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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 56th Season

 

Sunday, March 12th, 1995
Cordier Auditorium
John Beery, Conductor

  Overture to Nabucco Giuseppe Verdi  
       
  Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major, K. 447 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

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

   
  Randall Faust, horn  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Variations for Orchestra Randall E. Faust  
       
  Old American Country Set Henry Cowell  
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Overture to Nabucco Giuseppe Verdi
(1813-1901)
 
 

Nabucco, or "Nebuchadnezzar," though not Verdi's very first opera, was the first to gain any real measure of success. It was written in 1841, and written with great reluctance. Verdi had had modest success with his Oberto, and was under contract to the impresario Merelli for a comic opera when disaster struck. First one child took ill and died, then a second one, and finally, his wife... all three passed away in less than a three-month period. Still grieving, he felt compelled by contract to finish his comic opera, Un Giorno di Regno. Not surprisingly, it was a failure.

In his despair, and attributing his failure to lack of talent rather than to emotional stress, he resolved never to write another opera. Merelli, after much argument, agreed to return Verdi's contract, only after exacting a promise that if Verdi should change his mind, he, Merelli, was to receive the first notes. Verdi was persuaded to take home a libretto by Solera, and he was mightily impressed by the writing. In spite of this, he returned the libretto, refusing absolutely to write any music for it. Merelli insisted, going so far as to jam the libretto into Verdi's pocket.

Verdi's spirits were at their lowest ebb, and he turned out a score a phrase at a time. His work was being turned down by all the impresarios, but once he had finished Nabucco, to the libretto of Solera, he worked very hard at getting it produced. The poor performances during rehearsal did nothing to revive his spirits. He was again thinking that he was in the wrong profession. The singers and orchestra worked hard to overcome the hammering of the workers building sets, but when they finished the soon-to-become-famous chorus Va pensiero sull' ali dorate (Go, my thought, on gilded wings), the workers broke out in applause, crying "Bravo, bravo, viva il maestro!" In his memoirs, Verdi wrote, "Then I knew what the future had in store for me."

The libretto for Nabucco is by Temistocle Solera, based on a French play by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, which was an adaptation of the Biblical story of the Jewish captivity in Babylon. Perhaps the success of the opera is owed to the association of the plight of the Jews in Babylon with the Italian independence movement, the Risorgimento. Verdy eventually became identified with the movement as supports of Vittorio Emmanuele II of Sardini would call out "VERDI, VERDI" at concerts, meaning Vittorio Emmanuele, Re d'Italia.

After much travail, treachery, and transformation (Nabucco's daughter, and later, Nabucco himself convert to Judaism), the opera ends with the statue of Baal breaking, and virtually all remaining cast members singing the praises of the God of the Hebrews.

The overture (or rather "Sinfonia," as it was called) opens with the trombones stating a solemn theme reminding us of the opening of Brahms' Haydn Variations (written some thirty years later). On the ninth measure there is a loud declaration, tutti, followed five measures later by a return to the opening theme. This theme, recalled later, has an organ-like quality, a reminder that as a child, Verdi was mesmerized by the sound of the organ.

After a long crescendo, developing out of the opening theme, there is a new, five-note theme, Allegro, which also recurs throughout the work.

But what most opera-lovers are waiting for comes about a quarter of the way through, with the Andantino, an orchestral version of the most popular number in the opera, the previously mentioned Va pensiero sull' ali dorate. This music represents the Jews on the banks of the Euphrates, longing for a return to their homeland. The theme is introduced by the oboe and clarinet to a pizzicato accompaniment in the strings. Later it is reprised by the trumpet.

The previously mentioned Allegro theme returns, after which the music becomes more dense, more military, and comes to a rousing conclusion.


 
       
  Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Mozart wrote perhaps six horn concerti for an older acquaintance, Ignaz Leutgeb, some of them now lost, most of them, to one degree or another, incomplete. Parts for some were completely written out. Other parts were sketched out. Still others are missing altogether. The so-called Third Concerto provokes debate because the movements seem to have been written at different times. The middle movement, Romance, having the date 1783 on the autograph (now lost), seems less mature than the other two movements, thought by some specialists to have been written no earlier than 1787.

Mozart is reported to have become fond of horn music when, at the age of eight, he was "on tour" in England, and heard the music of the popular barge parties on the Thames at Chelsea, where his father was recuperating from an illness.

