Symphony North of Houston is delighted to invite you to our 2023 Christmas concert. We will perform on Sunday, December 3, 2023, at 4:00 PM. Our concert venue is Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas. Admission to our concerts is by donation. At the performance, we will be accepting donations. You may also donate online.
This concert will be conducted by our principal conductor, Dr. Karl Blench. The repertoire features Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Christmas Overture, Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in Eb Major with Symphony North soloist, Todd Olges, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.
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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an English composer and conductor, who is known by as a “musical genius”. Born in London’s central district, Holborn, in 1875 to an English mother and a father originally from Sierra Leone, Africia. Coleridge-Taylor was 37 when he died of pneumonia. A tribute from his close friend, the poet Alfred Noyes, includes:
Too young to die: his great simplicity, his happy courage in an alien world, his gentleness, made all that knew him love him.Alfred Noyes
Coleridge-Taylor’s greatest success was his cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, which was performed by choral groups in England during Coleridge-Taylor’s lifetime and in the decades after his death. He shortly followed Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast with two other cantatas about Hiawatha, The Death of Minnehaha, and Hiawatha’s Departure.
In 1904, on his first tour to the United States, Coleridge-Taylor was received by at the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt. Coleridge-Taylor sought to draw from traditional African music and meld it into a classical genre, which he compared Johannes Brahms to have done with Hungarian music and Antonín Dvořák with Bohemian music.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Christmas Overture features all the old favorite carols. Among the more notable Christmas carol themes in the Overture are God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
The overture is arranged by Sydney Baynes, who is best known for Destiny Waltz, some years after Coleridge-
Taylor’s tragically early death. The piece is thought to be derived from The Forest of Wild Thyme op.74.
Franz Joseph Haydn
For someone who was one of the most prolific composers of the 18th and 19th centuries, Haydn wrote surprisingly few works to feature a soloist with an orchestra. With 108 symphonies, 68 string quartets, and 47 piano sonatas, the catalog of his complete works lists a scant 17 concertos – most of which are lost. Many apparently were written for just a single performance and then set aside, with no eye towards the future.
Haydn’s lack of concertos was not due to his inability to compose them, but rather his own personal taste and character. Unlike Mozart, he was not a showman. Although many of his works are actually harder to play than they sound, most are not ornate. Such is the case for his trumpet concerto, which was especially challenging for the trumpets during that time.
Trumpet Concerto in Eb
The keyed trumpet, invented about 1793, found a champion in the Viennese virtuoso Anton Weidinger (1766 – 1852). In 1796 Weidinger requested his good friend Haydn to write a trumpet concerto which would be best suited for the keyed trumpet. Haydn met the idea with enthusiasm and produced the final work in just a matter of months.
The opening movement, in particular, is showy and brilliant. The slow movement is richly lyrical, with the same melodic luxury one hears in The Creation that Haydn began the same year he wrote the concerto. The jubilant finale suggests that Haydn had not lost the idea of how to bring down the curtain in fine style for a solo work.
Todd Olges, Symphony North’s principal trumpet will perform Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with Symphony North at this concert.
Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7
Beethoven’s Seventh and Eighth are contrasting works created basically side-by-side in 1811-1812. They also share a connection with Johann Nepomuk Maelzel (1772-1838), who was a musician, engineer, and an entrepreneurial salesman.
Maelzel was named “court mechanician” in Vienna in 1808, and one of his principal product lines was ear trumpets, which Beethoven tested, the Panharmonicon, a mechanical chamber orchestra, and a mechanical trumpeter. In addition, he purchased a mechanical chess player, which he used for his line-up of traveling attractions.
Maelzel persuaded Beethoven with a much-needed loan to write a piece for the Panharmonicon celebrating Wellington’s victory at the battle of Vitoria, which they would take to London, where Wellington was a national
hero. To raise money for this tour, they would give concerts in Vienna featuring the new piece performed in Beethoven’s version for live orchestra.
These fundraising concerts included the premiere of the Seventh Symphony, which he had completed over a year earlier. The first of these concerts was also a charity benefit for soldiers wounded at the recent battle of Hanau; a worthy patriotic cause, but also clever cross-promotion.
The Symphony begins with a long and profound introduction, before kicking into kinetically energized music, which characterizes the entire work and has generated the many allusions to dance that dominate commentaries on it. The introduction predicts the harmonic journeys coming in the rest of the Symphony just as the main body of the movement foretells its rhythmic obsessions, and the startling coda walks the wild side.
The following Allegretto has a solemnly welling beauty intensified by counterpoint. It had to be encored at the premiere and was so popular in the 19th century that it often was substituted into other Beethoven symphonies.
The Scherzo is a blazingly fast one, with a much slower Trio section. Beethoven reverses some of the dynamic surprises for the repeated sections and plays additional jokes with the scoring. Also very fast, the finale picks up the wildness initiated in the first movement and spins it into a breathless but utterly joyful mania, ending with a coda that mirrors the aggressive beast that closes the first movement.