Symphony North of Houston is delighted to invite you to our fifth concert of the 2022-2023 season of our 47th year. We will perform on Sunday, May 14, 2023, at 4:00 PM, and 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, but you may also donate online.
This concert will be conducted by guest conductor, Darla McBryde. Our repertoire includes: 1st Place Young Artist Competition Winner, Hannah Jeong, playing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor, op 104, 1st Movement; 2nd Place Young Artist Competition Winner, Brigham Smith, playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, 1st Movement; Paul Dukas’ Fanfare Pour Preceder “La Peri”; Jacques Offenbach’s Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld; Alexander Glazunov’s Summer from The Seasons; and Georges Bizet’s Carmen Suite 1.
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Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) was a Hungarian composer and pianist, he was one of the most influential musicians of the 19th century and was the greatest pianist of his time. He wrote numerous music compositions for the piano which were more difficult to play than previous piano pieces. This difficulty paved the way for piano playing technique and standards for the future. He introduced new ideas which at the time sounded very modern. He assisted contemporary composers by conducting their works and performing their orchestral pieces.
Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was composed and revised again and again over a 25-year timespan. While he could quickly turn out simplistic piano solos, he tended to distress over concertos. A single theme dominates the entire concerto. Liszt later attached to this melody the words: “None of you understand this, ha-ha!” Liszt begins the first movement with a booming phrase in the strings and then with a response from the winds (“haha!”). From there the piano enters with impressive octave passages which equally turn into a majestic cadenza.
Symphony North’s Second Place Young Artist Competition Winner, Brigham Smith, will perform the first movement of this concerto with Symphony North on May 14th.
Antonín Lepold Dvořák
Antonín Lepold Dvořák (1841-1904) is a clear representative of the Romantic era of classical music. He was born about 45 miles north of Prague in a small village on the banks of the river Vltava, which is the longest river in the Czech Republic. At 11 he left school to become an apprentice butcher, but most of time he took music lessons, learning the organ, viola, piano, and music composition. In 1857, he enrolled in the Prague Organ School where he received the training as a church musician and frequented as many orchestral concerts as time would allow. His favorite contemporary composers were Wagner and Schumann.
Graduating in 1859, Dvořák was selected as the principal violinist for the Provisional Theater orchestra. By 1871 he gave up that position to compose full time, and within three years he presented at least 15 works for the Austrian National contest. One of the works he submitted was his Third Symphony for which he received a cash prize and the admiration of Brahms, who was one of the judges. This connection with Brahms then led to the commissioning of Slavonic Dances. From there Dvořák continued to pump out such major works as his Seventh and Eight Symphony.
In 1891, he then was offered the position as the Directorship of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, spending his summers in Spillville, Iowa. This was the setting from where he composed his most famous work Symphony No. 9, which bears the subtitle New World Symphony.
Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104, premiered in London on March 19, 1896, and since has been one of the most frequently performed cello concerti. This is mainly due to the richness of its orchestral music and for the lyrical writing for the cello. The 1st movement is in a fast tempo starting with a broad orchestral statement. The soloist enters after the initial themes are introduced. At this point, the soloist reiterates those themes more elaborately.
Symphony North’s First Place Young Artist Competition Winner, Hannah Jeong, will be performing the first movement of this concerto with Symphony North on May 14th.
Paul Abraham Dukas
Paul Abraham Dukas (1865 – 1935) was a French composer, critic, scholar and teacher. His best-known work is the orchestral piece The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Other works include the opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue, his Symphony in C, and a ballet, La Péri. His compositions were mainly influenced by composers such as Beethoven, Berlioz, Franck, and Debussy.
Dukas also worked as a music critic, providing reviews to a number of French journals. In his later life he was appointed professor of composition at the Conservatoire de Paris and the École Normale de Musique. Some of his more notable pupils included Maurice Duruflé, Olivier Messiaen, Walter Piston, Manuel Ponce, Joaquín Rodrigo and Xian Xinghai.
La Peri was written in 1912 as a symphonic poem for dance. It begins with the Fanfare, which has no thematic link with the remainder of the work. In essence, the Fanfare serves as a “call-to-order.”
Jacques Offenbach (June 1819 – 1880) was a German-born French composer, cellist and promoter of the Romantic period. He composed almost 100 operettas of the 1850s to the 1870s. He influenced notable composers such as Johann Strauss Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.
Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld is a satirical treatment of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus. It premiered on October 21, 1858, at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens in Paris. Cancan is the best know music from the opera which appears in the overture and the final scene. It was originally structured in two acts, but Offenbach expanded it to four acts later on. It should be noted that at the time of the operetta’s Parisian premiere, there was only a brief prelude, which was the then preference of French operas. Once this work achieved international fame, a more substantial overture was provided. This expansion made extensive use of Cancan. The overture quickly gained popularity, and it remains a favorite of pops concerts.
Alexander Glazunov (1865 – 1936) was a Russian composer, music teacher, and conductor of the late Russian Romantic period. From 1905 and 1928, he was director of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. He was also influential in the reorganization of the institute into the Petrograd Conservatory, then the Leningrad Conservatory. The most notable student during his directorship was Dmitri Shostakovich.
Glazunov tended more towards Borodin’s epic grandeur while achieving a number of other influences. These included Rimsky-Korsakov’s, Tchaikovsky’s, and Taneyev’s skills. Prokofiev and Shostakovich considered his music old-fashioned, but at the same time agreed that he remained a composer with a stellar reputation.
In 1900, the Imperial Ballet introduced a new Glazunov ballet, The Seasons was an instantaneous hit and was the last major ballet score in the Tchaikovsky tradition. The Seasons became his best-known concert-hall piece.
Georges Bizet (1838 – 1875) was a French composer of the Romantic era. Even though he suffered an early death, he was best known for his operas. As a pianist, he was a close equal to Franz Liszt. He had a number of works that were either not finished or not performed, but then there was Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in opera repertoire.
Carmen is clearly one of the greatest operas of the 19th century ranks in high honor of all works in the opera genre. Even though the complained about the level of difficulty and the singers complained that the orchestra was too loud, the opera was huge success.
Bizet lived only one year longer than Mozart, but Mozart left behind many more masterful works. Many have wondered what other masterpieces would Bizet have composed had he lived another 50 years.