2018 Symphor!a Program Back=>
Hamilton Village Green
July 1, 2019
Star Spangled Banner
arr Steve Smith
Please stand for this rousing arrangement of the American national anthem.
Fidelio Overture 1814
Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827
Beethoven’s music stands at the transition between the Classical era and the Romantic Era. An early patron expressed hope that Beethoven would “receive the spirit of Mozart from Haydn’s hands.” Beethoven studied with Haydn and absorbed the structures and styles of the classical era but expanded on them, adding new forms and larger instrumentation. Beethoven initially gained fame as a pianist, winning improvisation contests against some of the most famous pianists of the day.
Fidelio is Beethoven’s only opera, written during the French occupation of Vienna.
It tells the tale of Florestan, languishing in a dungeon and awaiting his death, and his dramatic rescue by his wife Lenore under the assumed name Fidelio. The opera initially premiered to a nearly empty house, and was performed for an audience of mostly French soldiers. Beethoven revised the opera several times. This, the final version, finally achieved critical and popular acclaim.
It begins with a fanfare in the strings, alternative with soft passages in the winds. This is followed by more driving rhythms in the full orchestra. The soft wind passages return, but are quickly enveloped in the triumphal fanfare, galloping to a triumphal ending. Back=>
On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz 1866
Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899)
Johann Strauss, Jr. has been called the “Waltz King” for elevating the Viennese waltz from the ballroom to the concert hall. His father was a composer who wanted a different life for his son. He encouraged the younger Strauss to go into banking and even gave him a severe beating when he discovered him secretly practicing the violin. Music prevailed however, and Johann Strauss Jr’s reputation went on to eclipse that of the elder Strauss. He wrote more than 500 compositions, of which at least 150 are waltzes.
This waltz will be familiar to most listeners. It was initially written for chorus with lyrics invoking the Danube river. The choral version received a cold reception. This orchestral version premiered a year later at the 1867 Worlds Fair to great acclaim. More recently, it was used in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The piece begins with soft exploratory tunes in the strings. We then hear the main theme in the string with echoes in the winds. There are five separate waltz themes, followed by shortened restatements of the first section, ending with a flourish. Back=>
Slavonic Dance No. 8 (Furiant) 1878
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Antonín Dvořák was born in near Prague. He received a traditional church musician’s education at the Prague Organ School. His music is typically classical in harmony but is steeped in the forms and rhythms of his native Czech culture. Dvořák gained prominence in the 19th century through the support of Brahams, who urged his own publisher to publish Dvořák’s compositions.
The Slavonic Dances were initially composed for piano four hands (piano duet) and were later orchestrated by Dvořák himself. Dvořák took as his model Brahm’s Hungarian Dances. However rather than orchestrating actual Bohemian melodies, Dvořák chose to compose original tunes in the style of folk dances. The Slavonic Dance No 8 was the last in Dvořák’s first set of dances. It is in the form of a Furiant, which features strongly accented rhythms alternating between sets of 2 and 3. Back=>
Variations of a Shaker Melody
(from Appalachian Spring) 1944
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Aaron Copland, a native of Brooklyn NY, was a composer, teacher, writer, and conductor. He studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger who mentored a whole generation of composers, including Darius Milhaud, Phillip Glass, and Quincy Jones. She encouraged him to explore both traditional classical sensibilities and American folk melodies. Indeed, Copland ushered in a true “American Sound” to the classical music of the 20th century.
Appalachian Spring was commissioned by Martha Graham as a “Ballet with an American Theme”. The ballet tells of a young pioneer couple and their Pennsylvania Shaker community in 19th century. Variations on a Shaker Melody begins with a simple statement of the familiar “Simple Gifts” theme in the winds. Copland then layers on voices in the strings and brass, exploring a variety of textures, from serene to martial, ending as it started with a single voice. Back=>
Serenata for Orchestra1947
Leroy Anderson (1908-1975)
Leroy Anderson grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was raised in a musical family, playing mandolin, trombone, and string bass as a child. He graduated from Harvard and established a strong relationship with the Boston Pops Orchestra who premiered many of his compositions. He is known best for his many “orchestral miniatures,” accessible pieces which explore texture and rhythm. His music has been used heavily in radio, television, and film. His novelty piece “The Typewriter” was featured a few years ago at Symphoria’s Hamilton concert.
