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UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series...

UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image UMS Concert Program, October 24, 1933: Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series... image
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(This is the program provided by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for this concert. You can also view the UMS program).

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Season: 1933-1934
Hill Auditorium Ann Arbor

Tuesday Evening, October 24, 1933, at 8.00
Fifty-fifth Annual Choral Union Concert Series, of the University of Michigan Auspices, University Musical Society
. i I
BENTLEY W. WARREN..........President
HENRY B. SAWYER.........Vice-President
ERNEST B. DANE........... Treasurer
W. H. BRENNAN, Manager
G. E. JUDD, Assistant Manager
Fifty-third Season, 1933-1934
Burgin, R.
Concert-master Theodorowicz, J. Hansen, E. Leibovici, J. Cherkassky, P. Mayer, P. Bryant, M. Murray, J.
Lefranc, J. Artieres, L.
Elcus, G. Gundersen, R.
Mariotti, V. Pinfield, C. Zung, M. Diamond, S. Beale, M. Del Sordo, R.
Fourel, G. Cauhape, J.
Lauga, N. Kassman, N.
Sauvlet, H.
Resnikoff, V Eisler, D.
Fedorovsky, P. Leveen, P. Knudson, C. Zidc, L. Stoncstreet, L. Erkelens, H.
Bernard, A.
Van Wynbergen, C.
Tapley, R.
Gorodetzky, L. Fiedler, B. Messina, S. Seiniger, S.
Grovcr, H. Werner, H.
Piedler, A.
Avierino, N. Gerhardt, S.
Deane, C. Jacob, R.
Bedetti, J. Zighera, A.
Kunze, M. Vondrak, A.
Flutes. Laurent, G. Bladet, G. Amerena, P.
Piccolo. Battles, A.
Horns. Boettcher, G. Macdonald, W. Valkenier, W. Lorber, H.
Tuba. Adam, E.
Organ. Snow, A.
Langendoen, J. Barth, C.
Lemaire, J. Moleux, G.
Oboes. Gillet, F. Devergie, J. Stanislaus, H.
English Horn. Speyer, L. Horns.
Valkenier, W. Lannoye, M. Singer, J. Gebhardt, W. Hain, F.
Harps. Zighera, B. Caughey, E.
Piano. Sanroma, J.
Chardon, Y. Droeghmans, H.
Stockbridge, C. Warnke, J.
Fabrizio, E. Marjollet, L.
Ludwig, O. Frankel, I.
Clarinets. Polatschek, V. Valerio, M. Mazzeo, R. Arcieri, E.
Bass Clarinet. Mimart, P. Trumpets. Mager, G. Lafosse, M. Grundey, T. Voisin, R. Mann, J.
Timpani. Ritter, A. Polster, M.
Celesta. Fiedler, A.
Girard, H. Dufresne, G.
Bassoons. Laus, A. Allard, R. Panenka, E.
Contra-Bassoon Piller, B.
Trombones. Raichman, J. Hansotte, L. Kenfield, L. Adam, E.
Percussion". Sternburg, S. White, L.
Librarian. Rogers, L. J.
lhOnw Orclhesta
Fifty-third Season, 1933-1934 Dr. SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY, Conductor
Mozart . "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," Serenade for String Orchestra
(Koechel No. 525)
I. Allegro. II. Romanza.
III. Menuetto; Allegretto.
IV. Rondo: Allegro.
Stravinsky . . "Le Sacre du Printemps" ("The Rite of Spring")
Pictures of Pagan Russia
I. The Adoration of the Earth.
Introduction--Harbingers of Spring--Dance of the Adolescents --Abduction--Spring Rounds--Games of the Rival Cities-The Procession of the Wise Men--The Adoration of the Earth (The Wise Man)--Dance of the Earth.
II. The Sacrifice.
Introduction--Mysterious Circles of the Adolescents--Glorification of the Chosen One--Evocation of the Ancestors--Ritual of the Ancestors--The Sacrificial Dance of the Chosen One.
Brahms.....Symphony No. 1, in C minor, Op. 68
I. Un poco sostenuto; Allegro. II. Andante sostenuto.
III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso.
