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UMS Concert Program, November 6, 1955: Seventy-seventh Annual Choral Union Concert Series -- The Cleveland Orchestra

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Season: 1955-1956
Concert: Third
Complete Series: 3166
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Charles A. Sink, President Thor Johnson, Guest Conductor
Lester McCoy, Associate Conductor
Third Concert 1955-1956 Complete Series 3166
SeventV'Seventh Annual
Choral Union Concert Series
Sunday Evening, November 6, 1955, at 8:30 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Overture to The Marriage of Figaro......Mozart
Symphony in G minor, No. 40 (K. 550).....Mozart
Allegro molto Andante
Menuetto, trio
Finale: allegro assai
"Don Juan," Tone Poem (after Lenau) Op. 20 ... R. Strauss
Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120.....Schumann
Andante; allegro Romanza Scherzo Finale: largo, allegro
Note.--The University Musical Society has presented the Cleveland Orchestra on 17 previous occasions since 1935, under the following conductors: Artur Rodzinski (5); Erich Leinsdorf (2); and George Szell (10).
The Steinway is the official piano of the University Musical Society. ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS
PROGRAM NOTES By George H. L. Smith
Overture to The Marriage of Figaro......Mozart
Mozart himself suggested the idea of making Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro into an opera. The play had had a sensational success in Paris in 1784. Already in the autumn of 1785 Mozart was at work on his music, composing with feverish haste, even as his librettist, Da Ponte, hurried to complete his Italian libretto. "As fast as I wrote the words," Da Ponte tells us in his memoirs, "Mozart wrote the music, and it was all finished in six weeks." The overture, however, composed last, was completed only the day before the production.
The opera was performed in Vienna on May 1, 1786, but with mixed success; only in Prague, where it was produced later in the year, did it come into its own.
The sparkling overture, Presto, D major, 2-2, is in an abridged sonata form. The main theme is given out at once. The second theme is in A major. The development section is omitted, but there is an extensive coda. It is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, tympani, and strings.
Symphony in G minor, No. 40 (K. 550).....Mozart
Only once in the last four years of his life did Mozart turn to the symphony. It was in the summer of 1788, a summer darkened by a crushing weight of debt, and by the endless necessity of writing pot-boilers. Between such trifles as marches, piano sonatas "for beginners," arias and terzets, he wrote the three great symphonies that were destined to be his last.
The G-minor Symphony has been variously characterized. Eric Blom has dared to call it "Mozart's Pathetic Symphony." Others, like Georges de Saint-Foix, have dis?covered in it "intense poignancy," "a concentrated energy which rises to a ferocious exultation." Otto Jahn found it "full of passion" but wrote unaccountably of "sorrow and complaining" in these noble pages. If one chanced to seek perfection in music he need look no further, for here in utter simplicity is as perfect a work of art as has ever blessed the creative striving of mankind.
De Saint-Foix has given not only the fullest description of the symphony, but an illuminating examination of the course of its criticism which is here quoted from his invaluable book, The Symphonies of Mozart (Knopf):
"Mozart's instrumental music, principally his great symphonies, began to make its appearance in France from 1805 onwards, in the programs of the Exercises publics des eleves du Conservatoire, which were then giving place to real concerts, with critical notices. In 1806 a fragment of a Mozart symphony was received 'with enthusiasm,' and the works of this master are so much the fashion that the writer feels obliged to press for the more frequent performance of Italian works: 'we have even,' he writes with some indignation, 'had three pieces by Mozart in the same concert.' On March 22, 1807, the rehearsal of the Conservatoire pupils opened with a performance of a Mozart symphony, played this time in its entirety; and we have good reason to believe the symphony in question to have been the G minor. 'If the first movement, for example,' explains the writer, 'seems to have less grandeur and, so to say, less ample proportions [than Haydn], there is more brilliance and lightness, though the harmony is as skillful and the modulations as bold. There is no andante of Haydn more enjoyable than this one by Mozart; in the second half a new and quite original figure makes its appearance on the basses alone, then is taken up by the other instruments with modulations, until the basses make use of part of this figure to lead back to the first motif. This delightful theme is so well managed that, though the movement is long, it seems to end too soon. The two minuets are piquant and lively; and the final presto, a movement sometimes a bit perfunctory in Haydn's symphonies is here most charming. It is a rondeau, both melodic and at the same time full of spirit and warmth. This is to dwell rather long on a single symphony; but it is the first by this master to be heard at the Conservatoire for a long time (his overtures are another matter), and what we said in our last number has tempted us to go into these details.' On April 5 following, a Mozart symphony appeared again: 'The andante, from another symphony, was a superlative choice and made a most pleasing effect. The minuets, in lively tempo, and the final presto were applauded as warmly as they were played; and this warmth could only respond to a like quality in the composition--a quite extraordinary warmth which one finds in all Mozart's best compositions. This master seems always to have written with inspira?tion.' . . .
"Don Juan," Tone Poem (after Nicolaus Lenau),
Op. 20..........Richard Strauss
Don Juan was the earliest of Strauss's tone poems to make a general success. The twenty-five-year-old conductor of the Grand Ducal Court Orchestra at Weimar had already declared himself as a composer for orchestra with a "Symphony"--Aus Italien --and a "Tone Poem"---Macbeth--but in Don Juan he exhibited a musical bent that audiences of 1889 could hardly consider other than radical.
Whatever their intellectual reservations, however, Strauss's hearers were soon swept off their feet by the dazzling orchestral virtuosity, the headlong musical flights of a new style so masterfully accomplished. Strauss was five times recalled after the first per?formance, and a repetition was demanded.
