PROGRAM NOTES: I - J - K - L
| KELLOGG | KENNEDY | KETTLE | KHACHATURIAN | KODALY | KOHLER |
| KOHN | KREUTZER | LANG | LARSEN | LEIN | LIGETI |
| LISZT | LLOYD WEBBER | LOPES-GRACA | LOVELAND |
Copyright 2006-2020 by Edward Lein;
please notify & credit if reprinting.
Jacques Ibert: Aria |
Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) was not a member of Les Six, but his best-known pieces evoke the same cosmopolitan sophistication and breeziness that one might expect from French composers of their generation. A student of Fauré at the Conservatoire de Paris, Ibert won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1919. In addition to composing, he became director of the French Academy in Rome in 1937, and in the mid-1950s he directed the Paris Opéra. Although he is perhaps most remembered for the orchestral works Escales ("Ports of Call," 1924) and Divertissement (1930), his catalog includes compositions in all genres, including film music and opera, and his Flute Concerto (1934) remains a great favorite as well.
When Ibert's Aria (1927/1930) was issued, his publisher anticipated a high demand for the piece. The original version apparently is for wordless voice with piano and an optional obbligato instrument, but the piece was also published for piano and almost every melody instrument or two imaginable. Its popularity continues, especially among flutists and saxophonists.
The somber Ghirlarzana, the second of two pieces Ibert wrote for unaccompanied cello, reflects his more serious side.
--Music @ Main, September 9, 2008 (Alexei Romanenko, cello)
Heinrich Isaac: Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen
Heinrich Isaac (ca.1450-1517) was a prolific Franco-Flemish composer who was among the best known and most influential masters of the early Renaissance. His most famous work is Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen ("Innsbruck, I now must leave thee"), written as a sad farewell to the town where he was working prior to moving to Italy. It is thought that the melody may have been adapted from a folk-song.
--February 10, 2008 (UNF Chorale & UNF Chamber Singers)
Charles Ives: TSIAJ
Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) is regarded as one of the most revolutionary composers of all time. Ives was a gifted pianist and organist, and a composition student of Horatio Parker (1863-1919) at Yale University. But his greatest influence came from his father, George Ives (d.1894), a bandmaster who encouraged musical experimentation and used unconventional teaching techniques, such has having his sons sing in one key while he accompanied them in another.
Ives gave up music as a profession in 1902 and went on to make his fortune in the insurance industry, but he continued to compose until 1923. From about 1900 forward he produced pieces that anticipated many of the compositional techniques that became hallmarks of mid-20th-Century Modernism, including the use of polytonality, polyrhythms, tone clusters, and microtones--even though his very non-traditional pieces mostly went unperformed until decades after they were written.
Another favorite device is quoting folk-songs, hymn tunes and popular songs, and this is used with intentionally humorous effect in TSIAJ ("This Scherzo is a Joke"), the second of the three movements from his Piano Trio, which Ives worked on intermittently between 1904 and 1915.
Carrie Jacobs-Bond: Half Minute Songs
Although hers is no longer a household name, during her lifetime Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862-1946) was not only internationally recognized, but she became the first woman to earn a million dollars through her sheet music sales. Widowed and penniless at age 33, Jacobs-Bond began submitting songs to publishers hoping to support herself and her young son, but when this didn't work out as well as she'd hoped she started her own publishing company, with the financial support of the popular American contralto Jessie Bartlet Davis. Chiefly penning her own lyrics, Jacobs-Bond is best remembered for I Love You Truly (first published 1901 but written several years earlier) and (The End of) A Perfect Day (1910), but she also collaborated with African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) on five songs. Jacobs-Bond toured as a singer, including two appearances at the White House (first for Teddy Roosevelt and then for Warren Harding), and she sang in a concert in England that featured famed Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. Carrie performed for the troops in Europe during World War I, and in 1940 she shared the stage in support of the World War II effort with songwriting luminaries including Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan, although, at age 78, she did not sing her songs herself but played the piano accompaniment.
Dating from 1910, Carrie Jaconbs-Bond wrote the advice as well as the music for her charming Half Minute Songs, or, Miniature Songs.
1. Making the Best of It. What you can’t help, What you can’t help, What you can’t help, Forget! 2. First Ask Yourself. Before you have said it about them, Ask yourself if you’d like them to know you said it. 3. To Understand. To understand a sorrow, You must have one all your own. 4. Doan’ Yo’ Lis’n. No mattah w’at dey said, Keep a-walkin’ straight ahaid, W’y dey’ll praise yo’ when yo’ daid, But doan’ yo’ lis’n. 5. How to Find Success. The man who finds success looks sometimes when he’s tired, When he’s tired, when he’s tired, Looks sometimes when he’s tired. 6. The Pleasure of Giving I’d rather say “You’re welcome” once, than “Thank you” a thousand times. 6. Answer the First Rap. Opportunity may knock often, but it’s better to answer the first rap! 8. A Good Exercise. With evil things you’ll always find It’s best to be deaf, dumb and blind. 9. A Present from Yourself. A friend is a present you give yourself. 10. Now and Then. The “lucky” fellow gets up at five (A.M.), And gen’rally works till ten (P.M.); But the other fellow not quite so “lucky,” Works hard–just now and then! 11. When They Say the Unkind Things. Ain’t it gay that what “they say” Can’t hurt you unless it’s true? 12. Keep Awake. Success never comes to the sleeping.
