Podcasts about music played

  • 51PODCASTS
  • 801EPISODES
  • 7mAVG DURATION
  • 1DAILY NEW EPISODE
  • Jan 27, 2023LATEST

POPULARITY

20152016201720182019202020212022

Categories



Best podcasts about music played

Latest podcast episodes about music played

Composers Datebook
Kathryn Bostic

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 27, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 2019 a new documentary film entitled Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah examining her powerful works and her career as a Black American artist.Appropriately enough, the musical score for that documentary was crafted by another talented Black American woman, namely Kathryn Bostic, an accomplished composer of film, TV, theatrical, and concert hall scores.Kathryn Bostic is a recipient of many fellowships and awards including several from the Sundance Festival.  Kathryn served the Vice President of the Alliance for Women Film Composers, is a member of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2016 she became the first female African American score composer in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.“My parents loved music and my mother was a classical pianist and teacher,” says Bostic “Listening to the wide range of music while growing up brought me to a phenomenal treasure trove of black composers including William Grant Still, Ulysses Kay, George Walker, Margaret Bonds, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Isaac Hayes … I mean I could go on and on. They are all such extraordinary innovators of rich textures and amazing emotional depth. Definitely big influences for me.” Music Played in Today's Program Kathryn Bostic: Main Title, from "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am" Lakeshore Records 35495 (original soundtrack album)

Composers Datebook
Harris's "1933" in 1934

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 26, 2023 2:00


Synopsis In 1933, Aaron Copland introduced Roy Harris to Serge Koussevitzky, the famous conductor of the Boston Symphony in those days. Now, Koussevitzky was one of the great patrons of American music and was always looking for new American music and new American composers. Roy Harris had been described to him as an "American Mussorgsky," which probably intrigued the Russian-born conductor. When Koussevitzky learned that Harris had been born in a log cabin in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, on Abraham Lincoln's birthday, no less – well, perhaps he hoped the 41-year old Harris might produce music equally all-American in origin. "Write me a big symphony from the West," asked Koussevitzky, and Harris responded with a three-movement orchestral work titled: "Symphony, 1933," which had its premiere performance on today's date in 1934 with the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky's direction. Koussevitzky loved it. "I think that nobody has captured in music the essence of American life -- its vitality, its greatness, its strength -- so well as Roy Harris," enthused the famous conductor, who recorded the piece at Carnegie Hall in New York just one week after its premiere. And it was Koussevitzky's Boston Symphony that would subsequently premiere Harris's Second, Third, Fifth and Sixth Symphonies as well. Music Played in Today's Program Roy Harris (1898 – 1979) Symphony 1933 (No. 1) Louisville Orchestra; Jorge Mester, conductor Albany 012 On This Day Births 1924 - American composer Warren Benson, in Detroit, Michigan; Deaths 1795 - German composer Johann Christioph Friedrich Bach, age 62, in Bückeburg 1993 - American composer and teacher Kenneth Gaburo, age 66, in Iowa City; Premieres 1732 - Handel: opera "Ezio" (Julian date: Jan.15); 1790 - Mozart: opera, "Così fan tutte," in Vienna at the Burgtheater; 1873 - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2, in Moscow (Gregorian date: Feb. 7); 1882 - Borodin: String Quartet No. 2 in D, in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: Feb. 7); 1905 - Schoenberg: symphonic poem "Pelleas und Melisande," in Vienna, with the composer conducting; 1908 - Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: Feb. 8); 1911 - Richard Strauss: opera, “Der Rosenkavalier,” in Dresden at the Hofoper, conducted by Ernst von Schuch, with vocal soloists Margarethe Siems (Marschallin), Eva von der Osten (Octavian), Minnie Nast (Sophie), Karl Perron (Baron Ochs), and Karl Scheidemantel (Faninal); 1920 - Prokofiev: "Overture on Hebrew Themes," in New York by the Zimro Ensemble, with the composer at the piano; 1922 - Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3 "Pastoral," by the Royal Philharmonic, London, Sir Adrian Boult conducting; 1934 - Roy Harris: Symphony No. 1, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting; 1952 - Ernst von Dohnányi: Violin Concerto No. 2, in San Antonio, Texas; 1957 - Bernstein: "Candide" Overture (concert version), by New York Philharmonic conducted by the composer; The musical "Candide" had opened at the Martin Beck Theater in New York City on December 1, 1956; 1957 - Poulenc: opera, "Les dialogues des carmélites" (The Dialogues of the Carmelites) in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala, Nino Sanzogno conducting; 1962 - Diamond: Symphony No. 7, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting; 1966 - Dominick Argento: Variations for Orchestra and Soprano (The Masque of Night"), at the St. Paul Campus Student Center of the University of Minnesota, by the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra, Thomas Nee conducting, with soprano Carolyn Bailey; A second performance took place on Jan. 27th at Coffmann Memorial Union on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota; 1967 - Frank Martin: Cello Concerto, in Basel, Switzerland; 1994 - Elisabetta Brusa: “La Triade” for large orchestra, by the Tirana (Albania) Radio and Television Orchestra, Gilberto Serembe conducting; 1994 - Christopher Rouse: Cello Concerto, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by David Zinman, with Yo-Yo Ma the soloist; 1995 - Joan Tower: "Duets for Orchestra," by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Christoph Perick conducting. Links and Resources On Roy Harris

Composers Datebook
Strauss raw and cooked

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 25, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1909, Richard Strauss's opera Elektra had its premiere in Dresden. The libretto, a free adaptation of the grim, ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles, was by the Austrian poet and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal. In ancient Greek tragedies, violence occurred off-stage, and for his libretto, Hofmannsthal honored that tradition. But the music of Strauss evoking the tragedy's violence unleashed a huge orchestra with a ferocity that stunned early listeners. After its American premiere, one New York critic wrote of “a total delineation of shrieks and groans, of tortures physical in the clear definition and audible in their gross realism . . .Snarling of stopped trumpets, barking of trombones, moaning of bassoons and squealing of violins.” Even Strauss himself later admitted Elektra (quote) “penetrated to the uttermost limits of … the receptivity of human ears,” and what he called his “green horror” opera might cause him to be type-cast as a purveyor of creepy-crawly music. And so, Strauss prudently suggested to Hofmansthal “Next time, we'll write a MOZART opera.” Almost two years later to the day, on January 26, 1911, their “Mozart” opera, Der Rosenkavalier, or the The Rose Bearer premiered. It's set in 18th century Vienna, and for this opera Strauss included anachronistic, but eminently hummable waltz tunes. Music Played in Today's Program Richard Strauss (1864 –1949) Elektra Alessandra Marc, sop.;Vienna Philharmonic; Giuseppe Sinopoli, conductor. DG 453 429 Richard Strauss Der Rosenkavalier Waltz Suite Philadelphia Orchestra; Eugene Ormandy, conductor. Sony 60989 On This Day Births 1851 - Flemish composer Jan Blockx, in Antwerp; 1886 - German composer and conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, in Berlin; 1911 - American composer and pianist Julia Smith, in Denton, Texas; 1913 - Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, in Warsaw; 1921 - American composer and conductor Alfred Reed, in New York City; Premieres 1817 - Rossini: opera, "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella), in Rome at the Teatro Valle; 1902 - Franz Schmidt: Symphony No. 1, in Vienna; 1909 - R. Strauss: opera "Elektra," in Dresden at the Hofoper, conducted by Ernst von Schuch, with soprano Annie Krull in the title role; 1946 - R. Strauss: "Metamorphosen," in Zürich; 1957 - Walton: Cello Concerto, by the Boston Symphony conducted by Charles Munch, with Gregor Piatigorsky the soloist; 1963 - Karl Amadeus Hartmann: Symphony No. 8, by the West German Radio Symphony, Rafael Kubelik conducting; 1987 - Paul Schoenfield: "Café Music" for piano trio at a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concert. Links and Resources On Richard Strauss More on Richard Strauss

Composers Datebook
Stravinsky (and Newman) at the movies

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 24, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On this day in 1946, Igor Stravinsky conducted the New York Philharmonic in the first performance of his Symphony in Three Movements, a work inspired in part by World War II newsreels. “Each episode in the Symphony,” Stravinsky wrote, “is linked in my imagination with a specific cinematographic impression of the war. But the Symphony is not programmatic. Composers combine notes—that is all. How and in what form the things of this world are impressed upon their music is not for them to say.” What Stravinsky did say was that images of goose-stepping soldiers influenced its first movement, and its third movement was inspired in part by newsreels of the victorious march of the Allies into Germany. The themes of middle movement, however, had nothing to do with the war, but consisted of bits and pieces Stravinsky salvaged from his unused and unfinished score for the 1943 movie The Song of Bernadette. The producers decided instead to go with a score by Alfred Newman, a more experienced film composer. To Stravinsky's embarrassment, Newman's score for The Song of Bernadette won an Oscar for the Best Film Score of 1943. But Igor needn't have felt too chagrined—his music may have failed in Hollywood, but it triumphed at Carnegie Hall. Music Played in Today's Program Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Symphony in Three Movements Berlin Philharmonic; Pierre Boulez, conductor. DG 457 616 Alfred Newman (1901-1970) Song of Bernadette National Philharmonic; Charles Gerhardt, conductor. RCA 184

