Although Nikolai Miaskovsky is among the most unknown and rarely performed composers today, he was regarded as leading a Russian symphonist during his lifetime. After an early education in the military, following the family tradition, Miaskovsky was accepted to the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1906 at the age of 25, making him the oldest in…

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A highly gifted pianist and composer, Taneyev was a protégé and champion of Tchaikovsky’s, serving as a soloist in early performances of the older composer’s piano concertos. Taneyev was one of Russia’s most influential music theorists, teaching for nearly three decades at the Moscow Conservatory where his students included Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, and Glière; Stravinsky later…

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American Harmonies: The Music of Walter Piston By Leon Botstein Written for the concert American Harmonies: The Music of Walter Piston, performed on March 29, 2011 at Carnegie Hall. The contrast between Walter Piston’s career and his posthumous reputation and place in the repertory exposes the ironies and shortcomings in the way the history of…

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Nowadays unjustly neglected, Neoclassical composer Walter Piston is often praised for his individuality and disciplined handling of material, which is highly evident in Violin Concerto No. 1.  In his youth, Piston taught himself how to play violin and piano, and upon enlisting in the Navy band at the start of WWI—​prior to his studies at Harvard—he taught himself to play saxophone.…

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In this unjustly neglected late opera by Richard Strauss, the powerful god Jupiter and King Midas compete for the love of the beautiful Danae. The story of The Love of Danae (Die Liebe der Danae) is a Mozartean blend of comedy, romance, and drama on the themes of transformation and the acceptance of life’s changes,…

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Roger Sessions, a composer with a profound impact on the American musical scene post-World War II, completed his first symphony in 1927, at the age of thirty. This early three-movement work is characteristic of the prevalent neoclassical style of the 1920s, with a central lyrical, slow movement encapsulated by two outer movements in sonata-allegro form.…

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SummerScape’s production of Anton Rubinstein’s operatic masterpiece Demon first premiered to great acclaim in 1871. Although performed frequently in Russia, the work remains something of a rarity in the West today. Conducted by Leon Botstein and directed by the renowned American director Thaddeus Strassberge. Based on the renowned fantasy poem by Mikhail Lermontov, Demon boasts…

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Louis Spohr Born April 5, 1784, Brunswick, Germany Died October 22, 1859, Kassel, Germany   Symphony No. 6, “Historical Symphony” Composed in 1839 Performance Time: Approximately 26 minutes   After Beethoven’s death in 1827, European critics and audiences generally agreed that Louis (née Ludwig) Spohr was the greatest German composer. Until the rise of Mendelssohn,…

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Our habit of marking anniversaries in our culture of concert programming has to inspire some ambivalence. Mathematical symmetries in chronology are superstitions. If we want to exploit them to attract the attention of the audience, we ought to celebrate composers who need remembering, those whom we have forgotten but should not have, or those in…

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AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA GOES BEYOND BEETHOVEN AT CARNEGIE HALL FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2020 WITH GUEST PIANIST LUCAS DEBARGUE IN MAINSTAGE DEBUT New York, NY January 6, 2020 — American Symphony Orchestra will pay tribute to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth with a concert that investigates how his music inspired others on Friday January 31,…

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