Billy Joel: And So It Goes
Pop icon Billy Joel (b.1949) rocketed to stardom in 1973 with the release of his second album, Piano Man, and three and a half decades later he is counted as the sixth best-selling recording artist in the United States. Joel’s ballad And So It Goes was arranged by British composer Bob Chilcott (b.1955) when he was singing tenor with the King’s Singers, and it remains one of that groups most frequently requested selections.
--February 10, 2008 (UNF Chorale & UNF Chamber Singers)
Kari Henrik Juusela: Chasing Karma
Kari Henrik Juusela (b. 1954) is a Finnish/American composer, cellist and educator who is presently the Dean of the Professional Writing Division at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to his work at Berklee College of Music, Juusela served as the Associate Dean, Director of Composition and Almand Chair of Composition at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.
Juusela's compositions have won awards in numerous competitions including the 1995 Vienna International Full-Length Opera Competition directed by Claudio Abbado; First Prize, 2003 International Red Stick Composition Competition; First Prize for mixed ensemble, London Chamber Groups 2003 "Piece of the Year Competition"; Second Prize, 2004 San Francisco American Art Song Competition Established Professional Category; First Prize, 1989 GASTA String Quartet Composition Competition; Grand Prize and First Prize in 1998, and five awards in both the 1996 and 1990 Composer's Guild Composition Contests; and numerous awards from ASCAP.
He was awarded the 1997 Stetson University Hand Award for Faculty Research and Creativity, received a 1997-98 Florida Council for the Arts Individual Artists Music Composition Fellowship, and has been the recipient of many other composition honors. He holds degrees from The University of Maryland, Georgia State University and Berklee College of Music.
According to the composer, "Chasing Karma ... is a hard-driving, obsessive, imitative chase between two protagonists, slowing only briefly in the middle for the performers to catch their breath. The strings unabashedly display and flaunt their technical assets performing rapid scalar passages, left hand pizzicati, harmonics, and bold double, triple, and quadruple-stop chordal assertions. The musical language of Chasing Karma is an eclectic mix drawing from sources disparate as Finnish folk music and expressionism."
-- Music @ Main, May 12, 2009 (VnC Duo)
Dmitri Kabalevsky: Short Story
Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was a leading composer and music educator of Soviet Russia. He was one of the few Soviet composers who developed a following in the West, due in part to champions such as conductor Arturo Toscanini and pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Although Kabalevsky's concert music is sometimes dismissed by music critics for lacking many of the modernist mannerisms typical of composers of his generation, his accessible and often very energetic style has been a great favorite with audiences. Kabalevsky was especially dedicated to working with children and composing music for them, and he was elected the head of the U.S.S.R.'s Commission of Musical Esthetic Education of Children in 1962. The collection entitled Thirty Pieces for Children, Op. 27, composed in 1937 and 1938, has achieved "classic" status among works specifically written for the training of young musicians. Short Story (also known as "Fairy Tale") is among the most popular pieces from the set.
John Kander: Willkommen
"There was a cabaret, and there was a master of ceremonies ... and there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany ... and it was the end of the world." In Cabaret, the 1966 Broadway musical which also became a big-screen sensation in 1972, these lines are uttered near the end of the show by the character Clifford Bradshaw, as he begins to recount the events that have just transpired on stage. An American writer travelling through Germany in the 1930s, Cliff will write about Sally Bowles, the young British cabaret singer who broke his heart amid the Nazi nightmare that was unfolding before their eyes. With music by John Kander (b.1927) and lyrics by Fred Ebb (1928-2004), the musical opens with the instantly identifiable Willkommen ("Welcome"), featuring the aforementioned Master of Ceremonies (or "Emcee" as he's identified in the score), who flirtatiously welcomes an international crowd to the Kit Kat Klub. The song also closes the musical, but at the end its original playfulness becomes harsh and sadistic, the transformation reflecting the changes that accompanied Hitler's rise.
Daniel Kellogg: Sizzle
Daniel Kellogg (b.1976), who earned his degrees at Curtis and Yale, is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and his busy career has been highlighted by numerous awards and a growing list of commissions from many of the country's leading orchestras. Dr. Kellogg has served as the composer-in-residence with both the University of Connecticut and the South Dakota Symphony, and he currently holds a Music Alive residency with the Green Bay Symphony, in Wisconsin. More at http://www.danielkellogg.com/
--Music @ Main, February 5, 2008 (Piotr Szewczyk: Violin Futura)
fp (For Piotr)
Composer and conductor John Kennedy (b. 1959), who studied at Oberlin and Northwestern, is Artistic Associate to Spoleto Festival USA and Artistic Director of Santa Fe New Music. His distinct compositional voice, noted for its lyricism and luminous sound, appeals to audiences and musicians alike, and his works, ranging from intimate chamber pieces to opera, have been performed worldwide and featured at major international festivals. More at http://www.johnkennedymusic.com/
--Music @ Main, February 5, 2008 (Piotr Szewczyk: Violin Futura)
Rupert Kettle (1940-2005) was an American composer of mostly stage and chamber works that have been performed in the U.S. and Europe, and was active as a percussionist and writer. Mr. Kettle privately studied composition with John Cage, Richard Cone, Henri Gibeau, Teije Ito, and Ted Maters, and percussion with Donald Patterson, James Salmon and Walter Walski. He studied drumkit and Latin percussion with Henry Adler, mallet percussion with Doug Allen, and timpani with Alfred Friese. In 2000, he received a DFA honoris causa from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, where he had taught percussion since 1972.