IV. Adagio; Allegro non troppo, ma con brio.
There will be an intermission often minutes before the symphony
"Eine Klbine Nachtmusik" : Serenade for String Orchestra (K. 525)........Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Born at Salzburg, January 27, 1756; died at Vienna, December 5, 1791)
This music was composed at Vienna, August 10, 17S7. There are four movements:-I. Allegro, G major, 4-4. The energetic chief theme is exposed at once. It is followed by an episode of a gentler character. Two motives of importance are introduced later. The developments and coda are short.
II. The Eomanze, Andante, C major, 2-2, is in rondo form with four themes.
III. Minuet, Allegretto, G major, 3-4. Trio, D major, "sotto voce."
IV. Rondo, Allegro, 2-2. In spite of the title "Rondo," this Finale is not so strictly in rondo form as the foregoing Romanze.
"Le Sacre du Printemps" ("The Rite of Spring") : Pictures of Pagan Russia, in two parts.....Igor Stravinsky
(Born at Oranienbaum, near Leningrad, Russia, on June 5, 1882; now living)
"The Rite of Spring," or more literally according to the Russian "Spring Consecration," scenery and costumes designed by Nicolas Roerich, choreography by W. Nijinsky, was produced at the Th.6a.tre des Champs iSlysees on May 29, 1913, by the Diaghilev Ballet Russe. Mr. Monteux conducted. The chief dancers were M. Mjinsky and Mile. Piltz. The performance, while it delighted some, incited howls of protest. The hissing was violent, mingled with counter cheers, so that M. Astruc ordered the lights turned up. The late Alfred Capu wrote a bitter article published in Le Figaro, in which he said:-Bluffing the idle rich of Paris through appeals to their snobbery is a delightfully simple matter___The process works out as follows: Take the best
society possible, composed of rich, simple-minded, idle people. Then submit them to an intense regime of publicity. By pamphlets, newspaper articles, lectures, personal visits and all other appeals to their snobbery, persuade them that hitherto they have seen only vulgar spectacles, and are at last to know what is art and beauty. Impress them with cabalistic formulae. They have not the slightest notion of music, literature, painting, and dancing ; still, they have heretofore seen under these names only a rude imitation of the real thing. Finally assure them that they are about to see real dancing and hear real music. It will then be necessary to double the prices at the theatre, so great will be the rush of shallow worshippers at this false shrine.
Mr. Carl Van Vechten describes the scene in his book: "Music after the Great War":
"I attended the first performance in Paris of Stravinsky's anarchistic (against the canons of academic art) ballet, 'The Kite of Spring,' in which primitive emotions are both depicted and aroused by a dependence on barbarous rhythm and harmony, as even so late a composer as Bichai'd Strauss understands them, do not enter. A certain part of the audience, thrilled by what it considered to be a blasphemous attempt to destroy music as an art, and swept away with wrath, began very soon after the rise of the curtain to whistle, to make cat-calls, and to offer audible suggestions as to how the performance should proceed. Others of us, who liked the music and felt that the principles of free speech were at stake, bellowed defiance. It was war over art for the rest of the evening, and the orchestra played on unheard, except occasionally when a slight lull occurred. The figures on the stage danced in time to music that they had to imagine they heard, and beautifully out of rhythm with the uproar in the auditorium. I was sitting in a box, in which I had rented one seat. Three ladies sat in front of me, and a young man occupied the place behind me. He stood up during the course of the ballet to enable himself to see more clearly. The intense excitement under which he was laboring, thanks to the potent force of the music, betrayed itself presently when he began to beat rhythmically on the
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top of my head with his fists. My emotion was so great that I did not feel the blows for some time. They were perfectly synchronized with the beat of the music. When I did, I turned around. His apology was sincere. We had both been carried beyond ourselves."
There were five performances in Paris that season.
When this ballet was brought out at Drury Lane, London, on July 11, 1913, with Mr. Monteux conductor, it was thought advisable to send a lecturer, Mr. Edwin Evans, in front of the curtain, to explain the ideas underlying the ballet. At the end of the performance there was greater applause than hissing.
The music of this ballet was performed for the first time in concert form by an orchestra conducted by Mr. Monteux at one of his concerts at the Casino de Paris in Paris on April 5, 1914, when it was enthusiastically applauded.
