UMS Concert Program, February 3, 1942: Sixty-third Annual Choral Union Concert Series -- Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
Complete Series: 2838
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
CHARI.ES A. SINK, PRESIDENT THOR JOHNSON, CONDUCTOR
Eighth Concert 1941-1942 Complete Series 2838
Choral Union Concert Series
MINNEAPOLIS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Dimitri Mitropoulos, Conductor
Tuesday Evening, February 3, 1942, at 8:30 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Overture, "Academic Festival"........Brahms
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90.......Brahms
Allegro con brio Andante Poco allegretto Allegro
Suite, "Le Tombeau de Couperin".......Ravel
Prelude Forlane Menuet Rigaudon
Toccata No. 1 in C major.......Bach-Weiner
Note--"the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Conductor, has been heard in the Choral Union Series on one previous occasion, as follows: January 28, 1941.
The Steinway is the official piano of the University Musical Society ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS
Compiled by Carlo Fischer Overture, "Academic Festival" .... Brahms (1833-97)
In March, 1879, the University of Breslau conferred on Brahms the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and in the following year, by way of returning the compliment, Brahms composed the "Academic Festival" overture, which was duly performed at Breslau two years later, with Brahms conducting, and the rector, regents, and philosophical faculty of the University in the front seats. Some of the worthy professors may have been a bit startled at the flippancy of the newly created "Herr Doktor," for the composition was, in his own words, "a very jolly potpourri of students' songs, in the style of Suppe." Four of these songs, all dear to German student tradition, provided the thematic material for the first one. The first one is "We Had Built a Stately House," the second, "Der Landesvater," which goes back to the early part of the eighteenth century. Both of these are essentially serious, but the third, the famous "Fox Song," belongs to the traditional ridicule of freshman absurdities. The finale is the familiar "Gaudeamus Igitur," which still forms a part of the student lyric repertoire the world over.
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 . . . Brahms (1833-97)
"When I look at the third symphony of Brahms, I feel like a tinker." So said Sir Edward Elgar; and his feeling has probably been shared by most composers. For there is beneath the joyous surface of this music such a certainty in its structural planning, such inescapable logic and continuity of thought that the mind of one who is mainly concerned with such problems might easily be fully preoccupied with admiration of the rhetorical perfection of the utterance. Fortunately, however, we are not all rhetoricians; and for us there appears what Brahms doubtless meant most vividly to appear -a complex of related hints of feeling which together, if they could be interpreted into actualities of human experience, would serve for the foundation of a most enlightened philosophy. But we, who find but seldom such roundness and meaning in our emotional experiences as is revealed in this whole symphony, will share with Elgar, as we realize its fullness, the sense that we are bunglers in the presence of the master.
Seldom, indeed, does Brahms attain to what can only be called the spiritual height of this music. A titanic struggle for mastery -perhaps of self, perhaps of things external to self -may be seen in Brahms's first symphony. A marvelous detachment from all grossness and bitterness may be seen in the second. But in the third, there are expressed both the kinetic energy of struggle and the sense of limitless but only partially used power which gives certainty of judgment and poise for any necessary action.
The three strong chords which lead to the statement of the principal theme present the rising melodic phrase, F, A-flat, F -a very frequent phrase in Brahms's music. This three-note motive will be heard by the attentive in many passages throughout the symphony. The principal subject itself is the frank descending arpeggio of the tonic chord. The mood, although dominatingly expressed, is not long insisted upon. The transition has all the graceful concessiveness of strength, and the second subject, in 9-4 time, is all smiling amiabilityThe slow movement (Andante, 4-4 time) is at first disarmingly quiet. Two later features, however, show that there is more in this music than immediately strikes the ear. There emerges then, at first in the clarinet and bassoon, and later in oboe and horn, a melody like the unconscious expression that comes to a noble face when things of unutterable purport are contemplated -a melody such as even Brahms could seldom imagine. It occurs but once. The third movement of this symphony is probably the most ingratiating piece ever to come from Brahms's pen, which is saying much; but its perfect appositeness to all that has gone before is even more remarkable.
The principal subject of the Finale is a mysterious phrase in which one feels, in addition to the mystery, a hint of the boundless energy of the opening of the whole work. Quite exceptionally for Brahms, the close of the whole movement is brought about by a broad statement of the principal theme of the first movement.
Suite, "Le Tombeau de Couperin" . . . . Ravel (1875-1937)
This Suite is a garland of musical flowers, grown from seventeenth-century seed in a twentieth-century hothouse, and placed on the tomb of one of the greatest classic composers of France. The act of homage was performed in 1919. There are four "flowers": a Prelude, a Forlane, a Minuet, and a Rigaudon.
