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Concert Program Cover

Second Concert of the 37th Season

 

Sunday, March 14th, 1976
Manchester College Auditorium
Jack C. Laumer, Conductor

  Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 ("Eroica") Ludwig van Beethoven  
 

I. Allegro con brio
II. Marcia funebre
III. Scherzo
IV. Finale

   
       
  Intermission  
       
  L'Histoire du soldat Igor Stravinsky  
  James Baldwin, Guest Conductor
Larry Dockter, trombone
Robert Jones, clarinet
Kenneth Jordan, percussion
Jack Laumer, trumpet
Thomas Owen, bassoon
Betsey Rupp, violin

Nadine Mong, Narrator
Delmas Keeney, Soldier
David Grandstaff, Devil
 
       

Program Notes
by Susan Favorite and Jean Norton

  Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 ("Eroica") Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
 
 

The life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) occupies the pages of countless books. He was a child prodigy, pushed by an overbearing and alcoholic father, who later was widowed, and left his teenaged son Ludwig to support the many younger siblings. In spite of an early life full of hardship, he demonstrated outstanding talent, and for a time the nobility patronized him, as was the custom of the day.

Near the turn of the century, Beethoven's life changed in several ways. At the age of 30, he realized that he was going deaf, wrote his famous "Heiligenstadt testament" to his brother, and found new motivation for his musical expression. In keeping with the composer's growing feelings in support of the liberation of the masses, Beethoven left the nobility's service forever. He held the aristocracy in disdain and composed for the common man.

The compositions of Beethoven are commonly divided into three periods. The Eroica Symphony, composed in 1803, is his third symphony and is one of the most important works from his second period. His first period fit Classicism as exemplified by Mozart and haydn, but the Eroica marks a new character in the composer.  It is revolutionary in purpose and content.

An interesting and longstanding legend links this work with Napoleon Bonaparte, who was then rising in power and whom Beethoven supposedly admired as a great liberator.  When he heard of Napoleon's self-coronation, he ripped up the title page of the Eroica which bore a dedication to the general. It is fact, at least, that the title had first been "Bonaparte" until Beethoven himself changed it to "Eroica," in full, "Heroic symphony to celebrate the memory of a great man." As Wagner said, "The designation 'heroic' is to be taken in its widest sense... If we broadly connotate by 'hero' the whole, the full-fledged man, in whom are present all the purely human feelings -- of love, of grief, of force -- in their highest fullness and strength, then we shall rightly grasp the subject which the artist lets appear to us in the speaking accents of his tone work."

The Eroica's poetic content was revolutionary as was its unprecedented length, and numerous innovations in the way Beethoven treated the form. Including a fourth movement, for example, radically differed from the time's norm. It was first performed in 1805 in Vienna, where the audiences had difficulty appreciating it because of the challenge to tradition presented in its great length, complexity, and method. But of all nine symphonies Beethoven eventually wrote, the Eroica, the third, was his own favorite. In it he expressed the identity of a hero and his personal realization that any hero, political or musical, eventually dies, conquered in the end by mortality.

Beethoven, in fact, called himself "generalissimo." Others called him a tyrant, a giant, a "Titan, wrestling with the gods," and the world acknowledges the musical leadership he offers still today. He lived in a time of great change in the western world, and rather than be dragged behind, he helped to move the changes taking place. He championed the new freedom of the people and demanded new freedom in the concert hall.


 
       
  L'Histoire du soldat Igor Stravinsky
(1882-1971)
 
 

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), like Beethoven, was exposed to music as a small child. His father's occupation as leading opera singer in St. petersburg, Russia, afforded the youngster with a library of musical scores, over which he pored by the hour. His insatiable curiosity, in fact, compelled him to continue his musical training in spite of his parents' insistance that he become a lawyer.

As a young man, he met Rimsky-Korsakov, who encouraged him to finish his law studies, but also nurtured his amateur musicianship by teaching him orchestration. Under Rimsky-Korsakov's tutelage, Stravinsky's composition advanced so quickly that within a decade the Russian Ballet commissioned him. The work of established French contemporaries such as Debussy, had attracted his attention as a student, and Stravinsky later traveled to Paris. It was the Parisians who lauded his first ballets, Petrouchka and The Firebird, bringing the young composer's name into prominence in the musical world. It was also the Parisians who nearly rioted in rebellion several years later at the premier of the Rite of Spring.

L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale) was written in 1918 in his new home of Switzerland. During the Russian Revolution, Stravinsky's musical attitude and resources were changing radically and he began to write for small groups. He retained his interest in ballet, however, and wrote for a small group of dancers, actors and musicians. He took themes for his work from Russian legend. In The Soldier's Tale, seven instrumentalists, representing the low and high ranges of the orchestral families, three dancers (the Devil, the princess, and the soldier) and a narrator relate the story. A soldier, coming back from war, meets up with the devil and agrees to trade his violin (symbolic of his soul) for a magic book, able to answer any question.

In today's performance, only the music and the spoken lines of the narrator, devil, and soldier will be employed. Today's script was translated from the French by Thomas Briccetti, conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, who used a straightforward approach and the basic structure of iambic pentameter.

L'histoire du soldat is an early and single example of Stravinsky's many famous works. It represents only one medium and one style of a man whose work almost spans all of the musical development of the twentieth century, a man who was truly revolutionary and international. He composed in nearly every genre. He held citizenship, first in Russia, then France, and finally in the United States. Like Beethoven, he caused uproar in the concert hall, and radically influenced the evolution of contemporary music.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Carolyn Snyder *+ (co-)
Beth Kintner *+ (co-)
Eloise Guy
Esther Carpenter
Harold Davidson
Dorothy Blackstone

Violin II
Christine Shenk *+
Ernest Zala
Betsey Rupp
Diane Ramsbey +

Viola
Rob Curry *+
Carol Fortmeyer

Cello
Susan Favorite *+
Donna Norris
Norman Waggy +
Loren Waggy +
Jill Rieman +

Bass
Mark Tomlonson *+
Kevin Ryan +

Piccolo
Cynthia Rotruck +

Flute
Jane Snyder *+
Bev Moore
Cynthia Rotruck +
Oboe
Stephanie Jones *

Clarinet
Robert Jones *
Lila Van Lue +

Bassoon
Thomas Owen
Lovena Miller +

Horn
Gary A. Greene
Andrea Warnke +
Janet Tomlonson

Trumpet
Leonard Webb *+
Steve Hammer +

Trombone
Larry Dockter *

Percussion
Diane Laumer

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student