And now "The Rite of Spring" is acclaimed by many as Stravinsky's "greatest work."
The first performance of the music in this country was by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Philadelphia on March 3, 1922.
The first performance in Boston was at a concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra on January 25, 1924.
On April 11, 12, 1924, "The Rite of Spring" was performed in Boston by the Boston Symphony Orchestra as an "extra" number, "by general request." This being interpreted meant that the performance was in addition to the regular concert, and those who did not wish to hear it were free to leave the hall.
There was a performance conducted by Dr. Koussevitzky in Boston on December 26, 1924.
Much has been written about this remarkable ballet. Some have gone to Sir J. G. Frazer's "Golden Bough" and talked about the mystical adoration of Spring "as the sign of fertility culminating in a propitiatory sacrifice"; how the decay of vegetation in winter is the weakening of the impulse of fertility and must be brought to life in a younger form. Mr. Edwin Evans finds behind the pretext of a rite the marvellous power inherent in all nature to grow, develop, and assume new forms. "This power is so great that it affects Nature herself with a tremor, expressing itself in uneasiness at the critical period of adolescence in all living things. It is that tremor, that inner disturbance, which is the underlying thought of 'The Rite of Spring.'" And Edith Sitwell has this to say: "Life is energy, and the very fact of that life will eventually push us over the abyss into the waiting and intolerable darkness. In 'The Rite of Spring' he [Stravinsky] gives us the beginning of energy,
the enormous and terrible shaping of the visible and invisible world through movement."
Thus might Captain Lemuel Gulliver have heard learned professors discussing at the Academy of Legado.
But some have quoted Stravinsky as saying that this work is to be regarded as abstract music in all but name, a modern symphony. The answer to this is that descriptive titles for the various
sections are in the score.

And so Boris de Schloezer in an elaborate study of Stravinsky published in La Revue Musieale for December, 1923, is inclined to smile at those who speak of the "religious, mystical element" in the ballet, and philosophize over "the mentality of primitive man evoked by a Russian, rather, Scythian barbarian." He insists that in Russia the Negro-American elements, as syncopation, would be at once recognized. The work is not an impressionistic evocation; it is "the direct transposition of a certain act on a sonorous plane," a symmetrical construction.
Stravinsky worked on "The Rite of Spring" in 1912-13, completing it at Clarens. Boris de Schloezer discussing the question of Russian folk-song influence, states that the two melodies in "Mysterious Circles of Youths" and the second motive in "Ritual Action" are Russian folk-tunes; the other themes, while they have Russian character--rhythmic accentuation, preciseness of melodic lines, harmonic harshness, a diatonic nature--are of Stravinsky's invention.
The first part of the work is "The Fertility of the Earth." The second part is "The Sacrifice."
Past I
There is a slow Introduction, which, according to commentators, portrays "the mystery of the physical world in Spring." It is said that Stravinsky here uses wood-wind instruments, whose "dryness conveys a more austere expression of truth"; he "mistrusts the facile expressiveness" of the strings.
The curtain rises. Omens of Spring. Dances of the Youths and Maidens: a rite of incantation with vigorous stamping on the ground. Dance tune for flutes, while trumpets chant a harmonized theme used later. A mock abduction is part of this ritual.
Then come the Spring Rounds, introduced by a tune for clarinet. The main portion of the dance is based on the theme already announced by the ti'umpets. Another Ceremony: Games of Rival
Towns. An old man, wise, white-haired, bearded, enters. He is the Celebrant. He prostrates himself. All kiss the ground. A sacred dance follows. When this ballet was performed early in 1914 at Moscow, this first section was entitled "The Kiss to the Earth."
Part II
At the Introduction, "The Pagan Night," Mr. Evans has said: "A deep sadness pervades it, but this sadness is physical, not sentimental. It is gloomy with the oppression of the vast forces of Nature, pitiful with the helplessness of living creatures in their presence. This Prelude leads to the Mystic Circle of the Adolescents. Girls dance and play. One must be sacrificed to Spring. The victim is chosen. Her Glorification. Evocation of Ancestors. Ritual Performance of the Ancestors. The chosen victim begins her sacrificial act. She must dance herself to death."