--Intermezzo Weekend Concerts, Sunday, October 8, 2006 (UNF Percussion Ensemble, featuring Matt Wardell)
JSO "MASQUERADE" NOTES
-- Waltz -- Nocturne -- Mazurka -- Romance -- Galop
Aram Khachaturian’s displaced Armenian parents immersed him in the folk music of their homeland, and it profoundly influenced Khachaturian's music in much the same way that American jazz suffuses the works of George Gershwin. Though Khachaturian never lived in Armenia, his cultural identity was so strong that he was honored posthumously with his image on Armenian currency.
With a penchant for descriptive music, Khachaturian composed scores to over three dozen plays and films. He wrote the incidental music to Masquerade for a 1941 centenary production of the play by Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841), and culled the five-movement concert suite in 1944. Though little-known in the West, Lermontov is regarded among the giants of Russian literature, and is considered the poet-heir to Pushkin. When he was 21, Lermontov prepared three versions of Masquerade, hoping with each to appease the censor's pen for his unflattering depiction of the aristocracy. The second version eventually was approved, but not before Lermontov had been killed in a duel.
Masquerade unfolds like a Russian Othello, wherein the wealthy Eugene Arbenin poisons his beloved wife, Nina, convinced she has humiliated him by being unfaithful. The intrigue begins during a masked ball when Prince Zvezdich flirts with a disguised woman who gives him a bracelet as a token of affection. The prince brags about his encounter to Arbenin, who recognizes the bracelet as Nina’s. When Arbenin asks Nina about the bracelet she confesses she lost it, never imagining the doubt beginning to consume her husband. The actual mystery woman is a baroness friend of Nina, who, even after realizing Arbenin's suspicions, won't come forward for fear of damaging her own reputation. By the time the baroness ends her masquerade and sends a letter revealing Nina's innocence, it is too late: Nina is dead and Arbenin goes mad, overcome with grief and remorse.
Khachaturian's score reflects the glittering "upper crust" of society that masks the darkening drama. For the suite Khachaturian extracted three lively ballroom dances, the Waltz, Mazurka and rollicking Gallop. The Nocturne, a melancholy song featuring solo violin, and the lyrical Romance provide contrast. Khachaturian said the Waltz was especially challenging because it had to justify Nina’s exclamation, "How beautiful the new waltz is! ... Something between sorrow and joy gripped my heart." With its ominous undercurrent, the Waltz became one of Khachaturian's biggest hits, such that it was performed at his funeral.
Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1932)
Along with Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, the Armenian Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) became among the best-known of Soviet composers, and several of his works, such as his piano and violin concertos and music from the ballets Spartacus and Gayane (with its famous Sabre Dance), continue to command a place in the world’s concert halls.
Although the Trio was written while Khachaturian was a student at the Moscow Conservatory, it demonstrates the marked influence of the Armenian folk music that fascinated him as a child and continued to color his mature compositions, so much so that he was posthumously honored by having his image used on Armenian currency!
--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, May 4, 2008 (JU Faculty Trio)
Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8
Hungarian composer and educator Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) was a pioneering ethnomusicologist who worked closely with his friend Béla Bartók to collect and codify the folk music of Eastern Europe in the early part of the 20th Century. Kodály gained international fame with his 1923 oratorio Psalmus hungaricus, and the orchestral suite from his 1926 opera Háry János continues to hold its place in the world’s concert halls.
The influence of Kodály’s immersion in Hungarian folksong is evident in his Sonata for Cello Solo, op. 8 (1915), one of the most demanding pieces written for the instrument, and one which requires scordatura re-tunings of the two lower strings.
--Music @ Main, September 9, 2008 (Alexei Romanenko, cello)
Allegro moderato (from Grand Quartet in C Major, op. 92)
Ernesto Köhler (1849-1907), born in Modena, Italy, had his first music lessons with his flutist father. In 1869 Ernesto moved to Vienna, and in 1871 to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he eventually became Principal Flutist in the Imperial Russian Opera, the highest position under the Czar available to a flutist. In addition to many works featuring the flute, he composed an opera and several ballets, and his progressively difficult 35 Exercises for Flute, op. 33, are still recommended to flute students.
--March 9, 2008 (Arioso Flute Quartet
Steven Mark Kohn
Steven Mark Kohn (b.1957) is Director of the Electronic Music Studio on the composition faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the same school where he received his Master's degree in Composition in 1982 under esteemed composer Donald Erb. In addition to classical compositions and music for the stage, Kohn has written numerous jingles for television commercials, as well as soundtracks for a number of award-winning children's films and television specials, including the Emmy-nominated Runaway Ralph. There are now three volumes comprising his American Folk Set, for voice and piano, which, as one would expect, are arrangements of folk-songs.
Rodolphe Kreutzer: Caprice No. 2 | Caprice No. 7
Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831): French violin virtuoso, educator, and composer. Although he composed about 40 operas and 19 violin concertos, his best known work is the 1796 collection of 42 études ou caprices, still used in the study of the violin. After seeing Kreutzer perform in Vienna, Beethoven dedicated his 9th Violin Sonata to him. Ironically, Kreutzer deemed it unplayable, and never performed the work that has secured his place in music history.
