About the Music

About the Music by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

 

Sinfonietta in A major, Op. 5/48    (1904; revised in 1914-1915 and 1929)                                                        

Sergei Prokofiev

Born April 23, 1891 in Sontzovka, Russia. Died March 5, 1953 in Moscow.

“In the field of instrumental music, I am well content with the forms already perfected. I want nothing better, nothing more flexible or more complete than sonata form, which contains everything necessary to my structural purpose.” This statement, given to Olin Downes by Prokofiev during an interview in 1930 for The New York Times, seems a curious one for a composer who had gained a reputation as an ear-shattering iconoclast, the enfant terrible of 20th-century music, the master of modernity. While it is undoubtedly true that some of his early works (Scythian Suite, Sarcasms, the first two piano concertos) raised the hackles of musical traditionalists, it is also true that Prokofiev sought to preserve that same tradition by extending its boundaries to include his own personal style. A glance through the listing of his works shows a preponderance of established Classical forms: sonatas, symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, quartets, overtures and suites account for most of his creative output.

Prokofiev’s penchant for using Classical musical idioms was instilled in him during the course of his thorough, excellent training. When he was a little tot, his mother played Beethoven sonatas to him while he huddled beneath the piano. He was soon playing them for himself and showing enough evidence of compositional talent that in 1902 Mama Prokofiev displayed her son to the highly respected pianist and Moscow Conservatory professor Sergei Taneyev, who was sufficiently impressed to arrange lessons for the boy with his student Reinhold Glière. Two years later, at the ripe age of thirteen, Prokofiev was admitted to the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where the brilliant but obstreperous youngster found his harmony classes with Liadov “extremely dull” and maintained that he “learned nothing” from his orchestration lessons with Rimsky-Korsakov. He found his conducting classes with Alexander Tcherepnin much more congenial, however, later admitting that “Tcherepnin played a very big role in my musical development. He was a brilliant musician who could discuss old and new music with equal understanding and appreciation.” Tcherepnin stressed the importance of the Viennese Classicists in his students’ training, and Prokofiev recalled that he soon found himself “acquiring a taste for Haydn and Mozart.” The most famous offspring of Prokofiev’s utilization of Classical forms and idioms was to be the Symphony No. 1 of 1917, but he had begun trying out Mozartian ideas as early as the juvenile Symphony in E minor of 1908 (given a reading and then abandoned by Prokofiev except for some materials incorporated into the Piano Sonata No. 4, “From Old Notebooks”) and the Sinfonietta in A major of the following year. Prokofiev said that the Sinfonietta, a “little symphony” reminiscent in its five-movement structure and its largely genial expression of a Classical serenade, was “an attempt to create a transparent piece for small orchestra, but the attempt was not particularly successful. I had not yet learned to write light, graceful music, and it was only many years later, after two revisions [in 1914-1915 and 1929] that the Sinfonietta was finally whipped into shape…. I gave it a double opus number — 5/48. Incidentally the Sinfonietta has been comparatively rarely performed, whereas the ‘Classical’ Symphony, written in the same manner, has been played everywhere. I cannot quite understand why the fate of these two pieces should be so different.”

The mood of the Sinfonietta’s opening movement is neatly summarized by its tempo marking: Allegro giocoso — literally, “cheerful, joyous.” The movement’s form, like that of many from Haydn’s later years, is a sonata structure based throughout on a single theme. The Andante, surprisingly somber and austere, contains many gestures of harmony and orchestration that were to become essential elements in Prokofiev’s fully mature musical style. Prokofiev would have classed the next two movements — Intermezzo and Scherzo — with his rhythmically driving “motoric” compositions: the first is nimble and gracious; the second weighty and stolid, even grotesque-humorous in its bassoon-led central episode. The finale rounds out the Sinfonietta’s formal cycle by again taking up the main subject of the opening movement and complementing it with new thematic material.

 

Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra
in C major, Op. 56, “Triple Concerto” (1803-1804)             

Ludwig van Beethoven  

Born December 16, 1770 in Bonn. Died March 26, 1827 in Vienna.

“Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel,” counseled the 19th-century British statesman Benjamin Disraeli. He would have gotten no argument from Beethoven on that point. When Rudolph, Archduke of Austria and titled scion of the Habsburg line, turned up among Beethoven’s Viennese pupils, the young composer realized that he had tapped the highest echelon of European society. Beethoven gave instruction in both piano performance and composition to Rudolph, who had a genuine if limited talent for music. Questioned once whether Rudolph played really well, the diplomatic teacher answered with a hoarse chuckle, “When he is feeling just right.” Concerning flattery, the most important manner in which 19th-century composers could praise royalty was by dedicating one of their compositions to a noble personage. Rudolph, who eventually became Archbishop Cardinal of Austria and remained a life-long friend and patron of Beethoven, received the dedication of such important works as the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, “Lebewohl” and “Hammerklavier” Sonatas, Op. 96 Violin Sonata, “Archduke” Trio, the Missa Solemnis and Grosse Fuge. While Rudolph was still a boy of sixteen, however, his teacher wrote for him his very own composition, a piece that made a grand noise and showed off his piano skills in a most sympathetic setting.

Beethoven’s choice of piano, violin and cello for Rudolph’s concerto appears to be unprecedented in the literature — “really something new,” he wrote to his publisher. There was a popular genre in the Classical era known as the sinfonia concertante for two or more soloists with orchestral accompaniment, a revamped model of the Baroque concerto grosso. Mozart and Haydn left lovely examples. The sinfonia concertante was especially favored in France, where the combination of violin and either viola or cello was most common. Beethoven, powerfully under the influence of French music at the time (the “Eroica” Symphony and Fidelio also date from 1803-1804), took over the form for two solo strings and added to it a piano part and — behold! the adolescent Archduke had become a virtuoso. Beethoven liked his student, who seems to have been quite a nice young man. The composer tailored the piano part to Rudolph’s skills so that it did not present extremely difficult technical demands but still showed off his abilities to good advantage. The string parts, on the other hand, he filled with florid lines woven around the keyboard writing so that the soloists as a group come off as a dazzling band of virtuosos. To assure a good first performance, Beethoven called in two of the best players of the day to share the stage with Rudolph — violinist Carl August Seidler and cellist Anton Kraft. If the demands of the cello part on the range and technique of the soloist are any indication, Kraft, especially, seems to have warranted his reputation as a master performer.

The Concerto’s first movement is a modified sonata design with a lengthy exposition and recapitulation necessitated by the many thematic repetitions. After a hushed and halting opening in the strings, the full orchestra takes up the main thematic material of the movement. The soloists enter, led, as usual throughout this Concerto, by the cello with the main theme. The second theme begins, again in the cello, with a snappy triad played in the unexpected key of A major rather than the more usual dominant tonality of G. It is through such original and, for 1804, daring technical excursions that Beethoven widened the expressive possibilities of instrumental music. Much of the remainder of the movement is given over to repetitions and figuration rather than to true motivic development. A sudden quickening of the tempo charges the concluding measures with flashing energy. The second movement is a peaceful song for the solo strings with elaborate embroidery for the piano. The movement is not long, and soon leads into the finale without a break. The closing movement is a strutting Rondo alla Polacca in the style of the Polish polonaise.

 

Symphony No. 1 in C major (1855)                                                      

Georges Bizet
Born October 25, 1838 in Paris. Died June 3, 1875 in Bougival, near Paris.

Georges Bizet lived for only three dozen years, and each of those dozens marked an important phase of his short life. During the first twelve years, only little time was devoted to the usual activities of childhood, since Georges, the offspring of two talented musicians, was breathtakingly precocious in musical matters. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at the age of nine and was winning prizes there within a year. He produced his earliest known works, two vocalises for soprano, at twelve.

The second dozen years of Bizet’s life were the happiest he was to know. He studied at the Conservatoire until he was nineteen, garnering awards for piano, organ, fugue and solfeggio, and composing a va­riety of works, one of which was a prize-winning operetta in a competition sponsored by Jacques Offenbach. At nineteen, he won the Prix de Rome, which supplied him with a five-year stipend, a residency in Italy and France, and the opportunity to devote himself to composition. He did complete several works during this time, but he projected far more that came to nothing. Despite developing a throat ailment that plagued him all his life, Bizet was active enough during those years to establish a modest reputation as a composer and an excellent one as a pianist. The years of planning, composing and travel came to an end when his prize stipend expired. At the age of 24 he was faced with the perplexing reality of providing his own living.

After 1863, Bizet gave much of his time to all manner of musical hackwork: private teacher, rehearsal accompanist, music critic, but mostly to transcribing the popular pieces of the day for a variety of instruments. “It is maddening to interrupt the work I love for two days in order to write cornet solos. Still, one must live!” he lamented. He continued to plan many works for both opera house and concert hall, but had to abandon most of them because of lack of time. From these later years date the works for which he is mainly remembered: The Pearl Fishers, Jeux d’enfants, the incidental music to L’Arlésienne and Carmen. None of these pieces provided him the success he worked so hard to achieve, however, and he lived in a state of continual frustration that Winton Dean described as “settled melancholy.” “We often sensed tears in his voice,” a friend wrote. Bizet died before he knew that Carmen would make his name famous around the world.