Composers Datebook
Field the Claveciniste

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 23, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1837, the Dublin-born pianist and composer John Field breathed his last in Moscow at the age of 54. Born in 1782 into musical family, Field soon moved to London to study with the Italian composer Muzio Clementi and became a sought-after concert artist at a very tender age. Haydn heard the 13-year perform in London and was impressed. At age 16, Field premiered his own first Piano Concerto. Over the course of his life, John Field would meet, play for, and perform with many other famous composers of his day, including Beethoven, Czerny, Hummel, Moscheles, and Mendelsohn. Field ended up in Saint Petersburg, where he published his own compositions and apparently lived rather extravagantly. It's said he was so well-off that he could afford to turn down a lucrative appointment to the Russian court. In Tolstoy's famous novel WAR AND PEACE, the Countess Rostova even asks a pianist to play her favorite Field nocturne. And it's quite likely that while in Russia, like most of the Russian nobility of the day, Field got by speaking French, not Russian. It's said that on his deathbed when asked what his religion was, Field replied with a French pun: "I am not a Calvinist, but a Claveciniste (French for a harpsichord player). Music Played in Today's Program John Field (1782-1837) Nocturne No. 2 in C Minor John O'Conor Telarc 80199

Composers Datebook
Bach's 2- and 3-part Inventions

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 22, 2023 2:00


Synopsis As kids, many of us received home-made presents: a sweater or pair of socks, perhaps, or—if you were unlucky—a crocheted bow tie you were forced to wear when Auntie came to visit. On today's date in 1720, Johann Sebastian Bach started a home-made present for his 9-year old son, Wilhelm Friedemann. It was a collection of little keyboard pieces designed to teach him to play the harpsichord, pieces now known as Bach's Two- and Three-Part Inventions. Here's how J.S. Bach himself described these pieces: "Straightforward Instruction, in which amateurs of the keyboard, and especially the eager ones, are shown a clear way not only of learning to play cleanly in two voices, but also, after further progress, of dealing correctly and satisfactorily with three… all the while acquiring a strong foretaste of composition." In the case of little Wilhelm Friedemann, it did the trick. Not only did he master the keyboard, he became a composer himself. Even just attentively listening to Papa Bach's inventions can have its rewards, according to the late music critic Michael Steinberg, who wrote, "Bach has done such a good job at instilling 'a strong foretaste of composition' that… they will make the hearer a better, … a more aware and thus a more enjoying, listener as well." Music Played in Today's Program J.S. Bach (1685-1750) 2-Part Invention #6 in E, BWV 777 Simone Dinnerstein Sony 79597

Composers Datebook
Brahms breaks the rules

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 21, 2023 2:00


Synopsis The first Piano Concerto by Brahms received its premiere public performance on today's date in 1859 with the Hanover Court Orchestra under the direction of Brahms's close friend Joseph Joachim and its 25-year composer as soloist. That first night audience had never heard anything quite like it. In his biography of Brahms, Jan Swafford describes what was expected of a piano concerto back then, namely “virtuosic brilliance, dazzling cadenzas, not too many minor keys, [and nothing] too tragic.” “To the degree that these were the rules,” writes Swafford, “[Brahms] violated every one of them.” His concerto opens with heaven-storming drama, continues with deeply melancholic lyricism, and closes with something akin to hard-fought, even grim, triumph. Rather than a display of flashy virtuosity, Brahms's concerto comes off as somber and deeply emotional. A second performance, five days later in Leipzig, was hissed. "I am experimenting and feeling my way,” Brahms wrote to his friend Joachim, adding, "all the same, the hissing was rather too much." Now regarded a dark Romantic masterpiece, it's important to remember how long it took audiences to warm to Brahms' music. The American composer Elliott Carter recalled that even in the 1920s, Boston concert goers used to quip that the exit signs meant, "This way in case of Brahms." Music Played in Today's Program Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 - I. Maestoso - Poco più moderato Maurizio Pollini, piano; Berlin Philharmonic; Claudio Abbado, cond. DG 447041 On This Day Births 1899 - Russian-born American composer Alexander Tcherepnin, in St. Petersburg (Julian date: Jan. 9); Deaths 1851 - German opera composer Albert Lortzing, age 49, in Berlin; 1948 - Italian composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, age 72, in Venice; Premieres 1713 - Handel: opera "Teseo" (Julian date: Jan. 10); 1725 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 111 ("Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit") performed on the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25); 1816 - Cherubini: "Requiem," in Paris; 1880 - Rimsky-Korsakov: opera "May Night," in St. Petersburg, Napravnik conducting (Julian date: Jan. 9); 1904 - Janácek: opera "Jenufa" in Brno at the National Theater; 1927 - Roussel: Suite in F for orchestra, in Boston; 1929 - Schreker: opera "Der Schatzgräber" (The Treasure Hunter), in Frankfurt at the Opernhaus; 1930 - Shostakovich: Symphony No. 3 ("May First"), in Leningrad; 1936 - Gershwin: "Catfish Row" Suite (from the opera "Porgy and Bess"), by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Alexander Smallens conducting; 1947 - Martinu: "Toccata e due canzona" for chamber orchestra, in Basel, Switzerland; 1968 - Bernstein: song "So Pretty" (a song protesting the Vietnam War) at Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) in New York City, with singer Barbra Streisand and the composer at the piano; 1968 - Allan Pettersson: Symphony No. 6, in Stockholm; 1988 - Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 1, by the Baltimore Symphony, David Zinman conducting; Links and Resources On Brahms

Composers Datebook
Poulenc's "Gloria"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 20, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1961, the French composer Francis Poulenc was in Boston for the premiere of his new choral work. It was a setting a Latin text Gloria in excelsis Deo or Glory to God in the Highest. These days Poulenc's Gloria is regarded as one of his finest works, but back in 1961, some critics shook their heads and tut-tutted about the perceived irreverence of sections of the new work which to them came off as too light-hearted and out of place in a presumably “serious” religious work. Poulenc's setting of the Latin text “Laudamus te, Benedicimus te” (We praise you, we bless you), seemed downright giddy to those critics. In his defense, Poulenc said: "I was thinking when I composed it of these frescoes by Gozzoli with angels sticking out their tongues, and of Benedictine [clergy] I once saw playing soccer." In retrospect, it seems odd that anyone should have been surprised by the coexistence of the serious and the silly in the music of Poulenc, since both moods had been evident in his music for decades. In 1950, the critic Claude Rostand described the composer as "A lover of life, mischievous and good-hearted, tender and impertinent, melancholy and serenely mystical, half monk—and half delinquent.” Music Played in Today's Program Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) Gloria Tanglewood Festival Chorus; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Seiji Owaza, conductor. DG 427304

Composers Datebook
"Truth Tones" for MLK

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2023 2:00


Synopsis Each January, Martin Luther King Day is observed on the third Monday of the month, and in 2009, MLK day fell on January 19th. To celebrate, the director of the Boston Children's Chorus commissioned and premiered a new work from the American composer Trevor Weston. Rather than set words spoken by King, Weston took a different course: “[Dr. King's] speeches speak to … the beauty of living in a society where the truth of equality is actually realized and often demonstrate a broad historical perspective,” says Weston, “so I celebrated King by using texts from the African Saint Augustine and the African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.” From Saint Augustine's “Confessions,” Weston includes the line, “O Truth, you give hearing to all who consult you … you answer clearly, but all men do not hear you,” and from a Dunbar work entitled “The Poet,” this line: “He sang of life, serenely sweet/With now and then a deeper note.” Musically, Weston echoes works both medieval and modern, specifically the 12th century composer Hildegard von Bingen and the 20th century composer Morton Feldman, with a variation on the spiritual “Wade in the Water” tossed in for good measure. The result is a haunting, inward-looking choral work that Weston entitled “Truth Tones.” Music Played in Today's Program Trevor Weston "Truth Tones" Trinity Youth Chorus; Julian Wachner, conductor. Acis 72290

