by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 3 oboes, clarinet, 2 bass clarinets, bassoon, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, celesta, strings.
Duration: 15 minutes.
THE MUSIC – Ellsworth 2 was commissioned by Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony for the 2012-13 Masterworks season and composer Simon Holt wrote the following note for these world premiere performances. “I've been very strict with myself in this piece. The model for it is the painting by Ellsworth Kelly entitled 'Painting for a white wall'. He's a painter that I've long admired for his rigorousness, attention to detail and clarity of thinking. The material stems from music that I wrote in an earlier piece, 'Troubled Light' from 2008 (dedicated to tonight's conductor, Thierry Fischer), which I wrote for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, where I was composer in association for 4 years. In 'Troubled Light', there's a movement called 'Ellsworth'; essentially the slow, central, meditative section to the whole piece and when some of the material from this movement re-appears in the final movement it's become hugely loud and abrasive and it's this music which I took as a starting point for 'Ellsworth 2'. The painting by Kelly is in 5 distinct sections, all exactly the same size; both width and height. Each one is a separate, clearly defined colour. It's precisely this kind of clarity that I have tried to aim for in my piece: 5 distinct sections of orchestral colour which each last exactly 3 minutes (or should do!). They're all distant cousins of each other, material-wise, running without a break. Clearly, the piece should last exactly 15 minutes.” – SIMON HOLT (b. 1958)
by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings.
Duration: 28 minutes in three movements.
THE COMPOSER – WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) – Mozart’s return to Vienna late in 1783 marked the beginning of his busiest professional period since childhood. Over the next 3 years he gave frequent performances, both publicly and privately, of his growing catalogue of piano concertos and was actually able to afford a posh lifestyle for a time. This fruitful interlude waned in 1786 and the cessation of keyboard activity occasioned a return to opera composing for Mozart.
THE MUSIC – Mozart wrote 12 of his 27 piano concertos between 1784-1786. It was stretch of exceptional compositional fertility and it issued some of the most celebrated Classical exemplars of the form. The pace of creating and performing up to 4 new concertos per year meant that he was working quickly but for Mozart, fast processes rarely yielded underdeveloped results. To the contrary, Mozart had always been a rapid producer, as if nothing more was required of him than to simply transcribe the fully formed masterpieces that seemed to occupy his brain in infinite supply. The 24th concerto was completed three weeks after the 23rd and was the work he finished just prior to The Marriage of Figaro. The coming resumption of Mozart’s focus on opera is implicit in the drama of the C Minor concerto. While not as emotionally explicit as the other minor key concerto from the Vienna dozen (K. 466), No. 24 casts the soloist as a stage character with music often independent of the orchestral statements. The contrasts resolve themselves over the course of the whole, but the pathos of the opening is brought full circle when, despite a few hints at a possible happy (major key) ending, Mozart draws the curtain in grim adherence to the original mood. Beethoven was said to have admitted a touch of envy when he heard it. Indeed, many still view No. 24 as Mozart’s grandest essay into the field of concerto composition.
THE WORLD – The city of Reykjavik was founded in 1786, the same year St. George Island was discovered in the Bering Sea. Also in 1786, Mont Blanc was climbed for the first time and American frontiersman Davy Crockett was born.
THE CONNECTION – Concerto No. 24 has not been performed on a Utah Symphony Masterworks program since 2001. Andreas Delfs conducted and Andreas Haefliger was soloist.
Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene, op 34
by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: flute/piccolo, oboes, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, timpani, xylophone, glockenspiel, snare drum, tambourine, cymbals, triangle, tam-tam, bass drum, piano, strings
Duration: 9 minutes.
THE COMPOSER – ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) – In 1930, Schoenberg was midway through his third and last stint in Berlin. His position at the Akademie der Künste gave him a great deal of control over his teaching life, including a flexible schedule that allowed for an increase in his output as a composer. Many important works, large and small, date from this time, including Moses und Aron, the Third Quartet and the Variations for Orchestra.
THE MUSIC – Notable among these scores was an interesting commission opportunity in 1929, interesting not only because of its obvious uniqueness but also because of Schoenberg’s particular bent as an artist. The commissioner was the Heinrichshofen Verlag (publishing house). Heinrichshofen specialized in silent film music and the base concept of such an endeavor ran counter to Schoenberg’s view of art as an esoteric experience that was not fit for mass consumption (“If it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, is in not art”). He was not, then or ever, inclined to see his music bound by the formal framework of another artist’s vision. For Schoenberg, creative freedom was sacrosanct and his response to the commission was uncompromising. The title is misleading since the music is certainly not an “accompaniment” and the “cinematographic scene” it references did not actually exist. Schoenberg built his brief symphonic poem on the conceptual emotions contained in the work’s subtitle, “threatening danger, fear, catastrophe.” Whatever “scene” is implied by the piece is resultant and fully imaginary, not the assumed opposite. Schoenberg’s resolution to the intellectual conflict of his assignment makes it intriguing to consider the fact that when he left Europe a few years later for America, he settled eventually (and permanently) in Los Angeles. He was approached one more time by the film industry to score The Good Earth (1937) but in Hollywood, his rigid standards met with far greater resistance.