Strauss was impressed by the "emotional phases" of the story of Don Juan: the ardor with which the Don conducts his search for the ideal woman; the charm of woman; the selfish idealist's disappointment and partial atonement by death. He found these developed to his liking not in the Don Juan of Byron or Mozart's librettist Da Pointe, but in the dramatic poem of Nicolaus Lenau. Lenau's hero is less the dashing sensualist, more a romantic and disillusioned visionary who invites death by dropping his sword in a duel--but not before providing in his will for the women he has seduced and forsaken. Lenau thus explained his purpose to his biographer, L. A. Frankl: "Goethe's great poem has not hurt me in the matter of Faust and Byron's Don Juan will here do me no harm. Each poet, as every human being, is an individual 'ego.' My Don Juan is no hot-blooded man eternally pursuing women. It is the longing in him to find a woman who is to him incarnate womanhood, and to enjoy, in the one, all the women on earth, whom he cannot as individuals possess. Because he does not find her, although he reels from one to another, at last Disgust seizes hold of him, and this Disgust is the Devil that fetches him."
Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op 120.....Schumann
Schumann wrote his D-minor Symphony during the happy year that followed his marriage to Clara Wieck. It was a year full of bliss for them both, and a year which saw the creation of some of Robert's finest music.
The D-minor Symphony, composed within a few months after the completion of the "Spring" Symphony, is close to it in the tender exaltation of its mood, the exub?erance born of Schumann's full realization of his manhood and his symphonic power. Like the "Spring" Symphony, it has been termed a "nuptial" symphony.
It was only with the revision of his D-minor Symphony that Schumann fully declared his striking innovations in the symphonic form. He had called the original version of 1841 not a "symphony" at all, but a "Symphonic Fantasy." The final form of the score bore the literal indication, "Introduction, Allegro, Romanze, Scherzo, and Finale in One Movement," and required that the various divisions were to follow one another without pause.
Was Schumann at first disappointed that his ideas would not fit into the traditional form of the Beethoven symphony We can be thankful that he was wise enough to let his music take its own course, that he did not force it into time-honored forms that could only have clipped its wings and restrained its romantic flight. Schumann could not have been aware that he had laid down a working plan for cyclic symphonies of half a century hence that were to reach their culmination in such a work as the monumental, single-movement Seventh Symphony of Sibelius--or, more immediately, for the symphonic poems of Liszt.
Beethoven, of course, had joined a scherzo and finale in his Fifth Symphony and made a rudimentary experiment with thematic recurrence in the finale of his Ninth, but these isolated attempts hardly suggest the full interrelation of Schumann's Fourth Symphony. Schumann lets his introduction serve as source-book in which all the germinating motives of his symphony are announced. Its opening theme is to be transformed into the haunting violin solo that contrasts so effectively with the lyric melody of the slow movement, and is to reappear again as the trio of the scherzo. The main theme of the first movement is used also, with an additional motive, as its own subsidiary theme, and as an important motive in the finale. An attendant theme, impressively sounded in the first movement, becomes a counterpoint to the main theme of the scherzo, and the principal theme of the finale. What consummate art to make it sound fresh and vigorous upon each new appearance!
A symphony in a single mood, so unified for all its diversity of tempo and emphasis, could afford to do without the traditional recapitulation in its first movement. Similarly, the already well-used main theme of the finale might bow out of that movement's recapitulation in favor of a fresh melody that breathes new vigor into the coda and sets it off on its headlong race to an exuberant climax.
Extra Concert Series
Herbert von Karajan and the
London Philharmonia Orchestra . . Wednesday, November 9
Symphony No. 39, E-flat major, K. S43......Mozart
Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56.....Brahms
Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 82.....Sibelius
Arthur Fiedler and the
Boston Pops Tour Orchestra.....Sunday, January 8
Myra Hess, Pianist.........Wednesday, February 15
Teresa Stich-Randall, Soprano.......Friday, March 9
Single Concerts: $3.50--$3.00--$2.50--$2.00--$1.50
Choral Union Concert Series
Nathan Milstein, Violinist......Monday, November 14
Sonata in G minor...........Tartini
Partita in D minor............Bach
Sonata in G major, Op. 30, No. 3.......Beethoven
Concerto in D major...........Paganini
Robert Shaw Chorale and Orchestra . . . Tuesday, November 22 Robert Shaw, Conductor
Magnificat in D major.........J. S. Bach
King David..........Arthur Honegger
Vienna Choir Boys (2:30 p.m.)......Sunday, January IS
Toronto Symphony Orchestra .... Wednesday, February 22 Sir Ernest MacMillan, Conductor
Artur Rubinstein, Pianist........Thursday, March 1
Virtuosi di Roma...........Tuesday, March 13
Walter Gieseking, Pianist........Monday, March 19
Single Concerts: $3.50--$3.00--$2.50--$2.00--$1.50
"Messiah" (Handel).........December 3 and 4, 1955
Ellen Fauix, Soprano Donald Gramm, Bass
Lillian Chookasian, Contralto Choral Union and Orchestra
Howard Jarratt, Tenor Lester McCoy, Conductor
Tickets: 75c and 50c (either concert)
Annual Chamber Music Festival
Budapest String Quartet......February 17, 18, 19, 1956
Assisted by Robert Courte, Viola
Season Tickets: $3.50 and $2.50. Single Concerts: $1.75 and $1.25.
For tickets or for further information, please address: Charles A. Sink, President, University Musical Society, Burton Memorial Tower.

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