Bizet’s Symphony in C, written in his seventeenth year, is a marvel of early musical maturation that rivals the precocity of Mozart and Mendelssohn. It is a work in which the composer exhibited his careful study of, among others, Haydn, Rossini and Gounod (Gounod was Bizet’s counterpoint teacher whose own First Symphony appeared only a year earlier), and vitalized it with his own ebullient, youthful spirit and characteristic touches of melody, harmony and orchestration. Curiously, the work seems not to have been performed during Bizet’s lifetime. The manuscript became part of his estate after his death and passed into the possession of his wife, who did not fully appreciate her husband’s genius. She bequeathed it to the composer Reynaldo Hahn, and he to the Paris Conservatoire Library, where it gathered dust until Bizet’s first English biographer, D.C. Parker, unearthed it in 1933. It was finally premiered on February 26, 1935 in Basle, Switzerland by Felix Weingartner.

The Symphony in C opens with a movement in traditional sonata form, with a bubbling main theme outlining chordal patterns and a contrasting legato second theme, introduced by the oboe, in longer notes. The slow second movement contains a haunting, bittersweet serenade for oboe followed by a soaring melody for strings. The movement is rounded out by the return of the oboe theme. The concluding two movements are a sprightly scherzo with a rustic-sounding trio and a vivacious finale cast, like the first movement, in sonata form.

©2017 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. | Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Stuart Malina, Conducting
Mendelssohn Piano Trio

Peter Sirotin, Violin
Fiona Thompson, Cello
Ya-Ting Chang, Piano

 

Sinfonietta in A major, Op. 5/48
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Allegro giocoso
Andante
Intermezzo: Vivace
Scherzo: Allegro risoluto
Allegro giocoso

Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra in C major, Op. 56, “Triple Concerto”
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

 Allegro
Largo —
Rondo alla Polacca

— INTERMISSION—

Symphony No. 1 in C major
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)

Allegro vivo
Adagio
Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Finale: Allegro vivace

About the Music by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

 

Ainulindalë (2017)

Jeremy Gill

Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on January 20, 1975.

Jeremy Gill, born in Harrisburg in 1975, studied oboe, piano and composition before enrolling at the Eastman School of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in composition with high distinction in 1996; he earned his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania four years later. His teachers include some of America’s foremost composers: George Crumb, George Rochberg, Joseph Schwantner, Christopher Rouse, Donald Erb and Samuel Adler. Gill has taught at West Chester University, Messiah College, Temple University and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and lectured for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rockport Music and Philadelphia’s Dolce Suono Chamber Music Concert Series. He has also served as Assistant to the Conductor (1996-2002) and Composer-in-Residence (2002-2003) with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, and held additional residencies with the Chautauqua Opera, Bogliasco Foundation, Copland House, American Opera Project and MacDowell Colony. In 2015, Gill traveled to Cuba as part of a select group of composers assembled by the American Composers Forum as the first United States Artist Delegation to the Havana Contemporary Music Festival, a historic trip documented by National Public Radio. He is active as a performer as well, having conducted the Atlantic Coast Opera Festival, Penn Composers Guild concerts at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and the orchestras of the University of Rochester, West Chester University, Messiah College and Dickinson College, and appeared as pianist and harpsichordist; he has conducted some forty world premieres. As the composer of a rapidly expanding and widely performed catalog of works for opera, orchestra, chamber ensembles, choir and solo voice, Jeremy Gill has received commissions from the American Guild of Organists, Chamber Music America, Concert Artists Guild, Dolce Suono Ensemble, Harrisburg Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Market Square Concerts, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Network for New Music and other noted organizations and soloists. Among his awards and grants are those from BMI, ASCAP, League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer. Recordings of his music have been released on the Albany and Innova labels.

Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503 (1786)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born January 27, 1756 in Salzburg. Died December 5, 1791 in Vienna.

By the end of 1786, the time of the majestic C major Concerto (K. 503), Mozart had begun the decline into illness, debt and overwork that would cut his life short at the age of 35. He was beginning to dread the knock on the door for fear of finding a bill collector there; he was having difficulty meeting the rental cost of his apartment in the Schulerstrasse; his family medical bills were piling up; a new son, Johann Thomas Leopold, was born on October 18th and died less than a month later; and the revenues from The Marriage of Figaro, on which he had pinned such great hope, were disappointing, his opera virtually driven from the Viennese stage by the popularity of Martin y Soler’s Una cosa rara (which he quoted, perhaps ironically, in Don Giovanni the following year.) Mozart considered moving to England to try to better his fortunes, but he was frustrated in that venture by his tattered financial situation and the refusal of his father to take care of his son Karl in Salzburg. (Papa Leopold was still miffed at Wolfgang’s choice of a marriage partner, besides which he, a widower, was already in charge at that time of another grandchild, his daughter Nannerl’s son Leopold.) Having made a sensation when he moved to Vienna only five years before, Mozart saw much of his public slip away during the months of 1786, confused and put off by the disturbing depth of expression in his recent works. Still, Mozart persisted in writing as he wanted, perhaps escaping from the difficulties of his personal life and the demands of the fickle crowd through his compositions. Some of his greatest works date from that year: Figaro, The Impresario, the K. 496 and K. 502 Piano Trios, the Clarinet Trio (K. 498), the Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”), and three surpassing piano concertos (K. 488, 491 and 503).

Mozart entered the Concerto No. 25 (K. 503) into his list of compositions on December 4, 1786, only two days before he completed the “Prague” Symphony. The Concerto was probably written for his own use at one of the Advent concerts he had scheduled at the Trattner Casino in Vienna, though there is no documentation that these programs, despite careful planning, ever took place. The date of the premiere, therefore, remains uncertain. This work was the last of the series of piano concertos Mozart composed in Vienna to play at his public concerts. (After 1786 he could no longer enlist enough subscribers to finance his own programs, so the need for concerted works to display his keyboard skills largely disappeared.) The Concerto No. 25 was played on a concert at the Kärntnertor Theater in March 1787 by the young Viennese pianist Marianne Willmann, and again by the composer at a Leipzig performance for his own benefit in 1789. After that, it was largely forgotten. Unpublished in his lifetime, a poor edition was issued at her own expense by Mozart’s widow, Constanze, in 1798 with a dedication to the music-loving Hohenzollern Prince Louis Ferdinand in the vain hope of arousing his interest in her late husband’s works. It was heard in New York in 1865, but perhaps not played again in the United States until a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performance of 1942. More surprising still is that George Szell and Artur Schnabel, when they collaborated on presenting the Concerto in Vienna in 1934, could find no record of a performance of the piece in that city since Mozart’s time.

Despite its relative neglect over the years, the Concerto No. 25 must be counted among Mozart’s masterpieces. Sir Donald Tovey chose it for analysis as the principal example in his influential article of 1903 on “The Classical Concerto,” an essay that led to the re-evaluation of the greatest examples of the concerto literature as the aesthetic peers of the symphony. Tovey ranked this Concerto with the “Jupiter” Symphony in its “triumphant majesty and contrapuntal display.” H.C. Robbins Landon, the noted authority on 18th-century music, wrote that this composition is “the most perfect example of Mozart’s fusion of the concerto with Haydn’s principles of thematic and motivic work…. In K. 503, Mozart reached the ideal he had so long striven after.”

The Concerto opens with a sense of spaciousness and grandeur unsurpassed in 18th-century music. The bright nobility of the prevailing C major tonality is frequently clouded, however, by brief excursions into darker harmonic areas as the thematic material is presented — exactly the quality of expanded expression that so perplexed the Viennese public of Mozart’s time. A succinct motive of four short repeated notes appears in the violins soon after the beginning, and serves as the thematic kernel from which much of the movement grows. The soloist’s entrance bridges to the repeat of the principal themes from the orchestral introduction with elaborations from the piano. (Many performers rank this among Mozart’s most difficult concertos to play.) The richly textured development section (Tovey found eight simultaneous parts in one passage) is built largely from the repeated-note motive presented in the Concerto’s opening measures. The movement’s themes are further elaborated in the recapitulation in the suave, unerring manner that vivifies Mozart’s finest works.

The graceful opening theme sets the mood for the Andante, a fully worked-out sonata-concerto form in moderately slow tempo, with the soloist providing precisely the right amount of decorative embellishment as the music unfolds.

The theme of the finale is an almost literal copy of a gavotte in the ballet music of Mozart’s 1781 opera, Idomeneo, which he was considering revising in 1786. The movement retains the sparkling quality usually associated with its rondo form, while adding to it a certain seriousness of thought that was such an integral component of Mozart’s compositional language in the works of his later years.

Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70 (1884-1885)

Antonín Dvořák

Born September 8, 1841 in Nelahozeves, Bohemia. Died May 1, 1904 in Prague.