THE WORLD – The Vietnamese Communist Party was founded in 1930, as was the Communist Party of Panama. 1930 was also the year of the first FIFA World Cup and the crowning of Haile Selassie as King of Ethiopia.
THE CONNECTION – Like all of the Schoenberg works during this two-week festival, op. 34 is enjoying its Utah Symphony premiere on these concerts.
by Jeff counts
Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, strings
Duration: 32 minutes in three movements.
THE COMPOSER – PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) – As successful as he already was as a composer in late 1874, Tchaikovsky (prone to insecurity even in the best of times) was very anxious to receive the approval of eminent pianist Nicholai Rubenstein on his new concerto. Tchaikovsky presented it to Rubenstein privately on Christmas Eve and the story of the pianist’s immediate and rather unfriendly disapproval has become legendary, thanks to the composer’s willingness to tell the tale.
THE MUSIC – “Clumsy…badly written…vulgar…with only two or three pages worth preserving.” These were among the uncharitable assessments Nikolai Rubenstein offered upon hearing the 1st Piano Concerto. To his credit, Tchaikovsky weathered the storm of critique with dignity and, according to his letters, he refused to rewrite the piece according to Rubenstein’s demands by stating, “I shall not alter a single note.” With the dream of a Rubenstein performance now dashed, Tchaikovsky rededicated the concerto to Hans van Bülow, who played the 1875 premiered in Boston. The reaction of the audience was overwhelmingly positive and, in that bygone 18th and 19th century ovation tradition, they demanded an encore of the entire last movement on the spot. Successful European premieres were soon to follow and it wasn’t long before the leading soloists of the day (including, yes, one Nikolai Rubenstein!) began adding it to their regular repertoire. An overstatement of the 1st Concerto’s current popularity would be difficult to accomplish. Other than those initial harsh comments on Christmas Eve of 1874, this music has known nothing other than the most rabid possible praise and loyalty. The stunning introduction alone, which contains one of Tchaikovsky’s most enduring tunes (a tune that strangely never returns once the concerto proper has commenced), is worthy of enshrinement. Rubenstein’s early objections likely centered on the historical shift he was witnessing. He knew the concerto form, then among the last bastions of Classical-era tradition, would never be the same.
THE WORLD – Other important world premieres occurred in 1875. Among them were The Moldau by Smetana and Carmen by Bizet. BYU was established in 1875 (first as the Brigham Young Academy) and Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel.
THE CONNECTION – Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto is programmed regularly by the Utah Symphony. The most recent Masterworks performance was in 2012. Andrey Boreyko conducted and Conrad Tao was soloist.
We're to invite you to another “Classically Charged” season at the Utah Symphony. Something special is happening here in Salt Lake, and it’s catching the attention of the world. Join us as a subscriber and you’ll hear many of the world’s greatest artists, and hear the entire sweep of history’s orchestral music. Our season includes masterpieces by Tchaikovsky, Nielsen, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Britten, Shostakovich, and more!
The Entertainment Series inclues Tony-winning singer Brian Stokes Mitchell, trumpeter Byron Stripling, fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster and an “enchanted evening” featuring Broadway stars at A Rogers and Hammerstein Celebration. Finally, you’ll finish things off with a high-energy performance of the Music of the Baby Boomers, which features songs of the Beach Boys, Frankie Valli, the Beatles, and more.
When you subscribe to the Utah Symphony you’ll save up to 30% off single ticket prices. Also, you’ll enjoy priority seating, personalized service, free and flexible ticket exchanges, and discounts on additional tickets to the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera.
by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: 3 flutes (3rd doubles piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, strings
Duration: 44 minutes in three movements.
THE COMPOSER – PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) – Like most of the snapshot moments of Tchaikovsky’s life (and so many other composers it seems), the year 1888 could be accurately remembered either for its professional successes or its personal setbacks. He was awarded a lifetime pension that year by Alexander III and was enjoying recognition across the musical map, but he was also reeling from what he considered his “final illness” and had drafted his will two years earlier.
