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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 76th Season

Vive la France!

Sunday, October 26th, 2014
Cordier Auditorium
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  España Emmanuel Chabrier  
       
  Rêverie Claude Debussy  
  Kathy Davis, flute
George Donner, oboe
Lila Hammer, clarinet
Erich Zummack, bassooon
Christen Adler, horn
 
       
  Fantasie Brillante from Carmen Georges Bizet/François Borne  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 ("Organ") Camille Saint-Saëns  
 

I. Adagio - Allegro moderato - Poco adagio
II. Allegro moderato - Presto - Maestoso - Allegro

 
       
 

The Adams Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  España Emmanuel Chabrier
(1841-1894)
 
 

Composers have very often sought inspiration in foreign climes. Especially in opera, it is difficult to find a work set in the composer's own country. More than sixty operas have taken place in Spain, eighteen of which were written by non-Spanish composers. I will mention only those most familiar to concert-goers:

The Barber of Seville (Rossini), Carmen (Bizet), Don Carlos (Verdi), Don Giovanni (Mozart), L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti), Ernani (Verdi), Fidelio (Beethoven), La forza del destino (Verdi), The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), Parsifal (Wagner), and Il trovatore (Verdi).

And those are just some of the operas with a Spanish setting. Hardly any of Tchaikovsky's ballets are without a Spanish Dance. There are many orchestral pieces on Spanish themes, other than those written by Spaniards. Spain has had a strong attraction for composers, painters, and writers of other countries for many years. It has always seemed the most exotic country on the continent, perhaps because of having been occupied and influenced by the Arabs for longer than the United States has existed. The march of Islam was stopped at the border between France and Spain, provoking wits to say that "Africa begins at the Pyrenees."

España was written around 1883, after an extended tour of Spain by Chabrier and his wife. He wrote enthusiastically of that visit, and created España in a fit of exuberance. The work met with great success, inaugurating "a vogue for Hispanically-flavoured music which found further expression in Debussy's Ibéria and Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole," according to a quotation in Wikipedia.

Actually the "vogue" had already begun a good deal earlier. Mozart in the eighteenth century had written two operas that used Spain as a setting. It is true, however, that Spain became the focus of exotic notions mostly during the Romantic period.

The idea that Chabrier's España began the French craze for Spanish-inspired music doesn't hold up when one recalls the earlier Rapsodie Espagnole, by French composer Édouard Lalo, written in 1874. Both Debussy and Ravel waited to write their first Spanish-flavored music for more than a decade after Chabrier's España.

Chabrier's music has had one of the longest runs of popularity, along with Ravel's Boléro. Both composers were modest abour their successes. Ravel described his work as "A piece for orchestra without music," perhaps taking his cue from Chabrier's earlier description of his own work as "A piece in F and nothing more."


 
       
  Rêverie Claude Debussy
(1862-1918)
 
 

Claude Debussy was not the most likeable person. He was a man of shifting loyalties, not only among his musical friends, but especially among his many women. He was certainly a womanizer, had more than one lover at a time, and most of them were married. Toward the end of his life, he did marry for the second time, and had a daughter who proved to be perhaps the only person, besides himself, that he ever truly loved.

What has this gossip to do with Debussy as a composer? It parallels his musical life. He was a musical maverick. He took delight in breaking the rules. For a while, he revered the classical and Baroque composers, then became wildly modern. He praised the music of Wagner, and later ridiculed him, mimicking his opening to Tristan und Isolde in one of his works. Even his friends had a hard time liking him. The singer Mary Garden described him as "a very, very strange man." Although he was influenced by the work of Jules Massenet, that composer said of Debussy, "He is an enigma."

Debussy's friend, Erik Satie, wrote an amusing poetic critique of his music that reads, in part:

Thou shalt violate the old primer and all its rules deliberately.
Forbidden fifths shalt thou utter and consecutive octaves, similarly.
Thou shalt never - but never resolve a dissonance entirely.
No piece must finish ever upon a chord consonantly.
Perfect harmony thou shalt abhor - except in holy matrimony.

Satie was capable of biting sarcasm.

Debussy began piano lessons when he was seven, and grew into an excellent performer. Some critics thought he could have had a very successful career as a concert pianist. He was a great admirer of Liszt and Chopin.

Rêverie was written for piano, and was one of Debussy's earliest successes. It has a quiet, dream-like quality (the title means "day-dream," and is frequently cited as an example of Impressionism in music. There is still disagreement among critics as to the appropriateness of that term. Debussy, himself, objected to its use in reference to his music, but there are many reasons for thinking that it is apt. Debussy was both an art lover, and a nature lover. The titles of his music often evoke references to art (Images, for example). he was a friend of the Symbolists, Verlaine and Mallarmé, and was an admirer of the painters Whistler and Turner.

Most of the criticism leveled at Debussy stemmed from his lack of interest in keys. One never knew what key he was in. He became interested in Eastern music, and adopted the pentatonic scale for a number of his works. One of the things he liked about Wagner was the fact that Wagner could leave things unresolved, to create a sense of something pending, but not yet happening (Liebestod, from Tristan und Isolde). The Rêverie was written in his early days, and, except for the dreamy quality, doesn't show many of the mannerisms that were to come.

