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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 40th Season

 

Sunday, October 29th, 1978
Cordier Auditorium
James Baldwin, Conductor

  Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor Otto Nicolai  
       
  Clarinet Concerto, K. 622 Wolfgang A. Mozart  
 

I. Allegro

 
  Lila VanLue, clarinet  
       
  Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21 Ludwig van Beethoven  
 

I. Adagio molto / Allegro con brio
II. Andante cantabile con moto
III. Allegro molto e vivace
IV. Adagio / Allegro molto e vivace

 
       
  Intermission  
       
  Concert Piece for Bassoon and Strings Burrill Phillips  
  Amy Smith, bassoon  
       
  Variations on a Theme of Haydn, Op. 56a Johannes Brahms  
 

Theme: Chorale St. Antoni - Andante
Variation 1. Poco piu animato

Variation 2. Piu vivace
Variation 3. Con moto
Variation 4. Andante con moto
Variation 5. Vivace
Variation 6. Vivace
Variation 7. Grazioso
Variation 8. Presto non troppo
Variation 9. Finale - Andante

 
       

Program Notes

 

This program is the initial concert for the fortieth anniversary of the orchestra and its society. Special information is included in the program in honor of persons who occupied positions of leadership in the society. The opening selection was chosen so that we might begin this season just as the first concert began forty years ago.


 
  Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor Otto Nicolai
(1810-1849)
 
 

This orchestral showpiece is from the last and most popular opera of Otto Nicolai (1810-1849). He was known during his lifetime as a symphony and opera conductor, and during the last seven years of his life he was the principal conductor for the Imperial Opera in Vienna. The Merry Wives of Windsor was completed and first performed during the last year of Nicolai's life.

The overture is in three large sections (A-B-A), and is constructed in sonata form. The middle section is a modest development of some of the thematic material of the first section. Brillian orchestration and lovely, Italiante melodies give the music its most outstanding characteristic and charm.

James Baldwin


 
       
  Clarinet Concerto, K. 622 Wolfgang A. Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

This Concerto was the last to be written by Mozart. The last movement was finished almost exactly two months before his death in 1791, but Mozart never heard this work performed. The only clarinet concerto by Mozart, this piece was originally written for "basset" clarinet which was a clarinet with an extension down to C. It is uncertain that the solo part for A clarinet now performed was written by Mozart.

Anton Stadler, a court musician of Vienna, was an outstanding clarinetist and close friend of Mozart, and this piece was written for Stadler. Considering the limited prominence of the clarinet of that time it still offers a technical challenge with today's much improved instrument.

Mozart made the greates possible use of the clarinet's wide range with leaps of two octaves, widely spaced arpeggios, chromatic runs, and accompanying triad figures at the bottom of the lower register.

Lila VanLue


 
       
  Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
 
 

Ludwig van Beethoven was twenty-nine years old when his Symphony No. 1 was first performed on April 2, 1800. The premier performance occurred at a benefit concert for Beethoven in Vienna, and as an added attraction, the composer himself improvised at the piano. At twenty-nine, Beethoven was a proficient and experienced composer, for the C major symphony was his twenty-first publication. Ten piano sonatas including that Pathetique, six string quartets, two piano concerti, and the septet preceded it. Beethoven dedicated the composition to his friend and patron, Baron van Swieten.

The symphony is scored for the traditional orchestra of the late classical period: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two trumpets, two French horns, tympani, and strings. It also contains the traditional four movements, the first and fourth of which are preceded by slow introductions. In the Allgemaine musikalische Zeitung of December 17, 1817, metronome markings for Beethoven's first eight symphonies were published, reportedly as established by Beethoven himself.

First works of important composers are often analyzed intensively. In such early works, scholars seek to find the roots of the composer's inspiration and the buds of his future development. The first symphony, too, has often been studied not only for its indebtedness to older classical compositions, but also for Beethoven's original contributions. Yet Sir George Grove was correct when he obseved that had Beethoven composed only this one delightful symphony, his reputation as a symphonist would nonethel;ess have remained only a promise.

Perhaps the best way to understand Beethoven's first symphony is to distinguish three different strata: the influences of Mozart, the influences of Haydn, and Beethoven's own originality. Mozart's influence is evident in the prominence Beethoven affords the winds. The reviewer of the premier performance of the first symphony criticized Beethoven for "too much use of the wind instruments, so that the music sounded more as if written for a military band than an orchestra." To modern listeners well-acquainted with the emancipation of the winds from the dominance of the strings, this criticism seems unjust. Mozart earlier had stressed the possibilities of wind instruments in the classical orchestra, and Haydn openly acknowledged his debt to Mozart for revealing their potential. Beethoven also learned from Mozart how to use tonal ambiguity effectively. The introduction to the first movement, for example, begins not on the tonic of C major, but rather on the subdominant. In the introduction, Beethoven consistently avoids establishing any tonal center, and such ambiguity effectively contrasts with the establishment of C major for the movement itself. Mozart had used tonal ambiguity similarly for the introduction to his "Dissonant Quartet" K. 465, also in C major.