When Dvořák attended the premiere of the Third Symphony of his friend and mentor Johannes Brahms on December 2, 1883, he was already familiar with the work from a preview Brahms had given him at the piano shortly before. The effect on Dvořák of Brahms’ magnificent creation, with its inexorable formal logic and its powerful shifting moods, was profound. Dvořák considered it, quite simply, the greatest symphony of the time, and it served as one of the two emotional seeds from which his D minor Symphony grew. The other, which followed less than two weeks after the first presentation of the Third Symphony, was the death of his mother.

Brahms not only encouraged Dvořák in his work, but also convinced his publisher, Simrock, to take on the music of the once little-known Czech composer. Dvořák always respected and was grateful to his benefactor, and when Brahms’ Third Symphony appeared he looked upon it as a challenge presented to him to put forth a surpassing effort in his next work in the form. With Brahms’ Symphony as the inspiration, and his grief at his mother’s passing as the soul, the idea of a new symphony grew within him. He poured some of his sadness into the Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65, composed early in 1884, but the spark that ignited the actual composition of the Seventh Symphony was not struck until the following summer. Dvořák had been garnering an international success with his music during the preceding years, and his popularity was especially strong in England. As one of the stops on his busy conducting tours through northern Europe, he visited Britain for the first time in the spring of 1884, and on June 13th he was elected an honorary member of the Philharmonic Society and simultaneously requested to provide a new symphony for that organization. It gave him the reason to put the gestating Symphony to paper. Following another English foray in the fall that was even more successful than the earlier one, he set to work on the Symphony in December.

With thoughts of his mother still fresh in his mind, and with the example of Brahms always before him (“It must be something respectable for I don’t want to let Brahms down,” he wrote to Simrock), Dvořák determined to compose a work that would solidify his international reputation and be worthy of those who inspired it. In his study of the composer’s work, Otakar Šourek wrote, “Dvořák worked at the D minor Symphony with passionate concentration and in the conscious endeavor to create a work of noble proportions and content, which should surpass not only what he had so far produced in the field of symphonic composition, but which was also designed to occupy an important place in world music.” On December 22nd, Dvořák wrote to his friend Antonín Rus, “I am now busy with the new Symphony (for London) and wherever I go I have no thought for anything but my work, which must be such as to move the world — well, God grant that it may be so!” He was so pleased with progress on the piece, even during the busy holiday season, that on New Year’s Eve he told another friend, Alois Göbl, “I am again as happy and contented in my work as I have always been up to now and, God grant, I always shall be.” The orchestration was undertaken during the winter, and the score finished in March, only a month before its premiere in London.

Dvořák reported to Simrock that the Symphony’s introduction was “an exceptionally brilliant success.” Its triumph caused the eminent conductor-pianist Hans von Bülow, who led the Symphony in its Berlin premiere in 1889, to say of Dvořák, “Next to Brahms, [he is] the most God-gifted composer of the present day.” (Bülow also called him, with all due respect, “a genius who looks like a tinker.”) After Dvořák made some revisions in the score — including the excision of forty measures from the slow movement — he presented it to Simrock for publication with the expectation of a good payment. Simrock, however, argued that Dvořák’s large works did not sell well (he conveniently ignored the fact that the Slavonic Dances were making huge profits) and offered only half the requested amount. Dvořák replied that not only was the D minor Symphony the best such work he had ever written and certain to be in demand, but that he was also a father needing to support a family. As a final argument, the composer, whose first job had been as a butcher’s apprentice in a peasant village, and who throughout his life followed the country practice of keeping pigeons, added, “I have a lot of expense with my garden and it doesn’t exactly look as if there’ll be a good potato crop this year.” Dvořák got his full payment. It was the second of his symphonies to be published, and was usually known as “No. 2” until the 1960s, when the first five symphonies finally became widely available.

Dvořák’s D minor Symphony has been regularly heard in the world’s concert halls ever since it was new, and it is regarded by many as his finest achievement in the genre. Sir Donald Tovey’s comment is representative: “I have no hesitation in setting Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony along with the C major Symphony of Schubert and the four symphonies of Brahms as among the greatest and purest examples of this art-form since Beethoven.” It has a gravity and austerity that are seldom encountered in the works of this composer, about whose music the great Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick once said, “In it, the sun always shines.” Its texture and orchestration are often reminiscent of Brahms, but Dvořák’s own distinctive personality is never suppressed, a difficult balance for him to attain during these years since he wanted to write music that would embody both the great German symphonic tradition and the unique characteristics of the Bohemian folk music that he held so dear. Though they are very different works, he succeeded remarkably well in each of his last three symphonies.

The Symphony begins with an ominous rumble deep in the basses reminiscent of both the introductory measures of Bruckner’s symphonies and the beginning of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, another work in D minor and coincidentally also commissioned by the London Philharmonic Society. The haunting main theme is introduced by the violas and cellos, then echoed by the clarinets. Almost immediately, the possibilities for development built into the theme are explored, and the music rapidly grows in intensity until a climax is achieved when the main theme bursts forth in dark splendor from the full orchestra. The tension subsides to allow the flute and clarinet to present the lyrical second theme. The development, woven from the thematic components of the exposition, is compact and concentrated. The recapitulation is swept in on an enormous wave of sound that is capped by the re-entry of the timpani. The main theme is abandoned quickly, and the repeat of the flowing second theme is entrusted to two clarinets in a rich setting. The main theme returns, at times with considerable vehemence, to form the coda to this magnificent movement.

The second movement opens with a chorale of an almost otherworldly serenity that had been little portrayed in music since the late works of Beethoven. A complementary thematic idea with wide leaps of pathetic beauty is heard from the strings. The unusual form of the movement, part variations, part sonata, is perhaps best heard as the struggle between the beatific grace of the opening and the various states of musical and emotional tension that militate against it. It is likely that Dvořák intended this deeply expressive music as the heart of the Symphony, as a cathartic portrayal of the feelings that had troubled him since the death of his mother.

The Scherzo, the greatest dance movement among Dvořák’s symphonies, is at once graceful and compelling, airy and forceful. Its bounding syncopations give it an irresistible vivacity set in a glowing, burnished orchestral sonority. Though the trio is more lyrical, it has an incessant rhythmic background in the strings that lends it an unsettled quality.

The finale, which continues the brooding mood of the preceding movements, is large in scale and assured in expression. Unlike many minor-mode symphonies of the 19th century, this one does not end in a blazing apotheosis of optimism, but, wrote Otakar Šourek, “rises to a glorious climax of manly, honorable and triumphant resolve.” It is a moving climax to one of Dvořák’s greatest creations.

Of Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony, Šourek wrote, “The spirit of the great symphonist-architect emanates in full glory from the work as a whole, and from each movement, from each section and, indeed, from each bar, building up before us a composition of monumental proportions, unified in all its parts, bold in design, of material without flaw or fracture, a composition which is one of the greatest and most significant symphonic compositions since Beethoven.”

©2017 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

About the Music by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

 

The Fountains of Rome (1916)                                                              

Ottorino Respighi

Born July 9, 1879 in Bologna. Died April 18, 1936 in Rome.

The Fountains of Rome is the earliest of the Roman trilogy of symphonic poems by which Respighi is primarily represented in the world’s concert halls. (The Pines of Rome followed in 1924, Roman Festivals in 1929.) It was also his first great public success, though his notoriety was not achieved without a certain difficulty. Arturo Toscanini had agreed to conduct the premiere of Fountains, late in 1916. Germany and Italy were at war then, however, and there had been recent bombings of Italian towns that resulted in heavy casualties. Despite heated anti-German feelings, Toscanini refused to drop selections by that arch Teuton Richard Wagner from his programs. When he began Siegfried’s Funeral March on one November concert, grumbling arose in the audience and finally erupted with a shout from the balcony: “This piece is for the Paduan dead.” The infuriated Toscanini hurled his baton at the unruly audience and stormed off the stage and out of Rome. Plans for the premiere of The Fountains of Rome were delayed, and the work had to wait until the following March to be heard, in a concert conducted by Antonio Guarnieri. Respighi’s wife, Elsa, reported that the premiere was not a success. Indeed, the composer, whose music had not yet found much favor, expected as much. Trying to make light of the possibility of failure, he warned one of his friends to “take your umbrella and galoshes” to the premiere of this modern-day “Water Music.” It was with Toscanini’s performances in Milan and Rome of the following year that The Fountains of Rome — and Respighi’s reputation — became established.

Respighi told his wife that he thought it strange no one had ever depicted the famous Roman fountains in music, that no one had ever made them sing, “for they are the very voice of the city,” he said. This sparkling work paints colorful pictures of four of these famous landmarks as seen through the dawn-to-dusk cycle of a single day. Its musical style combines elements of Debussian Impressionism and Straussian vigor with Respighi’s own brilliant sense of lyricism and orchestral color. Elsa noted that The Fountains of Rome was written “to satisfy a spiritual need. It is in a way a synthesis of Respighi’s feelings, thoughts and sensations during those first few months of life in Rome.”

