Field began his piano studies with his father, and later studied with Tommaso Giordani. He made his debut at the age of nine; in the following year, Field and his family moved to London, where the young musician was apprenticed to composer/piano manufacturer Muzio Clementi. On February 7, 1799, Field premiered his Piano Concerto No. 1; shortly afterward, his apprenticeship with Clementi expired. For the next two years, Field was in demand as a soloist in London but continued to work for Clementi. Their relationship continued through 1803, when Field chose to remain in Saint Petersburg after his appearance there during a tour. Spohr’s autobiography suggests that Field was poorly treated by his former master, and Saint Petersburg may have provided Field’s first real opportunity to establish an independent career. Field, at any rate, lived in Russia for the rest of his life, achieving rather remarkable success as both pianist and composer.” He met Hummel in Moscow, and while on tour in London and Manchester he met Mendelssohn and Moscheles; he was also for a time a guest of Carl Czerny in Vienna.
We thank the University of Virginia (Special Collections) for providing a copy of the Rondeau Pastoral for our performances.
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD Serenade in F Major Op. 95 ▪ 1905
Written in London the same year he was composing his 6th Symphony as well as basking in the success of his Requiem in Düsseldorf, the Serenade premiered at a Broadwood Concert in London’s Aeolian Hall on 25 January 1906. Enthusiastically received, The Times noted its “spontaneity, charm, and classical purity of structure.” Sir Hubert Parry, Stanford’s severest critic, was also impressed, and when he heard it again in March 1913 at a performance by a student ensemble at the Royal College of Music, he described it as “a nice specimen of his [Stanford’s] work.” Professor Jeremy Dibble further states that it “reveals a side of Stanford’s style in which formal craftsmanship is combined with an enchanting chemistry unique to the composer—Brahmsian adroitness united with Mendelssohnian felicity.”
Born into a musical family, Stanford left Dublin at the age of 18 for Cambridge, where he distinguished himself. He also studied in Leipzig (with Reinecke) and in Berlin (with Friedrich Kiel, at the urging of Joachim). An illustrious career then ensued; he composed prolifically, conducted, and taught at the Royal College of Music, which he cofounded. Among his pupils were Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, John Ireland, and Frank Bridge, to name a few. The New Grove Dictionary summarizes his achievements and influences: “First, he swept away the empty conventions and complacencies which had debased English church music since Purcell.... Second, he set a new standard in choral music with his oratorios and cantatas.... Third, in his partsongs, and still more in his solo songs with piano he reached near perfection both in melodic invention and in capturing the mood of the poem.... [Fourth, he] exercised the most powerful influence on British music and musicians, that of the paramount teacher of composition....” Stanford was knighted in 1902; he died in 1924 and his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey.
Sir Hamilton HARTY Piano Quintet in F Major Op. 12 ▪ circa 1904
Andrew Clements of the Guardian proclaimed the beautiful Quintet “a real discovery: a big, bold statement full of striking melodic ideas and intriguing harmonic shifts, which adds Brahms and Dvořák into Harty’s stylistic mix, together with Tchaikovsky in some passages.” There’s folk music charm as well, reminiscent of Percy Grainger—notably in the Scherzo with its folksy quirks and nonchalance, and the winding, pentatonic melody in the Lento.
Born in County Down, Harty (1879–1941) was a remarkable, fascinating, mercurial, witty, and mostly self-taught musician. He moved to London in 1900 and soon gained a reputation as a promising composer and “the prince of accompanists.” In addition, he established himself as a conductor, and was noted as an interpreter of the music of Berlioz. During World War I he frequently appeared in Manchester with the Hallé Orchestra, becoming its permanent conductor in 1920, and making it probably the best orchestra in England. He introduced many new works and composers to his audiences, including the music of Bax, Sibelius, Berlioz, Walton, and Strauss. His tenure, however, ended in resignation and acrimony in 1933. Harty was also conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra from 1932 to 1935. He was knighted in 1925, and died in Brighton in 1941.
We are grateful to Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for providing a copy of the autograph manuscript for our performances.
| March 30 Ties to Beethoven
Friedrich WITT Quintet in Eb Major Op. 5 ▪ circa 1806
Highly regarded in his day, Witt (1770–1836) is best known for his Jena Symphony, once attributed to Beethoven. He was a cellist in the celebrated court orchestra of Oettingen-Wallerstein, where he studied composition with Antonio Rosetti. When he became famous for his oratorio Der leidende Heiland (The Suffering Saviour), he was appointed Kapellmeister to the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, and from 1814 to his death he was Kapellmeister at the Würzburg Theatre, for which he composed operas.