--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts--Premiere Concert, February 26, 2006 (Shiao/Smart: The Kreutzer Project)
David Lang: Born To Be Wild
The classic rock anthem Born To Be Wild is by Canadian songwriter Mars Bonfire (b. 1942 as Dennis McCrohan, aka Dennis Edmonton), and it was first recorded in 1967 by Steppenwolf, the band in which Bonfire’s brother was the drummer. The song is used under the opening credits of the 1969 film Easy Rider, and since then it has appeared in numerous other film and television productions, and has been covered by wildly diverse musicians, including in a duet between Ozzie Osbourne and Miss Piggy. Among its most ironic incarnations is the post-minimalist creation by American composer David Lang (b. 1957). who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for The Little Match Girl Passion. Lang definitely has the “motor running,” but one might venture that his version is about as far-removed from the Easy Rider “rebel biker” persona as you can get.
Score & Recording on
the Composer's website Libby Larsen: Blue Piece for Violin and piano
One of the most-performed and recorded living American composers, Grammy Award-winner Libby Larsen (b. 1950) has over 500 works in virtually every vocal and instrumental genre, including 15 operas. In 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, and she has held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony. Her brief Blue Piece received its premiere in March 2010 by Cora Cooper at the Kansas Music Educators Conference.
Edward Lein (leen, b. 1955), is the [retired] Music Librarian at Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library (Florida), and holds Master's degrees in both Music (major professor: John Boda) and Library Science from Florida State University. As a tenor soloist (now retired) he has appeared in recitals, oratorios and dramatic works throughout his home state, and drawing on his performance experience the majority of his early compositions were vocal works, including Missa pro defunctis ("Mass for the Departed"), first performed in 1991 by Riverside Presbyterian Chancel Choir (Jacksonville) with members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Following performances of orchestral works by the Jacksonville Symphony, including Meditation for cello, oboe and orchestra (premiered June 2006), and In the Bleak Midwinter (premiered December 2007), his instrumental catalog has grown, largely due to requests from Symphony players for new pieces, and he endeavors to imbue his instrumental work with the same singing lyricism found in his vocal music.
For Matthew (Lament & Prayer), from Elegies in D Minor
In the pre-dawn hours of October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old son of Judy and Dennis Shepard, was kidnapped, tortured, beaten, and left to die in a frost-covered field near the University of Wyoming. According to courtroom testimony, the two murderers, following a plan made before ever meeting their victim, randomly selected the slightly-built college student from among the patrons at a gay-friendly pub and lured him with the promise of a safe ride home. Mistaking him for a scarecrow, an early morning jogger discovered the comatose youth tied cross-like to a fence, his battered head covered in blood except for streaks washed clean by tears.
It was from this horror that the text of the Lament arose. During the days following that cowardly and brutal attack, while young Matthew lay in a coma, I was haunted by Samuel Barber's song, The Crucifixion, as witnessed in the allusion to its moving verse, by W.H. Auden. The appended Prayer was directly inspired by the reflections of the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston on October 12, 1998, the day that Matthew Shepard died. Bishop Charleston, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, former Bishop of Alaska, and now President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, observed that, "Crimes of hate may live in shouts of rage, but they are born in silence," referring to fears that prevent many within the Christian community from actively supporting unpopular but just causes, despite "the words of a savior whose only comment on human relationships was to call us to never judge but only to love." Still, the U.S. Congress maintains that Federal protection against violent hate crimes is unwarranted when the hatred and violence are motivated by homophobia.
The poem was written in 1998, during the week Matthew Shepard died. The musical setting, originally for tenor and string quartet, was composed in 2000, and soon adapted for chorus with flute and organ accompaniment. The preferred choral arrangement, using piano and flute (or violin) instead of organ, was prepared in July 2006, at the request of Dr. Carole Clifford for the Orange Park Chorale (Orange Park, Florida),
Lament Wyoming stars in silent horror cried as Satan's fists struck hard again, then crucified God's gentle child. And there the weeping night in disbelief beheld a broken boy's despair: chilled bones, alone, barefoot and bleeding, swaddled in an icy shroud distilled and crystallized from autumn's tears. O hear the first bird's cry and feel the breaking of his heart to realize his mother's grief. Prayer Why own this fear? Our silence multiplies, condemning us complicit in his pain, complacency our guilty wile. Now pray his suffering might our apathy dispel; let hopeful deeds amend and help atone. No hateful shouts of rage--but let us call aloud for justice, truth, and love, through sorrow's haze. O hear the first bird's cry and heed the waking in our hearts lest death be vain. Rest, Matthew. Peace. --Words ©1998, & music ©2006, E. Lein
Astronomy (Song for Maureen), from Elegies in D Minor
"My dear friend Maureen Miller (1946-2005) was a Jacksonville artist and designer, and a source of joy to all who knew her. She maintained boundless warmth and humor even while suffering the ravages of lupus that eventually robbed us of her. Astronomy was begun soon after her passing, and was first heard as a ballad at her memorial service. It reflects how random, unrelated thoughts can lead us to those we love, and how we seek solace through hope, even in the face of terrible loss."