Respighi prefaced the orchestral score of The Fountains of Rome with the following description of the music:

“In this symphonic poem the composer has endeavored to give expression to the sentiments and visions suggested to him by four of Rome’s fountains contemplated at the hour in which their character is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape, or in which their beauty appears most impressive to the observer.

“The first part of the poem, inspired by the fountain of Valle Giulia, depicts a pastoral landscape: droves of cattle pass and disappear in the fresh damp mists of a Roman dawn.

“A sudden loud and insistent blast of horns above the whole orchestra introduces the second part, The Triton Fountain. It is like a joyous call, summoning troops of naiads and tritons, who come running up, pursuing each other and mingling in a frenzied dance between the jets of water.

“Next there appears a solemn theme borne on the undulations of the orchestra. It is the fountain of Trevi at mid-day. The solemn theme, passing from the woodwind to the brass instruments, assumes a triumphal character. Trumpets peal: across the radiant surface of the water there passes Neptune’s chariot drawn by sea-horses, and followed by a train of sirens and tritons. The procession then vanishes while faint trumpet blasts resound in the distance.

“The fourth part, The Villa Medici Fountain, is announced by a sad theme which rises above a subdued warbling. It is the nostalgic hour of sunset. The air is full of the sound of tolling bells, birds twittering, leaves rustling. Then all dies peacefully into the silence of the night.”

Symphony No. 7 in C major (in One Movement), Op. 105 (1923-1924)           

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

Born December 8, 1865 in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Died September 20, 1957 in Järvenpää, Finland.

One of the most important stylistic trends in the historical development of the symphony was its evolution toward a totally integrated, single span of music. The symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, for all their prodigious technical and expressive brilliance, comprised essentially four separate orchestral essays linked almost exclusively by key and style. It was Beethoven, particularly in the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, who showed how the individual symphonic movements could be related one to another to produce a cumulative emotional effect surpassingly greater than any music written by his forebears. The sense of summing-up, of struggle overcome and victory won, of apotheosis achieved in the finales of those symphonies, is one of Beethoven’s most important legacies to 19th-century music.

With Beethoven as exemplar, an important part in the evolution of the symphony during the Romantic century was played by the attempts (and successes) to hew its component movements into a unified, meaningful arch of music. Berlioz, for example, posited a single melody, an idée fixe, that appeared as a unifying structural and emotional device in each of the movements of his Symphonie Fantastique. Schumann transformed a germinal motive in his Fourth Symphony into important thematic material throughout the work, and emphasized the interrelatedness of the movements by leaving their forms incomplete, forcing the music to continue. In the finale of his Third Symphony, Brahms telescoped the movement’s development and recapitulation sections. Liszt, following the lead of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy, created the symphonic poem, the single-movement genre integrated as much by the pervasiveness of its motives and the abutting of its movement-like sections as by its programmatic content. In the one-movement Seventh Symphony of Jean Sibelius, this Romantic urge toward structural unification reached its logical goal.

It was in 1918, when he was struggling to bring his Fifth Symphony into its final shape, that Sibelius first mentioned plans for two further such works, apparently conceived simultaneously in the euphoric rush following the end of the Great War: “The VIIth symphony. Joy of life and vitality, with appassionato passages. In three movements — the last a ‘Hellenic rondo.’ … It looks as if I were to compose three symphonies at the same time…. With regard to VI and VII, the plans may be altered according to the development of musical ideas. As usual, I am a slave to my themes and submit to their demands.” He continued to tinker with the Fifth Symphony until the autumn of the following year, when he proclaimed it done. After the premiere of the Sixth Symphony, in February 1923 in Helsinki, he immediately went to Italy and began serious work on its successor. He completed the score on March 3, 1924. The piece that emerged, however, bore no resemblance to the three-movement work of the 1918 plan. It was instead a closely reasoned, single-movement work, the true end result of the Romantics’ quest for the ultimate symphonic form. For Sibelius, this magnificent, rounded span of music took on nearly mystical significance. “The final form of one’s work,” he wrote, “is, indeed, dependent on powers that are stronger than oneself. Later on, one can substantiate this or that, but on the whole one is merely a tool. This wonderful logic — let us call it God — that governs a work of art is an irresistible power…. These symphonies of mine [Nos. 5, 6 and 7] are more in the nature of professions of faith than my other works.” Rumors of an eighth symphony persisted throughout the remaining three decades of Sibelius’ life. He almost certainly did some work on such a score, but nothing ever was issued to the public — perhaps his sketches were destroyed soon after their conception; perhaps, on his instructions, after his death in 1957. Ultimately he came to the realization, as must anyone sensitive to the historical tradition of the symphonic form, that he had accomplished all that he could in the Seventh Symphony, and that no further advances were possible for him.

There have been many attempts to explain the formal substance of the Symphony; some say it is in three movements, some five, some something else. Gerald Abraham’s is the most salient point, however: “The most remarkable aspect of Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony is that it is an organic symphony in one movement; not merely a long movement in which various sections correspond to slow movement, scherzo and so on, but a single indivisible organism.” The essence of this music, as it was for Beethoven in his last years, is in its becoming rather than in its achieving. The climaxes, the points of arrival, are only important as the logical consequence of what has preceded them, and can therefore be left almost as soon as they are reached so that the inexorable movement toward the next point of arrival — the essential function of any art form that exists in and structures time — may start again. The most fruitful way to hear such a work as the Seventh Symphony is to leave aside conventional formal expectations and allow the composer to be the guide through the experience — by building tension, and releasing it; by creating transient obscurity to be resolved into crystalline clarity; by shaping time and emotions.

 

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, “Organ” (1886)            

Camille Saint-Saëns

Born October 9, 1835 in Paris. Died December 16, 1921 in Algiers.

“There goes the French Beethoven,” declared Charles Gounod to a friend as he pointed out Camille Saint-Saëns at the Paris premiere of the “Organ” Symphony. This was high praise, indeed, and not without foundation. Though the depths of feeling that Beethoven plumbed were never accessible to Saint-Saëns, both musicians largely devoted their lives to the great abstract forms of instrumental music — symphony, concerto, sonata — that are the most difficult to compose and the most rewarding to accomplish. This was no mean feat for Saint-Saëns.

The Paris in which Saint-Saëns grew up, studied and lived was enamored of the vacuous stage works of Meyerbeer, Offenbach and a host of lesser lights in which little attention was given to artistic merit, only to convention and entertainment. Berlioz tried to break this stranglehold of mediocrity, and earned for himself a reputation as an eccentric, albeit a talented one, whose works were thought unperformable and probably best left to the pedantic Germans anyway. Saint-Saëns, with his love of Palestrina, Rameau, Beethoven and, above all, Mozart, also determined not to be enticed into the Opéra Comique but to follow his calling toward a more noble art. To that end, he helped established the Société Nationale de Musique in 1871 to perform the serious concert works of French composers. The venture was a success, and did much to give a renewed sense of artistic purpose to the country’s best musicians.

Saint-Saëns produced a great deal of music to promote the ideals of the Société Nationale de Musique, including ten concertos and various smaller works for solo instruments and orchestra, four tone poems, two orchestral suites and five symphonies, the second and third of which were unpublished for decades and discounted in the usual numbering of these works. The last of the symphonies, the No. 3 in C minor, is his masterwork in the genre. Saint-Saëns placed much importance on this composition. He pondered it for a long time and realized it with great care, unusual for this artist, who said of himself that he composed music “as an apple tree produces apples,” that is, naturally and without visible effort. “I have given in this Symphony,” he confessed, “everything that I could give.”

Of the work’s construction, Saint-Saëns wrote, “This Symphony is divided into two parts, though it includes practically the traditional four movements. The first, checked in development, serves as an introduction to the Adagio. In the same manner, the scherzo is connected with the finale.” Saint-Saëns clarified the division of the two parts by using the organ only in the second half of each: dark and rich in Part I, noble and uplifting in Part II. The entire work is unified by transformations of the main theme, heard in the strings at the beginning after a brief and mysterious introduction. In his “Organ” Symphony, Saint-Saëns combined the techniques of thematic transformation, elision of movements and richness of orchestration with a clarity of thought and grandeur of vision to create one of the masterpieces of French symphonic music.

©2017 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. | Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

Stuart Malina, Conducting

The Fountains of Rome

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)

The Valle Giulia Fountain at Dawn

The Triton Fountain at Morning

The Trevi Fountain at Noon

The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset
(Played without pause)

Symphony No. 7 in C major (in One Movement), Op. 105

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

— INTERMISSION—

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, “Organ”

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

Adagio — Allegro moderato —

        Poco adagio

Allegro moderato — Presto — Allegro moderato —

        Maestoso — Allegro

About the Music by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

 

Music for a Scene from Shelley, Op. 7 (1933)                                        

Samuel Barber

Born March 9, 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Died January 23, 1981 in New York City.