Composers Datebook
Bernstein for young people

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 18, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1958, Leonard Bernstein asked, "What does Music mean?" He posed the question to an audience of kids assembled at Carnegie Hall for the first of his "Young People's Concerts" -- but since the concert was televised, it was a question he posed as well to a nationwide audience of all ages. That 1958 concert opened with Rossini's William Tell Overture – music that "meant" the Lone Ranger to TV audiences back then, or as Bernstein put it: "Cowboys, bandits, horses, the Wild West." But, Bernstein argued: "Music is never about anything. Music just is. Music is notes and sounds put together in such a way that we get pleasure out of listening to them, and that's all it is." Bernstein then demonstrated how the same music could plausibly be the "soundtrack" to any number of different "stories." Bernstein concluded his first Young People's Concert with Ravel's La Valse and these comments: "Every once in a while we have feelings so deep and so special that we have no words for them. Music names them for us, only in notes instead of in words. It's all in the way music moves and that movement can tell us more about the way we feel than a million words can." Music Played in Today's Program Giaocchino Rossini (1792 –1868) William Tell Overture New York Philharmonic; Leonard Bernstein, conductor. CBS/Sony 48226 Maurice Ravel (1875 –1937) La Valse New York Philharmonic; Pierre Boulez, conductor. CBS/Sony 45842

Composers Datebook
George Walker's Trombone Concerto

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2023 2:00


Synopsis In Rochester, New York, on today's date in 1957, there was a concert at the Eastman School of Music, conducted by the school's famous director Howard Hanson, showcasing new works composed by Eastman graduate students.  Included on the program was a brand-new “Trombone Concerto” by George Walker.Back then, Walker was better known as a remarkable pianist. He was a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, after all, a student of Rudolf Serkin, and a quite impressive recording exists from his Eastman days of Walker as soloist in the Brahms Second Piano Concerto.  But for Walker, as an African-American, a successful career as a concert pianist in a still-segregated America was not possible – it would be 10 years before Andre Watts broke that taboo, remember, so Walker opted for a musical career as a composer and educator, and proved remarkably accomplished at both.  Walker's early “Trombone Concerto” was a hit from the start. “The composer evidently had a soloist of superior ability in mind in writing this difficult and complex work,” wrote a reviewer at the premiere. “It is music of sound and fury, with lots of dissonance and imaginative drive. Soloist and composer shared in prolonged applause.” Music Played in Today's Program George Walker (1922-2018): Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Denis Wick, trombone; London Symphony; Paul Freeman, conductor.) in Sony Black Composers Series CD set 19075862152

Composers Datebook
Prokofiev's Scythian Suite

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 16, 2023 2:00


Synopsis In 1916, Imperial Russia was still using the old Julian calendar.  In Russia, as Hamlet might have put it, “time was out of joint,” lagging 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used everywhere else. Well, Saint Petersburg's January 16th  might have Paris's January 29th, but on that date Russia's Mariinsky Theatre premiered a wild, decidedly forward-looking orchestral work with its composer, Sergei Prokofiev, conducting.The music had been commissioned in 1914 by another Russian, the Paris-based ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who had asked Prokofiev for “a ballet on a Russian fairy tale or a primitive prehistoric theme,” hoping for something along the lines of Igor Stravinsky's colorful Firebird or scandalous Rite of Spring, both earlier Diaghilev commissions. Thinking of those two successful ballets perhaps, Prokofiev set to work on one set in ancient Russia about a forest princess rescued from an evil ogre by a Scythian prince, with a big orgy of evil spirits tossed in as well just to spice things up.  But Diaghilev nixed the ballet even before Prokofiev had finished it, so its composer reworked the music into a wild concert hall score he titled Scythian Suite. Even today it remains – for some – a strongly spiced cup of Russian tea! Music Played in Today's Program Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953) — Scythian Suite, Op. 20 (Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Claudio Abbado, conductor.) DG 447 419

Composers Datebook
The Mozarts in Vienna

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 15, 2023 2:00


Synopsis In the fall of 1784, Mozart and his wife moved into an elegant apartment near St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. The house belonged to the Camesina brothers, whose father made ornamental rococo plasterwork, and the ceiling of one of the larger apartments in the house was decorated in a lavish style as a kind of show room for prospective clients. In that apartment on today's date in 1785, Haydn heard a few of the new string quartets Mozart had recently completed and would eventually dedicate to the older composer. It's likely that Mozart himself performed the viola part on that occasion. A month later, when Mozart's father paid a visit to Vienna, the rest of the new quartets were performed, again with Haydn present. That was the occasion that Haydn turned to Mozart's father and said: "Before God and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name." It was probably the most deeply appreciated compliment Mozart ever received, but one the following evening wasn't too shabby either. After a performance of one of his Piano Concertos, his majesty the Austrian emperor waved to Wolfgang as he left the stage and called out: "Bravo, Mozart!" Music Played in Today's Program Wolfgang Mozart (1756 –1791) String Quartet No. 14, K. 387 Juilliard Quartet CBS/Sony 45826 Wolfgang Mozart Piano Concerto No. 18, K 456 Richard Goode, piano; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Nonesuch 79439

Composers Datebook
Puccini's shocker

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 14, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1900, Tosca, a new opera by Giacomo Puccini had its premiere at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Rome was, in fact, the opera's setting and those in the audience would have instantly recognized the real-life landmarks depicted on stage. Puccini composed Tosca at the height of the “verismo” or “realism” craze in opera. It might seem downright silly that a theatrical form as unreal and stylized as opera could ever be described as “realistic” – but the idea was to depict “a slice of real life” – even if that slice includes melodramatic characters like a sadistic, lecherous police chief and a beautiful opera diva he lusts for. To be as realistic as possible, Puccini visited Rome to listen to the early morning church bells from the ramparts of the Castel Sant'Angelo, the setting of his opera's third act and to consult with a Roman priest on the details of the liturgy for the Te Deum that concludes Act I. Some early audiences for Tosca thought Puccini had taken this realism thing way too far. One proper British reviewer wrote: “Those who were present were little prepared for the revolting effects produced by musically illustrating torture ... or the dying kicks of a murdered scoundrel.” Music Played in Today's Program Giacomo Puccini (1858 –1924) Tosca Soloists and Philharmonia Orchestra; Giuseppe Sinopoli, conductor. DG 431 775

Composers Datebook
"Hello, Mr. Addinsell?"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 13, 2023 2:00


Synopsis Today's date in 1904 marks the birthday of Richard Addinsell, a versatile British musician who became one of the most famous film score composers of his generation. Addinsell was born in London, studied music at the Royal College of Music, and pursued additional studies in Berlin and Vienna before heading off to America in 1933 for some practical education at Hollywood film studios. He put both his theoretical and practical learning to good use when he returned to England, where he began composing for a series of successful British movies, like the Oscar-winning 1939 film “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” Addinsell also became a popular songwriter and accompanist for British comediennes and cabaret singers of the day. But Addinsell is best known as the composer of the Warsaw Concerto, a piano concerto consciously modeled on the big Romantic scores of Rachmaninoff. This music originally appeared in the 1941 British adventure film “Dangerous Moonlight,” retitled “Suicide Squadron” when it was released in the States in 1942. After that mega-hit, Addinsell's fluent and versatile writing continued to grace a goodly number of Post-War British films and TV dramatizations, ranging from historical epics to psychological thrillers, gritty “slice-of-life” dramas, and whimsical, light-hearted comedies. Addinsell died in London at the age of 73 in 1977. Music Played in Today's Program Richard Addinsell (1904 –1977) Goodbye Mr. Chips BBC Concert Orchestra; Kenneth Alwyn, conductor. Marco Polo 8.223732 Richard Addinsell (1904 –1977) Warsaw Concerto Cristina Ortiz, piano; Royal Philharmonic; Moseh Atzmon, conductor. London 414 348 On This Day Births 1690 - German composer Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, in Grünstadtl; 1866 - Russian composer Vassili Sergeievitch Kalinnikov, in Voin (Julian date: Jan 1.); 1904 - British composer Richard Addinsell, in London; Deaths 1864 - American composer Stephen Foster, age 37, in Bellevue Hospital, New York; 1980 - Russian-born American conductor and arranger André Kostelanetz, age 78, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Premieres 1726 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 32 ("Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen") performed on the 1st Sunday after Epiphany as part of Bach's third annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1725/27); 1775 - Mozart: opera "La finta giardiniera" (The Feigned Gardener), in Munich at the Opernhaus St. Salvator; 1873 - Rimsky-Korsakov: opera "The Maid of Pskov" (first version) in St. Petersburg, Napravnik conducting; This was Rimsky-Korsakov's first opera (Julian date: Jan.1); 1904 - Bartók: tone-poem “Kossuth,” in Budapest; Bartók's parody of the German national hymn in this work caused an uproar at the work's premiere; 1944 - Stravinsky: "Circus Polka" (concert version) and "Four Norwegian Moods," in Cambridge at the Garden Theatre, with the Boston Symphony conducted by the composer; 1945 - Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5, by the Moscow State Philharmonic, with the composer conducting; 2000 - Danielpour: "Voices of Remembrance" for string quartet and orchestra, in Washington, D.C. with the Guarneri String Quartet and the National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting. Others 1910 - Lee De Forest relays experimental Met Opera performances via a radio transmitter (see also Jan. 12). Links and Resources On Richard Addinsell Richard Addinsell filmography