The score calls for two piccolos, two flutes, flute in G, four oboes (one interchangeable with a second English horn), English horn, three clarinets (one interchangeable with a second bass clarinet), clarinet in E-flat, bass clarinet, four bassoons (one interchangeable with second double-bassoon), double-bassoon, eight horns (two interchangeable with Bayreuth tubas), four trumpets, trumpet in D, bass trumpet, three trombones, two tubas, four kettledrums, small kettledrum, bass drum, tambourine, cymbals, antique cymbals, triangle, tam-tam, rape guero (scratcher), and strings.
We now quote from a long article about Stravinsky by Mr. Leigh Henry {Musical Times, London, 1919) : "The ordinary academic classifications of chords are negated by him; he realizes that academic dogmas of harmony are all based on an arbitrary delimitation of the complete resources of musical sound and sound combination to a diatonic system (which is in reality only one of many musical modes), and are only applicable to and capable of the necessarily limited range of expression obtainable from that system." That is to say, the chords sufficient to the artistic purposes of the great majority of preceding composers no longer sufficed for Stravinsky, who--as Henry says--"perceives all aspects of life that impinge upon his consciousness with such clarity and penetration of vision that he is aware of a myriad of subtle facts undiscerned by his musical forerunners."
Stravinsky himself is, reported as saying, "I want, not to suggest situations or emotions, but simply to manifest, to express them. I think that there is in what are called 'Impressionist' methods a certain amount of hypocrisy, or at least a tendency toward vagueness and ambiguity. That I shun above all things, and that perhaps
is the reason why my methods differ as much from those of the impressionists as they differ from academic conventional methods. Though I find it extremely hard to do so, I always aim at straightforward expression in its simplest form. I have no use for 'working-out' in dramatic or lyric music. The one essential is to feel and to convey one's feelings."
Stravinsky's conception of rhythm, its independence, was made the subject of comment by C. Stanley Wise in an article published in the Musical Quarterly (New York, April, 1916) :
"It should be noticed that in his compositions he [Stravinsky] holds himself free to express just what he wishes to say--or I would rather put it that he writes whatever he feels to be the essence of his subject--leaving to his interpreters the task of conveying his meaning to his hearers. I remarked especially that feature of his artistic production three years ago, when he was busy with the composition of 'Le Sacre du Printemps.'
"Looking through the first sketch of the great solo dance in the second act, where the rhythm varies continually, the bars being marked 3-8, 2-4, 3-4, 4-4, 5-4, 6-8, 7-8, and so on, in an order that at first strikes one as purely fortuitous, I am impressed by the great difficulties presented therein for dancer and conductor. I could not resist asking him, therefore, whether during its composition he had consulted Mjinsky or his premiere danseuse, with regard to its effective execution.
"His reply was most decided and something to this effect: 'Surely not! A musician must write in accordance with his own ideas. It would be impossible for two persons to compose a work.' Some weeks later he hastened to tell me that he was 'just back from the first rehearsals of the "Sacre,"' and he must say that the dance that had been evolved was the most beautiful that he had ever seen."
Boston University College of Music
A course in Masterpieces of Eecent and Contemporary Music will be given by Professor Alfred H. Meyer in Jacob Sleeper Hall. 6SS Boylston Street, on Saturday mornings from 11--12. Important novelties on the programmes of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will receive special attention. Auditors may attend during the Symphony season for a payment of five dollars. For further information regarding this and other courses in the College of Music, address The Registrar, ITS Newbury Street.
By M. D. Calvocoressi
When Le Sacre du Printemps was first produced (in Paris, on the 29th May, 1913) Stravinsky's reputation had been made by his two earlier ballets The Fire Bird and Petrushlca. Both these continued, in a straight line, the traditions of Russian "national" music. The fairy world of The Fire Bird and the merry crowds in Petrushka were not without precedents--even from the purely musical point of view--in Russian opera and ballet. And Le Sacre, too, was close enough to these traditions, not only in its musical style, but in its very spirit. The present writer remembers having pointed out, at the time, how many affinities the music showed with things such as the finale of Borodin's second symphony or the archaic-epic scenes in Glinka's Russian and Rimsky-Korsakov's Mlada. But it was a tremendous leap forwards, and in a new direction as well. And the Paris audience included many people who were not concerned with Stravinsky's heredity nor prepared for anjrthing like Le Sacre du Printemps. Maybe this title had led them to expect something sweetly poetic, like the delightful Spectre de la Rose, produced by Diaghilef not long before.