In 1928, when he was just eighteen and still a new student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Barber began the practice of regular travel to Europe for music study and general cultural education. He usually spent the summers with his classmate Gian Carlo Menotti and the Menotti family in the village of Cadegliano on the Italian side of Lake Lugano, which Barber described in a letter to his parents: “Hidden away in mountains of extreme natural beauty, almost unpastured, and overlooking a magnificent valley with parts of three lakes, dividing new mountain-ranges which in turn form a background for the vistas of Switzerland — hidden away here, little known, not caring to be known, is this little settlement of quaint villas, of all styles, of diverse degrees of luxury…. There are exquisite formal gardens, immaculately kept….” It was in that halcyon setting that Barber conceived his Music for a Scene from Shelley. “In the summer of 1933,” he wrote in the preface to the published score, “I was reading Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound. The lines in Act II, Scene 5, where Shelley indicates music, suggested this composition. It is really incidental music to this particular scene, and has nothing at all to do with the figure of Prometheus.” From this scene of Shelley’s poetic drama, set “within a Cloud on the Top of a snowy Mountain,” Barber quoted the lines spoken by Panthea to Asia:

 

… nor is it I alone,

Thy sister, thy companion, thine own chosen one,

But the whole world which seeks thy sympathy.

Hearst thou not sounds i’ the air which speak the love

Of all articulate things? Feelest thou not

The inanimate winds enamoured of thee? — List! [Music.

Barber wrote that he intended in this work “to describe the ‘voices in the air’ imploring Asia (goddess of love) to bring back sympathy and love to mankind through Prometheus’ release.” (The Titan Prometheus was chained to a mountain by Zeus for stealing fire from the gods to enlighten mankind.) The music is constructed in the form of a large arch, beginning and ending quietly, and reaching its climax in the central portion. Mysterious murmurs from the strings preface the main theme, a slow-moving, descending motive intoned by the horn quartet. This theme is repeated by the strings, becomes more animated and leads to a contrasting violin melody of wide range whose beginning is marked by the work’s only cymbal crash. The music grows inexorably to a climax of vehement intensity. After a breathless silence, the full orchestra hurls forth the main theme, but its force is quickly spent, and the Music for a Scene from Shelley ends, as it began, in a state of hushed mystery.

Piano Concerto in G (1929-1931)                                                              
Maurice Ravel
Born March 7, 1875 in Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées, France. Died December 28, 1937 in Paris.

Ravel’s tour of the United States in 1928 was such a success that he began to plan for a second one as soon as he returned home to France. With a view toward having a vehicle for himself as a pianist on the return visit, he started work on a concerto in 1929, perhaps encouraged by the good fortune that Stravinsky had enjoyed concertizing with his Concerto for Piano and Winds and Piano Capriccio earlier in the decade. However, many other projects pressed upon him, not the least of which was a commission from the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm in the First World War, to compose a piano concerto for left hand alone, and the Concerto in G was not completed until 1931.

The sparkling first movement of the Concerto in G opens with a bright melody in the piccolo that may derive from an old folk dance of the Basque region of southern France, where Ravel was born. There are several themes in this exposition: the lively opening group is balanced by another set that is more nostalgic and bluesy in character. The development section is an elaboration of the lively opening themes, ending with a brief cadenza in octaves as a link to the recapitulation. The lively themes are passed over quickly, but the nostalgic melodies are treated at some length. The jaunty vivacity of the beginning returns for a dazzling coda.

When Ravel first showed the manuscript of the Adagio to Marguerite Long, the soloist at the premiere, she commented on the music’s effortless grace. The composer sighed, and told her that he had struggled to write the movement “bar by bar,” that it had cost him more anxiety than any of his other scores. The movement begins with a long-breathed melody for solo piano over a rocking accompaniment. The central section does not differ from the opening as much in melody as it does in texture — a gradual thickening occurs as the music proceeds. The texture then becomes again translucent, and the opening melody is heard on its return in the plaintive tones of the English horn.

The finale is a whirling showpiece for soloist and orchestra that evokes the energetic world of jazz. Trombone slides, muted trumpet interjections, shrieking exclamations from the woodwinds abound. The episodes of the form tumble continuously one after another on their way to the abrupt conclusion of the work.

 

Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93 (1953)                          

Dmitri Shostakovich

Born September 25, 1906 in St. Petersburg. Died August 9, 1975 in Moscow.

The resilience of Dmitri Shostakovich was astounding. Twice during his life he was the subject of the most scathing denunciations that Soviet officialdom could muster, and he not only endured both but found in them a spark to renew his creativity. The first attack, in 1936, condemned him for writing “muddle instead of music,” and stemmed from his admittedly modernistic opera Lady Macbeth of Mzensk. The other censure came after the Second World War, in 1948, and it was part of a general purge of “formalistic” music by Soviet authorities. Through Andrei Zhdanov, head of the Soviet Composers’ Union and the official mouthpiece for the government, it was made known that any experimental or modern or abstract or difficult music was no longer acceptable for consumption by the Russian peoples. Only simplistic music glorifying the state, the land and the people would be performed. In other words, symphonies, operas, chamber music — any forms involving too much mental or emotional stimulation — were out; movie music, folk song settings and patriotic cantatas were in.

Shostakovich saw the iron figure of Joseph Stalin behind the condemnations of both 1936 and 1948. After the 1936 debacle, Shostakovich responded with his Fifth Symphony, and kept composing through the war years, even becoming a world figure representing the courage of the Russian people with the lightning success of his Seventh Symphony (“Leningrad”) in 1942. The 1948 censure was, however, almost more than Shostakovich could bear. He determined that he would go along with the Party prerogative for pap, and withhold all of his substantial works until the time when they would be given a fair hearing — when Stalin was dead. About the only music that Shostakovich made public between 1948 and 1953 was that for films, most of which had to do with episodes in Soviet history (The Fall of Berlin, The Memorable Year 1919) and some jingoistic vocal works (The Sun Shines Over Our Motherland).

With the death of Stalin on March 5, 1953 (ironically, Prokofiev died on the same day), Shostakovich and all Russia felt an oppressive burden lift. The thaw came gradually, but there did return to Soviet life a more amenable attitude toward works of art, one that allowed significant compositions again to be produced and performed. Shostakovich, whose genius had been shackled by Stalin’s repressive artistic policies, set to work almost immediately on a large, bold symphony, a composition that was to prove the greatest he had written to that time in the form — the Symphony No. 10.

The Tenth Symphony is among the greatest works of its type written during the twentieth century. It can be favorably compared not only with the music of Sibelius, Prokofiev and Vaughan Williams, but, even more impressively, with that of Brahms and Beethoven. Besides the technical mastery the Symphony displays, it, like all of Shostakovich’s works in this form, also seems to bear some profound underlying message, some implicit struggle between philosophical forces. When the Symphony was new, Shostakovich would give no hint as to the “meaning” of the work. At a conference of Soviet composers in 1954, he stated, “Authors like to say of themselves, ‘I tried, I wanted to, etc.’ But I think I’ll refrain from any such remarks. It would be much more interesting for me to know what the listener thinks and to hear his remarks. One thing I will say: in this composition I wanted to portray human emotions and passions.” Asked sometime later if he would provide a written program for the Tenth Symphony, he laughed and said, “No. Let them listen and guess for themselves.”

The Symphony’s first movement grows through a grand arch form whose central portions carry its greatest emotional intensity. The music is built from three themes, each of which undergoes a certain amount of development upon its initial presentation. The first is a darkly brooding melody that rises from the depths of the low strings immediately at the beginning. As this sinuous theme unwinds in the cellos and basses, the other string instruments enter to provide a surrounding halo of sound. The second theme appears in the clarinet, the first entry by the winds in the movement. The ensuing treatment of this theme generates the movement’s first climax before this section is rounded out by the re-appearance of the solo clarinet. The third theme emerges in the breathy low register of the solo flute as a sort of diabolical waltz. These three elements — low string, clarinet and flute melodies — provide the material for the rest of the movement.

The menacing second movement, a musical portrait of Stalin, is, in the words of Ray Blokker, “a fireball of a movement, filled with malevolent fury.” Its thunderous tread leaves little doubt of Shostakovich’s feeling about the murderous Stalin.

The opening gesture of the third movement, three rising notes, is related in shape to the themes of the first two movements and provides a strong link in the overall unity of the Tenth Symphony. As a tag to this first theme, Shostakovich included his musical “signature” — DSCH, the notes D–E-flat–C–B. (The note D represents his initial. In German transliteration, the composer’s name begins “Sch”: S [ess] in German notation equals E-flat, C is C, and H equals B-natural.) This “signature” and its variants are given prominence, and there is no doubt that Shostakovich saw himself as a direct participant in the program of the Symphony. The movement’s center section is dominated by an unchanging horn call that resembles the awesome riddle of existence posed by the solo trumpet in Ives’ The Unanswered Question. The opening section returns in a heightened presentation. The movement closes with Shostakovich’s musical signature, played haltingly by flute and piccolo, hanging in the air.