Composers Datebook
Dvořák's "American" Quintet

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 12, 2023 2:00


Synopsis Composers and publishers don't always see eye to eye. Simrock, the German publisher of Dvorak's music, irritated the patriotic Czech composer by issuing his scores with his first name printed in its Germanic form “Anton” rather than its Czech form “Antonin.” They finally came up with a compromise: Simrock abbreviated Dvorak's first name, printing it as “A-N-T-period” on the music's title page: Germans could read that as “Anton” and Czechs as “Antonin.” Everyone was happy. Simrock would also have liked Dvorak to stick to writing small-scale chamber works — which sold well— rather than large-scale symphonic works — which didn't. “You counsel me that I should write small works,” writes Dvorak in 1891, “but this is very difficult . . . At the moment my head is full of large ideas and I will have to do as dear Lord wishes.” A few years later, Dvorak would make Simrock very happy by sending them some large- and small-scale works that would sell tremendously well, including his New World Symphony and American Quartet . . . plus this music — an American quintet published by Simrock as Dvorak's Op. 97. Dvorak's Quintet was composed in Spillville, Iowa, in the summer of 1893 and was first heard at Carnegie Hall in New York on today's date in 1894. Music Played in Today's Program Antonin Dvořák (1841 - 1904) String Quintet in Eb, Op. 97 Smetana Quartet; Josef Suk, vla Denon 72507

Composers Datebook
Brahms bides his time

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis The German composer Johannes Brahms would probably have nodded in approval if he could have heard Orson Welles intone “We will sell no wine before its time” in those old TV ads for Paul Masson. Brahms was a notorious perfectionist, an obsessive polisher, and a cautious taste-tester of any of his own musical fermentations. So, if one notes that Brahms appeared at the piano on today's date in 1895, accompanying clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld at a high-profile Viennese performance of his Clarinet Sonata No. 1, one can safely assume there had been a number of trial performances beforehand. In the summer of 1894, during his annual holiday in the Austrian countryside, Brahms composed this sonata. The very first performances of the new Clarinet Sonata followed in the fall of 1894 for the Duke of Meiningen and his sister, with an additional test run in Frankfurt for Clara Schumann. After Clara gave the new work a thumbs up, Brahms apparently felt it was fit for public consumption: first on January 7, 1895 for members of Vienna's Tonkünstler Society, and four days later for an even more “toney” audience attending the Rosé String Quartet Quartet's chamber music series. After all, as Brahms and Mühlfeld might have put it: “We play NO sonata before its time!” Music Played in Today's Program Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897) Clarinet Sonata No. 1 Richard Stoltzman, clarinet; Richarde Goode, piano RCA 60036

Composers Datebook
A Kernis premiere wins the Pulitzer

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 10, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis On today's date in 1998, the Lark Quartet gave the first performance of the “String Quartet No. 2” by the American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Like much of Kernis's music, the new Quartet drew upon an eclectic variety of influences. As Kernis himself put it: “My Second String Quartet uses elements of Renaissance and Baroque dance music and dance forms as its basis and inspiration. For years I've played various Bach suites and pieces from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book at the piano for my own pleasure, and I suspected for some time that their influence would eventually show up in my own work.” The Lark Quartet had commissioned Kernis' first String Quartet, and, like the composer, were over the moon when they learned the Second had won the Pulitzer Prize for music. Just three months after its premiere, Kernis got the news by phone as he was headed to the airport to catch a flight to Spain. “I haven't had a martini in years,” recalled Kernis, “but that's sort of what it felt like.” Kernis' Second Quartet was a triple commission from Merkin Concert Hall in New York, Ohio University, and The Schubert Club of St. Paul, Minnesota, and was dedicated to Linda Hoeschler, the former Executive Director of the American Composers Forum. Music Played in Today's Program Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960) String Quartet No. 2 (musica instrumentalis) The Lark Quartet Arabesque 6727

Composers Datebook
Bartok's "Contrasts"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 9, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis In January of 1939, the famous jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman was playing each night at New York's Paramount Theater. On today's date that year he also appeared on the stage of Carnegie Hall. The occasion was the American premiere of a new chamber trio by the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, commissioned by Goodman at the suggestion of Bartok's compatriot, violinist Joseph Sizgeti. The work was billed as a two-movement “Rhapsody” for clarinet, violin and piano. Now, in 1939 Goodman was at the peak of his popularity with the swing-crazed youth of America, and the New York Times music critic felt the need to write: “There is no indication that Bartok wrote the clarinet part for Benny's clarinet, so jitterbugs reading this review have been simply wasting their time. The work is as Hungarian as goulash, and Mr. Goodman was artist enough to restrain himself from any insinuation of swing. Indeed, considering that he had probably left the stage of the Paramount Theatre some minutes before he appeared on that of Carnegie Hall, the purity of his style and the bright neatness of his technique were particularly admirable.” The following year, Goodman and Szigeti recorded the trio with Bartok himself at the piano. For that occasion, Bartok added a third movement, and the resulting work was re-titled Contrasts. Music Played in Today's Program Béla Bartók (1881 –1945) Contrasts Benny Goodman, clarinet; Joseph Szigeti, violin; Bela Bartok, piano CBS/SONY 42227

Composers Datebook
William Bolcom and William Blake

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 8, 2023 2:00


Synopsis If the late 18th century is the “Classical Age,” and the 19th “The Romantic,” then perhaps we should dub our time “The Eclectic Age” of music. These days, composers can—and do—pick and choose from a wide variety of styles. The American composer William Bolcom was loath to rule anything out when he approached the task of setting William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience to music. Bolcom calls for a large orchestra, multiple choruses, and more than a dozen vocal soloists versed in classical, pop, folk, country, and operatic styles. There are echoes of jazz, reggae, gospel, ragtime, country and rock idioms as well. As Bolcom put it: "At every point Blake used his whole culture, past and present, high-flown and vernacular, as sources for his many poetic styles. All I did was use the same stylistic point of departure Blake did in my musical settings.” The massive work received its premiere performance in Stuttgart, Germany, on today's date in 1984. Most of the work was completed between 1973 and 1982, after Bolcom joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and it was there that the work received its American premiere a few months following its world premiere in Germany. Music Played in Today's Program William Bolcom (b. 1938) Songs of Innocence and of Experience Soloists; Choirs; University of Michigan School of Music Symphony; Leonard Slatkin, conductor. Naxos 8.559216/18 On This Day Births 1792 - American composer and educator Lowell Mason, in Medford, Massachusetts; 1812 - Swiss composer and pianist Sigismond Thalberg, in Pâquis, near Geneva; 1896 - Czech composer Jaromir Weinberger, in Prague; 1899 - Russian-born American composer Alexander Tcherepnin (Gregorian date: Jan. 21); 1905 - Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, in La Spezia; 1924 - Russian-American composer Benjamin Lees (née Lysniansky), in Harbin, Manchuria; 1924 - Austrian-born American composer Robert Starer, in Vienna; 1935 - The charismatic rock 'n' roll performer Elvis Presley is born in Tupelo, Miss.; 1937 - American composer Robert Moran, in Denver; Deaths 1713 - Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli, age 59, in Rome; 1831 - Moravian-born composer and violinist Franz Krommer, age 71, in Vienna; 1998 - British composer Sir Michael Tippett, age 93, in London; Premieres 1705 - Handel: opera "Almira" in Hamburg; This was Handel's first opera (see also Dec. 5 & 30 for related contemporary incidents); 1720 - Handel: opera "Radamisto" (2nd version), in London (Julian date: Dec. 28, 1720); 1735 - Handel: opera "Ariodante" in London at the Covent Garden Theater (Gregorian date: Jan. 19); 1843 - Schumann: Piano Quintet in Eb, Op. 44, at Leipzig Gewandhaus with pianist Clara Schumann; 1895 - Brahms: Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, no. 1 (first public performance), in Vienna, by clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, with the composer at the piano, as part of the Rosé Quartet's chamber music series; The first performance ever of this work occurred on September 19, 1894, at a private performance in the home of the sister of the Duke of Meiningen at Berchtesgaden, with the same performers; Brahms and Mühlfeld also gave private performances of both sonatas in Frankfurt (for Clara Schumann and others) on November 10-13, 1894; at Castle Altenstein (for the Duke of Meiningen) on Nov. 14, 1894; and on Jan. 7, 1895 (for members of the Vienna Tonkünstler Society); 1911 - Florent Schmitt: "La tragédie de Salomé" for orchestra, in Paris; 1927 - Berg: "Lyric Suite" for string quartet, in Vienna, by the Kolisch Quartet; 1928 - Hindemith: "Kammermusik" No. 7, Op. 46, no. 2, in Frankfurt, with Ludwig Rottenberg conducting and Reinhold Merten the organist; 1940 - Roger Sessions: Violin Concerto, by the Illinois Symphony conducted by Izler Solomon, with Robert Gross as soloist; The work was to have been premiered by Albert Spalding with the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky in January of 1937, but did not take place); 1963 - Shostakovich: opera "Katerina Izmailova" (2nd version of "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District"), in Moscow at the Stanislavsky-Nemirovich-Dachenko Music Theater; 1971 - Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15, in Moscow, by the All-Union Radio and Television Symphony, with the composer's son, Maxim, conducting; 1987 - Christopher Rouse: "Phaethon" for orchestra, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti conducting; 1988 - Schwantner: "From Afar . . . " (A Fantasy for Guitar and Orchestra), by guitarist Sharon Isbin with the St. Louis Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting; Others 1923 - First broadcast in England of an opera direct from a concert hall, Mozart's "The Magic Flute" via the BBC from London; Links and Resources More on Wiiliam Bolcom More on William Blake