Although Mozart developed a love for the horn early in his life, he professed to dislike the clarinet, until he was persuaded of its beauty by the virtuoso Anton Stadler, for whom he completed a concerto for clarinet in 1791, the final year of his life. It is this late-developed acceptance of the clarinet that makes it seem as though the Horn Concerto No. 3 was written later than supposed, because instead of the expected oboes, it was scored for clarinet and bassoon.

The horn, in Mozart's time, was comparatively new to the orchestra, having been developed as a hunting horn. Unlike today's instrument, it was without valves, and key-changes had to be effected through the exchange of "crooks," short, curved pipes which lengthened the tube of the horn, lowering its pitch and providing different sets of harmonics. Pitch could be "trued up" by stopping the bell to one degree or another with the hand. The introduction of valves removed the awkward necessity of the crooks, but players still stick their hands in the instrument to vary the timbre, as well as alter the pitch.

The Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major is in three movements:

 Allegro, in Sonata form, with unexpected key movement in the development section.

Romance: Larghetto, perhaps the earliest written part in ABACA-coda form.

Allegro, in Rondo form, in which we are reminded of the hunting origin of the instrument.


 
       
  Variations for Orchestra Randall E. Faust
(b. 1947)
 
 

Randall Faust is a Professor of Music at Auburn University, and principal horn of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. He is a graduate of Michigan State University (BS, Summa cum laude), Mankato State University (MM, Composition), and the University of Iowa (DMA, Performance and Pedagogy). In the summer season, Dr. Faust teaches and performs at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. In addition to his teaching, he has served as president of the International Horn Society and the National Association of College Woodwind and Percussion Instructors.

The Variations for Orchestra was written for the Mankato Symphoy Orchestra in 1983, and premiered in 1984. Variations are based on a theme. Normally, the theme is mentioned in the title of the work, as "Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini." The theme is stated at the beginning of the work, and the variations begin, usually developing as they go, until as the end of the work approaches, the variations become harder and harder to relate to the theme.

This work is written in the reverse of the usual pattern. That is, the variations begin, and as they go on, they gradually approach the theme, which is finally revealed in the last minute of the work. When the piece was premiered, it was presented as a riddle... a guess-that-tune affair. The theme is a very familiar one, and you will recognize it when you hear it. The hint is that it was written by Martin Luther.


 
       
  Old American Country Set Henry Cowell
(1897-1965)
 
 

A vexing problem for creative Americans has always been the degree to which their products can be considered "warmed-over European." There is no denying that American culture has its roots more firmly planted in Europe than elsewhere, but it is to be expected that gradually a synthesis of all the influences (not just European ones) should evolve, producing a characteristic American quality. Early American "masters" did succeed in the world's art markets: composers such as MacDowell and Gottschalk; painters such as Sargent and Whistler; writers such as Henry James and, more recently, T.S. Eliot.

European success was the measure of one's merit. But it wasn't long before Americans began to look for unique features of the American experience to inform their art, and to make it appeal because of its Americanness. At first, they simply injected American melodies into what was basically European music. Gottschalk and MacDowell wrote essentially Germanic music with (in the case of Gottschalk) African elements from the Old South, or (in the case of MacDowell) references to the Native Americans. The "American" character of this (quite well-constructed) music was superficial, at best.

It wasn't until the twentieth century that recognizably American music began to be noticed, and at first, what was noticed was the use of folk tunes (often of European origin) in the work of Aaron Copland, or the jazz elements of the music of George Gershwin. But there WAS genuine innovation to be found... in the work of Charles Ives, and that of Henry Cowell.

Both composers were "home-made," virtually self-taught, especially Cowell. They both had a pioneer's spirit, and although Ives was taught the fundamentals of harmony and counterpoint by his father, and acquired a deep respect for the European masters, he was not content to work within the confines of the compositional rules of the Germanic tradition.

Cowell learned to play by ear long before he had any serious musical training. Musicologist Wilfrid Mellers calls him a genuine "primitive." While Ives worked in New England isolation, developing serial, and polytonal, as well as polyrhythmic techniques, the younger Cowell was soaking up country tunes in the Mid-West, and later traveling, and learning what he could about non-Western music. He studied the music of India, that of Java, and, with great excitement, that of Iran. His Persian Set was well-received in Teheran.