Lest we forget, Jens Nygaard performed Witt’s obscure Jena Symphony, and was of the opinion it was not plagiarized from Haydn
HAYDN String Quartet in D Major Op. 76 No. 5 ▪ 1796–1797
Professor Roger Parker explains that the Quartet is unique because “the customary balance between the first two movements is reversed. The first movement is light and undemanding in character (a theme and variations), but is then countered by an extensively developmental slow movement, in the unorthodox (and extremely hard to keep in tune!) key of F sharp major.” The quartets in Op. 76 are sometimes known as the “Erdődy” quartets, so-named after their dedicatee, the Hungarian nobleman Count Joseph Georg von Erdődy.
BEETHOVEN Piano Trio No. 1 in Eb Major Op. 1 No. 1 ▪ 1795
Beethoven made an imposing statement when his three Op. 1 piano trios were performed at one of the soirées of his early and loyal patron Prince Karl von Lichnowsky. Haydn, one of the invited guests, remarked on their bold originality: “You give me the impression of a man with more than one head, more than one heart and more than one soul!” His first great patron in Bonn, Count Ferdinand Waldstein, recorded in his personal album, “You will receive the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn.” More than a decade after publication, Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung proclaimed the trios “Strong, powerful, and moving.” He had labored over the extensive revisions before Artaria printed them, secretly subsidized by Prince Lichnowsky. Thomas May explained, “Beethoven’s first official declaration in print as a composer was a stunning success, both critically and commercially.... Even more, Beethoven’s successful assessment of the public demand for new pianoforte-centered chamber music allowed him to establish a formidable identity with Vienna’s leading publishers. The biographer Lewis Lockwood points out that, as a result, ‘he thought about composition and publication from early on as a single large-scale enterprise.’”
| April 6 American Goodies
Randall THOMPSON Suite for oboe, clarinet, and viola ▪ 1940
Born in New York City, Thompson earned his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music and taught at the Curtis Institute, University of Virginia, and Harvard University. He is best known for his choral works.
Marion BAUER Concertino Op. 32b ▪ 1943
Born in Walla Walla, Washington, Bauer was Nadia Boulanger’s first American pupil. They traded lessons—English for music, and vice versa. She taught and lectured widely, including at Juilliard, and was the first woman faculty member at New York University. Most importantly, Bauer was a tireless promoter and supporter of American and modern music, exerting great influence in the development of American music in the first half of the 20th century.
Charles Griffes became her close friend after they met in 1917. Although their friendship was short (he died in 1920), their mutual respect and influence ran deep. After Griffes’s death, Bauer programmed his music on numerous lecture-recitals and helped to organize concerts of his music. She wrote that he “was one of the first to put into American piano music something of the elusive charm and color of French Impressionism.”
Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES Two Sketches on Indian Themes ▪ 1918 or 1919
Griffes was born in Elmira, New York. He studied in Berlin; and upon returning to the U.S. in 1907, he became the director of music studies at the Hackley School for boys in Tarrytown for 13 years, until his death at age 35 from influenza during the pandemic. Although the post gave him financial stability, it was “grim and unrewarding.”
Howard HANSON Concerto da Camera in C minor Op. 7 ▪ 1917
Born in Wahoo, Nebraska to Swedish parents, Hanson was Director of the Eastman School of Music for 40 years. During his tenure, he presented over 1,500 different compositions by more than 700 composers. John Gladney Proffitt notes that he “was the leading practitioner of American musical Romanticism.... Hanson dedicated his professional life to the encouragement, creation and preservation of beauty in music, believing it to be an art form possessing unique power to ennoble both performer and listener and, by extension, mankind.”
We are grateful to Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music for providing a copy of the music for our performances.
