Friday, November 8, 2013, 7:30 PM  Blais Pavilion, Lazare Building, University of Massachusetts Medical School

  • {slide= Elgar – Military March No. 4 (Pomp and Circumstance)}
    Elgar was not the “typical” English composer of 19th and 20th- century Great Britain. He was raised in a musical environment — his father was a professional violinist — but he received almost no formal musical training at an academic level. He was a Roman Catholic in a Protestant country. And his origins were quite humble: He was born and raised in a small village just outside Worcester, England, in a country where the class system almost invariably determined the course of one’s life. He nevertheless achieved some renown during his lifetime, and much more posthumously.

    Many of his early works were written for choral festivals. The Enigma Variations (Op. 36), premiered in 1899, was his first great success and is still part of the orchestral repertory. In 1905 he wrote his first and most popular Pomp and Circumstance March, which is, practically speaking, the “official” march at graduation ceremonies nearly everywhere. The fourth, less well-known than the first, was composed in 1907. It was popular, however, and was played as the recessional at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The final March he finished, the fifth, was completed in 1930, but he did leave sketches of a sixth, which was completed by another composer and premiered in 2006. One of his finest works, perhaps one of the three or four greatest concertos ever written for the cello, was his Cello Concerto in E minor (Op. 85), written in the aftermath of World War I. Dark and contemplative, it did not achieve real fame until it was popularized by the late cellist Jacqueline du Pré in the 1960s.

  • {slide=Dvorak – Slavonic Dances Nos. 7 and 8 (Op. 46)}
    Dvorak followed in the footsteps of his Czech predecessor Bedrich Smetana by incorporating the folk music of Moravia and Bohemia into his compositions. Brahms, who had also incorporated folk themes in composing his Hungarian Dances, became interested in Dvorak’s music and referred him to his own publisher, Simrok.

    Dvorak, in 1878, published his first set of Slavonic Dances (Op. 46), modeled on Brahms’ earlier work. Originally scored for piano four hands, his publisher convinced him to orchestrate it. That version achieved great popularity. In 1886 he published a second set of the dances (Op. 72).

    Dvorak’s most famous work, Symphony No. 9, From the New World (Op. 95, B. 178), which premiered in 1893 while he was the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was said to incorporate American folk themes, but scholars have not been able to identify a single such theme in the piece. Rather, the themes are entirely Czech. The same is true for his String Quartet No. 12 in F Major (Op. 96), the American Quartet, which was written in the summer of 1893 when he spent his vacation in the Czech immigrant community in Spillville, Iowa.

  • {slide= Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major (Op. 55), Eroica}
    Beethoven and his music are full of contrasts and contradictions. Upon hearing that Napoleon Bonaparte had declared himself Emperor of the French, the disillusioned Beethoven, who had written a dedication to him on the manuscript of the third symphony, struck it out, scratching a hole in the manuscript in the process. But soon after, Beethoven — or a friend on his behalf — wrote to his publisher indicating that the title to the symphony was Bonaparte. In spite of that suggestion, the symphony’s title at its publication in 1806 was Sinfonia Eroica (the hero remaining unspecified).

    There is no question, however, that the symphony is heroic in length; its 1,870 measures, not including
    repeats, make it nearly double the length of its predecessors composed by Mozart, Haydn and even Beethoven himself.

    In this concert, the Seven Hills Symphony performs the third and fourth movements of the Eroica. The third is labeled Scherzo, Italian for “jest” or “joke.” Although scherzo movements appeared in earlier composers’ works, Beethoven developed the form into the popular successor of the minuet and trio movement (usually the third) of earlier classical symphonies. (Beethoven does include a trio section within the scherzo for contrast.) The scherzo’s tempo is allegro vivace: “allegro” is Italian for “merry” and a synonym for “quick,” “lively” or “bright”; “vivace” means “vivacious.” The scherzo stands in stark contrast to the slow, somber funeral march of the second movement.

    The fourth movement, Finale, is marked allegro molto (“very much” allegro). It also begins at a rapid pace. The finale then turns into a fugue, which piles melody on top of melody and overlaps them, keeping the work driving forward. Toward the end of the movement, there is a poco andante section — in Italian, andante means “going” or “flowing,” and poco means “a little” or “rather.” The finale concludes with a presto, “quick,” section, where the piece suddenly takes off and rapidly moves to a breathtaking and climactic ending.

  • {slide=Badelt Pirates of the Carribbean}
    German-born Klaus Badelt began his career writing music for television commercials and movies. Beginning in 1998, having moved to the United States, he collaborated on the scores of several very successful movies including Gladiator; Mission: Impossible II, the first sequel in the Mission Impossible series; and the first in the series of X-Men films. In 2003 he wrote the score for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which launched yet another series of highly successful sequels. This medley includes the titles Fog Bound, The Medallion Calls, To the Pirates’ Cave, The Black Pearl, One Last Shot and He’s a Pirate.

    His career has continued to flourish, and his music has won critical acclaim. He composed the music for the closing ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Program Notes: Mark Zarrow
Edited by Carol Zarrow

The image is the work of Simon Carrasco, and is used under the Creative Commons 2.0 Licensing Agreement

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