The last movement begins with an extended introduction in slow tempo, a perfect psychological buffer between the unsettled nature of the third movement and the exuberance of the finale proper. The finale is both festive and thoughtful. During its course, it recalls thematic material from earlier movements to serve as a summary of the entire work. Concerning the ending of the work, the British writer on music Hugh Ottaway wrote, “The impact is affirmative but provisional: anti-pessimistic rather than optimistic.”

Shostakovich left the final interpretation of the Tenth Symphony up to each listener. It is no doubt heroic, filled with struggle and a deep awareness of life’s pains. But it is also uplifting in its dedication to the human spirit and the continuity of life against the greatest obstacles. In the words of Ray Blokker, in his book on the composer’s symphonies, “Here is the heart of Shostakovich. In this work he opens his soul to the world, revealing its tragedy and profundity, but also its resilience and strength.”

©2017 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. | Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

 

Stuart Malina, Conducting
Mark Markham, Piano

 

 

 

Music for a Scene from Shelley, Op. 7

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

Piano Concerto in G

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Allegramente

Adagio assai

Presto

— INTERMISSION—

Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Moderato

Allegro

Allegretto

Andante — Allegro

About the Music by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

 

Three Dance Episodes from On the Town (1944)                                                                

Leonard Bernstein

Born August 25, 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Died October 14, 1990 in New York City.

In April 1944, Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free was introduced to great acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The plot, according to the composer, concerned three sailors “on leave [in New York] and on the prowl for girls. The tale tells of how they meet first one, then a second girl, and how they fight over them, lose them, and in the end take off with still a third.” The ballet’s setting and characters were the inspiration for him to try a new piece in a form that he had not then broached — musical comedy. Soon after Fancy Free had been launched, he enlisted two old friends, the singer-dancer-lyricist Adolph Green (“old” is relative — Bernstein was not yet 26, but he had known Green since they were teenagers) and Green’s creative collaborator, Betty Comden, to write the book and words for the show, which they titled On the Town. They devised a story, perfectly suited to those war years, about three sailors in New York who are determined to see everything in the city during their 24-hour leave. On the subway, one of the sailors falls in love with the poster picture of Miss Turnstiles and the boys set out to find her. Their efforts take them all over the city until they finally discover Miss Turnstiles in Coney Island, where they learn that she is not the glamorous girl they expected from the poster, but a belly dancer. On the Town had a two-week tryout in Boston before opening at New York’s Adelphi Theater on December 28, 1944 with Comden and Green in leading roles. It was a hit, running for 463 performances on Broadway; Arthur Freed made it into a superb movie starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin five years later. The show has been revived several times for Broadway, most recently in a Tony-nominated production in 2014. The “Three Dance Episodes” include The Great Lover, which captures the vibrant intensity of the bustling metropolis and the high spirits of the young sailors, Lonely Town (Pas de Deux), based on the expressive song of its title, and Times Square — 1944, a joyous fantasia on New York, New York, the show’s hit tune.

 

Chichester Psalms for Choir, Boy Soloist and Orchestra (1965)                                      

Leonard Bernstein

 

These psalms are a simple and modest affair,

           Tonal and tuneful and somewhat square,

           Certain to sicken a stout John Cager

           With its tonics and triads in E-flat major.

           But there it stands — the result of my pondering,

           Two long months of avant-garde wandering —

           My youngest child, old-fashioned and sweet.

           And he stands on his own two tonal feet.

 

Leonard Bernstein, that Renaissance man among late-20th-century musicians, penned these verses about his Chichester Psalms for The New York Times as part of a poetic evaluation of the fifteen months of his sabbatical from conducting in 1964-1965. Bernstein considered several compositional projects during his year away from the rigorous duties as music director of the New York Philharmonic, including a theater piece based on Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, but it was this set of Psalms for choir and orchestra that was the principal musical offspring of that hiatus in his public career. The work was commissioned by the Very Rev. Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester Cathedral for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival, in which the musicians of Chichester have participated with those of the neighboring cathedrals of Salisbury and Winchester since 1959. The musical traditions of these great cathedrals extend far back into history, to at least the time when the eminent early-17th-century keyboard artist and composer Thomas Weelkes occupied the organ bench at Chichester.

The first movement opens with a broad chorale (“Awake, psaltery and harp!”) that serves as the structural buttress for the entire composition. It is transformed, in quick tempo, to open and close the dance-like main body of this movement (in 7/4 meter), and it reappears at the beginning and end of the finale in majestic settings. The bounding, sprung rhythms and exuberant energy of the fast music of the first movement are a perfect embodiment of the text, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.”

The touching simplicity of the second movement recalls the pastoral song of David, the young shepherd. The sopranos take over the melody from the boy soloist, and carry it forward in gentle but strict imitation. Suddenly, threatening music is hurled forth by the men’s voices punctuated by slashing chords from the orchestra. They challenge the serene strains of peace with the harsh question, “Why do the nations rage?” The quiet song, temporarily banished, reappears in the high voices, like calming oil on troubled waters. The hard tones subside, and once again the boy shepherd sings and strums upon his harp. As a coda, the mechanistic sounds of conflict, soft but worrisome, enter once again, as if blown on an ill wind from some distant land.

The finale begins with an instrumental prelude based on the stern chorale that opened the work. The muted solo trumpet and the harp recall a phrase from the shepherd’s song to mark the central point of this introductory strain. The chorus intones a gently swaying theme on the text, “Lord, Lord, My heart is not haughty.” The Chichester Psalms concludes with yet another adaptation of the recurring chorale, here given new words and a deeper meaning. This closing sentiment is not only the central message of the work, and the linchpin of its composer’s philosophy of life, but is also a thought that all must hold dear in troubled times:

 

Behold how good,

           And how pleasant it is,

           For brethren to dwell

           Together in unity.

 

Avodath Hakodesh (“Sacred Service”) for Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra (1930-1933)         

Ernest Bloch

Born July 24, 1880 in Geneva, Switzerland. Died July 15, 1959 in Portland, Oregon.

“It is the Jewish soul that interests me, the complex, glowing, agitated soul that I feel vibrating throughout the Bible,” wrote Ernest Bloch in 1917, soon after he had finished Schelomo, his “Hebraic Rhapsody” for Cello and Orchestra portraying King Solomon. “The freshness and naïveté of the Patriarchs; the violence that is evident in the prophetic books; the Jew’s savage love of justice; the despair of the Preacher in Jerusalem; the sorrow and immensity of the Book of Job; the sensuality of the Song of Songs — all this is in us; all this is in me, and it is the better part of me. It is all this that I endeavor to hear in myself and to transcribe in my music.” Bloch found deep creative inspiration in his Judaism throughout his life, and composed many works grown from Jewish subjects, thought and music. His masterpiece in this vein is Avodath Hakodesh, the first large-scale setting of the Hebrew Sacred Service for Sabbath Morning by a composer of international stature.

In 1929, while serving as director of the San Francisco Conservatory (he had earlier been director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, from its founding in 1920 to 1925), Bloch received a commission from philanthropist Gerald Warburg to make a setting for voices and orchestra of the Sabbath Morning Service for the Temple Emanuel in San Francisco. The commission had been arranged by the Temple’s Cantor, Reuben R. Rinder, one of Bloch’s earliest friends in San Francisco, who had been enriching the Jewish service by bringing about the commissioning and performance of new liturgical works since taking up his position twenty years earlier. Though Bloch always observed his patriarchal faith, he had not been trained religiously and did not know Hebrew, so be began a thorough study of the language and the Jewish liturgy under Cantor Rinder’s supervision. Bloch devoted a full year to immersing himself in the Sabbath Morning Service as represented in the Union Prayer Book, dissecting every word, studying its etymology and meaning, and translating the text into both French and English. Further progress on the Sacred Service, however, and in Bloch’s creative life generally, was restricted by the press of his duties at the Conservatory, so it was with eager gratitude that he learned in 1930 of a trust fund in the magnanimous amount of $100,000 that had been established by San Francisco arts patrons Rose and Jacob Stern to allow him to leave his job and devote himself entirely to composition. Bloch, free at last from financial and administrative worries, first considered retreating to a South Sea island, but finally decided to return to his native Switzerland. In the summer of 1930, after finishing the school term in San Francisco, he settled in the secluded village of Roveredo Capriasco, in the Italian section of Switzerland north of Lugano, and devoted the next three years to writing the Sacred Service. The work was premiered, with excellent success, at Turin on January 12, 1934 — “Bloch at his best,” assessed one critic — and then given in Naples before Bloch conducted its first American performance, at Carnegie Hall in New York on April 12th. The Sacred Service was not heard at Temple Emanuel in San Francisco until March 1938, five years after its completion.