THE MUSIC – Though eleven years separate the 4th and 5th Symphonies, Tchaikovsky was by no means idle in his orchestral pursuits as a composer. He wrote a few thrilling suites (of which two could have been rightly called a symphony) and the unnumbered Manfred Symphony. As his official return to the form, the 5th Symphony was not as explicitly “programmatic” as the 4th, though many have tried to pin similar associations to it. The impulse was not wholly without reason or possible evidence. Tchaikovsky’s own notes from the period speak of a “complete resignation before fate” and “the predestination of Providence.” He also wrote of “reproaches against XXX” and asked whether or not he should “throw [himself] into the embraces of faith?” These are tantalizing fragments of thought and they almost match the mood of the symphony’s opening movement. The mention of “fate,” whether in the Beethovian sense or something much more personal, surely needs no introduction as a lifelong obsession of Tchaikovsky’s. But what in the world was “XXX?” Tchaikovsky’s diaries contain the frequent use of codes like “X” and “Z” but the hidden subjects (homosexuality? gambling addiction? something else?) represented by these designations have never left the realm of theory. In the end, the music does not believably match the suppositions. There is far too much triumph to see it as a journey past Tchaikovsky’s many personal demons, to which he was not done bowing in 1888.
THE WORLD – Wilhelm II was crowned German Emperor in 1888, the same year that Jack the Ripper was terrorizing London. Also in 1888, Louisa May Alcott died of a stroke and Vincent Van Gogh famously removed a portion of his ear.
THE CONNECTION – Tchaikovsky 5 was last performed by the Utah Symphony on the Masterworks Series in 2009. Andrew Grams conducted.
by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: unaccompanied chorus
THE COMPOSER – ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) – Schoenberg moved to America in 1933 to escape the escalating anti-Semitism in Europe. After initially settling in the northeast, he became quite ill and realized that a warmer climate would be necessary if he wanted to rid himself of his chronic complaints. Once Schoenberg arrived in Los Angeles in 1934, he never left, though America (and California in particular) would continue to seem quite foreign to him.
THE MUSIC – Recently uncovered in 2004 was Schoenberg’s 1935 attempt at an American folk song arrangement. It was taken on at the suggestion of his publisher Carl Engel (G. Schirmer) after Engel sent him a collection entitled Songs of the Hill-folk: Twelve Ballads from Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina by John Jacob Niles. Number 10 in the set was the love dialogue My Horses Ain’t Hungry. Biographer Sabine Feisst proposed that Schoenberg was likely drawn to the conversational, back-and-forth quality of Horses and her theory makes perfect sense given Schoenberg’s contemporaneous focus on the libretto for Moses und Aron. The original Horses text tells of Johnny who, feeling too poor to be worthy of Polly, tries to leave her in peace. But Polly doesn’t care what her parents think and, in the end, she goes away with Johnny to a new life. Schoenberg never completed the piece (it was finished by Allen Anderson) and though it is hard to know the reasons for its abandonment, it is fascinating to recall the context of its place. Schoenberg, in 1935, was in the odd position of defending his more traditional recent musical choices when critic Olin Downes commented that Schoenberg’s sporadic return to a “melodic manner” and “recognizable keys” was an example of “what Hollywood had done to [him].” Schoenberg tactfully objected but admitted an ongoing affinity for old forms that occasionally led him down a few (gasp!) traditional roads.
THE WORLD – Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935. That same year, the Nuremburg Laws went into effect in Germany, T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) died in England and the Vuelta a España bike race was held for the first time.
THE CONNECTION – Along with Friede auf Erden, these are the Utah Symphony Chorus’ premiere performances of My Horses Ain’t Hungry.
by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, strings, chorus.
Duration: 8 minutes.
THE COMPOSER – ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) – Schoenberg could not have asked for a better public champion in the first decade of the 20th century than Gustav Mahler. While premieres of new works by Schoenberg during the period were typically followed by strongly negative opinions, Mahler never wavered in his outspoken support of the younger man’s career. Mahler did acknowledge some confusion over some of Schoenberg’s musical innovations but he remained an ally until his death.
