Current Season

Dvorak’s Requiem

As distinguished scholar Michael Beckerman—in his very fine notes to this performance—observes, there was no “specific reason” on Antonín Dvořák’s part for composing his Requiem. What Beckerman was referring to was some personal or perhaps public reason to honor the dead with a major monumental choral and orchestral work. The reason Dvořák wrote the work was a commission from the Birmingham Festival in England. Although 19th-century England was often derided…

READ MORE

Dvořák’s Requiem

Premiere: October 9, 1891 in Birmingham, England at the Birmingham Music Festival conducted by Antonín Dvořák with soloists Anna Williams, Hilda Wilson, Iver McKay, Watkin Mills, and the Birmingham Festival Chorus Instruments for this performance: 2 flutes, 1 piccolo, 2 oboes, 1 English horn, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon, 4 French horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, timpani, percussion (tam-tam, bells), 1 harp, organ, 18…

READ MORE

Judas Maccabaeus

Seven years after Handel’s death, one of his Coronation Anthems—possibly Zadok the Priest—was performed by a massed chorus and orchestra at the rededication of the Grand Synagogue on Duke’s Place in London on August 29, 1766. The London Chronicle reported that this event was presided over by “the Chief and other eminent Rabbis belonging to the Portuguese Jewish nation” and prayers in English were offered for the Royal Family. One…

READ MORE

Handel’s Judas Maccabeus in Context

When tonight’s performance of one of G. F. Handel’s more famous oratorios was scheduled a year ago, the intent of the ASO was to offer a friendly and reassuring program fit for the season, but one that was not entirely conventional. Handel’s Judas Maccabeus is hardly obscure though it is not the Messiah in terms of the frequency of performances. We, as citizens and residents of the greater New York…

READ MORE

American Music of the Roaring 20s

The period around World War I, from about 1910 to the late 1920s, was arguably the most consequential one for Western music, in general, and for the American musical scene, in particular. The belief that the dominant Romantic tradition had reached an irreversible crisis point was widely shared among many young composers. In what became the most turbulent time in music history – stylistically and aesthetically – this quest for…

READ MORE

American Expressions

Welcome to our season-opening concert, one that celebrates an extremely creative moment in the history of American music. The composers on this program were selected on account of their originality and their commitment to writing music that properly mirrored the American experience. Classical and concert music in America, until the first decade of the twentieth century, was largely dominated by European models, particularly German, Russian, and French. A younger generation…

READ MORE