Program Notes: Mozart’s Radiance

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Dawn: Chacony for Orchestra at Any Distance (2020) Thomas Adès The son of an art historian and a poet, Thomas Adès is a native of London He studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music and King’s College Cambridge Adès achieved success early, having a retrospective of his music when he was only in his 30s His operas The Tempest, Powder … Read More

Program Notes: Mozart’s Defiance

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Mozart’s stormy, passionate Concerto in C minor, K.491 must have startled his Viennese audience. The dark subtext coursing through this music prompts us to wonder what feelings of despair the composer harbored. Classicist he certainly was, but this concerto pushes the envelope persuasively close to the brink of romanticism. Its central slow movement is a masterpiece of woodwind writing, in … Read More

Program Notes: Appalachian Spring

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Suite from Appalachian Spring Aaron Copland Born 14 November, 1900 in Brooklyn, New York Died 2 December, 1990 in North Tarrytown, New York For most of the 20th century, Aaron Copland was widely regarded as the Dean of American composers A native of Brooklyn, he studied with the eminent pedagogue Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau, France He was one of the … Read More

Program Notes: Beethoven to Brahms

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Leonore Overture No. 3, Op.72b Ludwig van Beethoven Born 16 December, 1770 in Bonn, Germany Died 26 March 1827 in Vienna, Austria Approximate duration 14 minutes Instrumentation: woodwinds in pairs; four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings Leonore is the heroine’s real name in Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. For most of the opera, she is disguised as the youth … Read More

Program Notes: Brahms’ Pastoral Symphony

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Like many of Ravel’s orchestral works, Pavane for a Dead Princess originated as a solo piano piece. The Pavane was slow, processional 16th century court dance, probably of Italian origin. Spanish princesses were called infantas, and Ravel is said to have chosen the title because he liked the way it sounded in French! His single movement is poignant, elegant, and … Read More

Program Notes: Mozart’s Dream

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Overture to The Bartered Bride  Bedřich Smetana Born: March 2, 1824 in Litomyšl, Czechoslovakia Died: May 12, 1884 in Prague   The exuberant opening fanfare of Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride seems so familiar that one can hardly imagine the world of orchestral music without it. Yet this overture and the opera it precedes were landmarks for the nineteenth century. … Read More

Program Notes: Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Overture to The Flying Dutchman Richard Wagner Born: May 22, 1813 in Leipzig, Germany Died: February 13, 1881 in Venice, Italy   Wagner composed his great works exclusively for the opera house. Fortunately his music-dramas, as he called them, include a good deal of marvelous writing for orchestra. Whether as separate preludes or overtures, or as adaptations of music from within the … Read More

Program Notes: Bach to America

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, “Dumbarton Oaks” (1938) Igor Stravinsky Born June 17, 1882 in Oranienbaum, near St. Petersburg, Russia Died: April 6, 1971 in New York City   Dumbarton Oaks is an elegant estate in the District of Columbia that belonged to Mr. & Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, wealthy patrons of the arts. On the occasion of their thirtieth wedding … Read More

Program Notes: Mozart’s Romantic Side

Program Notes, Laurie Shulman

Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K.466 Wolfgang Amadè Mozart Born: 27 January, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria Died: 5 December, 1791 in Vienna, Austria   Brooding and chromatic, the D Minor Piano Concerto is a far cry from conventional Mozart. Listen for stormy outbursts, even in the slow movement. Mozart provided his Viennese audience with a sunny conclusion – but not until the coda of … Read More