What we hear today is an orchestration of this piano work for woodwind quintet, created by Ray Thompson, an English-born Canadian who now lives in New Zealand. He has written much music for television series.


 
       
  Fantasie Brillante from Carmen Georges Bizet/François Borne
(Bizet: 1838-1875) (Borne: 1840-1920)
 
 

Georges Bizet was born in Paris, and died there at the age of thirty-seven. He is often cited as an example of the misunderstood genius driven to an early grave by an indifferent or hostile public, his death being blamed on the "failure" of Carmen. Actually, although the opera received some criticism for the "indelicacy" of its subject, it met with fair success at the box office, being performed some thirty-three times in the two-month period between its premiere and Bizet's death. Carmen came to be the most often performed opera in the world, and has inspired several films, ballets, ice-dances, and modernized versions.

Although most of the audience is familiar with this opera, some of you might be asking, "What indelicacy?" The plot involved seduction, sexual implications, military desertion, smuggling, unfaithfulness, and murder. But its main fault was having been first performed in Paris' Opéra Comique. As the name implies, that genre of opera (not just the name of the concert hall, but a type of light-opera), disappointed audience members who were expecting light entertainment.

Bizet was a prodigy, having taught himself to sight read at the age of four, and he quickly became a great pianist. Liszt declared him to be one of the three greatest pianists in Europe. I suspect that Liszt, himself, was one of the three! I suspect the other Liszt had in mind was Saint-Saëns. Surprisingly, Bizet never visited Spain.

He modified what he thought were traditional gypsy songs of Andalucia, where the opera was set, and we now think of his music as very Spanish, indeed. It is interesting that this concert is called, Vive la France, when half of the pieces have a Spanish flavor. It has been said that "the best Spanish music has been written by Frenchmen."

François Borne was a virtuoso flutist, composer, and professor at the Conservatoire de Musique de Toulouse. He is best known for the piece we will hear today, based on tunes from Bizet's opera, Carmen. It was written as a flute piece to be accompanied by piano, but it has been rearranged for other instruments by other composers.

This version was orchestrated by Raymond Meylan. Meylan, like Borne, is a virtuoso flute-player, who specializes in the re-orchestration of earlier composers such as Bach and Vivaldi featuring the flute. Basically, the orchestra takes the place of the piano in Borne's original version. The accompaniment is almost unadulterated Bizet, with the flute playing variations over that background.

The introduction quickly moves to the "Fate Motif" that is repeated throughout the opera to signal coming doom. You will all recognize the Habanera, a Cuban dance developed in Havana from African rhythms taken there by Haitian slaves, who had fled that island after having adapted their music to the French contratanza. What a convoluted history!

In fact, the term habanera was never used in Cuba before that dance was popularized by foreign composers. It was known as the Cuban contradanza locally. It was probably taken back to Spain and France by sailors returning from Havana ("harbor" in Spanish). The American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk wrote several habaneras in the 1850s, and it later became a favorite Spanish-flavored form in France. No doubt, the most famous iteration is the one from Bizet's Carmen. There is another Spanish dance which appeared during an entr'acte in the opera. Finally, there is the most famous melody of all, The Toreador Song.


 
       
  Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 ("Organ") Camille Saint-Saëns
(1835-1921)
 
 

Saint-Saëns is one of those rare animals in the turn-of-the-century French music scene ... a writer of symphonies. Although near-contemporaries Mahler and Sibelius had written as many as nine and seven, respectively, the French were not much interested in the strict symphonic form. Traditional sonata form was too "German" to suit the French. The only well-known "French" composer (born in Belgium) who wrote a symphony of great merit was César Franck, who composed a Symphony in D minor. It had only three movements (uh-oh!). It was his only one. The "symphonies" of Berlioz were more like tone-poems, and the five that Saint-Saëns wrote were criticized for their lack of symphonic structure, otherwise known as "sonata form."

Traditionally, a "symphony" consists of four movements. For his 3rd, Saint-Saëns wrote only two, but divided each one into two parts with connecting passages. This irritated some critics. The fact is that his music was immensely popular in his own time. French audiences appeared to be little interested in the formal analysis of French music. His "Organ Symphony," so-called for obvious reasons, was an instant success.

Unfortunately, time has not treated Saint-Saëns well. Although he was quite prolific, his popularity now rests on only a few works: this symphony, the opera Samson and Delila, Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, and Omphale's Spinning Wheel. This latter tone-poem has a special place in my memory. I first became interested in classical music as a child, listening to fifteen-minute radio serials after school. Their theme-music was taken from the classics, no doubt because so much of it was in the public domain. Much later, I took pleasure in discovering their origins among the works of great composers. I remember hearing a performance of Omphal's spinning Wheel (Le Rouet d'Omphale) and suddenly recognizing it as the theme of the radio show, The Shadow. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows...Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah!" I think Orson Welles was The Shadow. It was like finding the last jelly bean in the Easter basket. Alas, I have no more such discoveries to look forward to!