Composers Datebook
"Statements" from Copland

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 7, 2023 2:00


Synopsis In 1935 Aaron Copland finished a new orchestral work that was to be premiered by the Minneapolis Symphony and its young conductor Eugene Ormandy. The work was entitled Statements for Orchestra, and consisted of six short movements, each with a descriptive title, namely: Militant, Cryptic, Dogmatic, Subjective, Jingo, and Prophetic. The Jingo movement alludes to the popular tune Sidewalks of New York – where Copland completed the orchestration of his new score. The last two movements were premiered by the Minneapolis Symphony early in 1936, first on an NBC radio broadcast, then on one of the orchestra's subscription concerts. The conductor, however, was not Ormandy but rather Dimitri Mitropoulos, who would become the Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony the following year. And it was Mitropoulos who would lead the first complete performance of all six of Copland's Statements on today's date in 1942 during a concert by the New York Philharmonic. The new piece got good reviews, and Copland quoted with pride one given by his friend and colleague Virgil Thomson, which called the music “succinct and stylish, cleverly written and very, very personal …“ Much to Copland's surprise this music never really caught on with orchestras or audiences. “To my disappointment,” wrote Copland, “Statements remains one of my lesser-known scores.” Music Played in Today's Program Aaron Copland (1900 –1990) Statements London Symphony; Aaron Copland, conductor. Sony 47232

Composers Datebook
Concertos by Poulenc and Carter

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 6, 2023 2:00


Synopsis The American composer Ned Rorem liked to classify music as being either French or German – by “French” Rorem meant music that is sensuous, economical, and unabashedly superficial; by “German” Rorem meant music that strives to be brainy, complex, and impenetrably deep. On today's date the Boston Symphony gave the premiere performances of two important 20th century piano concertos. The first, by Francis Poulenc, had its premiere under the baton of Charles Munch in 1950, with the composer at the piano. Poulenc's Concerto is a light, entertaining with no pretension to profundity. It is quintessentially “French” according to Rorem's classification. The second Piano Concerto, by the American composer Elliott Carter, had its Boston premiere in 1967, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf, with soloist Jacob Lateiner. Carter's Concerto was written in Berlin in the mid-1960s when the Wall dividing that city was still new. Carter said he composed it in a studio near an American target range, and one commentator hears the sounds of machine guns in the work's second movement. Carter himself compared woodwind solos in the same movement to the advice given by three friends of the long-suffering Job in the Bible. Needless to say, Rorem would emphatically classify Carter's Concerto as “German” to the max! Music Played in Today's Program Francis Poulenc (1899 –1963) Piano Concerto Pascal Roge, piano; Philharmonia Orchestra; Charles Dutoit, conductor. London 436 546 Elliot Carter (b. 1908) Piano Concerto Ursula Oppens, piano; SWF Symphony; Michael Gielen, conductor. Arte Nova 27773

Composers Datebook
Ravel left and right

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1932, Maurice Ravel's Concerto for Piano Left Hand received its public premiere in Vienna. It was one of several concertos for piano left hand commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, a wealthy Austrian pianist who lost his right arm during the First World War. Wittgenstein also commissioned concertos from Richard Strauss, Prokofiev, Korngold, and Britten. In the fall of 1931, Ravel presented Wittgenstein with the score of his new concerto, and together they gave it a private read-through with Ravel playing the orchestra part on one piano, and Wittgenstein the solo part on another. At first Wittgenstein was not impressed and offended Ravel by suggesting a few changes, which Ravel flatly refused to make. “Only after I had studied the concerto carefully,” said Wittgenstein , ”did I realize what a great work it was.” Wittgenstein performed the premiere with the Vienna Symphony led by Robert Heger. A few days later, on January 14th that same year, Ravel himself conducted the premiere of his other Piano Concerto, this one written for the two hands of French pianist Marguerite Long. In stark contrast to the brooding Concerto for Wittgenstein, the Concerto for Long is light-hearted, with a blues-y slow movement inspired by the Harlem jazz sampled by Ravel during a visit to New York in 1928. Music Played in Today's Program Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) Piano Concerto in D (for the Left Hand) Leon Fleisher, piano; Baltimore Symphony; Sergui Commissiona, conductor. Philips 456 775 Piano Concerto in G Krystian Zimerman, piano; Cleveland Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, conductor. DG 449 213

Composers Datebook
Schuller and the MJQ

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2023 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1961, the New York City Ballet presented a new work scored by a 35-year old composer named Gunther Schuller, who was conducting the pit orchestra. On stage, in the middle of the green- and purple-garbed dancers, were four additional musicians: namely, the Modern Jazz Quartet, decked out in their usual white ties and tails. Schuller's score, entitled Variants, was an attempt to fuse modern music and jazz into a style he labeled Third Stream. ”I had this idea of the First and Second streams [classical and jazz] getting married and giving birth to a child, which is the Third stream," recalled Schuller years later, ruefully noting that today one would have to call it the 10,000th stream as composers have since introduced a multitude of ethnic, folk and vernacular music into the mix as well. But back in 1961, the idea attracted a lot of press – not all favorable. The New Yorker, for example, thought it odd that the MJQ “sat like a quartet of hunters in a duck blind, anxiously shooting out carefully calculated notes.” Time magazine wrote: “Schuller's score was the essence of the cool – spare, fragmentary, but resembling jazz only in its rhythmic drive.” If this was the Third Stream, the reviewer concluded, “it never seemed to be flowing anywhere.” Music Played in Today's Program Gunther Schuller (b. 1925) Conversation Modern Jazz Quartet and ensemble; Gunther Schuller, conductor. Wounded Bird 1345

Composers Datebook
HK Gruber

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 3, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis In Austrian culture there is a theatrical tradition that pokes fun at anything somber and serious. Mozart's opera “The Magic Flute” taps into this in the person of Papageno, and in the 19th century the Austrian actor Johann Nestroy deflated pomposity in his satirical plays, including one wicked sendup of Wagner's opera “Tannhauser.” In our own time, this tradition is alive and well – and even Mozart is not immune. How else do you explain a 1991 Austrian film titled: “Bring Me the Head of Amadeus!” – a work ostensibly released in honor of the 200th anniversary of the composer's death? That film's soundtrack was written by a musical jack-of-all-trades named H.K. Gruber, who was born in Vienna on today's date in 1943. Gruber has composed what might be called “normal” concertos and such but is best known for “abnormal” works, including a piece he describes as a “pandemonium” for voice and chamber ensemble titled “Frankenstein!” “Frankenstein!” is a musical setting of some very macabre poems by a fellow Austrian named H.C. Artmann. Oddly enough, its bizarre Viennese humor translates well with audiences worldwide. As Gruber puts it: “The poems evokes in each culture a unique set of metaphors and associations. The gloomy Russian temperament, for example, seems to find our ‘Frankenstein' particularly amusing!” Music Played in Today's Program HK Gruber (b. 1943) Three Mob Pieces London Mob Ensemble; HK Gruber EMI 56441 HK Gruber (b. 1943) Frankenstein!! HK Gruber, singer (?); Salzburg Camerata; Franz Welser-Most, conductor. EMI 56441

Composers Datebook
Dvořák reviewed

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 2, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis In 1885, a 20-year old violinist named Franz Kneisel came to America to become concertmaster of the Boston Symphony. That same year he formed the Kneisel Quartet, the first professional string quartet in America. For the next 30 years, their concerts were major musical events. On today's date in 1894, this review of a Kneisel Quartet performance appeared in the Boston Globe: “It was one of the most interesting concerts ever given in Chickering Hall. First on the program was the Dvořák Quartet in F Major, which has never before been played in public. It was given a private performance in New York recently, and the composer was so pleased with the playing of the Kneisels that he gave them the manuscript which they used last night.” “This composition,” the reviewer continued, “was written last summer and … the melodious parts strongly recall the type of music that the composer says he had in mind when he wrote the quartet … [The performance] was exceptionally good, and the listeners were stirred to a high pitch of enthusiasm. It is safe to say that the Dvořák quartet is a success.” Not a bad “morning after” review for the premiere of Dvořák's famous American Quartet, Op. 96. Music Played in Today's Program Antonín Dvořák (1841 –1904) String Quartet, Op 96 (American) Keller Quartet Warner 44355

