This Season

arrowPast Seasonsarrow

Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 60th Season

Young Artist Competition Winners
Music for Dancing

Sunday, May 9th, 1999
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 Carl Maria von Weber  
       
  "Una donna a quindici anni" from Così fan tutte, K. 588 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
  "Rejoice Greatly" from Messiah George Frideric Handel  
  Sally Liszewski, soprano  
       
  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 Ludwig van Beethoven  
 

I. Allegro con brio

   
  Abigail Falkiner, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Overture to Samson George Frideric Handel  
  with former members of the MSO  
       
  Thunder and Lightning Polka, Op. 324 Johann Strauss II  
       
  Ballsirenen Waltz from "The Merry Widow" Franz Léhar  
       
  Two Dances from Rodeo Aaron Copland  
 

I.Saturday Night Waltz
II. Buckaroo Holiday

   
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 Carl Maria von Weber
(1786-1826)
 
 

Weber was born sixteen years after Beethoven, and died one year before him. He had a very successful career. Considering the short time he lived, Weber produced an enormous number of works. These included many lieder with guitar accompaniment, chamber works, concerti, and, of course, a number of Singspiele, a kind of light opera with spoken dialogue interspersed with songs. Although purists would say he wrote only one true opera, Euryanthe, that is, fully sung, Weber advanced the art to the point that his best-known Singspiele such as Der Freischütz, are thought of as operas.

In fact, Weber is known primarily for his opera Der Freischütz, a Romantic "opera" in the grand manner. He is credited with the invention of Romantic opera in general, and Geman nationalistic opera in particular. He had a great impact on Richard Wagner. He had the Romantic's preoccupation with the idea of painting tonal pictures, together with a nostalgia for by-gone times and the mythology of his country. The writer Harry Halbreich suggests that Weber was the first to use the horn and the clarinet to express the voices of nature.

His Romantic tendencies were, however, tempered by a love of classical order. He idolized Mozart, and he was strongly influenced by his teacher, Michael Haydn (Joseph's brother). He even criticized Beethoven for a lack of classical restraint. One might, therefore, expect Weber's music to be an admirable blend of innovation and tradition. It is, indeed, surprising that it has not gained a wider audience.

Weber was a child prodigy, his huge hands contributing to his piano virtuosity. He wrote his first Singspiel when he was twelve, successfully staged his Das Waldmädchen when he was fourteen, and became music director of the Breslau town theater when he was seventeen. No doubt he acquired a great deal of stage experience as he accompanied his father on theatrical tours throughout Germany.

By the early 1800s, the waltz had become wildly popular in dance halls, despite, or perhaps because of, its scandalous eroticism. Weber was the first to make it respectable in the concert hall. Previously, Hummel had written piano waltzes for a dance hall. Shortly after, Weber published a set of waltzes for the piano and in 1819 published the first concert waltz for piano, the Invitation to the Dance.

The work begins slowly, and does not appear to be very demanding. Before long, however, the excitement begins. There are dazzling runs and leaps. At times we are reminded of Beethove, but mostly, we realize that we are hearing a work which inspired Chopin to write his series of waltzes. The excitement diees, and the music returns to the pensive, almost improvisitory character of the opening.


 
       
  "Una donna a quindici anni" from Così fan tutte, K. 588 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Così fan tutte is a "modern" opera as far as plot is concerned. It deals with the question of infidelity. rumor has it that the plot was suggested by Mozart's patron, the Emperor Joseph II. Viennese society considered the plot "indelicate," to say the least, and it was not a very popular opera in its time. It had a champion, however, in Richard Strauss, and since his revival of it, it has gained a solid place in the modern Mozart repertoire.

The literal meaning of Così fan tutte is "thus do all women," or more commonly, "women are all the same."

The sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella are madly in love with two young men, Ferrando and Guglielmo, who are about to go off to do their military service. The men are satisfied with the devotion of their fiancées, but are challenged by the old cynic, Don Alfonso, who believes that while the cat's away, the mice will play. The three men make a bet that the women will not be able to remain faithful.