The arrangement for mixed voices and piano was prepared in July 2006, at the request of Dr. Carole Clifford for the Orange Park Chorale (Orange Park, Florida).
There's Jupiter ... It's like five million miles away, but textbooks never mention "up" --I guess 'cause everything is relative. I'll bet it's lonely there. I know it's lonely here without her. I'm wondering, how far away is heaven? Some say it's just beyond these stars ... I guess a song won't have the answer, but I bet it's lovely there. I know it's lonely here. And if home is where the heart is, well, then mine's beyond those stars, a million broken pieces out of reach. I'm wondering if there's a God in heaven, and can He turn this night to dawn? I know a song can't hold the answer, but she won't be lonely there. But god, it's lonely here ... And if home is where the heart is, well, then mine's beyond those stars, a million broken pieces out of reach. Now I'm wondering, how far away is heaven? Some say it's just beyond those stars. I know a song can't hold the answer, but you won't be lonely there. God knows, it's lonely here, so lonely. It's lonely here without you. --Words & music ©2005-2006, E. Lein
Missa pro defunctis: Pie Jesu
Pie Jesu, the fifth movement of the composer’s Missa pro defunctis (“Mass for the Dead”), was originally performed in 1991 by the Riverside Presbyterian Chancel Choir and members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and is dedicated to victims of terminal illness in memory of the composer’s mother, Marzell Martin Lein (1922-1980), who died of cancer. Along with three other movements from the Missa, the Pie Jesu has been reworked into a purely orchestral symphony (subtitled Lux aeterna), dedicated to victims of war and terrorism.
The arrangement, made at the request of Ms. Cromley especially for today’s concert, combines elements from the choral and orchestral versions, and is presented in memory of those who died serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
--October 21, 2007 (Cromley and Friends: Voices & Violin, Bach to Broadway)
Sonatina for Violin and Piano (2007)
-- 1. Allegro moderato 2. Nocturne 3. Scherzo (Finale)
The Sonatina was composed in the summer of 2007, and, as the title suggests, its direct, neoclassical style incorporates familiar formal patterns. The first movement adopts the precepts of sonata form, and the Nocturne presents a languid tune that alternates with a hymn-like chorale. The final Scherzo is an incisive transformation of the second movement theme, and its “trio” section further transforms the tune into a rather mundane parlor waltz which gains character as it progresses. Composed at the suggestion of Max Huls, this light-hearted Sonatina was written specifically with the Huls Clark Duo in mind, and more talented collaborators could not be hoped for by any composer.
--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, June 1, 2008 (Huls Clark Duo: The Intermezzo Series Finale)
Tangle (from Un Dulcito)
Tangle, a tango, was written in March 2009 at the request of Piotr Szewczyk for a 3-minute piece for the VnC Duo, and although this is the public "world premiere," Tangle has been performed privately to help raise funds to benefit the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra players. Tangle inspired three additional pieces which form a suite with a Latin American flavor, called Un Dulcito ("A Little Sweet"), for violin and cello, or for string orchestra.
--Music @ Main, May 12, 2009 (VnC Duo)
Rumor: Rumba for Violin and Cello
Rumor is the last movement of a four-movement suite called Un Dulcito ("A Little Sweet"), mimicking the Latin American ballroom dances that inspired them, and the composer is delighted to have such distinguished artists give the premiere performance of his little rumba (rumbita?). The entire suite grew from Tangle, a tango written in March 2009 at the request of Jacksonville Symphony players Piotr Szewczyk and Alexei Romanenko, and both Rumor and Hoodoo (the first movement samba) include variations of the tune from Tangle. Adapted for string orchestra, Un Dulcito is scheduled for its first complete performance this fall by the Vero Beach High School Symphony.
Dark Eyes: Variations in the Form of a Sonatina (from Piano Trio)
Based on the famous Russian gypsy waltz of the same name, Dark Eyes was originally written to fill a request as a "pièce d'occasion" for a concert featuring a Russian cellist (Alexei Romanenko), a Polish violinist (Piotr Szewczyk), and a Cuban pianist (Ileana Fernandez). Although Mr. Romanenko's touring schedule made "d'occasion" ultimately impossible, their proposed "Music of Our Homelands" concert provided direct inspiration for the piece, which combines elements from the musical heritage of each player.
Tongue-in-cheek and occasionally bordering on campy, these "Variations in the Form of a Sonatina" transform the Russian tune using the dancing rhythms of the Polish polonaise and the Cuban havanaise. But even when it is most disguised, the original tune is always lurking close to the surface.The "sonatina" form that's mentioned in the subtitle is essentially in E minor, but it is sandwiched between an Introduction and a Coda, both in A minor.
The Introduction begins with the solo cello presenting a rather grandiose "theme." This is immediately repeated, but with the violin and piano enveloping it in stormy, fanfare-like flourishes.
The violin takes up the sonatina exposition's "first subject" Polonaise, only this polonaise is perhaps more reminiscent of circus music than of a stately Polish promenade. The piano and pizzicato cello provide the accompaniment while they alternate bits of the original Dark Eyes tune between them.
A transitional section presents two more variations. The first has a turning and leaping motive pitted against dotted rhythms. The second changes meter from 3/4 to 4/4, and sets up the havanaise rhythm of the sonatina's "second subject." Named for the Cuban capital, the Havanaise is, of course, introduced by the piano.