Though the Sacred Service began as the expression of a specific liturgical text, Bloch, through the passion of his creative response and the breadth of his vision, made this into a work that can touch listeners of any (or even no) creed, a worthy modern companion to the settings of sacred texts by Beethoven, Berlioz, Verdi, Handel and other earlier masters. “It far surpasses a Hebrew Service,” Bloch said in a lecture given soon after the work was completed. “The Sacred Service [grew] from a whole lifetime of experience, thought, living, contacts with men, and the suffering all around the world which I have absorbed. Had I been born on a desert island, I could not have written it. It contains life with its joys, sufferings around me and within me, the plants, rocks, clouds, the birds, the animals; all of Nature have contributed to it…. It has become a cosmic poem, a glorification of the Laws of the Universe … a dream of stars, of forces … the Primordial Element … before worlds existed…. It contains the old Jewish message of faith and hope in life.”

The Sacred Service, “a vast epic” according to the eminent French composer and critic Florent Schmitt, is divided into five parts, following the structure of the liturgy. A thematic motive announced quietly at the outset by the low strings and winds — the notes G–A–C–B–A–G — is used as a unifying device throughout; Bloch also incorporated quotations from his Schelomo and Three Jewish Poems, as well as a traditional chant, Tsur Yisroel (“Rock of Israel”), supplied to him by Cantor Rinder. Part I consists of an opening Meditation for orchestra followed by the proclamation of faith. “There is the unity of Nature here,” Bloch wrote, “the unity of man, a beautiful human element; through it all you feel the cosmic element.” Bloch compared Part II (Sanctification), with its text of “Holy, holy, holy/is the Lord of Hosts,/the whole earth is full of his glory,” to the Sanctus portion of the Roman Catholic Mass. “We are in another world, more earthly,” he explained. “This is the sanctification, a dialogue between God and Man, the chorus discovering the law of the atom, the stars, the whole universe, the One, He, Our God.” Bloch noted that in Part III (Silent Devotion [for the orchestra] and Response), “woven around the discipline and symbolism of the Torah and the Laws of Moses, man has to put himself into a state of humility, and within his limitations accept the order of the whole…. The Fourth Part (Returning the Scroll to the Ark) says to put away the Law now that you have understood it. It must be a living thing, the rejoicing, happiness, the exaltation of all mankind, ending with the Tree of Life…. Part V (Adoration) is the realization of humanity, the love of God, when all men will recognize that they are brothers, a fellowship in spirit. A Cantor or Priest speaks to you, giving a personal message, in English, Italian, Hebrew, in all languages … bringing the whole philosophical message of humanity, brotherhood, the lamentations of mankind, asking what this is all about. Then in the distance, you hear the chorus, as a solution of the laws of the universe and eternity, the smallness of this space, of life and death, and in what spirit you are to accept it. The work ends with a Benediction.”

©2018 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. | Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

Stuart Malina, Conducting
Grant Youngblood, Baritone
Susquehanna Chorale
Messiah College Concert Choir
Choral Arts Society

 

Three Dance Episodes from On the Town

Leonard Bernstein(1918-1990)

The Great Lover: Allegro pesante

Lonely Town (Pas de Deux): Andante sostenuto

Times Square — 1944: Allegro

 

 

Chichester Psalms, for Choir, Boy Soloist and Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein

 

Psalm 108, vs. 2 (Maestoso ma energico) — Psalm 100 (Allegro molto)

Psalm 23 (Andante con moto, ma tranquillo) —

        Psalm 2, vs. 1-4 (Allegro feroce) — Meno come prima

                        Boy Soloist:

Prelude (Sostenuto molto) — Psalm 131 (Peacefully flowing) —

        Psalm 133, vs. 1 (Lento possibile)

 

 

— INTERMISSION—

 

 

Avodath Hakodesh (“Sacred Service”) for Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)

 

Part I: Meditation

Part II: Sanctification

Part III: Silent Devotion and Response

Part IV: Returning the Scroll to the Ark

Part V: Adoration

Benediction

About the Music by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

 

“Dawn” and “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey” from Götterdämmerung (1869-1876)    

Richard Wagner

Born May 22, 1813 in Leipzig. Died February 13, 1883 in Venice.

Wagner’s cycle of “music-dramas,” The Ring of the Nibelungen, is unique in the history of art: an ancient mythological tale spread over four interdependent operas; the capstone of Romantic orchestration, harmony and expression; a nodal point in the history of music; and an integral part, for both better and worse, of the German psyche. Wagner’s grand conception left no thinking person untouched in the late 19th-century. Almost all were seduced by the overwhelming power and emotion of the operas, though some (notably the French) eventually rebelled against Wagner’s musical style and aesthetic ideals. His impact on modern thought and art has been enormous — one German scholar at the beginning of the century estimated that of all the figures in Western history until that time, only Jesus Christ had been more written about than Richard Wagner.

Wagner was a fascinating if essentially despicable person: political dissident, rabid anti-Semite, financial deadbeat, flagrant adulterer — not the sort you would want to date your daughter or move in next door. Yet when his music was played, all that was not only forgotten but forgiven. A century after his death, it is now possible to relate or dissociate the works from the man as much as is desired. It is best to enjoy them, in the opera house or the concert hall, as magnificent expressions of grand emotions spread across a vast fresco. Whether heard as abstract pieces or specifically dramatic ones, excerpts from the Ring are stirring music that rivet the attention and remain indelibly in the mind.

Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey are the excerpts surrounding the scene of Siegfried and Brünnhilde in the Prologue of Götterdämmerung. Dawn breaks after the preceding nighttime scene during which the three Norns (the Fates of northern mythology) have foretold the inevitable cataclysm and the downfall of the gods. Morning finds Siegfried and Brünnhilde emerging from the cave in which they spent their bridal night. Reluctantly, Brünnhilde urges her lover to set out on further deeds of valor. They exchange pledges of undying love and give precious gifts — Brünnhilde receives the fated Ring made from the gold of the Rhine, the possession of which endows the wearer with the power to rule the world; Siegfried gets the noble steed Grane. With ecstatic protestations of love, Siegfried departs. The curtain falls and the orchestra plays the majestic music accompanying his journey to the Rhine.

Dawn is not only an evocation of sunrise, but also an expertly crafted transition from the somber, foreboding music of the Norns’ scene to the bright, love-filled scene of Siegfried and Brünnhilde. It begins with the ominous tones of cellos and low horns, punctuated twice by soft horn fanfares depicting both the first glint of sunlight and Siegfried’s fearless heroism. Accompanying the second fanfare is a touching melody with a prominent turn figure (introduced by the clarinet) representing Brünnhilde’s love. The ardor of the music grows as the morning sun burns away the mist and the lovers appear.

A great climax of charging rhythms dominated by the brasses begins the Rhine Journey. With shining optimism and unquenchable love, Siegfried sets off. His horn call is heard from a distant glen. After a triple-meter passage brimming with youthful vigor, Siegfried reaches the great river, which is represented by a surging theme and the shimmering song of the Rhine maidens. The music softens, and leads, in the opera house, directly into the first act. For the concert hall, Wagner provided a brilliant ending that resounds through the full orchestra.

 

Harp Concerto (2017)

Jennifer Higdon

Born December 31, 1962 in Brooklyn, New York

Jennifer Higdon, born in Brooklyn, New York on New Year’s Eve 1962 and raised in Atlanta and Tennessee, is one of America’s foremost composers. She took her undergraduate training in flute performance at Bowling Green State University, and received her master’s and doctoral degrees in composition from the University of Pennsylvania; she also holds an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her teachers have included George Crumb, Marilyn Shrude, David Loeb, James Primosch, Jay Reise and Ned Rorem in composition, Judith Bentley and Jan Vinci in flute, and Robert Spano in conducting. Higdon joined the composition faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1994 after having served as conductor of the University of Pennsylvania Orchestra and Wind Ensemble and Visiting Assistant Professor in music composition at Bard College; she now holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at Curtis. She also served as Karel Husa Visiting Professor at Ithaca College in 2006-2007 and Composer-in-Residence at the Mannes College The New School for Music (2007-2008).

Jennifer Higdon’s works have been performed across the country and internationally, and she has received grants, awards and commissions from the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Delaware and Dallas, The President’s Own Marine Band, Tokyo String Quartet, Guggenheim Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters, International League of Women Composers, ASCAP, National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, Pew Charitable Trusts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and other leading organizations and ensembles; her orchestral work Shine was chosen by USA Today as Best New Contemporary Classical Work of 1996. In 2010, Higdon received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Percussion Concerto (recorded by soloist Colin Currie with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop), as well as the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, composed for Hilary Hahn, which the citation described as “a deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity”; she previously received Grammy Awards for the Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape (Atlanta Symphony, conducted by Robert Spano) and Zaka (featured on eighth blackbird’s Strange Imaginary Animals).

Higdon has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Green Bay Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Institute at Deer Valley, Music From Angel Fire Festival, Bard College Conductors’ Institute, Philadelphia Singers, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, University of Wyoming and other prominent ensembles and institutions. In 2003, she became the first American female composer featured at the prestigious Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood; during the 2005-2006 season, she was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Composer of the Year. Among Higdon’s recent projects is the opera with a libretto by Gene Scheer based on Charles Frazier’s best-selling novel Cold Mountain, premiered at Santa Fe Opera in August 2015; it received the International Opera Award for Best World Premiere and was nominated for Grammy Awards as Best Opera Recording and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. She was also recently presented with the Distinguished Arts Award by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 (1877-1878)                                                                  

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Born May 7, 1840 in Votkinsk. Died November 6, 1893 in St. Petersburg.