Saint-Saëns was a true prodigy. He could read and write by age two, and knew a fair amount of Latin. He began to play the piano at the same time, and it was discovered that he had perfect pitch. At the age of five, he was accompanist for a Beethoven violin sonata. His major debut came at the age of ten, when he played the Mozart Concert No. 15, and for an encore offered to play any of Beethoven's thirty-two piano sonatas from memory. Besides music, he was interested in astronomy, geology, archeology, mathematics, and philosophy. He collected fossils and had a telescope built to his specifications. He wrote many books on these and other subjects. Berlioz said of him that, "He knows everything, but lacks inexperience."

Saint-Saëns traveled widely, to South America where he wrote an anthem for Uruguay, to Scandinavia, to Spain, and to Russia, where he made friends with Tchaikovsky. But his favorite area was North Africa, and he often incorporated African elements in his music.

Saint-Saëns was an excellent organist and pianist. Liszt proclaimed him the greatest organist in the world. It is not surprising, then, to find him using the organ in his 3rd Symphony. There are also passages for the piano, both two-hands and four-hands. The work is very demanding, calling for a huge orchestra, and (originally) the great Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Madeleine church where the composer had been organist for many years. We do not have such huge forces, so our conductor needed to make some clever alterations to maintain the musical balance. He added some performers and elevated the brass on risers at the rear to improve projection.

In this work, Saint-Saëns shows his debt to both Berlioz, and especially Liszt in his use of thematic transformation, with themes appearing in several different guises throughout the work. I have found no explanation for his reference to the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), that medieval tune so popular among composers when they want to allude to death. He had used it extensively over a decade before in his Danse Macabre. His friend, Berlioz, had used it in his Symphonie fantastique, and so had his friend, Liszt, in his Totentanz. It's true that he had suffered losses. Two young sons had died, one of disease, and the other by falling out of a window while Saint-Saëns watched. But there appears to be no reference to that morbid motif in Saint-Saëns' prolific writing. Besides, those deaths had occurred almost a decade before the symphony was written.

Since this work was written in two movements, each of which was divided into two parts, to avoid confusion I'll abandon the word "movement," and speak of the four "parts" of the work.

Part one begins adagio, and very softly, but soon becomes more frenetic and grows in volume. At one point, a new theme appears, the previously-mentioned Dies Irae. Part two opens with the strings, supported by organ chords, and ends with an interesting combination of woodwinds and organ, featuring the reed stops.

Part three, the scherzo, is very active, almost aggressive, and a fugal passage appears, presaging a more obvious one in the final movement, reminding us of Saint-Saëns' love of Bach. Part four begins with a blast of the organ, which enters like a bombshell after the sweet and low finish of the preceding section leading into it. I think it would have had less effect had it followed the traditional pause between movements. Perhaps the most dramatic part of the symphony, this part, with the full force of orchestra and organ, ends the work. The symphony had begun in C minor, but ends triumphantly in C major.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Thomas Dean +^
Pablo Vasquez
Ilona Orban
Kristine Papillon
Caleb Mossburg
Rachel Mossburg

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Rachel Nowak
Paula Merriman
Alexandria Roskos +^
Linda Kummernuss
Colleen Phillips
Will Stanley

Viola
Julie Sadler *
Carrie Shank +^
Margaret Sklenar
Renée Neher
Olivia Jenks +^

Cello
Robert Lynn *
Michael Rueff +^
Robert Hudson

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Katie Huddleston +^
Brad Kuhns
Rod Sroufe

Piccolo/Flute
Kathy Davis *
Kathy Urbani
Alyssa Rocheck +^

Oboe
George Donner *
Nyssa Tierney
Diane Whitacre

English Horn
George Donner
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington
Angela Ebert +^

Bass Clarinet
Angela Ebert +^

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Freddie Lapierre +^

Horn
Christen Adler *
Tammy Sprunger
John Morse
Dana Dillon +^

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Dennis Ulrey
Mykayla Neilson +^
Grant Ebert +^

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Chris Hartman +^
Larry Dockter

Tuba
David Dicken +^

Timpani
Dave Robbins *

Percussion
Dave Robbins *
Mackenzi Lowry +^
Kevin Friermood +^
Grant Ebert +^

Harp
Jaclyn Wappel

Piano
Alan Chambers
Debra Lynn

Organ
Jiyoung Jeoung

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MU student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
** Denotes assistant principal
 
Kelly HornbargerKelly Hornbarger is a native of Carleton, Michigan. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Flute Performance from East Tennessee State University, and her Master's Degree in Music Theory Pedagogy from Michigan State University. Her teachers include Rebecca Paluzzi, Julie Stone, and she has played in master classes for Brian Luce and Louis Moyse. In 2008, she was a finalist in the ETSU Honors Recital competition. In 2005, Kelly won a seat in the National Wind Ensemble and played at Carnegie Hall under H. Robert Reynolds.

Mrs. Hornbarger has been the featured soloist with the Manchester University Symphonic Band and the Fort Wayne Area Community Band, with whom she is also a member. In addition, she teaches a private flute studio in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Previously, she held positions in the Meridian Community Band in Lansing, Michigan, and the Johnson City Symphony in Tennessee. Kelly currently resides in Fort Wayne with her husband, Joshua.