Melodically, this Havanaise is an inversion of the Dark Eyes tune, and it is no longer in a minor mode. Where the original waltz is closed in and tightly wound, this variation opens up and spreads out, with exuberant leaps, rather like giddy children playing on a see-saw. The addition of a prominent C# -- a "raised 4th" in an otherwise mainly G-major harmonic background -- recalls the raised fourth that the original Dark Eyes melody begins with. In addition to providing a somewhat exotic, Lydian coloring to the harmony, the raised 4th enhances the leaping, light-headed feeling by never quite allowing the tonality to settle.
Following a repeat of the exposition, at the beginning of the development section the cello takes up the first-subject Polonaise (in B-flat minor), but the violin and piano fight the cello for prominence as they hammer away with variations in 16th-note patterns. Immediately following a general pause, the Dark Eyes tune appears in the piano's bass line, while the strings saw away with tremolo double-stops.
Against sustained D-minor chords, the piano takes over the Polonaise tune in a melodic "recap" of the first subject. Rather than re-establishing the expected E-minor tonality, this section looks forward to the Coda, serving a sub-dominant function to the A-minor tonality that begins and ends the entire piece.
The return of the second-subject Havanaise tentatively re-establishes E as the key-note, and it fades into a fugal variation that begins firmly in E-minor. The Coda begins with a straight-forward presentation of the Dark Eyes waltz by the cello, while the violin sings a plaintive descant above a simple chordal background from the piano. The players conclude with a reprise of the stormy fanfare from the Introduction.GREATLY CONDENSED VERSION:
Composed and first performed in 2010, the tongue-in-cheek Dark Eyes (Variations in the Form of a Sonatina) is based on Florian Hermann's famous waltz tune popularized by Russian gypsies. Following a fiery introduction, the dancing rhythms of the Polish polonaise and the Cuban havanaise characterize the sonatina’s primary and secondary thematic groups respectively; the coda begins with the Dark Eyes tune transformed into a fughetta subject, and the movement ends with a restatement of its opening fanfare.
Score & Recording
Symphony No. 1, "Divertimento"
1. Allegro - 2. Meditation (Elegy) - 3. Scherzo with Salon Waltzes - 4. Rondo
Originally composed in May 1998 and at first called simply "Divertimento," this Symphony no. 1 was written basically for my own amusement since the possibility for performance was very unlikely. More specifically, I got a music notation program that could play back midi sounds, and I really was writing something just to experiment with the playback. So, because there was no effort to be "impressive," it probably is the most spontaneous thing I have ever written. My goal was to write something I might like to hear at a symphony concert, but that would not be so unnecessarily difficult that, say, an undergraduate orchestra couldn't handle it if the opportunity presented itself. In 2006, The 2nd-4th movements were submitted for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's biennial "Fresh Ink" composition contest, and were selected among the finalists. The 2nd movement, Meditation, was premiered by the Jacksonville Symphony in May 2006, with soloists Alexei Romanenko (cello) and Eric Olson (oboe) under the direction of Fabio Mechetti.
Before composing began I had a plan: to write a four-movement orchestral work akin to the light-hearted instrumental suites of the 18th Century. The movements would emulate formal designs perfected by Haydn and Mozart, and the harmonic fabric would be essentially diatonic -- straightforward and easygoing. And, like those rococo entertainments, I wanted to incorporate elements of folk and contemporary popular music, hopefully without irony or parody, but as a natural part of the musical discourse -- kind of like a movie soundtrack but in more-or-less traditional symphonic forms.
The first movement, revised in 2008, follows the basic outline of "sonata" form (exposition-development-recap, in B minor), except that the full recapitulation of the "first subject" is delayed until the fourth movement. It wasn't part of the pre-compositional plan, but the thematic material of all four movements derives from the first three measures. These measures incorporate three principal three-note motives, the simplest I could come up with: (1) starting note--up (or down) a step--back to starting note; (2) three consecutive notes in a diatonic scale; and, (3) three repeated notes. I expected their simplicity would be very limiting, but they turned out to be more versatile than expected. Yet, the movement's not really "symphonic"--there's little thematic "development," i.e., the kind of motivic breakdown, interplay and evolution that the traditional, Germanic sonata-allegro form generally entails; rather, the thematic elements mostly are presented as complete "tunes" in different keys and varied settings. It was written literally in a couple of evenings after work, and, as I said, with no thought of impressing--but I still I hope it's somewhat charming, despite (or because of) it's simple directness.
The second movement is an elegy featuring cello and oboe solos. The brief and solemn introduction (and coda) was an afterthought added to establish the 5/4 meter before the cello begins its parlando song; it is drawn from a countermelody that occurs when the orchestra takes up the main tune.
The original plan for the scherzo movement had been to alternate something like '70s-style disco with Edwardian salon orchestra waltzes (okay, so the plan was not completely without irony). But, while playing around with motives from the first movement, a huapango seemed to write itself, and disco died, again. The 1st Waltz begins with a transposition of the first 15 notes of the huapango-like Scherzo, disguised in a new rhythm.