Alfonso enlists the aid of the maid, Despina, and hatches the following plot: The two men will return, disguised as Albanians, and try to seduce the two women. Initially, this fails, to the delight of the two men. But Alfonso insists that the bet is not yet finished. At his suggestion, the two men pretend to be poisoned, and only through the efforts of the maid, do they recover and ask for a kiss of welcome from the two women. Again they refuse.

Space does not permit the unfolding of the complete story. Suffice it to say that the women finally succumb to the charms of the "strangers." Of course, they are the same charms to which the women had succumbed in the first place, so the test proves nothing, as the young men finally decide, and the quartet is married. Most productions leave the audience to decide who marries whom, but it is pretty obvious that Mozart, da Ponte (the librettist), and the Emperor all intended the original couples to remain together.

The aria we hear today, Una donna a quindici anni..., is sung by Despina, the main, in an effort to convince the sisters they should cozy up to the young imposters. The translation reads:

By the time she's reached fifteen,
A girl should be worldly wise,
She should know where the devil hides his tail,
And be able to tell right from wrong;

She should know all the little tricks
That make lovers fall in love:
How to feign laughter or tears,
And come up with good excuses;

She should listen to a hundred men
All at the same time,
And speak with her eyes
To a thousand of them;

She should give everyone hope,
Whether handsome or ugly;
She should know how to hide things
Without getting flustered,
And without every blushing
She should know how to lie;
And like a queen
On her lofty throne,
With "I can and I will"
She should get her own way.


 
       
  "Rejoice Greatly," from Messiah George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)
 
 

George (or Georg) Frideric Handel (or Händel), that German-born British subject who wrote Italian music, was a bundle of contradictions. The varies spelling of his name reflects the mobility of artists and composers common to that period. Names were often spelled according to the praactice of the country of residence. He spelled his name "Handel" on his petition for British citizenship.

Handel had a complex personality. On the one hand, he was pious and sentimental to the point of crying over his own music when it dealt with the sufferings of the Lord. On the other hand, he had an uncontrollable temper which prompted associates to play practical jokes on him, sometimes resulting in violence. A prankster once untuned all the instruments just before a concert for the Prince of Wales, and Handel was so enraged that he picked up a kettle-drum and threw it at the concertmaster. He was persuaded to continue the concert only after the Prince made a personal plea.

Handel had no patience with incompetence, but he did have a sense of humor. When a singer complaining about Handel's style of accompaniment threatened to jump on the harpsichord and smash it to pieces, Handel calmly replied that if the singer gave ample warning, he would publicize the event, because he was sure that more people would come to watch the singer jump on a harpsichord than to hear him sing.

Perhaps his personality was shaped by his difficulty in pursuing his musical interest. His father insisted that he become a lawyer, and banned all musical instruments from the house. He further forbade young George to visit any other house containing a musical instrument. George managed to smuggle a clavichord into an upstairs room without his father's knowledge.

Handel was an almost exact contemporary of J.S. Bach, born in the same year and dying nine years later than Bach. They had similar backgrounds, came from the same part of Germany, and were both devout Protestants, but they were temperamentally quite different. While Bach remained steadfastly middle class, and spent his meager earning on raising a large family, Handel was a cosmopolitan who traveled widely, made and lost fortunes, and mingled with the aristocracy and the intellectual elite.

He was overwhelmed by Italy, where he spent much time. His Italianate operas were very successful, and brought him great fame in England soon after he arrived there. In a span of less than forty years, he wrote forty-six operas - all in Italian style. When the public's interest in Italian opera began to wane, Handel began to work more in the oratorio form. His "second career" made him even more famous, and today he is known mostly for his oratorios, of which his Messiah is the most performed.

He wrote the Messiah in 1741 while in a fit of despair over the failure of two of his operas. He confined himself to his room where he wrote, almost in a frenzy, for little over three weeks to produce his most enduring work which was an instant success.  Musicologist Dr. Hugo Leichentritt writes:

Messiah is one of those mysterious marvels of great art that appear but once in a century - one of those outstanding products of genius which appeals to all lovers of music, to modest amateurs, and even to illiterate persons, as well as to sever critics of art, musicians of all styles, all epochs, and to all nations alike, irrespective of all the differences of artistic creed which in other respects may separate them.