Charles Wakefield CADMAN Piano Trio in D Major Op. 56 ▪ 1914
Cadman did not teach. Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he was for a time the music editor and critic of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, and became a foremost expert on American Indian music. After he moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s, he helped found the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and wrote film scores, earning a reputation as one of Hollywood’s top film composers of the period.
| April 20 Heirs Apparent
Carl CZERNY Piano Sonata No. 1 in Ab Major Op. 7 ▪ 1810
Franz Liszt is said to have performed this Ab Sonata numerous times to public acclaim, favoring the Prestissimo movement for its dramatic and technical display. Czerny dedicated the Sonata to Dorothea von Ertmann, to whom Beethoven also dedicated his Piano Sonata Op. 101. She was Beethoven’s pupil, became an excellent pianist, and remained his ardent admirer.
Czerny (1791–1857)—the prolific Austrian composer, pianist, and teacher of Bohemian origin—studied with Beethoven for 3 years from the age of 10, and became his assistant and lifelong friend. He later taught Liszt and Beethoven’s nephew Karl. As one of Beethoven’s most notable pupils, Czerny had to compete with his master’s shadow. He was anointed by the public as Beethoven’s disciple, and was expected to continue Beethoven’s legacy and musical genius. Instead, Czerny was arguably the greatest pianist who never performed, and the most successful composer to have been consigned to oblivion—his compositions of over 800 opus numbers and mounds of unpublished manuscripts remain largely untapped. He recalled, “I composed every free minute I had, especially in the evening.” He often worked on three to four pieces simultaneously—“it explains easily how my opus numbers soon rose to 100, 200, 300, etc., without counting my equally numerous arrangements, which always remained unnumbered.”
BEETHOVEN String Trio in C minor Op. 9 No. 3 ▪ 1797–1798
Anton Rubinstein—founder of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and Russia’s first great pianist, whose virtuosity rivaled that of Franz Liszt—was considered the heir apparent to Liszt, whom he idolized. “As a youth he had studied the exaggerated stage mannerisms of Liszt, whose mystical magnetic hold on his audiences Rubinstein attempted to imitate, both in his comportment on stage and in his pianistic style [Donald Gislason].” Many of his contemporaries also felt he bore an uncanny resemblance to Beethoven. Liszt himself gave him the nickname, “Ludwig II.” The resemblance also extended to his keyboard playing—“Under his hands, it was said, the piano erupted volcanically. Audience members wrote of going home limp after one of his recitals, knowing they had witnessed a force of nature [Victor Walter].” The New Grove Dictionary affirms that Rubinstein was “one of the greatest pianists of the 19th century” whose playing “was compared with Liszt’s, to the disadvantage of neither.” However, Rubinstein felt differently. According to Alexander Siloti in the August 1920 issue of Etude Magazine, “He used to say that he was worth nothing as a pianist compared with Liszt. Liszt once told me a story of a banquet given in Vienna for Rubinstein after his Historical Concerts.... A member of the committee gave “Rubinstein” as the first toast. He had scarcely finished speaking when Rubinstein, who had been nervously fidgeting during the speech, sprang to his feet crying: ‘How can you drink to my health, or do me honor as a pianist, when Liszt is sitting at the same table? We are all corporals, and he is the one and only Field-Marshal.’”
Anton RUBINSTEIN Romance in Eb Major Op. 44 No. 1 ▪ 1859
When Hermann was a student at the Leipzig Conservatory, he studied composition with Mendelssohn and Niels Gade and violin with Ferdinand David. He became principal violist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Professor of Violin at the Conservatory, and a member of the Gewandhaus Quartet.
Anton RUBINSTEIN Melody in F Op. 3 No. 1 ▪ 1852
Popper, born in Prague, was a celebrated performer, influential teacher, and prolific composer. Liszt recommended him for a teaching position at the Budapest Conservatory. In Budapest, he played in the Budapest Quartet with Jenő Hubay. Both of them performed chamber music with Brahms a few times, including the premiere of Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 3 in Budapest on 30 December 1886.
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 ▪ 1848
The Hungarian Rhapsodies were drawn from Liszt’s native folk music, although many were tunes written by members of the Hungarian upper middle class, often played by Roma (gypsy) bands. The 9th Rhapsody was dedicated to Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, the Moravian-Jewish violinist and composer who was Paganini’s greatest successor.
| May 4 Trophies
SCHUBERT String Trio in Bb Major D. 581 ▪ 1817
At the age of 20 Schubert was already quite accomplished, having written an astonishing amount of music—more than 300 songs, five symphonies, four masses, and seven string quartets, among many other pieces.