The "A" section of the Rondo finale transforms the principal motives into a jaunty tune in Dorian mode (on B), first presented by unison oboe and clarinet. Some--mostly oboists and clarinetists, I think--might consider this an unfortunate doubling, but the intent is for a rougher, more rustic feel than one might get with either instrument on its own. The "B" section (F# minor) is composed entirely of the three main motives (presented consecutively and interlocking), with frequent octave displacements -- the challenge was to write a "lyrical" tune when there is a leap of a 7th every few notes. The "C" section (C major) has, I think, a Baroque feel to it. As mentioned, the beginning of the original first movement is interjected, just before the return of the "B" section (now in E minor). The movement ends with a jazzy clarinet (or saxophone!) variation of the rondo tune, and a big crescendo amid a wash of harp glissandos.
György Ligeti: Études, Book I
In 1943, the music education of the Hungarian-Jewish composer György Ligeti (jerj LIGG-itty, 1923-2006) was interrupted when he was forced into a labor camp for the hellish months preceding the end of World War II. His 16-year-old brother and parents were wrenched from their comfortable home into Nazi concentration camps, and when the blood-red cinders had settled, György and his mother were the only members of his immediate family who had survived the Holocaust. After the war, Ligeti resumed his studies in Budapest, which he completed at the Franz Liszt Academy in 1949. He spent a year after graduation conducting ethnomusicological research, but then he returned to the Academy as a professor of harmony, counterpoint, and musical analysis.
By that time the Communists had replaced the Fascists, so Hungary and the rest of Eastern Europe suffered isolation from artistic developments in the rest of the world. And as Ligeti's music moved from a fairly romantic style influenced by folk music (and Bartók) into 12-tone atonalism, it escaped less and less the censor's pen. Shortly after the failed Hungarian Revolution in October and November of 1956, Stalin's brutal fist fell hard on the Hungarian Nationalists, but Ligeti was able to slip through the Iron Curtain, hidden in mail bound for Austria. As a refugee, he first joined up with avant garde darling Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) in Germany, and eventually, in 1968 Ligeti and his wife became Austrian citizens, by which time he was already garnering recognition as one of the world's most distinguished composers. Ligeti had a brief professorship in the United States, at Stanford University in 1972, but returned to Europe as a music professor in Hamburg, Germany, from 1973 until his retirement in 1989. He died in Vienna at age 83, after having spent his last years confined to a wheelchair.
In 1968, besides gaining Austrian citizenship, he unexpectedly got a widespread, international audience when Stanley Kubrick sneaked some of Ligeti's music into the groundbreaking motion picture, 2001, a Space Odyssey--even though Kubrick had failed to ask the composer's permission. The selections by Ligeti used in the film (Atmospheres, Kyrie from Requiem, Lux aeterna, and an altered version of Aventures) demonstrate the dense, appropriately monolithic "micropolyphonic" style that is still perhaps most closely associated with the composer. But Ligeti's work actually was constantly evolving, often humorously absurdist, and, although he never returned to the unabashedly tonal idiom of his youthful works, in the 1990s he once again did return to his native folk music for inspiration. But even by the early 1980s Ligeti's music had allowed for major and minor chords to help break the unrelenting microtones, halftones and tritones that washed through the musical mainstream of the 1950s through the 1970s, creating his own harmonic landscape that he described as neither tonal nor atonal. Regardless, his polyrhythmic vitality, inspired in part by folk music of Central Africa, engages a broader audience in ways lesser modernist composers might envy.
Altogether, Ligeti wrote 18 Études for piano solo, grouped into three Books, completed in 1985 (Nos. 1-6), 1994 (Nos. 7-14), and 2001 (Nos. 15-18), respectively. They are regarded by pianists as an exploration and extension of piano technique, bringing forward the tradition of Chopin, Liszt and Debussy through the late 20th Century into the 21st.
Études, Book I
No. 1. Désordre ("Chaos," Molto vivace, vigoroso, molto ritmico), explores fast polyrhythms (i.e., two or more distinct rhythmic units played simultaneously), but also with the right hand playing only white keys and the left only black. No. 2. Cordes à vide ("Open strings," Andantino rubato, molto tenero), starts out with simple, languid arpeggiations that become quicker and more complex as the subtly impressionistic étude progresses. In No. 3, Touches bloquées ("Blocked keys," Vivacissimo, sempre molto ritmico - Feroce, impetuoso, molto meno vivace - Feroce, estrepitoso - Tempo I), one hand depresses shifting "blocks" of piano keys that prevent the depressed notes from sounding when the other hand plays chromatic figures around and over them. No. 4, Fanfares (Vivacissimo, molto ritmico, con alegria e slancio) is another polyrhythmic study, with an ostinato pattern in 8/8 time (subdivided as 3 + 2 + 3). As the title suggests, No. 5, Arc-en-ciel ("Rainbow," Andante con eleganza, with swing), rises and falls in arching patterns that the composer likens to a rainbow. The title of No. 6, Automne à Varsovie ("Autumn in Warsaw," Presto cantabile, molto ritmico e flessibile), refers not so much to the season, as to an annual contemporary music festival in the Polish capital, called "Warsaw Autumn." It offers the constant transformation of a descending figure introduced as the piece begins.
Hungarian-born Franz Liszt (1811-1886) is widely regarded as the greatest pianist of all time, and his performances excited an hysteria that today is reserved for only the most popular of rock stars. Despite great fame following a sometimes impoverished youth, Liszt remained unspoiled and donated great sums of his concert earnings to a wide variety of charitable causes, and in later life he even took orders in the church. His generosity extended to helping increase the fortunes of struggling musicians, among them Hector Berlioz and Liszt’s future son-in-law, Richard Wagner. An innovative composer, Liszt is credited with creating the symphonic tone poem as a form, developing the technique of thematic transformation, and he even anticipated some of the harmonic devices of Impressionist composers.