So far, none of the novelties introduced by him, however striking they may have been--not even the orgiastic Sheherazadc--had given his patrons any shock save of delightful surprise. But here everything except the beautiful settings by Roerich turned out to be rudely disturbing to most of them. The harshness and violence of the music left even experienced and unprejudiced listeners aghast. Paul Claudel was to describe it as "so cruel that it attacked the soul as an icy north wind or a merciless sun the body." The evolutions and actions of the dancers were deliberately made as constrained, gawky, and heavy as possible, in order to evoke the primitive, apprehensive mentality of the men and women of the stone age, struggling against the awesome forces of nature arrayed against them.
This idea was admirable, but not successfully carried out. Nijinsky's choreography stopped half-way, taking into account--as pointed out by the eminent Russian specialist, Andr6 Levinson--all the rhythmic suggestions in the music separately, but not co-ordinating them into a whole: so that the results were, now and then, rather caricatural. And yet, how beautiful niost of it was! Nobody who witnessed the 1913 production will ever forget the wonderfully impressive entry of the warriors creeping up, clad in eland skins and wearing eland skulls on their heads, nor the strangely inhuman,
"tetanic" (to quote Levinson again) dance of the maiden before the sacrifice.
Later, Le Sacre du Printemps was given in an entirely different spirit, neither the dramatic and lyrical elements in the music nor the archaic-ethnographic character of the subject being turned to account. The new, so-called "purely abstract" choreography by Miassin (which was generally found most unsatisfactory) had been devised in accordance with Stravinsky's declaration that the score, despite its having been written as a ballet--and one with a subject if not with an actual plot--was to be understood and treated not as descriptive or illustrative, but as pure, abstract music. He acknowledged, according to his latest biographer, Andre Schaeffner, that the idea of composing it first came to him in consequence of a dream in which he saw "a young girl dancing, until she dropped down exhausted, in front of incredibly old and withered men." But to another writer he said that its germ actually was a musical motif which occurred to him shortly after he had finished writing The Fire Bird: "As this motif and the music I derived from it were forcible and brutal in character, I used as a pretext for further developments the very evocation which it brought to my mind-the prehistoric age in Russia. But mark that the idea came out of the music, and not the music out of the idea. My work is architecture, not anecdote; and the principle of its structure objective, not descriptive."
As Boris de Schloezer remarks in his book on Stravinsky (Paris, 1929), the genesis of a work of art and its ultimate nature are very different things; and stage-production of Le Sacre remains not only legitimate, but positively useful, because it translates the music into the very imagery which had been its "pretext"--the producer's mind having to follow the reverse course of that folloAved by the composer's.
This, by the way, makes it clear that the most faithful and otherwise adequate setting and choreography will not be the most "abstract." They must give us something that can be accepted as a vision of prehistoric Eussia, even if it be no unduly realistic one.
Le Sacre du Printemps was soon to be tested as "pure" music.
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Its first concert performance took place in April, 1914, in Paris. And although the audience gave signs of uneasiness, and there was a little hissing at the end (the year before, at the Theatre des Champs Elysees, hissing and cries of anger or derision had more than once drowned the sound of the orchestra) the experiment proved successful. Since then, as everybody knows, concert performances have taken place in most countries and quite often here. Nowadays, pending the time--maybe far distant--when the work will again be given in ballet form, and perhaps the right way to produce it discovered (if only we could have, then, what we had in 1913 plus all that the genius of Fokin would have added to it!) we have to rest satisfied with hearing the music in the concert-hall.
This entails no hardship whatever either for Stravinsky--who is treated and assessed exactly as he wishes to be--or for musiclovers. Le Sucre may be "abstract" music: but it Avould be difficult to conceive music whose appeal could be more immediate and definite--one is almost tempted to say, "concrete." It is logical and sustained enough to hold its own. It acts by sheer force and insistence, and there is no need for visual impressions to add to its effects or interpret them. No music goes farther in physical effectiveness. The only parallel that suggests itself is the tremendous final climax in the Dusk of the Gods. Not from the point of view of loudness alone, for it is easy enough to be impressive by dint of noise (as, for instance, in the "1812" Overture), but by virtue of other factors which make for overwhelming potency: in both cases the very quality of the music (and chiefly of the harmonies), the pilingup and cumulative effect of patterns and rhythms and colours.
