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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 26th Season

 

Monday, May 10th, 1965
Manchester College Auditorium
C. Dwight Oltman, Conductor

  Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
       
  Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 Felix Mendelssohn  
 

I. Allegro molto appassionato
II. Andante
III. Allegretto non troppo (Allegro molto vivace)

 
  John A. Calabrese, violin  
       
  Intermission  
       
  St. Lawrence Overture Robert Washburn  
       
  Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) Pablo de Sarasate  
       
  Three Dances from The Bartered Bride Bedrich Smetana  
 

I. Polka
II. Furiant
III. Dance of the Comedians

 
       

Program Notes by Paul Affelder

  Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Mozart composed Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), one of his three greatest operas, at the instigation of Johann Emanuel Schikaneder, a small-time theatrical impresario who was giving performances at the Theater auf de Wieden, just outside the walls of Vienna. Schikaneder wrote the libretto himself, basing it upon the fairy drama Lulu, or the Enchanted Flute. Having hit upon hard times, he was anxious to have an opera which would bring him some much-needed financial returns. Mozart, however, was a little dubious about the project, and told Schikaneder, "If I do not bring you out of your trouble and if the work is not successful, you must not blame me; for I have never written a magic opera in my life." Yet, at the same time, the composer rather liked the idea of the plot, for it dealt with certain aspects of Masonic ritual, and he himself was an ardent Freemason.

Mozart received the libretto of The Magic Flute in March, 1791, and set to work rather half-heartedly on the music. His wife Constanze was ill and had gone to Baden to take the waters. Not only was he lonely but he was not in good health himself. Schikaneder, who was anxious to have the opera finished as soon as possible, did everything in his power to induce Mozart to composer with the greatest speed. He even set him up in a special pavilion near the theatre, and provided actors from his company to keep him in good spirits.

Mozart was obliged to interrupt his labors on The Magic Flute for about three weeks during the following September, in order to compose and produce another operatic work, La Clemenza di Tito, which he was commissioned to write for the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Upon his return from Prague, where the opera was presented, he resumed work on The Magic Flute, completing it with the Overture and March of the Priests on September 28.

The playbills for the first performance, which took place on September 30, 1791, bore the name of Schikaneder in large, bold letters -- though much of the libretto had actually been written by a man named Giesecke -- while underneath, in small type, was printed the following: "The music is by Herr Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Kapellmeister and composer. Herr Mozart, in deference to the excellent and honorable public, and also out of friendship for the author of the piece, has consented to conduct the orchestra in person for this day only."

"Conduct the orchestra" meant that Mozart directed from the harpsichord. When the applause at the end of the first act was little more than polite, he became extremely worried, and hurried backstage to Schikaneder. The latter reassured him that everything would turn out all right, and so it did. The remainder of the opera was received with wild acclaim, and at its conclusion there were insistent calls for the composer. It took considerable persuasion, however, to get Mozart to make an appearance, for the sensitive young man had been deeply wounded by the audience's failure to appreciate the opening portion of the work.

The Magic flute continued to be successful; it was performed no less than eighty-three times during the first year. But Mozart knew little of this success; a little more than two months after the premiere he was dead.

The Overture to The Magic Flute is scored for flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets -- all in pairs, three trombones, kettledrums and strings. It begins with a short, slow introduction, in which the orchestra intones a series of three powerful chords. According to some commentators, these are connected in some manner with the Masonic ritual. These chords are heard again in the middle of the Overture, as well as in the second act of the opera itself. This is the only music from the opera which is previewed in the Overture. The main section of the Overture, like the first movement of a classical symphony, is in sonata form; its themes are stated in the Exposition, worked over in the Development and restated in the Recapitulation. But Mozart has added an extra fillip: the principal subject is treated in all three sections like a little fugue.


 
       
  Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 Felix Mendolssohn-Bartholdy
(1809-1847)
 
 

Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto was the result of a long friendship between the composer and the prominent violinist Ferdinand David. Mendelssohn, who was eleven months older than David, did not meet him until he was sixteen, though by a strange coincidence the two had been born in the same house in Hamburg. When Mendelssohn assumed the conductorship of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835, he made David his concertmaster, a post he retained for thirty-seven years. And when ill health prevented the conductor from appearing, David took over many of the preparatory rehearsals and occasionally directed a concert.