Carl Maria von WEBER Grand Duo Concertante in Eb Major Op. 48 ▪ 1816
In the summer of 1815 Weber wrote the Andante and Rondo movements first, possibly for Johann Simon Hermstedt (among the noted clarinetists of the 19th century), but he performed it in this 2-movement version on a tour of southern Germany with his friend, Heinrich Baermann, the great clarinetist of Munich. Weber then added a first movement, marked Allegro con fuoco in 1816, thus creating a rambunctious opening for the duo, now in sonata form.
Ludwig THUILLE Trio in Eb Major, Op. Posth. ▪ date not known
The Austrian composer of Savoyard ancestry was born in 1861. When he was orphaned at age 11, he went to live with his step-uncle in Kremsmünster. There, he sang in the Benedictine Abbey and studied the organ, piano, and violin. In 1879 he began his studies, steeped in Viennese Classicism, with Joseph Rheinberger at the Königliche Musikschule in Munich. He graduated with honors in 1882. “However, a decisive change suddenly occurred in his style through his association with Alexander Ritter, a forceful figure who converted him and his boyhood friend Richard Strauss into rich orchestral colourists in the late Romantic vein. Ritter diverted Thuille’s attention to opera of Wagnerian proportions and encouraged the young composer to cultivate bold harmonic ideas.” Before his untimely death at the age of 45, he made one other contribution: his Harmonielehre—a treatise on harmony that survived into the 1930s.
| May 18 Idolatry
Giovanni PUNTO Horn Quartet in E Major Op. 18 No. 3 ▪ 1785–1796
Born near Prague, Jan Václav Stich (1746–1803) adopted his Italian pseudonym after running away from his master Count Thun to the Holy Roman Empire. His reputation grew as he traveled through Europe and England. Mozart was impressed when he heard him in Paris in 1778. He told his father in a letter that “Punto plays magnifique” and composed the Sinfonia Concertante K. 297B (now lost) for him and 4 noted wind soloists. “In Vienna he met Beethoven, who wrote his Op. 17 Sonata for Horn and Piano for the both of them to premiere on 18 April 1800 at the Burgtheater. The following month they played the work again in Pest, Hungary, where a local music critic commented: ‘Who is this Beethoven? His name is not known to us. Of course, Punto is very well known.’ ...Punto returned to his homeland in 1801 after 33 years away. He played a concert in the National Theater in Prague. The Prague neue Zeitung reported, ‘Punto received enthusiastic applause for his concertos because of his unparalleled mastery, and respected musicians said that they had never before heard horn playing like it…In his cadenzas he produced many novel effects, playing two and even three-part chords. It demonstrated again that our fatherland can produce great artistic and musical geniuses.’ ...In 1802, after a short trip to Paris, Punto developed pleurisy, a common illness of wind players of the times. He was ill for five months, and finally passed away on 16 February 1803. He was given a magnificent funeral in the Church of St. Nicholas before thousands of people, so great was his fame at the time. Mozart’s Requiem was performed at the graveside. His tomb was inscribed: ‘Punto received all the applause. As the Muse of Bohemia applauded him in life, so did she mourn him in death.’ Like many soloists of the time, Punto composed pieces that displayed his own talents and virtuosity. He was a cor basse player, using a silver cor solo made for him in 1778 in Paris. Works composed by and for him show that he was a master of quick arpeggios and stepwise passagework [horn.org].” He also improved and extended the hand-stopping technique introduced by Anton Joseph Hampel.
MOZART Clarinet Quintet in A Major “Stadler” K. 581 ▪ 1789
Alfred Einstein describes “Stadler’s Quintet” (so referred to by Mozart himself) as “a chamber-music work of the finest kind, even though the clarinet predominates as primus inter pares and is treated as if Mozart were the first to discover its charm, its ‘soft, sweet breath’ its clear depth, its agility. There is no dualism here between solo and accompaniment, only fraternal rivalry. The term ‘fraternal’ is used advisedly—clarinets and basset horns acquired for Mozart a Masonic character, if perhaps only for external reasons: it seems that at the less solemn meetings of his lodge, only wind instruments were used. The development section has a concertante air about it, but for all five participants.”
Antonín DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major Op. 81 ▪ 1887
*All programs are subject to change.
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Last updated 8/2/19