Past Performances

Friends and Colleagues: Bernstein, Brandeis, and the 1950s

Tonight’s concert gives voice to a web of interconnections. All five composers on the program knew one another and were, at one time or another, friends. The most active and close period of their engagement took place relatively early in Leonard Bernstein’s meteoric career—between his college days and 1957, the year West Side Story opened. Four of them (Wernick is the exception) studied at Harvard with Walter Piston, three as…

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Leonard Bernstein, Overture to Candide

Born August 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Massachusetts Died October 14, 1990, in New York City Composed in 1956 Concert premiere on January 26, 1957 at Carnegie Hall by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Bernstein Performance Time: Approximately 4 minutes Despite its distinguished roster of collaborators, including Lillian Hellman and Richard Wilbur, among others, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide has always posed a conundrum for those seeking to produce it. Candide, based on…

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Arthur Berger, Ideas of Order

Born May 15, 1912, in New York City Died October 7, 2003, in Boston, Massachusetts Composed in 1952, on commission from Dimitri Mitropoulos Premiered on April 11, 1953 at Carnegie Hall by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Mitropoulos Performance Time: Approximately 11 minutes Reviewing a concert of Arthur Berger’s music in 1973, New York Times critic Donal Henahan characterized it as a “time capsule report” on the “postwar American…

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Harold Shapero, Symphony for Classical Orchestra

Born April 29, 1920, in Lynn, Massachusetts Died May 17, 2013, in Cambridge, Massachusetts Composed in 1947 in Boston on commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation Premiered on January 30, 1948 in Boston by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein Performance Time: Approximately 45 minutes Harold Shapero was a precocious composer who enjoyed enormous success throughout his twenties. He matriculated at Harvard where his principal teacher was Walter Piston….

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Richard Wernick, . . . and a time for peace

Born January 16, 1934, in Boston Composed in 1995 in Boston Premiered on June 18, 1995 by the Orchestra Filarmonica Della Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti with mezzo-soprano Freda Herseth Performance Time: Approximately 20 minutes The distinguished American composer Richard Wernick was born in Boston and began piano lessons at the age of eleven. He studied at Brandeis University with Irving Fine, Harold Shapero, and Arthur Berger. In the summers…

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Irving Fine, Symphony (1962)

Born December 3, 1914, in Boston Died August 23, 1962, in Boston Composed in 1962 in Boston on commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra Premiered on March 23, 1962 in Boston by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch Performance Time: Approximately 22 minutes Irving Fine was born, educated, taught, and died in Boston. His childhood was miserable on a Mahlerian scale: his parents were an ill-matched and quarrelsome…

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Opera and Politics: Krenek and Strauss

by Leon Botstein We routinely invoke history as a means to understand the present. This is at one and the same time a noble and illusory enterprise. History is written with some notion of the present moment in mind, however submerged. Therefore, despite all of our disciplined efforts to render a construction of the past truthfully and objectively, the concerns of the present give an inevitably selective shape to a…

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Ernst Krenek, Der Diktator and Richard Strauss, Friedenstag

by Bryan Gilliam Ernst Krenek Born August 23, 1900, in Vienna Died December 23, 1991, in Palm Springs, CA Der Diktator Composed in 1926, in Austria Premiered on May 6, 1928, at the Staatstheater in Wiesbaden, Germany by the State Opera conducted by Joseph Rosenstock Performance Time: Approximately 30 minutes Instruments for this performance: 2 flutes, 2 piccolos, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 1 French horn, 1 trumpet, 1…

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A Mass of Life

by Leon Botstein The life and work of Frederick Delius defy both characterization and comparison. His music is distinctive in the sense that its individuality is unmistakable and its style reveals influences only obliquely. Delius was born a British subject, and we have become used to associating him with an “English” sensibility, but Delius suggests little of what sounds English in the music of Elgar, for example. In fact there…

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Frederick Delius, A Mass of Life

by Byron Adams Born January 29, 1862, in Bradford, England Died June 10, 1934, in Grez-sur-Loing, France Composed in 1904–05 Part II premiered on June 4, 1908, in Munich by the Hofkapelle München and the Munich Choral Society conducted by Ludwig Hess Complete work premiered on June 7, 1909, in London at the Queen’s Hall by Beecham Orchestra and the North Staffordshire District Choral Society conducted by Thomas Beecham Performance…

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