Though Mendelssohn's principal instruments were the piano and organ, he had studied both the violin and viola as a youth, and enjoyed playing the latter when he participated in informal chamber music sessions. While still in his teens he had composed a concerto for violin and string orchestra and another for violin, piano and string orchestra.

The firs mention of the present Violin Concerto was in a letter that the composer wrote to David on July 30, 1838, in which he said, "I should like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E minor runs through my head, the beginning of which gives me no peace." Evidently, the work did not haunt him too strongly, for he did not compose it the following winter. David must have kept after him, however, as evidenced by another letter Mendelssohn wrote him from Hochheim, near Coblenz, on July 24, 1839: "It is nice of you to press me for a violin concerto! I have the liveliest desire to write one for you, and if I have a few propitious days here, I'll bring you something. But the task is not an easy one. You demand that it be brilliant, and how is such a one as I to manage that? The whole of the first solo is to be for the E string."

It required another five years for the completion of the concerto, during which time there were many consultations between the composer and the violinist over details of the solo and orchestral parts. Mendelssohn put the final note on the score on September 16, 1844, and it was sent to the publisher in December. But even then, there were further revisions which were not completed until February. David had many suggestions to offer regarding the violin solos; and it is believed that the cadenza, in its present form, is principally the result of his labors.

As was quite natural, David was the soloist when the E Minor Concerto received its initial performance, at a Gewandhaus concert on March 13, 1845. Unfortunately, Mendelssohn was unable to be present, as he was taking an enforced rest at Frankfurt. His duties as conductor were taken over by the Danish composer Niels W. Gade. Two weeks after the premiere, David wrote to Mendelssohn, "I should have written you before of the success that I made with your violin concerto. Forgive me if I do so only now. The work pleased extraordinarily well, and it was unanimously declared to be one of the most beautiful compositions of its kind."

The orchestral portion of the Violin Concerto calls for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and kettledrums, in addition to the usual strings.

The concerto is in three movements, which are intended to be played without pause. The opening movement, Allegro Molto Appassionato, opens with but one measure of introduction, after which the solo violin takes up the flowing, melodious principal theme. This was contrary to the usual practice of placing an extended orchestral introduction before the entrance of the solo instrument. Another unusual feature of this movement is the position of the cadenza; instead of coming toward the end of the movement, after the Recapitulation, it appears between the Development and Recapitulation sections.

A single sustained note on the bassoon is the connecting link between the first and second movements, the latter marked Andante. This movement might be likened to one of Mendelssohn's simple but beautiful Songs Without Words.

A brief introduction, Allegretto Non Troppo, ushers in the brilliant, scherzo-like finale, Allegro Molto Vivace, representing Mendelssohn in one of his typically carefree musical moods, and serving as a fitting conclusion to a great concerto.


 
       
  St. Lawrence Overture Robert Washburn
(b. 1928)
 
 

As a composer and teacher, Robert Washburn has been closely associated throughout his career with the State University College at Potsdam, N.Y. A native of upstate New York, he earned his B.S. and M.S. in music at the college. Then, in 1954, after serving for four years in the Air Force and studying composition on the side with Normand Lockwood, he joined the faculty at his alma mater, where he is now Professor of Music.

A Danforth Foundation Grant in 1958 enabled him to complete his work for a Ph.D. with a major in music composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where he studied with Bernard Rogers and Alan Hovhaness. Later, he spent a summer in Aspen, Colo., working with the renowned French composer Darius Milhaud. In 1959-60 Washburn received a Ford Foundation Young Composer's Grant, which made it possible for him to devote a year to composing. He has also held a resident fellowship at the MacDowell Colony in Petersborough, N.H.; and for three successive years he received awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

During 1960 his Symphony No. 1 was performed by the Oklahoma City Symphony and broadcast coast-to-coast as well as overseas. Since then, it has also been performed by a number of other orchestras, including the Indianapolis Symphony under Izler Solomon. That same year, his Synthesis for Orchestra was selected as one of the works to be recorded by the American Symphony Orchestra League Workshop. It has also been performed at the White House, at Carnegie Hall, and at the Boston Arts Center.