Composers Datebook
Late-night "Parsifal"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 1, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis OK – raise your hand if you have ever stayed up ‘till midnight to attend the premiere showing of a new film . . . Extra points if you attended in costume as a Hogwarts student! Well, opera fans are no slouches, either. On December 31, 1913, Wagner fanatics arrived at the opera house in Budapest in time to attend a performance of Wagner's -5-hour opera “Parsifal” that began at one minute after midnight! January 1, 1914 was the date on which the official copyright protection for Wagner's last opera ran out. Before then, staged performances of Parsifal were forbidden to take place anywhere else than Wagner's own Festival theater in Bayreuth, Germany. “Parsifal” had premiered there in 1882, but since international copyright laws proved unenforceable in many countries, some opera companies just ignored them. The Met in New York, for example, extensively renovated its stage machinery for the sole purpose of staging Parsifal on Christmas Eve in 1903, and there were also “pirated” pre-1914 performances in Canada, the Netherlands, Monaco, and Switzerland. One interesting note about that midnight Parsifal in Budapest – the conductor was a 25-year-old musical wizard by the name of Fritz Reiner, who would eventually be waving his wand – OK, his baton– to lead the Chicago Symphony. Music Played in Today's Program Richard Wagner (1813-1883) Parsifal excerpts Welsh National Opera Chorus and Orchestra; Reginald Goodall, conductor. EMI 65665

Composers Datebook
Antheil's "Joyous" Symphony

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 31, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis On New Year's Eve, 1948, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra gave the first performance of the Symphony No. 5 by the American composer George Antheil. Now, in his youth, Antheil was something of a wild man, composing a Ballet mechanicque for a percussion ensemble that included electric bells, sirens, and airplane propellers. It earned him a reputation, and Antheil titled his colorful 1945 autobiography what many called him: "The Bad Boy of Music." But the great Depression and World War II changed Antheil's attitude. Rather than write for small, avant-garde audiences, Antheil found work in Hollywood, with enough time left over for an occasional concert work, such as his Symphony No. 5. In program notes for the premiere, Antheil wrote: "The object of my creative work is to disassociate myself from the passé modern schools and create a music for myself and those around me which has no fear of developed melody, tonality, or understandable forms." Contemporary critics were not impressed. One called Antheil's new Symphony "nothing more than motion-picture music of a very common brand" and another lamented its "triviality and lack of originality," suggesting it sounded like warmed-over Prokofiev. The year 2000 marked the centennial of Antheil's birth, and only now, after years of neglect, both Antheil's radical scores from the 1920s and his more conservative work from the 1940s is being performed, recorded and re-appraised. Music Played in Today's Program George Antheil (1900-1959) Symphony No. 5 (Joyous) Frankfurt Radio Symphony; Hugh Wolff, conductor. CPO 999 706 On This Day Births 1894 - Anglo-Irish composer Ernest John Moeran, in Heston, Middlesex; 1899 - Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, in Santiago, Papasquiaro; 1962 - American composer Jennifer Higdon, in Brooklyn, New York; Deaths 1950 - French composer Charles Koechlin, age 83, in Canadel, France; 1970 - British composer Cyril Scott, age 91, in Eastbourne, England; Premieres 1724 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 122 ("Das neugeborne Kindelein") performed on the Sunday after Christmas as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25); 1842 - Lortzing: opera "Der Wildschütz" (The Poacher), in Leipzig at the Stadttheater; 1865 - Rimsky-Korsakov: Symphony No. 1, in St. Petersburg, with Balakirev conducting (Julian date: Dec. 19); 1879 - Gilbert & Sullivan: operetta "The Pirates of Penzance," at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York, with the composer conducting (see also Dec. 30 above); 1943 - Martinu: Violin Concerto (No. 2), by the Boston Symphony with Serge Koussevitzky conducting and Micsha Elman the soloist; 1948 - Antheil: Symphony No. 5, by Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting; 1948 - Howard Hanson: Piano Concerto, by the Boston Symphony with the composer conducting and Rudolf Firkusny the soloist. Links and Resources On George Antheil More on Antheil

Composers Datebook
A Lehar premiere in Vienna

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 30, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis On this date in 1905, the Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár conducted the first performance of his new operetta, The Merry Widow. Lehar was sure it would be a success, but others did not share his confidence. The show's librettist, lawyer in tow, urged Lehár to cancel the premiere, and the nervous theater manager banned Viennese reporters from dress rehearsals, fearing bad advance press. After a lukewarm debut at Vienna's Theater an der Wien, The Merry Widow moved to a smaller, suburban theater, where it suddenly caught on. Within a year it had become a sensational hit throughout Europe. Lehár's contemporary, Gustav Mahler, was a Merry Widow fan, although he sent his wife, Alma, to buy the music rather than risk the embarrassment of having the director of Vienna's Imperial Opera House seen buying such a shamelessly "pop" score. Ironically, another great fan of Lehár's music was Adolf Hitler. Despite the fact that Lehár's wife and many of his professional associates were Jewish, Lehár's music continued to be performed in Nazi Germany. Lehár was 68 when Austria became part of the German Reich, and continued to conduct in Vienna and Berlin. Lehár's family was spared, but many of his former associates were forced into exile. Others were not so lucky: In 1942, Louis Treumann, who first sang The Merry Widow Waltz at the 1905 premiere in Vienna, died in the "model" concentration camp at Theresienstadt. Music Played in Today's Program Franz Lehár (1870-1948) The Merry Widow excerpts Budapest Philharmonic; Janos Sandor, conductor. Laserlight 15046

Composers Datebook
Humperdinck for the Animal Channel?

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis On today's date in 1910, the Metropolitan Opera premiered a new opera by the German composer Engelbert Humperdinck, already famous for his opera Hansel and Gretel. This new opera was also a fairy-tale and titled Königskinder or The Royal Children. The female lead role of the Goose Girl was sung by Geraldine Farrar, admired back then for both her vocal and physical beauty. Farrar wasn't scared of geese, either. She convinced both Humperdinck and Giulio Gatti-Casazza, the Met's manager, to add a touch of verismo to the staging. In her autobiography, Farrar writes: "Humperdinck was not a little taken aback when I mentioned that I intended having live geese which were to move naturally and unconfined about the stage… The conductor was much perturbed and objected to the noise and confusion they might create; but Mr. Gatti was resigned to my whim … So with the help o f… the 'boys' behind the stage I had as pretty a flock of birds as one could find on any farm. When the curtain rose upon that idyllic forest scene, with the goose girl in the grass, the geese unconcernedly picking their way about, now and again spreading snowy wings, unafraid, the [audience] was simply delighted and applauded long and vigorously." Unlike Hansel and Gretel, Königskinder had an unhappy fairy-tale ending, and despite some really lovely music, it's seldom staged these days—with or without live geese. Music Played in Today's Program Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) Koenigskinder excerpts

Composers Datebook
Airs and poems by Kernis and Chausson

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 27, 2022 2:00


Synopsis In the hands of a great performer, the violin can sing with the personality and intensity of a great opera singer. Pyrotechnics may dazzle, but nothing moves an audience as much as when a great violinist "sings" through his instrument. On today's date in 1896, a French audience in Nancy must has been so moved when the great violinist Eugène Ysaÿe gave the first performance of this music: the Poème for Violin and Orchestra by Ernest Chausson. In addition to famous artists like Manet and Degas, Chausson counted among his friends many of the great musicians of his day, including the great violinist Ysäye. Although they admired his work, Chausson was not always appreciated by the public. But when Ysaÿe premiered Chausson's Poème in Paris in 1897, the applause went on and on. Used to just the opposite reaction, Chausson was stunned by his success, and, while thanking Ysaye profusely, kept repeating to himself: "I just can't believe it!" Two modern-day violinists, Joshua Bell and Pamela Frank, were the inspiration for this songful contemporary work by Aaron Jay Kernis. Titled Air for Violin, it was originally composed for violin and piano, and premiered in 1995 by Joshua Bell. The following year, Pamela Frank and the Minnesota Orchestra premiered a new version of Air for violin and orchestra. Music Played in Today's Program Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) Poème, Op. 25 Isaac Stern, violin; Orchestre de Paris; Daniel Barenboim, conductor. CBS/Sony 64501 Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960) Air for Violin Minnesota Orchestra; David Zinman, conductor. Argo 460 226

