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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 52nd Season

 

Sunday, November 11th, 1990
Cordier Auditorium
Robert G. Jones, Conductor

  Jubilation - An Overture Robert Ward  
       
  Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 476 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

I. Allegro maestoso
II. Andante
III. Allegro vivace asssai

   
  Celia Stinebaugh Weiss, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88 Antonin Dvořák  
 

I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio
III. Allegretto grazioso
IV. Allegro ma non troppo

 
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Jubilation - An Overture Robert Ward
(b. 1917)
 
 

Robert Ward was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the 13th of September, 1917. he studied first at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers, then at Juilliard with Frederick Jacobi, and finally with Aaron Copland. It is no surprise, then, that his music is tonal, rhythmic, and with a distinctly American flavor.

Ward was a band leader during the Second World War, an experience which prompted him to write many works for band in addition to five symphonies, three operas, a piano concerto, a string quartet, and many short orchestral works and songs. His opera The Crucible won a Pulitzer prize. he was a "main stream" composer during the '50s, and therefore remains popular with audiences at a time when critics have "moved on."

Speaking about his own work, Ward says:

There is, I suppose, some risk in declaring a work "well sounding," particularly since contemporary music is more often associated with cacophony. On the other hand, whatever else critics or listeners may have said about my music, few have ever denied me the ability to evoke what are generally pleasant sounds from the orchestra.

Speaking about Ward's work in general, critic Paul Snook says:

...this is music of such sweep and openness and buoyancy that only an American could have written it. The absence of these qualities from much of today's music, though undeniably a reflection of the more despairing times we live in, is nonetheless missed by many of us. It is refreshing to hear this invigorating note reaffirmed in the music of Robert Ward.


 
       
  Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Mozart wrote this piano concerto in March of 1785, about the same time he was working on Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Mozart frequently wrote pieces in "pairs" of contrasting character. This rather sunny concerto was written for the same orchestral forces as K. 466, in D Minor, and followed it in less than a month. The work is in three movements. The first is marked Allegro maestoso, although only parts of it sound particularly "majestic." There is a lengthy orchestral introduction before the entry of the soloist, a standard practice of the time.

The second movement, Andante, is the one most familiar to modern audiences, owing to its use in the sound-track of the film "Elvira Madigan." It was chosen for that purpose no doubt because of its extremely romantic character.

The third movement, Allegro vivace assai, is a rondo, with several recurring themes alternating with the first. The opening theme occupies a narrow span and serves as the basis of invention for the rest of this very sprightly movement.


 
       
  Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88 Antonin Dvořák
(1841-1904)
 
 

Musically, Dvořák is the heir to Schubert; emotionally, the heir to Smetana. He had Schubert's natural gift of lyricism, and he tried to follow Smetana as a Czech nationalist. He failed in his attempt to develop as an opera composer, never matching Smetana's success in this field, but many think he outdistanced his model as far as musical nationalism is concerned.

Dvořák was born in Vlatava, a small village where his father was an inn-keeper. His music, with its frequent references to peasant dances and folk tunes, may have been colored by his exposure at an early age to the small town bands he heard at his father's inn.

He became a very accomplished violinist, and eventually won a post in the Czech National Theatre Orchestra as violist. He played there for several years under the baton of Bedřich Smetana. He wrote a number of string quartets and became very adept at writing for massed strings, an important element in developing orchestral tone.

There is a straightforward, down-to-earth quality about Dvořák and his music. He loved birds, his garden, locomotives(!), and the Church. He loved and respected Brahms, but could not understand his lack of conventional religious faith. Brahms was extremely generous to Dvořák, but after mentioning his interrest in Schopenhaur, Dvořák dejectedly remarked, "Such a man, such a soul - and he doesn't believe in anything!"

Critics are divided in their opinions of Dvořák's orchestration. Some think there is evidence in his music that he spent too much time listening to village bands ... that he tried too hard to be Czech. Others believe he was self-indulgent, that he refused to revise or to edit. "What I have written, I have written," he once remarked. However, there is much evidence to the contrary. The final movement of the G major symphony was revised at least nine times. The very numbering of the symphonies bears witness to his self-critical nature.

The Eighth Symphony in G major used to be called the Fourth. The familiar New World Symphony, known to many of us as the Fifth, is now called the Ninth. This is because Dvořák was dissatisfied with his first four symphonies and withdrew them. It was a terrible thing to live in the shadow of Beethoven, so many composers (including Brahms) waited until they were quite mature before venturing to write their first symphonies. Dvořák dared to start early, but repented.