Other orchestral works by Washburn include Three Pieces for Orchestra, Suite for Strings, and Sinfonietta for String Orchestra. His chamber music compositions comprise a string quartet, a quintet for horn and strings, and several works for woodwinds. He has written a Symphony No. 2 for concert band, as well as a number of other important pieces in this medium, a group of choral compositions and a set of piano pieces.

Washburn's St. Lawrence Overture was written for the Crane Symphony Orchestra of the State University College at Potsdam, and is dedicated to the orchestra and its conductor, Maurice Baritaud, who gave the work its first performance in December, 1961.

The composer has provided the following description of the music:

"The St. Lawrence Overture is in the A-B-A-B pattern, with the A sections based on a spirited folk-like theme which is treated differently on each recurrence, and the B sections march-like in character. During the last appearance of the B theme the A theme also appears in counterpoint. The title is in no way indicative of a descriptive intention, and was chosen only to identify the piece, which was written in St. Lawrence County, New York."


 
       
  Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) Pablo de Sarasate
(1844-1908)
 
 

Pablo Martin Meliton Sarasate y Navascuez, to give him his full name, revolutionized the style of solo violin playing in the nineteenth century. Before he arrived on the scene the accent was on virtuosity, as every performer sought to emulate the pyrotechnics of Paganini. Sarasate changed all that. Though he himself was an impeccable technician, he stressed purity of intonation, beauty of tone and grace of manner.

When Sarasate was only ten, he played before Queen Isabella of Spain, who presented him with a valuable Stradivarius, which he used for the rest of his life. The Queen was also responsible for sending him to study at the Paris Conservatory, where he took several first prizes. Though he returned to Spain in the course of the concert tours which took him all over the world, he never again made his home there, preferring to live in France. Nevertheless, Spanish folk music dominated most of his compositions, which helped to popularize the music of his native land in other countries.

Early in his career, Sarasate seemed satisfied to concentrate on performing lightweight fantasies on operatic airs. Later, he turned to more serious fare; and the elegance and finesse of his playing inspired several composers to write music especially for him. Among these are Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor and Scottish Fantasy, Lalo's Violin Concerto in F Major and Symphonie Espagnole, and Saint-Saens' Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor and Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.

Strangely enough, the most famous of Sarasate's own compositions is not Spanish at all but a rhapsody for violin and orchestra, Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs). Strangely, too, it lays heavy stress on virtuosity, and is a favorite show piece of violinists everywhere. In general outline, it follows the form of Liszt's so-called Hungarian Rhapsodies -- which are not truly Hungarian but are based on gypsy melodies. It is in two sections, the first a languorous, sometimes impassioned Lassan, the second a high-spirited Friss, in which the soloist is called upon to execute all manner of violinistic tricks -- rapid passage-work, chords, harmonics and plucking with the fingers of the left hand.


 
       
  Three Dances from The Bartered Bride Bedrich Smetana
(1824-1884)
 
 

Bedrich Smetana is renowned the world over and deeply revered by his own countrymen as the founder of Czech national music. In his introduction to Bedrich Smetana: Letters and Reminiscences, Frantisek Bartos writes, "...Smetana was the first to give Czech music its characteristic stamp, its own distinctive expression and to bring to life its typical rhythm and pulsation. That is the great artistic achievement which has earned for Smetana the everlasting love, respect and gratitude of his nation."

Like so many musicians, Smetana had to battle parental opposition to a career in the arts. His talent, however, was brought to the attention of a pianist and teacher in Prague, who accepted him as a pupil. He began his professional career as a concert pianist and conductor; but when his own compositions failed to win recognition at home, he accepted the post of conductor of the Philharmonic Society of Goteborg, Sweden. When Austria granted political autonomy to Bohemia in 1860, Smetana returned to Prague, where he helped to establish a foothold for Czech national opera. His greatest success in this field was his comic masterpiece The Bartered Bride. When some of his later works met a cooler reception, depression set in. His health declined and, like Beethoven, he became deaf. The high-pitched ringing in his ears has been reproduced for us in his autobiographical string quartet From My Life. Ultimately, he lost his sanity, and ended his days in an asylum.

Smetana began work on The Bartered Bride, his second opera, in May 1863, and completed it in March 1866. It was written, according to the composer, "not...from any ambitious desire, but rather as a scornful defiance, for they accused me after my first opera of being a Wagnerite, one that could do nothing in a light and popular style."