Composers Datebook
A $400 finale for Sibelius

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 26, 2022 2:00


Synopsis On this day in 1926, Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony in the first performance of the last major orchestral work of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius—his symphonic tone poem Tapiola. The title refers to an ancient Finnish forest god, Tapio, and the music suggests an ancient mystery culminating in a burst of terrifying savagery. After receiving the score, Damrosch wrote this note of appreciation to the composer: "No one but a Norseman could have written this work. We were all enthralled by the dark pine forests and the shadowy gods and wood nymphs who dwell therein. The coda with its icy winds sweeping through the forest made us shiver." Today the commission fee Damrosch paid Sibelius for this orchestral masterpiece makes US shiver: Sibelius was paid only $400. At this point in his career, Sibelius was afflicted by intense self-doubt. He wrote in his diary: "I have suffered because of Tapiola,... was I really cut out for this sort of thing? Going downhill. Can't be alone. Drinking whiskey. Physically not strong enough for all this…" For the next 30 years and more, Sibelius lived in retirement, drinking heavily, and though rumors persisted that he was still writing music, no scores were discovered after his death. Music Played in Today's Program Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) Tapiola, Op. 112 Helsinki Philharmonic; Paavo Berglund, conductor. EMI 68646

Composers Datebook
Toscanini and Vivaldi

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 25, 2022 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1937, as a Christmas gift to the nation, the NBC radio network broadcast the first NBC Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Arturo Toscanini. The orchestra had been specifically created to lure the famous Italian conductor back to America.For the first selection on his first concert, Toscanini chose what was then a very obscure piece by what was then a VERY obscure Italian composer named Antonio Vivaldi: his Concerto Grosso in d minor, Op. 3, no. 11, to be exact.These days we are used to hearing Baroque music in “historically informed performances,” “hip” for short, and often played on period instruments. By those standards, Toscanini's Vivaldi might be described as “PRE-historic,” but in 1937 it must have seemed a shockingly hip selection: a bracing, bold shot of unfamiliar Baroque music by a composer rarely – if ever –heard on a symphony concert.In fact, one might argue that Toscanini was trying to be “historically informed,” since he probably used a score prepared by the Italian musicologist and composer Gian Francesco Malipiero, based on manuscripts and original editions of Vivaldi's music found in the library of the Liceo Musicale in Venice, where Malipiero taught in the 1930s and Vivaldi lived in the 1730s. Music Played in Today's Program Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741): Concerto Grosso in d, Op. 3, no. 11 NBC Symphony; Arturo Toscanini, conductor. (r. Dec. 25, 1937)

Composers Datebook
Safe passage for Rachmaninoff

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 24, 2022 2:00


Synopsis OK, how's this for a movie scene worthy of “Doctor Zhivago” ... It's October 1917 and Lenin has overthrown the Tsarist government of Russia. A composer and virtuoso pianist can hear gunfire from his apartment as he works and decides that his family must flee their homeland. He receives an offer for recital appearances in Scandinavia and uses the offer as a pretext to escape Russia. But first the family must face a dangerous journey to Finland in trains crowded with terrified passengers. At the Finnish border, a music-loving Bolshevik guard recognizes the famous artist and allows the family safe passage. But wait – there are no more trains running, so they must travel to Helsinki in an open peasant sleigh during a raging blizzard. They arrive in Stockholm on Christmas Eve, and one year later the composer and his family are able to book passage from Oslo to New York. If that sounds perhaps a bit too melodramatic, consider that scenario is exactly what happened to Sergei Rachmaninoff, his wife, and two daughters. In America, Rachmaninoff became a star pianist, playing 92 concerts at Carnegie Hall between 1918 and 1943. He continued to compose, but lamented, “When I lost my homeland, I lost myself as well... I have no will to create without ... Russian soil under my feet.” He would complete only six more major works during his 25 years in America. Music Played in Today's Program Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 1 in f#, Op. 1 Krystian Zimerman, piano; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Seiji Ozawa, conductor. DG 4796868

Composers Datebook
Humperdinck's "Into the Woods?"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2022 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1893, the opera Hansel and Gretel written by a 39-year old German composer named Engelbert Humperdinck received its premiere performance at the Court Theater of Weimar. It was conducted by a promising 29-year old composer by the name of Richard Strauss. It quickly became an international hit, playing to packed houses in Berlin, Vienna and London. Gustav Mahler, head of the Hamburg Opera at the time, declared it a masterpiece, and parents on several continents breathed a sigh of relief: here was an opera without the sex and violence so fashionable in the media—even back in 1893! Hansel and Gretel quickly became a Christmastime tradition—even though there's nothing in it particular "Christmas-y" apart from children, sugary things to eat, and the appearance of an angel or two. Initially, Humperdinck didn't even want to write anything as silly as an opera on Hansel and Gretel. He was a serious young protégé of Richard Wagner who had helped copy the orchestral parts for Wagner's final opera, Parsifal. It was his sister who talked him in to writing some music for a children's play she had prepared on the familiar fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. At some point, Humperdinck must have realized he not only could—but should—work his sister's play into a full-blown opera, which would blend Wagner's complex orchestral technique with a simple but universally appealing story that would charm old and young alike. Music Played in Today's Program Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) Hansel and Gretel Suite Royal Philharmonic; Rudolf Kempe, conductor. EMI 68736

Composers Datebook
A Beethoven marathon in Vienna

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 2:00


On this day in 1808 at Vienna's Theater-an-der-Wien one of the most famous concerts in the history of classical music took place. It was an all-Beethoven concert, with the composer himself featured as both conductor and piano soloist. The program included the premieres of both Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. Beethoven's Fourth Piano was also on the program—along with additional piano and vocal selections, including portions of Beethoven's Mass in C. At the last moment, Beethoven felt this still might not be quite enough music, so, considering the forces he had booked, he hastily composed his Choral Fantasy, a work that begins with a solo piano, then adds full orchestra and chorus to the mix. The concert began at 6:30 p.m. and lasted over four hours. Contemporary reviews were mixed—but apparently Beethoven's Fifth proved popular with its first night audience, and rapidly established itself worldwide as one of classical music's greatest hits. A less successful symphonic work had its premiere on this day in 1960, when Charles Munch conducted the Boston Symphony in the first performance of Die Natali by American composer Samuel Barber. This orchestral piece used familiar Christmas carols as themes, which are treated to a series of variations. Barber later expressed his own dissatisfaction with this score and withdrew it, but recycled his variations on Silent Night as a separate piece for solo organ. Music Played in Today's Program Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Symphony No. 5 Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, conductor. Philips 442 076 Samuel Barber (1910-1981) Chorale Prelude on Silent Night Jeremy Fisell, organ GMCD 7145

Composers Datebook
Diamond's First

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis In all, the American composer David Diamond wrote 11 Symphonies, spanning some 50 years of his professional career. The last dates from 1991, and the first from 1940, completed after his return from studies in Paris shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Diamond's first Symphony was premiered on today's date in 1941 by the New York Philharmonic led by the famous Greek conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos. Despite winning awards and positive comments from fellow composers ranging from Virgil Thomson to Arnold Schoenberg, for years Diamond struggled to make ends meet by playing violin in various New York City theater pit bands. More than one fellowship grant, however, enabled him to live abroad for extended stays, where, he said: “I can make my income last and live extremely well with my own villa and garden at a cost that would provide a hole-in-the-wall, coldwater flat in America . . . There is a spiritual nourishment, too, in that cradle of serious music [and] quiet for concentration that could never be found in an American city.” Defending his more traditional approach, Diamond wrote: “It is my strong feeling that a romantically inspired contemporary music, tempered by reinvigorated classical technical formulas, is the way out of the present period of creativity chaos in music... To me, the romantic spirit in music is important because it is timeless.” Music Played in Today's Program David Diamond (1915-2005) Symphony No. 1 Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, conductor. Delos 3119

Composers Datebook
Mozart in Salzburg, Bloch in America

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 20, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis In the spring of 1775, shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, and the sparks of the American Revolution burst into flames at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Far away in Salzburg, Austria, a 19-year-old composer named Wolfgang Mozart was spending most of that year composing five violin concertos. The fifth, in A major, was completed on this day in 1775. At the time, Mozart was concertmaster of the orchestra in the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg. Archbishops don't have their own orchestras now, but they did then—at least in Europe, if not in the American colonies. A century and a half later, America was celebrating its sesquicentennial, and the magazine Musical America offered a prize of $3,000 for the best symphonic work on an American theme. The prize was awarded unanimously to Ernest Bloch, a Swiss-born composer who had arrived in this country only a decade before. But already, sailing into the harbor of New York, he had conceived of a large patriotic composition. Several years later, it took shape in three movements as America—An Epic Rhapsody for Orchestra. It premiered in New York on today's date in 1928, with simultaneous performances the next day in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Fifteen other orchestras programmed it within a year. Curiously, although Bloch remains a highly respected composer, his America Rhapsody from 1928 is seldom performed today. Music Played in Today's Program Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Violin Concerto No. 5 Jean-Jacques Kantorow, violin; Netherlands Chamber Orchestra; Leopold Hager, conductor. Denon 7504 Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) America: An Epic Rhapsody Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, conductor. Delos 3135