Anderson’s Serenata starts with a fanfare in the brass followed by galloping Latin rhythms in the percussion and soaring melodies in the winds and strings. The lyrical melody drives the piece, but the underlying rhythm in the percussion and low strings is always present. The serenata ends quietly with punctuation from the wood block and bass. Back=>
Hands Across the Sea 1899
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
Sousa began his musical training on the violin at age 6. He soon learned a variety of wind and string instruments. At the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted the young Sousa in the Marines as an apprentice. After serving his apprenticeship, he joined a theater pit orchestra, where he learned to conduct. He later returned to the Marines, conducting and composing music for military band over much of his career. His many familiar marches have earned him the title “March King”.
Hands Across the Sea was written in the wake of the Spanish American War. The score is prefaced “A sudden thought strikes me; let us swear eternal friendship.” At is premiere, the audience insisted that it be played three times. The march begins with heavy use of brass and cymbals. The softer trio section includes smoother melodies punctuated by answers in the piccolo. Back=>
American Salute 1943
Morton Gould 1913-1996
Morton Gould was an American composer, pianist, conductor, and arranger. He worked in a variety of popular media including radio and vaudeville. He also served as a piano and organ accompanist for silent films. Gould’s music is classical in form, but distinctly American in character.
American Salute is set of variations on the tune “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” It was composed in a single night as a way to arouse patriotic sentiment in the midst of World War II. After an introductory fanfare, the tune is introduced in the bassoon, then taken up by the winds. It moves to a more military instrumentation, then explores syncopated rhythms and varying harmonies. After a more quiet contemplative treatment, the tempo becomes progressively faster before the final fanfare. Back=>
James Bond Medley arr 2006
Arr Victor Lopez
This medley features music from the 007 films, including the James Bond theme, For Your Eyes Only, Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, and Nobody Does it Better. Back=>
West Side Story Overture 1957
Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Leonard Bernstein was perhaps best known for his tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which he led from 1958 to 1969. Bernstein was passionate about teaching. He felt that every composition had a story, and he was keen on sharing those stories with the orchestra itself, with his concert audiences, and with his Young Peoples Concerts, broadcast on network television. Bernstein often conducted from the piano, which allowed him to combine his roles as conductor, performer, and educator. Bernstein composed traditional works for solo piano, orchestra, opera, and the ballet, as well as lighter works for Broadway and film.
West Side Story was a collaboration between Bernstein (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Arthur Laurents (book). It is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York City featuring the feud between two rival gangs and young lovers from each gang. After a rhythmic introduction suggesting the feuding of rival gangs, we hear the familiar lyrical melodies “Tonight” and “Maria”, followed by the percussive Mambo from the “Rumble at the Gym”. Back=>
Carousel, Selections 1945
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)
Richard Rodgers is one of America’s best-loved Broadway composers. He was born in New York City and educated at the prestigious Juilliard School. Rodgers is one of a handful of performers to have won the coveted EGOT---an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. Rodgers was also awarded a Pulitzer prize. In partnership with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, Rodgers wrote such familiar musicals as Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.
Carousel, the 2nd collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein, tells the story of Billy Bigelow, a former carousel barker, who loses his job after he attempts a robbery to provide for his love Julie and their unborn child, but is given a second chance to atone for his choices when allowed to return from the afterlife. We hear carnival music alternating with songs of Billy and Julie’s romance. Familiar tunes include “If I Loved You,” “You Will Never Walk Alone,” and “The Carousel Waltz” Back=>
Harry’s Wondrous World 2001
John Williams b. 1941
John Williams is perhaps the best-known film composer of all time. He has written music for such films as the Star Wars movies, Jaws, ET, Superman, the Indiana Jones movies, and Schindler’s List. His music is featured in 8 of the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time, and he has earned more than 50 Academy Award nominations. In addition to his work for film, Williams served as the Principal Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993.
Williams’ film music often featured the Wagnerian leitmotif, where musical themes evoke different characters and are interwoven throughout the production to signal the entry of a character. Harry’s Wondrous World includes the themes used for Harry Potter in the films Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The piece begins with strains of “Hedwig’s theme” then proceeds to explorations of Harry’s theme exploring hopeful, triumphant, and mysterious variations on the theme. Back=>
Encore (this was 2018 - maybe 2019.)
Stars and Stripes Forever
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) Back=>