Cowell is known for his unusual techniques with the piano. He frequently reached into the piano and plucked the strings, or banged on them. He developed the "tone cluster," which was a banging on the kayboard with a closed fist. He devised new methods of notation which have been adopted by many modern composers. He regularly used the English word "set" for pieces which other composers would call "suites," and this practice was adopted by some of his students, such as Elie Sigmeister (eg. Ozark Set).

Cowell is praised for his ability to write folk-like passages without quoting actual folk-tunes, because he was so understanding of the folk idiom. Cowell, himself, claims to have originated all the themes heard in the Old American Country Set, though anyone familiar with Irish music will recognize that the fourth movement is a set of variations on Sweet Betsy of Pike!

The Old American Country Set was premiered in Indianapolis in 1940. Cowell writes that the work was inspired by his nostalgia for the period of his childhood spent with relatives in western Kansas, Oklahoma, and southern Iowa. It is in five movements.

1. Blarneying Lilt -- Unmistakably an Irish reel. Cowell writes that his cousing used to fiddle for the dance, and when he changed the time unexpectedly, he called it "blarneying." This movement features the trumpet

2. Meeting House -- The slow, hymn-like quality of this movement speaks for itself.

3. Comallye -- A "Comallye" is a form played throughout the Midwest, and is short for "Come all ye good people and hear what I say..." It evokes the picking on a banjo, and has a rollicking quality.

4. Charivari (pronounced: Shiv-a-REE) -- The term is derived from a Late Latin word meaning "headache," and refers to the noisy, mock serenade outside the home of newly-weds on their wedding night. Cowell says that he one for his cousin was "a slow, rather lugubrious melody." It begins very softly, in the strings, and then the horn produces the familiar Sweet Betsy from Pike tune, only slightly modified by Cowell.

5. Cornhuskin' Hornpipe -- Cowell attributes this idea to another cousin from Iowa, who used to sing a hornpipe while working to maintain a fast pace.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda U. Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Matt Baker +^
Martha Barker
Stephanie Beery +^
Julie Brown +
Joyce Dubach
Matthew N. Hendryx +
Rod Morrison
Hanna Muller
Maria Peltola
Moo Il Rhee
Melanie Rondeau

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Joyce Gouwens
Dinah Smith

Cello
Jim Eaton *
Caroline Eddy
Anne Gratz
Polly Hoover +^
C.D. Stevens +^
Lisa White

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Darrel Fiene

Piccolo
Linda Allen

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Sue Hibma
Oboe
Rita Kimberley *
George Donner

Bassoon
Donna Russell *
Erich Zummack

Clarinet
Kris Bachman *
Jane Grandstaff

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer * (co-)
Bryan Gibson * (co-)
Jennifer J. Double +^
Robert Geiger

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Scott D. Steenburg +^

Trombone
D. Larry Dockter *
Joe Neff
Andrew Smith +

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
Mark Sternberg +

Percussion
David Mendenhall
Terry Vaughn

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Randall FaustRandall Faust is an Associate Professor of Music at Auburn University where he is Conductor of the Auburn Brass and teaches applied horn in addition to courses in music composition, theory, history, literature, and pedagogy. Dr. Faust is regularly heard in concerts -- as a soloist, as a member of the Lyric Ensemble, and as Principal hornist of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

During the summer season, he teaches and performs at the Interlochen Center for the Arts where he has been a member of the Horn Faculty at the National Music Camp, the Interolochen Arts Camp, and Coordinator of the Wind Division of the Interlochen Chamber Music Conference.

He is the current President of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors -- an organization that he has also served as Composition Chairperson. In 1990, Dr. Faust completed two terms as President and member of the Advisory Council of The International Horn Society.

Dr. Faust's compositions have been heard in concert at the workshops of the International Horn Society, the International Trumpet Guild, and the International Trombone Association, as well as at the National Gallery of Art and on National Public Radio. His Celebration for Horn and Organ has been recorded for Crystal Records by Ralph Lockwood, and for ACA Digital by Steven Gross.

He is a recipient of ASCAP Standards Awards, a service citation from the Advisory Council of the International Horn Society, and the ORPHEUS AWARD from Delta Psi Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.

His education includes studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Eastern Michigan University, Mankato State University, and the University of Iowa. His horn teachers include Paul Anderson, Eugene Wade, Marvin Howe, and John Berg. His composition teachers include Anthony Innaccone, Rolf Scheurer, Warren Benson, and Donald Martin Jenni.