The Eighth has four movements. The first is marked Allegro con brio, and begins with a slow, plaintive melody which soon turns brighter with the flute doing a familiar "bird song." I say familiar because Dvořák loved birds and frequently imitated them in his music. We have the introduction sounding rather ecclesiastic, followed by the light tune played by the flute, a contrast which prompted one critic to write that Dvořák was "at first in church and then in his garden."

The second movement, Adagio, is considered "a delight" or "an embarrassment," depending on the critic. This is the movement which most recalls the "village band." There are at least two references to the use of a cimbalom in this movement, but there is no indication of it in the score. The cimbalom is a stringed instrument played with mallets, and common to Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. It is a folk instrument, and not found in many serious works. Grove's musical dictionary simply comments that the descenging sixths of the middle section of this movement recall the sound of the cimbalom. Other sources refer to the playing of the cimbalom. It is possible that early performances included this folk instrument, but in the face of criticism that it lowered the tone of the piece, Dvořák removed it from the instrumentation. If that is the case, it is further refutation of the allegation that Dvořák resisted editing or revision.

The third movement, Allegretto grazioso, is even more folk-like than the adagio. It is in waltz-time, and the theme is taken from an unsuccessful opera, The Strong Heads, or The Pig-Headed Peasants, depending on the translation. It is hard to avoid cliché when writing of this section. The phrases "singing strings," and "soaring melody" come naturally to mind. Village dancing breaks out near the end, in 2/4 time, molto vivace. Brahms had used the same device in the third movement of his D major symphony.

The fourth movement, Allegro ma non troppo, is a theme and variations. It begins with a trumpet fanfare, and is followed by rich, dark strings. The middle section has an interesting series of downward modulations. There are a number of Wagnerian touches in this movement. The theme upon which these variations are based is related to the flute tune in the first movement, thus lending a unifying quality to the work.

Some have said that all of Dvořák's symphonies collectively represent a single pastoral symphony, a life-long song in praise of Nature, and the landscape of Bohemia. If any one symphony must be singled out to play that role, it might well be the Eighth.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa Hare, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Stephanie Beery
Amy Grush
Rhonda Jackisch
William Klickman
Moo Il Rhee
Angela Rogers
Daniel A. Seibert
Vernon Stinebaugh
Kristin Westover
Patrick Weybright +
Michael Wurzburger +^

Viola
Annette Martin *
Julia Anne Lindower +
Naida Walker MacDermid
Deb Steiner +

Cello
Waverly Berry Conlan *
Jennifer Barnhart +
Betty Bueker
Tim Spahr
Rebecca B. Waas
Lisa White +

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Brad Kuhns
George W. Scheerer

Piccolo
Amy Hodson +

Flute
Amy Hodson *+
Suzy Oaks +
Jennifer Wallace +

Oboe
Lisa Kinsey *+^
Michelle Russell
Jed Loomis +
Clarinet
Robyn Jones *
Jane Grandstaff

Bassoon
Donna Russell * (co-)
Takashi Yamano * (co-)

Contrabassoon
Thomas Owen

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
Bryan L. Gibson
Brenda Alt
Sally Jones

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Stan Storey
Mike Clark

Trombone
Larry Dockter *
Jaime Shoup +
Scott Hippensteel

Tuba
John Beery

Piano
R. Gary Deavel

Timpani
Jim Bowyer +

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Celia Stinebaugh WeissCelia Stinebaugh Weiss is founding director of the IUSB Arts Academy and head of the piano accompanying program of the Division of Arts. She holds a B.S. in Music Education from Manchester College ('70) and a Master of Music in Piano from Indiana University. In 1989 she won the Adjunct Merit Status Award for her excellence in teaching and service to IUSB. A pianist and organist well known to local audiences, she appeared in 1988 as guest artist with the Elkhart County Symphony, receiving a standing ovation and glowing reviews from critics for her exciting performance of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto (breaking new ground with a work rarely played by a woman.)

She will appear this concert season as piano soloist with the Elkhart Municipal Band and as organ soloist with the Elkhart County Symphony; thus she holds the enviable record of having served as soloist with an orchestra on two different instruments. She is Music Director and Organist at the First Presbyterian Church, Elkhart.