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (from Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième année: Italie)
Naturally, piano music is central to his output, and he was equally gifted in writing introspective poetical works and extroverted virtuoso pieces. Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca ("Sonnet 104 of Petrarch") combines both aspects of his musical personality. The fifth piece in Years of Pilgrimage, 2nd Year: Italy, it started out as song setting of Petrarch’s poem, and it ably reflects the unsettled and conflicted feelings expressed in the verse.
--Music @ Main, February 10, 2009 (Mu Phi Epsilon Student Recital)
Heine's poem, Du bist wie eine blume, has been set by dozens of different composers (including a Russian version by Rachmaninoff), and, along with Robert Schumann's setting, Liszt's is among the most famous. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth, and, fortunately for him, good penmanship is not a criterion for immortality, as the autograph manuscript of the song (1843?) attests. A solo piano version of the song was prepared by Joachim Raff (1822-1882--Raff would become Liszt's music copyist for a time ...), which Liszt performed. Liszt himself prepared a concert arrangement for solo piano of Im Rhein, im schönen Strome (1840?/1854), as well as of Hohe Liebe (1850), which became the first of Liszt's three Liebesträume ("Dreams of Love").
The elegiac Funérailles ("Funeral", 1849) is the 7th in a cycle of ten piano pieces known collectively as Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses (Poetic and Religious Harmonies). It was written to commemorate the passing of three friends who recently had died trying to liberate Hungary from Habsburg rule.
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Selections from Evita, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera
With his 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber (b.1948) catapulted to international fame and has become a fixture of musical theater, music publishing, the recording industry, and motion pictures, winning virtually every major award open to him (Tony, International Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, etc.) along the way, plus a British knighthood and peerage.
Hoping to repeat the success of Superstar, Lloyd Webber again collaborated with lyricist Time Rice (b.1944), producing the rock opera Evita, based on the life of Eva Duarte Perón (1919-1952), the First Lady to Argentine President Juan Perón. Before the London and Broadway stage productions in 1978 and 1979 respectively, Evita was first released as a concept album in 1976, and two decades later, in 1996, it became a major motion picture starring Madonna. In the original stage production, Another Suitcase in Another Hall was sung by an unnamed mistress of Juan Perón after she is sent packing by Juan's future wife. But for the film version, Eva sings it herself after a failed romance that nonetheless brought her to Buenos Aires. In Don't Cry for Me Argentina, Eva addresses her public for the first time after she and her new husband set up housekeeping in the Presidential residence. The sweeping melody, which borrows thematic material from the last movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto, became an international hit, and is the song most closely identified with the musical.
In 1981, Cats, an unlikely project based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot, emerged as one of the greatest successes in musical theater history, and from it the song Memory took on a life of it’s own as a pop phenom. In the stage production, Memory is sung by the prodigal “Grizabella” as she tries to regain the trust of the other, well, cats by recounting her happy youth before she abandoned the clowder in search of a more glamorous life.
For The Phantom of the Opera (1986), based on a French novel by Gaston Leroux (1868-1927), Lloyd Webber collaborated primarily with lyricist Charles Hart (b.1961). The musical is ranked as the longest-running show in Broadway history and the top-grossing theatrical entertainment of all time. The title character is a disfigured musical genius (read: psycho) who haunts the sewers beneath the Paris Opéra, and the story details his obsession for Christine, an aspiring young soprano. Christine sings Think of Me as an audition number for the Opéra, and as she sings she is recognized by Raoul, a friend from her childhood. Christine has secretly been taking voice lessons with the mysterious masked Phantom, and she soon willingly visits his underground hideout. But when the deranged "Angel of Music," as Christine calls him, murders the Opéra's stage manager and becomes instead an angel of death, Christine escapes to the rooftops with Raoul, and there she accepts her childhood sweetheart's offer of love and protection, in All I Ask of You.
Fernando Lopes-Graça: Olha o Rojao
Portuguese composer and musicologist Fernando Lopes-Graça (1906-1994) made hundreds of arrangements of Portuguese folksongs, taking special care to preserve the integrity of his source material while at the same time providing widely varied musical settings. His cautionary Olha o Rojao warns, “Watch out for the firecracker! It may explode in your hands!”
--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, February 10, 2008 (UNF Chorale & UNF Chamber Singers)
Rolf Løvland: You Raise Me Up
Norwegian composer Rolf Løvland (b. 1955) asked Irish novelist Brendan Graham (b.1945) to write lyrics to his instrumental piece entitled Silent Story, and the result is the inspirational You Raise Me Up. First recorded in 2001 by Secret Garden, Løvland’s Celtic band, it has since been recorded in over 125 languages.
In 2003, American composer and record producer David Foster selected an emerging talent, Josh Groban, to record the song for release in the United States, and their recording spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy. In 2004, Groban sang it during Super Bowl XXXVIII to honor the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts, and received still more exposure when he sang it at television icon Oprah Winfrey’s 50th birthday celebration.
--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, October 21, 2007 (Cromley and Friends: Voices & Violin, Bach to Broadway