 
       
  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 -- Mvt. 1 Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
 
 

Beethoven wrote seven concerti: five for piano and orchestra, one for piano, violin and violoncello, and one for violin. There was a five-year gap between the Third Piano Concerto and the Triple Concerto, and many critics, and perhaps Beethoven himself, thought the first three represented him in a developmental stage. Beethoven certainly preferred the Third to the first two.

Those who argue that in the Third, Beethoven was still struggling with form, cite as an example, the first movement, allegro con brio, where he gets himself into trouble, and then gets himself out. Others consider this an innovative dramatic device, in no way a "mistake," and a sign of Beethoven's genius.

The orchestra plays for over three and a half minutes before the piano enters - a common practice in the Classical period. During this time, however, it introduced both first and second themes, and starts developing them before thinking better of it. After such a forceful orchestra presentation of the principal themes, what is left for the piano to do? Other composers have had the piano come in with a different theme under these circumstances, but in this case, the orchestra has already done that. Beethoven avoids the obvious and has the piano enter with the main theme, in the minor tonic and in a more fully developed form than in the orchestral opening in the major. There follows a dialogue between the dramatic first theme on the piano and the flowing second theme in the orchestra. Before the recapitulation begins, the piano moves dramatically to the dominant.

After the recapitulation, there is a pause before the cadenza. Some soloists perform their own cadenze; others use a cadenza popularized by an earlier performer. Our soloist plays one written by Beethoven. The movement ends with a strong restatement of the C minor chord.

Regarding a performance in 1989, Muczynski had this to say: "It is the effort of a young, aspiring composer still in search of his own musical identity; a starting point. The first movement is grand, dramatic, and lyrical...." that it is. The composer has evidently had second thoughts since the concerto's premiere in St. Louis so many years ago, and he has made several alterations. Originally, it opened with a drum roll and six bleats in the brass before the piano jumped in forcefully. More recently it has opened with a quick crescendo in the percussion section, with no brass before the entry of the solo instrument. This reminds us that music is an evolving medium. Two of the works on today's program have undergone changes since they were first composed, in one instance, by the composer himself. In the other instance, by the publishers.


 
       
  Thunder and Lightning Polka, Op. 324 Johann Strauss II
(1825-1899)
 
 

Johann Strauss II was born into a family who made its fortune from the waltzes it produced. Of them all, Johann Strauss II was known as The Waltz King. In addition to his many popular waltzes, he wrote a number of operettas, the best-known of which are Die Fledermaus (The Bat), and Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron). Strauss is considered too popular by some critics to be given much space in reference books. However, Brahms thought so highly of him that when Mme. Strauss asked Brahms for an autographed photograph, the great composer wrote the first measure of The Beautiful Blue Danube on it, with the words, "Alas, not by Johannes Brahms!"

Thunder and Lightning is a fast polka, with many musical effects suggesting gusts of wind and thunder.


 
       
  Waltz from The Merry Widow Franz Léhar
(1870-1948)
 
 

Léhar, like Strauss, was a composer of popular music, largely operettas, and similarly has been harshly treated by serious critics. There is a story that Gustav Mahler, and his young wife, Alma, were so taken by a performance of The Merry Widow, that they rushed home to play it from memory, and to dance around the room. They had trouble remembering one passage, and the next day went to a music shop to seek out the score. They could not bring themselves to admit to the clerk that they were interested in a mere operetta, so while Mahler occupied the staff with questions about the sales of his own work, Alma sneaked a look at the score, and once out of the shop, sang it to her husband to make sure they could remember it!

The operetta, itself, is a bedroom farce, owing a lot to Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, and Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. It takes place in the Pontevedran embassy in Paris. "Pontevedro" is really Montenegro, and has to do with its attempts to remain independent, and solvent. The solvency has to do with getting the wealthy widow of the title to marry a Pontevedran. It is a parody of actual events in the history of Montenegro.