There is, of course, a world of difference between the two, and not in style only. Wagner relies upon the associate significance of the themes and even the colours which lie brings together in this gigantic peroration, towards which he had been working from the very first note in Rheincjold. The appeal of his music is to the intellect as much as to the senses. But the purely physical power is there, independently of all the rest. Let a listener who knows neither the story of the "Eing" nor a single note of its music hear this finale, and he will experience it to the full.
The most striking feature in Le Sacre (apart from a thousand and one technicalities which do not come within the scope of this article) is that it does not aim at appealing to any definable kind of human emotion, nor to poetic imagination, nor to the intellect proper. It has no undercurrent, no ulterior purpose. It must be "yielded to" rather than "grasped," and the best way to listen to it is to listen passively--a peculiar case, and indeed one without parallel in music standing, by virtue of its intrinsic merits, on so high a level. Le Sacre, for this and other reasons, was a kind of thing that could not be done twice. Stravinsky forthwith realised as much, and wisely refrained from attempting a second experiment in the same direction.
Reprinted from the "B.B.C." Programme, London, November 16, 1932.
It was so given by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stoltowksi. conductor, Martha Graham, chief dancer, Lponide Massine, director of choreography, in tlie Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, April 11, 12, 14, and the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, on April 24, 1930.
Symphony in C minor, jSto. 1, Op. 68 ... Johannes Brahms (Born at Hainbui-g, May 7, 1833; died at Vienna, April 3, 1897)
Brahms was not in a hurry to write a symphony. He heeded not the wishes or demands of his friends, he was not disturbed by their impatience. As far back as 1S54 Schumann wrote to Joachim: "But where is Johannes Is he flying high or only under the flowers Is he not yet ready to let drums and trumpets sound He should always keep in mind the beginning of the Beethoven symphonies: lie should try to make something like them. The beginning is the main thing; if makes a beginning, then the end comes of itself'
Max Kalbeck, of Vienna, the author of a life of Brahms in 2,138 pages, is of the opinion that the beginning, or rather the germ, of the Symphony in C minor is to be dated 1S55. In 1854 Brahms heard in Cologne for the first time Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It impressed him greatly, so that lie resolved to write a symphony in the same tonality. That year he was living in Hanover. The madness of Schumann and his attempt to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Khine (February 27, 1854) had deeply affected him. He wrote to Joachim in January, 1S55, from Diisseldorf: "I have been trying my hand at a symphony during the past summer, have even orchestrated the first movement, and have composed the second and third." This symphony was never completed. The work as it stood was turned into a sonata for two pianofortes. The first two movements became later the first and the second of the pianoforte concerto in D minor, and the third is the movement "Behold all flesh" in "A German Requiem."
A performance of Schumann's "Manfred" also excited him when he was twenty-two. Kalbeck has much to say about the influence of these works and the tragedy in the Schumann family over Brahms, as the composer of the O minor Symphony. The contents of the symphony, according to Kalbeck, portray the relationship between Brahms and Robert and Clara Schumann. The biographer finds significance in the first measures poco sostenuto that serve as introduction to the first Allegro. It was Richard Grant White who said of the German commentator on Shakespeare that the deeper he dived the muddier he came up.
In 1862 Brahms showed his friend Albert Dietrich an early version of the first movement of the symphony. It was then without the introduction. The first movement was afterwards greatly changed. Walter Memann quotes Brahms as saying that it was no laughing matter to write a symphony after Beethoven; "and again, after finishing the first movement of the First Symphony, he admitted to his friend Levi: 'I shall never compose a symphony! You have no conception of how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him (Beethoven) behind us.' "
The symphony was produced at Carlsruhe by the grand duke's orchestra on November 4, 1876. Dessoff conducted from manuscript. Brahms was present. There was a performance a few days later at Manneheiin, where Brahms conducted.