The Fourth Symphony was a product of the most crucial and turbulent time of Tchaikovsky’s life — 1877, when he met two women who forced him to evaluate himself as he never had before. The first was the sensitive, music-loving widow of a wealthy Russian railroad baron, Nadezhda von Meck. Mme. von Meck had been enthralled by Tchaikovsky’s music, and she first contacted him at the end of 1876 to commission a work. She paid him extravagantly, and soon an almost constant stream of notes and letters passed between them: hers contained money and effusive praise; his, thanks and an increasingly greater revelation of his thoughts and feelings. She became not only the financial backer who allowed him to quit his irksome teaching job at the Moscow Conservatory to devote himself to composition, but also the sympathetic sounding-board for reports on the whole range of his activities — emotional, musical, personal. Though they never met, her place in Tchaikovsky’s life was enormous and beneficial.

The second woman to enter Tchaikovsky’s life in 1877 was Antonina Miliukov, an unnoticed student in one of his large lecture classes at the Conservatory who had worked herself into a passion over her young professor. Tchaikovsky paid her no special attention, and he had quite forgotten her when he received an ardent love letter professing her flaming and unquenchable desire to meet him. Tchaikovsky (age 37), who should have burned the thing, answered the letter of the 28-year-old Antonina in a polite, cool fashion, but did not include an outright rejection of her advances. He had been considering marriage for almost a year in the hope that it would give him both the stable home life that he had not enjoyed in the twenty years since his mother died, as well as to help dispel the all-too-true rumors of his homosexuality. He believed he might achieve both these goals with Antonina. He could not see the situation clearly enough to realize that what he hoped for was impossible — a pure, platonic marriage without its physical and emotional realities. Further letters from Antonina implored Tchaikovsky to meet her, and threatened suicide out of desperation if he refused. What a welter of emotions must have gripped his heart when, just a few weeks later, he proposed marriage to her! Inevitably, the marriage crumbled within days of the wedding amid Tchaikovsky’s searing self-deprecation.

It was during May and June that Tchaikovsky sketched the Fourth Symphony, finishing the first three movements before Antonina began her siege. The finale was completed by the time he proposed. Because of this chronology, the program of the Symphony was not a direct result of his marital disaster. All that — the July wedding, the mere eighteen days of bitter conjugal farce, the two separations — postdated the actual composition of the Symphony by a few months, though the orchestration took place during the painful time from September to January when the composer was seeking respite in a half dozen European cities from St. Petersburg to San Remo. What Tchaikovsky found in his relationship with this woman (who by 1877 already showed signs of approaching the door of the mental ward in which, still legally married to him, she died in 1917) was a confirmation of his belief in the inexorable workings of Fate in human destiny. He later wrote to Mme. von Meck, “We cannot escape our Fate, and there was something fatalistic about my meeting with this girl.” The relationships with the two women of 1877, Mme. von Meck and Antonina, occupy important places in the composition of this Symphony: one made it possible, the other made it inevitable, but the vision and its fulfillment were Tchaikovsky’s alone.

After the premiere, Tchaikovsky wrote to Mme. von Meck, with great trepidation, explaining the emotional content of the Fourth Symphony:

“The introduction [blaring brasses heard immediately in a motto theme that recurs several times throughout the Symphony] is the kernel, the chief thought of the whole Symphony. This is Fate, the fatal power that hinders one in the pursuit of happiness from gaining the goal, which jealously provides that peace and comfort do not prevail, that the sky is not free from clouds — a might that swings, like the sword of Damocles, constantly over the head, that poisons continuously the soul. This might is overpowering and invincible. There is nothing to do but to submit and vainly complain [the melancholy, syncopated shadow-waltz of the main theme, heard in the strings]. The feeling of desperation and loneliness grows stronger and stronger. Would it not be better to turn away from reality and lull one’s self in dreams? [The second theme is begun by the clarinet, with trailing sighs from the rest of the woodwinds.] Deeper and deeper the soul is sunk in dreams. All that was dark and joyless is forgotten….

“No — these are but dreams: roughly we are awakened by Fate. [The blaring brass fanfare over a wave of timpani begins the development section.] Thus we see that life is only an everlasting alternation of somber reality and fugitive dreams of happiness. Something like this is the program of the first movement.

“The second movement shows another phase of sadness. How sad it is that so much has already been and gone! And yet it is a pleasure to think of the early years. One mourns the past and has neither the courage nor the will to begin a new life. One is rather tired of life. One would fain rest awhile, recalling happy hours when young blood pulsed warm through our veins and life brought satisfaction. We remember irreparable loss. But these things are far away. It is sad, yet sweet, to lose one’s self in the past.

“There is no determined feeling, no exact expression in the third movement. Here are capricious arabesques, vague figures which slip into the imagination when one has taken wine and is slightly intoxicated. Suddenly there rushes into the imagination the picture of a drunken peasant and a gutter song. Military music is heard passing in the distance. There are disconnected pictures which come and go in the brain of the sleeper. They have nothing to do with reality; they are unintelligible, bizarre.

“As to the finale, if you find no pleasure in yourself, look about you. Go to the people. See how they can enjoy life and give themselves up entirely to festivity. The picture of a folk holiday. [The finale employs the folk song A Birch Stood in the Meadow, presented simply by the woodwinds after the noisy flourish of the opening.] Hardly have we had time to forget ourselves in the happiness of others when indefatigable Fate reminds us once more of its presence. The other children of men are not concerned with us. How merry and glad they all are. All their feelings are so inconsequential, so simple. And do you still say that all the world is immersed in sorrow? There still is happiness, simple, naive happiness. Rejoice in the happiness of others — and you can still live.

“There is not a single line in this Symphony that I have not felt in my whole being and that has not been a true echo of the soul.”

©2017 Dr. Richard E. Rodda

UPCOMING EVENTS

Dec 16, 2017

HSYO Ho! Ho! Ho!

Join the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra and Junior Youth String Orchestra for a FREE concert as they perform seasonal favorites and light-classics. Rumor has it Santa might even be there!

12 Noon, Strawberry Square Atrium
FREE (No ticket needed.)

Pianist Adam Golka performs one of the best of the Mozart piano concertos. We also present the World Premiere of Jeremy Gill’s Ainulindalë (based on Tolkien) and what many feel is Dvořák’s finest symphony.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $18 - $87

Jerry Herman is the beloved Broadway composer/lyricist who created Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles, among others. Four of New York’s top Broadway stars come to Harrisburg to celebrate the songs of one of the true giants of musical theater.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $17 - $94

We “pull out all the stops” in February as we fire up the Forum organ to perform Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony. The program opens with Respighi’s colorful musical postcard, Fountains of Rome, followed by Sibelius’s final symphony, the Symphony No. 7.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $18 - $87

The Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra and Junior Youth String Orchestra start the New Year off with an inspired performance of orchestral classics under the direction of Maestros Gregory Woodbridge and Krista Kriel.

7 PM, The Forum

Cirque de la Symphonie makes a welcome third visit to the Forum and the HSO. This time their illusionists, aerialists, and acrobats perform another program of thrills, chills, and edge-of-your-seat excitement to a selection of music from the cinema.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $22 - $97

Maurice Ravel was fascinated by the rhythms and harmonies of jazz. Pianist Mark Markham performs his jazz-flavored Piano Concerto in G. We open with music by Samuel Barber and close with Shostakovich’s epic musical portrait of mid-20th century Russia.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $18 - $87

In April we celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday year with music from On the Town and his choral work, Chichester Psalms. On the 2nd half, Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service, a piece championed by Bernstein. Sung in Hebrew with English supertitles.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $18 - $87

Apr 18, 2018

Stuart & Friends

The annual Stuart and Friends chamber music concert returns to the ideal and intimate setting of Gamut Theatre 15 N. 4th St. in Harrisburg.

Wed. 7:30 PM, Gamut Theatre
Tickets: $22 Adult, $11 Student / Youth (25 and under)

Dee Daniels brings to the Forum stage a century of Swing hits and timeless standards performed and recorded by legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughan.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $17 - $94

Save the Date
Please join the Harrisburg Symphony Society for music performed by HSO conductor Stuart Malina and his brother, Joel. The evening also includes cocktails, silent and live auctions, and dinner.

Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM
West Shore Country Club

Celebrate Mother’s Day with family and music! The Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra and Junior Youth String Orchestra perform orchestral favorites under the direction of Maestros Gregory Woodbridge and Krista Kriel.

3 PM, the Forum

Our May Masterworks features a brand new harp concerto by the popular Pulitzer Prize-winner, Jennifer Higdon. A famous orchestral excerpt from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung opens the program and we end our season with Tchaikovsky’s blazing 4th Symphony.

Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, The Forum
Tickets: $18 - $87
Concert Sponsor: The Hall Foundation