Current Season

Beyond Beethoven

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, Spohr was considered Beethoven’s heir. Their opinion might have surprised Beethoven himself, who was sharply…

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Celebrating Beethoven

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 the process of being forgotten unfairly. We certainly need no reminding about Beethoven. One can…

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A Miraculous Family

There are probably enough members of tonight’s audience who will readily recognize—with a smile–the name P.D.Q. Bach—whose music does not appear on the program. P.D.Q.’s creator, the American composer Peter Schickele (whose aptitude for musical jokes was unparalleled) described him as “the last and unquestionably the least of the great Johann Sebastian Bach’s many children.” Schickele’s invention of a son whose dates were “(1807-1742)?” was a resounding success for decades,…

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The Sons of Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1785–1750) wrote more than a thousand musical works, and had twenty children. Four of his six sons became respected composers in their own right. Though they had the same father, the two eldest—Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–1784) and Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714–1788) had a different mother, Maria Barbara (1684–1720), than the two younger sons—Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732–1795) and Johann Christian (1735–1782), who were born to Anna Magdalena (1701–1760). Indeed,…

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The Kingdom

Edward Elgar Born June 2, 1857, Broadheath, United Kingdom Died February 23, 1934, Worcester, United Kingdom The Kingdom, Op. 51 Composed in 1906 Premiered on October 3, 1906 in Birmingham, England at Birmingham Music Festival conducted by Elgar with soloists Agnes Nicholls, Muriel Foster, John Coates and William Higley Performance Time: Approximately 95 minutes Due to the popularity of Elgar’s first major oratorio, The Dream of Gerontius, the directors of…

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Elgar’s The Kingdom

During the Bard Music Festival in 2007, which had Edward Elgar as its focus, the American Symphony Orchestra planned to present in the New York area the composer’s three great oratorios. The festival, at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, closed with a performance of The Dream of Gerontius. The title role was brilliantly sung by Vinson Cole. The performance took on a special…

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