UMS Concert Program, October 25, 1980: International Presentations Of Music & Dance -- San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
THE UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
EDO de WAART Music Director and Conductor
Saturday Evening, October 25, 1980, at 8:30 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
David Del Tredici
Sinfonia Concertante in E-fiat, K. 364, for Violin and Viola, and Orchestra
Allegro maestoso Andante Presto
Raymond Kobler, Violinist; Geraldine Walther, Violist
Le Sacre du printemps..........Stravinsky
Part I: The Adoration of the Earth Introduction
Ha'bingers of Spring--Dances of the Adolescent Girls Mock Abduction Spring Rounds Contest of the Rival Tribes Procession of the Sage Adoration of the Earth--The Dancing Earth
Part II: The Great Sacrifice Introduction
The Maidens' Secret Rites and Walking-in-Rounds Glorification of the Chosen One Summoning of the Ancestors Ritual Action of the Ancestors Great Sacred Dance of the Chosen One
Commissioned by Louise M. Davies for the San Francisco Symphony to celebrate the recent September 16 opening of the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall.
Deutsche Grammophon and Philips Records.
102nd Season -Thirteenth Concert
102nd Annual Choral Union Series
PROGRAM NOTES by Michael Steinberg
Happy Voices..........David Del Tredici
Completed in June 1980, Happy Voices was commissioned by Louise M. Davies for the San Francisco Symphony to celebrate the opening of the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. That event took place last month on September 16, as Edo de Waart and the Symphony presented the world premiere of the work in the inaugural concert of the new hall.
For 12 years now, David Del Tredici's compositions have been hung on the writing of Lewis Carroll. "My compositional involvement began precisely with the discovery of Martin Gardner's ingenious book The Annotated Alice . . . 'most of the poems in the Alice books are parodies of poems or popular songs that were well known to Carroll's contemporary readers. Because much of the wit of a burlesque is missed if one is not familiar with what is being caricatured, all the originals will be reprinted in this edition.'
"The idea of setting to music these Carrollian poem-parodies in conjunction with their Victorian originals struck fire in my imagination and led me to compose a whole series of pieces, each independent, but based on different episodes from the book."
The hour-long Final Alice, premiered in 1976 by Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony with Barbara Hendricks, was one of a series of works commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts in celebration of the United States Bicentennial. A significant honor came to Del Tredici earlier this year when In Memory of a Summer Day, commissioned by the St. Louis Symphony for its centenary season, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Musical Composition. All in the Golden Afternoon for Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra is in progress now.
As his Alice series began to unfold, Del Tredici's musical language underwent drastic change. "I couldn't imagine setting a Carroll text to dissonant music. In order to create the mood that surrounds Carroll's writing, I had to rethink everything I had done up to that time. I had to think tonality again, not because I was trying to bring back the music of an older period, but because I just had to invent things in that language."
The composer has said the following about Happy Voices:
"Written in response to Louise Davies' personal request for some happy music, this work, despite the title, is my first composition in over a decade that does not feature a singing voice. The happy voices here are fugal ones; for the piece, all one-hundred pages of it, is a Fuga, that Scylla of musical forms not always cherished for its joyful exuberance.
"Happy Voices is part of an evening-long composition called Child Alice. Of this three-part work only the first section, In Memory of a Summer Day, has been performed. Child Alice alternates settings of the preface poems to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-GIass with interludes for orchestra alone. The orchestral interludes are, for me, stories told during those happy summer days that did not get written down; Happy Voices is one of the more elaborate. It is, one might say, a Tale that got away. The listener, of course, is free to imagine whatever story he will during the musical proceedings. The composer, however, reserves the right to keep his own scenario to himself, happily to wag, as it were, his own Tale."