But there was an even greater driving force behind Smetana's artistic creations. he had heard the Czechs accused of being only reproductive in their musical utterances, with no truly nationalistic music of their own. He set about to remedy this unfortunate situation, and the principal result of his efforts was Prodana Nevesta -- literally translated as The Sold Bride.

The opera was a success from the time of its first performance, which took place at the Provisional National Theatre in Prague on May 30, 1866, and the Czechs soon adopted it as their "national" opera.

In its original form, The Bartered Bride was in two acts, with only one scenic set, and the musical numbers were separated by spoken dialogue. For a proposed production in Paris, Smetana added two dances -- the Polka and Furiant -- a chorus in praise of beer and an aria for the heroine, and changed the opera into a three-act work. Then, when it was performed in St. Petersburg in 1871, he made recitatives out of the spoken dialogue, and it is in this form that it is heard today.

The Bartered Bride is concerned with the efforts -- ultimately successful -- of a young suitor to outwit a wily village marriage broker, who is trying to negotiate a wedding contract between the girl he loves and the suitor's half-witted half-brother. The strongly rhythmed Polka which, in the opera, enlists the voices of the chorus, constitutes the finale of the first act. The Furiant, a typical Bohemian dance in 3/4 time with syncopated rhythms and accents that cross the bar-lines, occurs near the beginning of Act II, where the peasants are dancing in the village inn. Liveliest of the three numbers is the Dance of the Comedians, which accompanies the arrival of a troupe of traveling carnival performers in Act III.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Vernon Stinebaugh, Concertmaster
Mary Louise Klotz +
Rosemarie Manifold
Esther Carpenter +
Gordon Collins
Louis Durflinger
Rebecca Chance
Carl Rink

Violin II
Sarah Kauffman *+
Dorothy Rautenkranz
Karen King +
Christy Miller +
Uldis Stulpins
Dorothy Baer
Susan Shull
John Sprinkle
Mary Alice Stinebaugh
Shirley Kehr
Ernest Zala

Viola
William Wiley *
Cora Shultz
Jerry Hopper +
Mac Marlowe
Naida Walker

Cello
Robert Sametini *
Mack Whitmore +
Dean Grove +
Barbara Smith +
Rebecca Waas
Vera Rink

Bass
Clyde Holsinger *
Herbert Ingraham
Dale Beaver
S. L. Flueckiger

Flute
Lynn Blickenstaff *
Louis Gump +
Gale Evans +
Oboe
Shirley Studebaker *+
Carol Noffsinger +

Clarinet
Jerry Royer *
Roger Bricker +
RosaLee Kurtz +

Bassoon
Pete Strodel *
Phil Compton

Horn
Mary Lowe *
Bill Haworth +
Joan Royer
Ross Trump

Trumpet
Robert Bonner *+
David Bobel +
Loren Lewandowski +
David DeLauter

Trombone
Roger McConnell *
Larry Dockter +

Bass Trombone
Tom Gustin +

Tuba
Timothy Madigan

Timpani
Donna Brian +

Percussion
Willard Dulabaum
Jim Shamp +
Karen Friedley +
William Steiner

Xylophone
Charles Shockney +

Piano
Eleanor Miller +

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
       
 
John CalabreseJohn A. Calabrese is a native of Brooklyn, New York. He is currently studying for a doctor of music degree with a major in violin at Indiana University where he holds a graduate assistantship. Although only 23 years of age, Calabrese has already achieved wide recognition as a violinist.

Calabrese began violin lessons at the Brooklyn Music School when he was seven. In 1951 he won the first of four annual scholarships to the school from the Morning Choral Society. From 1955 to 1959 he held a scholarship at the Julliard School of Music. Before going to Indiana University in 1964, Calabrese received the bachelor of music and master of music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music.

The first major contest won by Calabrese was a Catholic Youth Organization competition at the Academy of Music in 1956. In the spring of that year he also played with the New York Philharmonic. In 1959 in a Metropolitan competition by the American Federation of Musicians, he won a scholarship to the first International Congress of Strings. At the end of eight weeks study there, he was awarded the highest honors and presented with a $2,000 violin. In 1962 he was winner of the National Arts Club music fellowship.

The talented violinist has given many solo performances and also appeared on the "Young America Plays" program over station WNYC in New York City.