The Francois Couperin who is commemorated here was the culminant figure in a considerable line of musical ancestry. With many of these the clavecin was a favorite instrument; and Francois (who was called Le Grand) contributed greatly both to the literature of the instrument and to the technique of playing it.
The Prelude, which is not to be regarded as a dance, is still strongly tinged with the spirit of that art. There is a flowing phrase which ends in a twitch at the second bar; and this, either in its general rhythmic pattern, or in the peculiar antic which we have called a twitch, is the germ of the thematic substance of the whole prelude.
The Forlane was a popular Venetian dance in the sixteenth century. Ravel's example is in 6-8 time, with a rocking rhythm. The whole dance is very soft and delicate.
The Menuet is based on rather consciously quaint and old-fashioned themes, and is in fairly orthodox form.
The Rigaudon (which was called Rigadoon in England, and is supposed by some to have originated there) was a lively dance in quick duple time, somewhat resembling the Bourree. Ravel's example is very lively.
Toccata No. 1 in C major......Bach (1685-17SO)
This is one of Bach's earlier organ works, probably composed at Weimar during Bach's sojourn there as director of the musical forces of the reigning Duke. No more exact date can be assigned, therefore, than the period of Bach's residence there: from 1708 to 1717. The organ was as yet the instrument in which Bach was most interested, and no small portion of his growing fame was gained by the playing of organ recitals. For these programs he naturally composed as brilliantly and effectively as he could; so that even Bach, the most remote from, association with public clamor of all the modern musicians, must be thought of as a virtuoso composer.
A Toccata is a piece designed to exhibit in as brilliant a light as possible the "touch" of the performer. Hence it is made up of a considerable number of different musical ideas, with the fact of contrast made very conspicuous. The present is divided into three main sections, a Prelude, ornate and declamatory; a middle section, Adagio and the Fugue. The prelude opens with solo passages on the manuals and then on the pedals, after which there is a vigorous Allegro which is built on two subjects contained in the pedal solo. The Adagio which follows is florid without superficiality-a feat which no other composer has performed as wonderfully as Bach. A remarkable passage of suspensions serves to introduce the spirited Fugue with which the work concludes.
The orchestration of the music is by Leo Weiner (1885--), originally of Budapest. Weiner's name is not unfamiliar to American audiences. He was represented on the programs of the Chicago Orchestra as early as 1908, and a considerable number of his compositions have been played by the principal orchestras of this country. The present arrangement was made in 1927, and was first played by the Philadelphia Orchestra in October of that year.
ALEC TEMPLETON, brilliant British pianist, Thursday evening, February 26, 8:30, Hill Auditorium. He will play the following program:
Fantasy in C major..............Handel
Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp minor...........Bach
Impromptu in F-sharp major............ Chopin
Prelude, Chorale, and Fugue............Francr
Turkish March (Mozart) Haydn Takes to Ridin'
Improvisation on Five Notes f-..........Templeton
Doin's at the Ruins Improvisation on Four Melodies
Reserved seat tickets, including tax: 950, 750, and 550.
Choral Union Concerts
JOSEPH SZIGETI, Violinist, February 19, 8:30.
VITYA VRONSKY and VICTOR BABIN, Pianists, March 3, 8:30.
Tickets for either the Szigeti or Vronsky and Babin concert are available at the following prices, including tax: $2.75, $2.20, and $1.65.
May Festival -Six Concerts, May 6, 7, 8, 9
Soloists HELEN TRAUBEL, Soprano . . . Metropolitan Opera Association
JUDITH HELLWIG, Soprano......European Operas
MARIAN ANDERSON, Contralto .... Eminent Negro Artist ENID SZANTHO, Contralto . . Metropolitan and European Operas
JAN PEERCE, Tenor.....Metropolitan Opera Association
FELIX KNIGHT, Tenor......Splendid American Artist
MACK HARRELL, Baritone . . . Metropolitan Opera Association BARNETT R. BRICKNER, Narrator.........
Rabbi, Euclid Avenue Temple, Cleveland
CARROLL GLENN, Violinist .... Sensational American Artist EMANUEL FEUERMANN, Violoncellist . . Distinguished Virtuoso SERGE RACHMANINOFF, Pianist . . . World Renowned Artist
Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra The University Choral Union
Eugene Ormandy, Conductor Thor Johnson, Conductor
Saul Caston, Associate Conductor
The Festival Youth Chorus
Juva Higbee, Conductor
Choral works: "King David" by Honegger; Ninth Symphony by Beethoven; and Fletcher's "The Walrus and the Carpenter."
Season tickets (including tax): $8.80, $7.70, and $6.60 (if Festival coupon is returned, deduct $3.30) may be ordered by mail. Please address University Musical Society, Charles A. Sink, President, Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
University Musical Society