Why Dessoff Brahms had written regarding the conductor of the Viennese Philharmonic concerts: "Dessoff now is absolutely not the right man in any way for this, the only enviable post in Vienna; there are special reasons why he continues to beat time, but not a soul approves. The orchestra has positively deteriorated under him." Dessoff had resigned this appointment in Vienna because the Philharmonic declined to play Brahms's Serenade in A major; and Brahms was attached to Carlsruhe, for Hermann Levi, the predecessor of Dessoff, had made it a Brahms city by introducing his works.
Richard Specht, stating that the first symphony made its way slowly--even Hanslick was far from being enthusiastic--attributes the fact largely to unsatisfactory interpretations.
The first performance in Boston was by the Harvard Musical Association, January 3, 1878. Carl Zerrahn conducted. The programme was as follows: Weber, Overture to "Euryanthe"; Grieg, Pianoforte concerto (William H. Sherwood, pianist) ; Gade, Allegretto from the Third Symphony; Pianoforte solos, Handel, Fugue hi E minor; Chopin, Nocturne in F-sharp, Op. 15, No. 2; Bargiel, Scherzo from Suite, Op. 31; Brahms, Symphony in C minor, No. 1. John S. Dwight wrote in his Journal of Music that the total impression made on him was "as something depressing and unedifying, a work coldly elaborated, artificial; earnest to be sure, in some sense great, and far more satisfactory than any symphony by Raff, or any others of the day, which we have heard; but not to be mentioned in the same day with any symphony by Schumann, Mendelssohn, or the great one by Schubert, not to speak of Beethoven's. . . . Our interest in it will increase, but Ave foresee the limit; and certainly it cannot be popular; it will not be loved like the dear masterpieces of genius." The Harvard Musical Association gave a second performance on January 31, 1878.
@@@@The first movement opens with a short introduction, Un poco sostenuto, C minor, 6-S, which leads without a pause into the first movement proper, Allegro, C minor.
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Second movement, Andante sostenuto, E major, 3-4.
The place of the traditional Scherzo is supplied by a movement, Un poco allegretto e grazioso, A-flat major, 2-4.
The finale begins with an Adagio, C minor, 4-4, in which there are hints of the themes of the allegro which follows. Here 'William Foster Apthorp should be quoted:
"With the thirtieth measure the tempo changes to piu andante, and we come upon one of the most poetic episodes in all Brahms. Amid hushed, tremulous harmonies in the strings, the horn and afterward the flute pour forth an utterly original melody, the character of which ranges from passionate pleading to a sort of wild exultation, according to the instrument that plays it. The coloring is enriched by the solemn tones of the trombones, which appear for the first time in this movement. It is ticklish work trying to dive down into a composer's brain, and surmise what special outside source his inspiration may have had; but one cannot help feeling that this whole wonderful episode may have been suggested to Brahms by the tones of the Alpine horn, as it awakens the echoes from mountain after mountain on some of the high passes in the Bernese Oberland. This is certainly what the episode recalls to anyone who has ever heard those poetic tones and their echoes. A short, solemn, even ecclesiastical interruption by the trombones and bassoons is of more thematic importance. As the horn-tones gradually die away, and the cloudlike harmonies in the strings sink lower and lower--like mist veiling the landscape--an impressive pause ushers in the Allegro non troppo, ma con brio (in C major, 4-4 time). The introductory Adagio has already given us mysterious hints at what is to come; and now there bursts forth in the strings the most joyous, exuberant Volkslied melody, a very Hymn to Joy, which in some of its phrases, as it were unconsciously and by sheer affinity of nature, flows into strains from the similar melody in the Finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. One cannot call it plagiarism : it is two men saying the same thing."
This melody is repeated by horns and wood-wind with a pizzicato string accompaniment, and is finally taken up by the whole orchestra fortissimo (without trombones). The second theme is announced softly by the strings. In the rondo finale the themes hinted at in the introduction are brought in and developed with some new ones. The coda is based chiefly on the first theme.
Dr. Heinrich Reimann finds Max Klinger's picture of "Prometheus Unbound" "the true parallel" to this symphony.
There has lately been an attempt to prove that Brahms had in mind the solemn notes of "Big Ben" in London. Brahms never was in London, but a friend told him about "Big Ben" and gave him the notation !--P. II.
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