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, K. 364, for
Violin and Viola, and Orchestra . . . Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
That Mozart, with his sense of theater and his own brilliance as a virtuoso, was particularly drawn to the concerto is no surprise. As a little boy he produced such pieces by adapting solo sonatas by his elders and offered his first mature essays in the genre when he composed his famous set of inventive, graceful, dazzlingly-accomplished violin concertos in 1775. He paid particular attention to the form in the middle eighties, the time of his great piano concertos.
In 1778-79, Mozart became intensely interested in the possibilities of concertos with more than one solo instrument. The Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, probably written in Salzburg during the summer of 1779, stands out as one of Mozart's most richly beautiful works and certainly as his finest string concerto. Mozart was primarily a pianist, but he was also an excellent violinist. In chamber music sessions, however, what he liked best was to play the viola.
He enjoyed being in the middle of the texture, but there is also an affinity between the viola's dark sonority and that element of melancholy which is apt to touch even his most festive com?positions. The viola is the Mozartian sound par excellence. Here, in this Sinfonia Concertante-the title suggests a symphony that behaves like a concerto--he stresses that characteristic color by dividing the orchestral violas into two sections.
Indeed, everything about the sheer sound of the music is testimony to Mozart's aural fantasy, the piquant wind writing, the delightful and serenade-like pizzicati in the orchestra, the subtle interaction of solo and orchestral strings beginning with the very first emergence from the tutti of the two soloists, and, not least, the way so sumptuous and varied a sonority is drawn from so modest a complement. The splendid and majestic first movement is followed by an operatic Andante of deep pathos: one can almost hear the Italian words as the two singers vie in passionate protestation. The finale, after that, is all high spirits and virtuosic brilliance.
Le Sacre du printemps.........Igor Stravinsky
Le Sacre du printemps--Pictures of Pagan Russia--was commissioned by the great choreographer Serge Diaghilev on August 8, 1911, and Stravinsky began work almost imme?diately, finishing Part I in January 1912 and completing the full sketch ten months later. The work was produced on May 29, 1913, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris, with Pierre Monteux conducting, choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, scenery and costumes by Nicholas Roerich (who also signed with Stravinsky as author of the scenario), and with Marie Piltz as The Chosen One. The first concert performance was given by Serge Koussevitzky in Moscow in 1914, and Monteux, conductor of the San Francisco Symphony from 1936 to 1952, introduced the work in this country with the Boston Symphony in 1924.
More than one idea for a composition came to Stravinsky in a dream, but Le Sacre du printemps must have been one of his first thus generated. While still working on Firebird (1909-10), he dreamed "a scene of pagan ritual in which a chosen sacrificial virgin danced her?self to death. This vision was not accompanied by any concrete musical ideas, however, and as I was soon impregnated with another and purely music conception ... the latter piece was the one I started to compose." The "latter piece" turned into Petrushka (1910-11), and it was only after that, together with Roerich, that he developed a scenario for the pagan ballet.
Stravinsky began work in Russia, but wrote most of Le Sacre in his apartment in Clarens, Switzerland. He had a muted upright piano in his room, and 44 years later his landlady remem?bered that "the other pensioners used to complain that 'Monsieur Stravinsky plays only wrong rotes.' " Robert Craft, reporting that in his diary, goes on to say that "at this, I.S., unamused and returning in a heat to the charge of 1911, replies, 'They were the wrong notes for them but the right ones for me.'"
Insofar as the music, rather than the choreography, was responsible for the great scandale at the premiere in 1913, those "wrong notes" certainly had something to do with it. The wonder?ful introductory music, which was for Stravinsky "the awakening of nature, the scratching, gnawing, wiggling, of birds and beasts," begins with a simple and lovely melody, but as more of the creatures awaken, they manifest with little regard for conventional harmony as the ear of 1913 understood it. Moreover, the rhythms evolve with an elasticity and freedom unknown to Western concert music with its tradition of being organized about a regular beat. And how eerie a quality that first melody assumes by being intoned in the extreme high register of the bassoon (a register often touched by that instrument in classical scoring but never thought fit to dwell in at length). Every promise of that opening page is kept. In Le Sacre, which is a musical statement both of unprecedented violence and of extraordinary discipline, Stravinsky created a revolution in harmony, rhythm, and orchestral sound. It is interesting that most of the material Stravinsky presents so vibrantly is not his own but drawn from folk song.