THE MUSIC – Schoenberg wrote Friede auf Erden in 1907, at a moment in his life when his highly stylized late-Romanticism was agitating toward transformation into a more rigidly structured, atonal Expressionism. The piece did not receive its premiere until 1911 and though he had indicated in the earliest sketches that the music was meant to be performed a capella, Schoenberg was obliged to create an orchestral accompaniment for the concert to support the incredibly challenging vocal writing. The text for Peace on Earth was taken from an 1886 poem by the Swiss writer Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. The first verse is a depiction of the Nativity while the second tells of bloodshed and imploring angels. The third and fourth verses gradually deliver the peace of the title but the comfort supplied by this beautiful conclusion in the music has an air of caution to it. Schoenberg eventually became disillusioned on the concept of universal harmony among men and his choral evocation, one of the last pieces of his early “tonal” period, would later elicit a somber remembrance from the composer. He wrote in 1923 that Friede auf Erden was merely an “illusion,” one created when he still believed such a unity was possible. With one World War just ended and another little more than a decade away, it is no surprise that he lost the faith of that more innocent time. He was surely not alone.
THE WORLD – The 1907 elections of the Finnish Parliament were the first in the world to allow women candidates. Also that year, the RMS Lusitania made its maiden voyage, peasants staged a revolt in Romania and New Zealand became a British Dominion.
THE CONNECTION – These concerts represent the Utah Symphony premiere of Friede auf Erden.
by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: 3 flutes (3rd doubles piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, tam-tam, strings
Duration: 46 minutes in three movements.
THE COMPOSER – PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) – Tchaikovsky’s last years were colored by the fact that he knew them as such and his earlier preoccupation with fate had to make room for a new one – mortality. This mindset did not create the maudlin atmosphere one might have expected and much of Tchaikovsky’s late work benefited from his uncharacteristically good spirits. It was time of legacy, not lethargy and he was as sharp compositionally as he had ever been.
THE MUSIC – First, a word about the subtitle. “Pathétique” in its Russian form does not mean what it does in English. Hardly “pathetic” or “pitiable,” in this context it was intended to conjure an “enthusiastic,” “passionate” and “emotional” experience. The 4th Symphony had a specific program attached to it while the 5th did not (an admittedly nebulous fact that has not kept biographers over the years from attempting to assign one). The 6th Symphony most certainly did have a program, but unlike the 4th, it was not at all specific. The fact that Tchaikovsky originally called it his “Program Symphony” did not mean that he planned to share the story with the world. He envisioned it from the start as an enigma and when considering the questions of future curious listeners he wrote, “let them guess.” Other than a mention that the symphony was “saturated with subjective feeling,” the specifics of the program are with him still. The structure of the “Pathétique” is unique and the juxtaposition of the third and last movements is particularly daring, even for today. The third movement is a march that builds to an incredible level of excitement and is so effective in its rousing climax that audiences, nearly without exception, still applaud luxuriously at the end of it. The ensuing finale is a patient funereal dream and fittingly, given Tchaikovsky’s matter-of-fact view of death and the beyond, it simply disappears into itself without comment or conclusion.
THE WORLD – Arthur Conan Doyle published The Final Problem in 1893, the story that ends with the death of Sherlock Holmes. Also that year, New Zealand became the world’s first self-governing nation to give women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
THE CONNECTION – Tchaikovsky 6 has only been programmed three times by the Utah Symphony since 2000. The most recent concerts were in 2009 under Emmanuel Villaume.
Utah Symphony’s Healthcare Night celebrates the partnership of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (USUO) with Utah’s healthcare community, and raises funds to provide two great opportunities:
- On January 31, 2014 Utah Symphony’s Healthcare Night will provide first-year students at the University of Utah School of Medicine with the opportunity to attend a complimentary reception and live Utah Symphony performance.
- Additional funds will be allocated to USUO’s Education and Community Outreach Programs, which provide students across the state with a unique opportunity to learn about and experience opera and symphony performances. With a mission statement to “invite people of all ages to explore and share the emotion and expressiveness of symphony and opera”, the programs reach a wide variety of audiences. Especially impressive are the education programs; USUO performs for over 165,000 students and 7,000 teachers each year and reaches every school in the state on a three to five year rotation.
The Event. Sponsors of Utah Symphony’s Healthcare Night are invited to attend a performance of the Utah Symphony on January 31, 2014 and a post-concert reception to celebrate the success of our event with other sponsors and first year students from the School of Medicine.
Contribute. Your contribution makes the attendance of the medical students possible and supports the wonderful education programs of USUO. Sponsorship information. Donate online or contact Rebecca Buxton, Annual Giving Manager at 801.869.9039 or email@example.com for further information.
J.R. Baringer, M.D.
A.W. Middleton, M.D.
Edward Ashwood, M.D.
John Foley, M.D.
Bradford Hare, M.D., Ph.D.
Elizabeth Jensen, M.D.
Randy Jensen, M.D.
Richard Middleton, M.D.
Louis A. Moench, M.D.
Chase Peterson, M.D.
Michael Stevens, M.D.
Albert Ungricht, M.D.