Composers Datebook
Wendy Carlos "synthesizes" Purcell and Bach

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 19, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis The Stanley Kubrick film "A Clockwork Orange" opened in New York City on this date in 1971. The music was composed, and in some cases re-composed, by Wendy Carlos. As in his earlier hit, "2001: A Space Odyssey," Kubrick used classical music. This time, however, in keeping with the film's futuristic storyline, the classics were adapted and arranged for Moog synthesizer by Wendy Carlos. The Main Title music, which we're sampling, was Purcell's Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary. Carlos had just read the Anthony Burgess novel, "A Clockwork Orange," when she saw a notice in the New York Times that Kubrick was at work filming it. She immediately airmailed Kubrick two Moog synthesizer pieces, one original and one a classical arrangement. Kubrick wrote back, inviting her to London to talk, and the rest is history. Wendy Carlos had become an international celebrity with her earlier album Switched-On Bach, consisting of her Bach arrangements for synthesizer. It became the first classical recording ever to be certified "Platinum." Musical genius pianist Glenn Gould, whose own recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations was one of the biggest sellers of all time, said: "Carlos's realization of the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto is, to put it bluntly, the finest performance of any of the Brandenburgs—live, canned, or intuited—I've ever heard." Music Played in Today's Program Henry Purcell (arr. Wendy Carlos) Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary Wendy Carlos, synthesizers Eastside Digital 81362 J.S. Bach (arr. Wendy Carlos) Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 Wendy Carlos, synthesizers CBS/Sony 42309

Composers Datebook
Contrasting premieres by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 18, 2022 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis It's strange to read the doubts Tchaikovsky expressed in letters about many of his greatest musical works, which he first would dismiss as failures, only to change his mind completely a few weeks later. Take, for example, his ballet The Nutcracker, which had its premiere performance on this day in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Tchaikovsky described working on the ballet as a "dread-inspiring, feverish nightmare, so abominable that I don't think I have the strength to put it into words." At the time, Tchaikovsky was MUCH more optimistic about an opera he was writing titled Yolanta—only to abruptly changed his mind, writing "Now I think that the ballet is good and the opera nothing special." This time, Tchaikovsky got it right—although initially the opera DID prove more popular than the ballet. Another—and deliberately nightmarish—Russian composition had its first performance on this same day 70 years later. This was the Symphony No. 13 by Dmitri Shostakovich, subtitled Babi Yar, based on poems of Yevgeny Yevtushenko. This choral symphony was first heard on today's date in 1962 at the Moscow Conservatory, but was quickly banned by the Soviet authorities. Its title poem, Babi Yar, called attention to Soviet indifference to the Holocaust and persistent anti-Semitism in Soviet society. Yevtushenko later softened these lines so the symphony could be performed in the U.S.S.R. Music Played in Today's Program Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) The Nutcracker Ballet, Op. 71 Kirov Orchestra; Valery Gergiev, cond. Philips 462 114 Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 (Babi Yar) Nicola Ghiuselev, bass; Choral Arts Society of Washington; National Symphony; Mstislav Rostropovich, cond. Erato 85529

Composers Datebook
"Leif" Insurance for Schubert?

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2022 2:00


Synopsis There's an old joke that Schubert wrote two symphonies: one unfinished, and the other endless—the reference being to Schubert's Unfinished Symphony which lasts about 20 minutes, and his Great Symphony in C Major, which can run about an hour in performance. It was Antonio Salieri, one of Schubert's composition teachers in Vienna, who encouraged the young composer to date his manuscripts, so we know that Schubert's Unfinished Symphony was written in 1822. It wasn't performed in public, however, until December 17th, 1865—some 43 years later. The manuscript was known to exist, but no one bothered much about it until Josef von Herbeck tracked it down and conducted its first performance in Vienna. At its premiere, Herbeck added the last movement of Schubert's Third Symphony in D as a kind of makeshift finale. Many others have tried to "finish" the Unfinished Symphony, but more often than not, it is performed as an incomplete, yet oddly satisfying, work. The Icelandic composer Jon Leifs, who died in 1968, apparently worried that he might leave some unfinished orchestral score behind. Therefore, he composed not one but TWO works he titled Finale. These were intended as a kind of "musical insurance policy." To each score, Leifs attached a note suggesting that if he died and left behind any unfinished orchestral projects, either of these two Finales could be used. Music Played in Today's Program Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Symphony No. 9 Berlin Philharmonic; Karl Böhm, cond. DG 419 318 Jón Leifs (1899-1968) Fine I, Op. 55 and Fine II, Op. 56 Iceland Symphony; Petri Sakari, cond. Chandos 9433

Composers Datebook
On Beethoven, Saint-Saens, and fossil-hunting

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 16, 2022 2:00


Synopsis He was dubbed the "French Beethoven," and like Ludwig van, was famous as both a composer and a pianist. Camille Saint-Saëns was born in Paris in 1835, and died on today's date, at the age of 86, in 1921. The death date seems rather fitting, in a macabre sort of way, since December 16th is also the date we celebrate as Beethoven's birthday. And imagine, if you will, the 10-year old Saint-Saens making his formal debut as a pianist at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, first performing a concerto by Beethoven, then, as an encore, offering to play any one of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas—from memory! Saint-Saens's keyboard skills were legendary. An early admirer of Wagner, Saint-Saens once amazed that composer by playing entire scores of his operas at sight. Berlioz, another admirer, once quipped that Saint-Saens: "knows everything but lacks inexperience." In addition to music, Saint-Saens was fascinated by mathematics, astronomy, and the natural sciences. As a young boy he collected fossils that he dug out himself from the stone quarries at Meudon. Maybe that experience inspired him years later to add a movement titled fossils to his Carnival of the Animals, a chamber work he wrote as a private joke in 1886. Saint-Saens forbade its publication during his lifetime, and probably would have been appalled that this flippant work—and not his more serious symphonies or sonatas—has become his best-known and best-loved work. Music Played in Today's Program Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Variations on a theme of Beethoven Philippe Corre and Edouard Exerjean, pianos Pierre Verany 790041 Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Fossils, from Carnival of the Animals Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, pianos; Markus Steckeler, xylophone; ensemble Philips 446557

Composers Datebook
Dvořák's "Toy Story?"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 15, 2022 2:00


Synopsis On today's date in 1893, Anton Seidl conducted the New York Philharmonic in the first performance of Antonin Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, a work subtitled From the New World. This was an afternoon concert, meant as a public dress rehearsal for the work's "official" premiere the following evening. Among the Dec. 15th audience was Dvořák's eight-year old son, Otakar, who had a special interest in the success of his father's new symphony. In the preceding weeks, Otakar had accompanied his father to a New York café, where Dvořák met Anton Seidl to go over the new score. Young Otakar amused himself at a nearby toyshop, where a seven-foot long model of the ocean liner Majestic was on display, complete with its own miniature steam-chamber and working propellers. It cost a whopping $45—a HUGE amount of money in those days, and the answer from papa was always: NO! Seeing that the boy's heart was set on having the toy, Anton Seidl suggested to Otakar that he wait until after the premiere and then ask his father again. Seidl told Otakar that if all went well at the premiere, Dvořák would be in a generous mood. The premiere was a great success, and, as Otakar recalled: "When Seidl offered to pay half the cost of the Majestic, Father could not say no. So that is how the three of us celebrated the success of the first performance of the New World Symphony." Music Played in Today's Program Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) Symphony No. 9 (From the New World) New York Philharmonic; Kurt Masur, cond. Teldec 73244

Composers Datebook
Roumain's "Ghetto Strings"

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2022 2:00


Synopsis From its founding in 1986 the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet has both commissioned new works and arranged old ones for their ensemble of four virtuoso guitarists. On today's date in 2001, the Quartet premiered a new commission, a suite of four pieces entitled Ghetto Strings, written by the Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain. Daniel Bernard Roumain – or DBR as he likes to be called – was born in Skokie, Illinois, but grew up in Southern Florida, surrounded by music from Latin communities – the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic – as well as his own family's Haitian music. He took up violin at age five, and says he absorbed a variety of classical and contemporary music. In junior high, he formed his own rock and hip-hop band and in high school played in a jazz orchestra which brought in guests like Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles. He later pursued formal musical studies with mentors William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty, earning both his masters and doctoral degrees. The four movements of his Ghetto Strings evoke four places Roumain has called home at various points in his life: Harlem, Detroit, Liberty City in Miami, and Haiti. Music Played in Today's Program Daniel Bernard Roumain (b. 1970): Haiti, fr Ghetto Strings (Minneapolis Guitar Quartet) innova CD 858