 
       
  Two Danced from Rodeo
Saturday Night Waltz
and Buckaroo Holiday
Aaron Copland
(1900-1990)
 
 

Few composers have been able to sounds as "American" as Aaron Copland. What Gershwin did for the sophisticated urban side of American life, Copland did for "the wide open spaces." His early life was spent in Brooklyn, where he was born. At the age of twenty-one, he was able to go to Paris, where he studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He was her first American student, and she was sufficiently impressed to commission him to write an organ concerto for her to perform during her American tour.

In spite of his urban background, he is most famous for his ability to evoke images of rural America, especially in his film-scores such as The Red Pony, and ballets such as Billy the Kid, and Rodeo.

Rodeo was written in 1942, for dancer Agnes De Mille. It was premiered by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and was a great success on a continent in love with Le Wild West. The music is typically Copland, with its use of folk songs (Sis Joe), and syncopated hoedown rhythms. It is interesting to speculate as to what its reception would be in those days of the feminist movement. The plot concerns a "cowgirl" who can rope a steer as well as any man, but goes unnoticed, despite her expertise, until she dons a frilly dress and puts on makeup, whereupon the cow-pokes fall all over themselves in admiration.

The pieces we hear today are part of a suite taken from the ballet. A familiar Copland device is the descending major scale, heard repeatedly in the Buckaroo Holiday.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa Ard, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Dessie Arnold
Christina Beyer +^
Amy Bixler +
Jamie Eller +^
Matt Hendryx +
Rosemary Manifold
Sandra Neel
Margaret Piety
Moo Il Rhee
Rebekah Yoder +^

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Peter Collins
Eric Stalter +^
Liisa Wiljer

Cello
Tim Spahr *
Joseph Kalisman
Robert Lynn
Preston Thomas +^

Bass
Darrel Fiene * (co-)
Randy Gratz * (co-)

Piccolo
Madalyn Metzger +^
Barbi Pyrah

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Madalyn Metzger *+^ (co-)
Carol Snodgrass

Oboe
Rita Kimberley *
George Donner

English Horn
George Donner
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff

Bass Clarinet
Kris Bachman

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Donna Russell

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
Bryan Gibson
John Morse
Chris Lockman

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Richard Pepple * (asst.)
Shawn Sollenberger *+^ (co-)

Trombone
Jeremy Dawkins *+^ (co-)
Jon Hartman * (co-)
Scott Hippensteel

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
Mark Sternberg

Percussion
David Mendenhall
David Robbins

Harpsichord
Robin Gratz

Piano
Debora DeWitt

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Abigail Falkiner and Sally LiszewskiAbigail Falkiner, pianist and first-prize winner, is a junior applied music major at Manchester Collete. She is from Kendallville, Ind., where she studied piano for eight years with Mrs. Judy Petersen. Abigail won the MTNA Baldwin Junior Keyboard Achievement Award for the state of Indiana in 1991 and participated in the division competition of the MTNA National Convention in 1992. While at Ball State University, she studied piano with Robert Palmer and Mitchell Andrews. At Manchester College, she is a student of Dr. Debora DeWitt. Her activities in the Manchester Music Department include membership in the Choral Society and Concert Band.


Sally Liszewski, soprano and runner-up, is a junior music education major at Manchester College. She was born and raised in South Bend, Ind., where she attended James Whitcomb Riley High School. She has studied private voice for six years, in the studios of Virginia Morrow, Bradley Creswell, and currently with Debra Lynn. At Manchester College, she participates in the A Cappella Choir, Entertainers, Choral Society, and Concert Band. She is a student conductor in A Cappella Choir and Choral Society. Sally was also recently a conducting intern at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Manchester. She is a recipient of the Fine Arts Scholarship and was selected to sing in the department's honors recital in March, 1999. She recently completed her junior recital. Sally is co-chair of Campus Ministry Board and is active in Women's Spirituality Circles on campus. She is daughter of Mark and Judith Liszewski and sister to 17 years old Andy. She enjoys reading, camping, and of course, singing. She intends to graduate in May, 2000, and enter the field of teaching, and possibly attend graduate school.