Beethoven learned from Haydn to use sforzandos and other accents to reinforce the prevailing meter, to provide short syncopations, and to establish short passages with contrasting meters. In the classical period, composers did not notate these passages by briefly changing the time signatures; that practice would have baffled contemporary musicians and would have flaunted musical convention. Yet by accenting a weak beat for several measures in succession or by alternating two choirs in a triple meter, as in the second movement of the C major symphony, Beethoven effectively changes the meter, a technique which Haydn often employed but which Mozart used rarely. Interestingly enough, Haydn had often used fast third movements for many of his rhythmic innovations, but in the first symphony Beethoven introduced them in the second movement.

Yet Beethoven's first symphony is not entirely derivative; plentiful evidence of Beethoven's creativity abounds. For example, the third movement is a scherzo rather than a stately minuet. The fast tempo of the scherzo provides a lightness which contrasts with the quiet repose of the second movement. Beethoven's use of the subdominant key early in the first movement is also unusual. Because the tonic and subdominant key are used most frequently, composers were traditionally advised to "save" the subdominant tonality to provide variety later in the composition. Beethoven's first two chords of the first movement, however, establish the subdominant key of F major. Beethoven realized that creativity required breaking conventions for good reason, and he often did so to provide surprise, to unify the entire work, to forecast future developments, or to explore an idea which had hitherto lain outside conventional musical practice. His ability to synthesize the practices of his predecessors and to exploit new areas for musical development distinguishes him as a dynamic, original composer.

John H. Planer


 
  Concert Piece for Bassoon and Strings Burrill Phillips
(b. 1907)
 
 

Burrill Phillips studied piano and composition at Denver College in Colorado and continued his training at the Eastman School of Music, where he received his bachelor of music degree in 1932 and his master's degree in 1933. He then joined the faculty at Eastman, and there continued working with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. In 1942, Phillips won a Guggenheim Fellowship, and just two years later a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His compositions, which included orchestral, chamber, piano, and stage works, were at first deliberately American, with titles such as Selections from McGuffey's Reader, Tom Paine Overture, and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Later, his style became more abstract, with the American qualities appearing in the content and feeling of the pieces, rather than being imposed upon them. Speaking of this transition, Phillips said, "There was a time when I believed the best American music had to have a definite American flavor, something the composer should strive to express. I have changed my concepts about that now, believing that no serious and honest American composer could keep the desirable Americanness out of his music if he wished."

Concert Piece for bassoon and strings shows its American flavor in the syncopated rhythms in the introductory and concluding segments. These energetic sections surround a short melodic portion that exhibits the sonorous capabilities of the bassoon.

Amy Smith


 
  Variations on a Theme of Haydn, Op. 56a Johannes Brahms
(1833-1897)
 
 

In the summer of 1873, fourteen years after his initial efforts for orchestra, Brahms began orchestrating his Variations on a Theme of Haydn. He was forty years old. The work was first published for two pianos (Op. 56b), though it is not clear whether Brahms originally intended it for that medium. He derived the theme from the second movement of an unpublished divertimento for winds. The piece carried the title "Chorale St. Antoni," and was attributed to Joseph Haydn. The source of the tune as well as the attribution to Haydn are both debated by music scholars.

The composition is a landmark for Brahms and the history of orchestral music. It is the first independent set of variations for orchestra. For the composer, it represents the final step in his transition toward becoming a symphonist. His indebtedness to classical predecessors, most notably Beethoven, is obvious in the clarity of form and meticulous attention to every detail. Whereas the two-piano version has been largely overlooked, the orchestral variations survive as one of several important offerings by Brahms to the standard repertoire for orchestra.

Brahms completed the orchestration in September, 1873, and the first performance took place in the Great Hall of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde on November 2, 1873, with the composer conducting.

The asymmetrical form of the original theme -- measures: 5 + 5 / 4 + 4 / 4 + 7 -- is retained throughout eight variations, which are contrasting elaborations of the harmonic and phrase structure rather than differing treatments of the melody. They conclude with a slow Finale, a passacaglia derived from the bass line of the theme's initial phrase. At the climax, when the ostinato pattern passes to the treble instruments, the theme appears in its original form.

James Baldwin


 
       
 

Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Venona Detrick, Concertmaster
Carolyn Snyder +
Terri Worman
Esther Carpenter
Ruth Sereque

Violin II
Marion Etzel *
Jean Dutton
Marcy Bogert

Viola
Lisa K. Miller *+ (co-)
Anna Snyder *+ (co-)

Cello
Carol Oberhausen *
Dennis Brown
Robert Allen +

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Herbert Ingraham
Cal Bisha

Piccolo
Kay Spangler +

Flute
Thomas Owen *
Becki Kinne +

Oboe
Stephanie Jones *
Laura Swantner +
Clarinet
Lila Van Lue *+
Tim Clark +

Bassoon
David Moore *
Amy J. Smith +

Contrabassoon
Thomas Hoczyk

Horn
Jonathan Snyder *+
Teresa Rice +
Sharon West +
Sarah Wiesenberg +

Trumpet
Alan Severs *
Bill White

Trombone
Larry Dockter *
Chris Garber
Bill Anders

Timpani
Glenn Hampson +

Percussion
Julie Garber +
Cathy Norris +

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student