To find what Stravinsky found as Le Sacre began to take shape was for the composer an excitement he would not experience again. Robert Craft once asked him what he had loved most in Russia. The old man answered: "The violent Russian Spring that seemed to begin in an hour and was like the whole earth cracking. That was the most wonderful event of every year of my childhood." Le Sacre is filled with that sense of wonder and of love.
In recent years, analysis has come to grips with the question of what makes Le Sacre work, and in many points of detail analysis has proved interesting and fruitful. In his Poetics of Music, Stravinsky praises Ravel as having been almost alone to recognize that the newness of Le Sacre lay not in any detail of the writing, the scoring, or the technical apparatus, "mais dans I'entiti musicale." Analysis still has not revealed the secret of that coherence we sense so powerfully. Neither did Stravinsky.
About the Artists
The San Francisco Symphony gives its first performance in Ann Arbor this evening, as part of a two-week tour of the Midwest and Eastern United States, its first since 1937. Organized shortly after San Francisco's 1906 earthquake, the Symphony gave its first concert in December of 1911 and has since enlarged its season from six concerts to a diverse series of performances year round. With the opening of the new Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall last month, the Symphony embarks upon a 26-week season of subscription concerts, the longest classical series in its history. The 3,000-seat concert hall, designed and constructed specifically for the perform?ance of symphonic music, will also host the Symphony's Great Performers Series, Contemporary Music Festival, Youth Concerts, and the Mostly Mozart and Beethoven Festivals.
Edo de Waart's early musical studies began with piano and oboe, and in 1963 he became principal oboist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. A year later his interests spread to con?ducting. As a result of winning the coveted first prize in the Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition in New York, he was appointed assistant conductor to the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. In 1967, de Waart was named conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and first appeared in Ann Arbor with that ensemble in 1977. He became principal guest conductor of the San Francisco Symphony in 1974 and was named music director as of the 1977-78 season. His guest conducting engagements are numerous in both major symphony orchestras and opera orchestras, including those at the Holland Festival, Netherlands, Houston, and Sante Fe operas.
Raymond Kobler, newly-appointed concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony, was formerly with the Cleveland Orchestra where he was associate concertmaster, frequently serving as concertmaster and soloist. Before that he was First Assistant Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony, appearing there as soloist on many occasions. Prior to becoming the Principal Viola of the San Francisco Symphony in 1976, Geraldine Walther was Assistant Principal of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She held the same post with the Miami Philharmonic (1969) and the Baltimore Symphony (1974).
Lar Lubovitch Dance Company .... Tues. & Wed. Oct. 28 & 29
Faculty Artists Concert.........Sun. Nov. 2
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.....Mon. Nov. 3
Vladimir Horowitz, Pianist (sold out)......Sun. Nov. 9
Julian Bream, Guitarist.........Mon. Nov. 10
Murray Perahia, Pianist........Thurs. Nov. 13
Kenneth Gilbert, Harpsichordist.......Sat. Nov. 15
Martti Talvela, Basso.........Sun. Nov. 16
The Feld Ballet........Mon.-Wed. Nov. 17-19
Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.....Thurs. Nov. 20
Caribbean Carnival of Trinidad.......Fri. Nov. 21
Los Angeles Philharmonic Carlo Maria Giulini . . Sun. Nov. 23
Handel's "Messiah".........Fri.-Sun. Dec. 5-7
New Swingle Singers..........Fri. Dec. 12
Rudolf Serkin, Pianist.........Mon. Dec. 15
Pittsburgh Ballet, Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" . Thurs.-Sat. Dec. 18-20
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 Phone: 665-3717, 764-2538