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February 15-16, 2013
David Robertson, conductor Orli Shaham, piano
COPLAND Our Town (1940)
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” (1949, rev. 1965)
(1918-1990) Part I The Prologue— The Seven Ages— The Seven Stages Part II The Dirge— The Masque— The Epilogue Orli Shaham, piano
JOHN ADAMS City Noir (2009)
(b. 1947) The City and Its Double— The Song Is for You Boulevard Night Timothy McAllister, alto saxophone
David Robertson is the Beofor Music Director and Conductor. Orli Shaham is the Carolyn and Jay Henges Guest Artist. The concert of Friday, February 15, is underwritten in part by a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Gordon Philpott. The concert of Saturday, February 16, is underwritten in part by a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Eberlein. These concerts are presented by The Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation. These concerts receive support from Steinway Piano Gallery. Pre-Concert Conversations are presented by Washington University Physicians. These concerts are part of the Wells Fargo Advisors Series. Large print program notes are available through the generosity of Mosby Building Arts and are located at the Customer Service table in the foyer.
FROM THE STAGE
Mike Walk, Acting Associate Principal Trumpet: “This program of American music is a compelling grouping. Copland’s Our Town is a lovely work, evoking the peace of small town life of decades past. Grouping it with works of modern city life is a great stroke. I’m particularly looking forward to playing Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 with Orli Shaham, who is always such a brilliant collaborator with us.” Tim Myers, Principal Trombone: “The St. Louis premiere of John Adams’s City Noir will be a highlight for me. I have been looking forward to the return of the underperformed and under-appreciated “Age of Anxiety” of Bernstein for a long time.”
BY PA U L SC H I AVO
1940 COPLAND Our Town German forces occupy France during World War II 1949 BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” Arthur Miller receives Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman 2009 JOHN ADAMS City Noir U.S. Congress passes $787 billion economic stimulus bill
When it was young, at the end of the 18th century, the United States was a country of wilderness and farms broken by small villages. Only a few cities hugged its eastern shore. St. Louis was then a trading post populated by a few hundred French settlers. But industrialization and a growing population changed that, as increasing numbers of Americans moved to towns, cities and—especially during the last century—large metropolises. The urbanization of America inevitably found reflection in its arts. Paintings of pastoral landscapes gave way, in the 20th century, to images of skylines and angular street scenes. Novels by Hawthorne, Alcott, and others, telling of rural or small-town life, were replaced by modern stories set in harsh, often lonely cities. Music, too, showed that the center of American life had moved to her cities. The bustle and fast pace of urban existence gave rise to jazzy rhythms and brash sonorities. American composers also increasingly looked to town and city milieus for subjects and inspiration. The three pieces on our program illustrate this last development. Whereas Aaron Copland’s music for the film Our Town gives a nostalgic impression of small-town life, Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, subtitled “The Age of Anxiety,” treats the loneliness and alienation that many people experienced when transplanted to New York and other large cities. And in our final composition, John Adams conveys the gritty atmosphere that came to define our west-coast metropolis in the popular imagination.
AARON COPLAND Our Town A UNIVERSAL REVERIE Our Town, Thornton Wilder’s affecting stage portrayal of life and death in a New England village, opened on Broadway in February 1938. It scored an immediate success. Brooks Atkinson, theater critic of the New York Times, called it “a beautifully evocative play ... [that] has transmuted the simple events of human life into universal reverie.” Audiences agreed, and Our Town enjoyed an initial Broadway run of 336 performances. The play’s triumph called Wilder to Hollywood, where he wrote a screen adaptation of his work that was filmed in 1939. For the film score, the movie’s producer turned to Aaron Copland, who had recently composed music for the film version of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Copland had seen Wilder’s play, but he now re-read it and sketched some musical ideas that occurred to him. Arriving in California from his New York home, he “marveled that they seemed so right when put with the picture.” FILM SCORE AND CONCERT SUITE Copland expanded these and other themes to create an unusual film score. “My job,” he observed, “was to create the atmosphere of a typical New Hampshire town, and to reflect the [film’s] shifts from the real to the fantasy world. Because of the nostalgic nature of the story, most of the music had to be in slow tempo.... I tried for clean and clear sounds, and in general used straightforward harmonies and rhythms that would project the serenity and sense of security of the play.” The film of Our Town opened in May 1940 to acclaim scarcely less enthusiastic than that garnered by Wilder’s play. Already Copland had quickly arranged about ten minutes of his film score into a concert suite. This was played during a radio broadcast before the movie appeared in theaters. Afterward, the composer prepared a more carefully crafted version of the suite. This definitive version received its first performance in 1944 in Boston, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, to whom Copland dedicated the score.
Born November 14, 1900, Brooklyn, New York Died December 2, 1990, Tarrytown, New York First Performance May 7, 1944, in Boston, Leonard Bernstein conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra STL Symphony Premiere October 19, 1945, Vladimir Golschmann conducting Most Recent STL Symphony Performance November 19, 1991, Leonard Slatkin conducting a special event concert Scoring 3 flutes 2 oboes English horn 3 clarinets bass clarinet 2 bassoons 3 horns 3 trumpets 2 trombones tuba glockenspiel strings Performance Time approximately 9 minutes
LEONARD BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” TIME OF CRISIS Leonard Bernstein was many things: talented, learned, dynamic, and more. Above all he was a man of his time, an artist keenly attuned to the issues and complexities of the era in which he lived. That era was a difficult one. Coming of age in the 1940s, Bernstein belonged to a generation that inherited a world from which easy faith in progress, human nature, even divine providence had been obliterated by two world wars, the Great Depression, and the specter of nuclear annihilation. God was dead, many thinkers believed, but mankind had proved to be less than the admirable Promethean creature humanists once imagined. Science had brought comfort and victory over diseases, but also instruments of mass destruction. Hedonism, the pursuit of momentary pleasure, imparted no lasting comfort. And so, a crisis of faith hung over the mid-20th century. It was, for many, a time of uncertainty, an age of anxiety. That last phrase was how one of the great poets of the era described the time. “The Age of Anxiety” is a long poem by W. H. Auden, the English writer who emigrated to the United States in the 1930s and spent the remainder of his life in New York. Published in 1947, “The Age of Anxiety” imagines four young people— three men and a woman—who meet by chance in a New York bar one evening. All suffer the modern malaise of feeling unconnected and purposeless. Somehow, they fall into a shared reverie in which they wander through a barren wasteland representing the modern world. Eventually at least some of them find hope by accepting religious faith, concluding that it is better to believe in something, even if that belief is a leap of blind faith, than to endure lack of existential meaning. FROM POEM TO SYMPHONY Bernstein read Auden’s poem shortly after its publication and began almost immediately composing a work inspired by it. From the start, he conceived it as a symphony inspired by “The Age of Anxiety,”
Born Lawrence, Massachusetts, August 25, 1918 Died New York City, October 14, 1990 First Performance April 8, 1949, in Boston, Serge Koussevitzky conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Bernstein at the piano STL Symphony Premiere October 15, 1970, Philippe Entremont was soloist, with Walter Susskind conducting Most Recent STL Symphony Performance November 17, 1991, James Tocco was soloist, with Leonard Slatkin conducting Scoring solo piano 2 flutes piccolo 2 oboes English horn 2 clarinets bass clarinet 2 bassoons contrabassoon 4 horns 3 trumpets 3 trombones tuba timpani percussion 2 harps celesta pianino strings Performance Time approximately 35 minutes
not as a vocal setting of its verses. He claimed that he did not even set out to write a programmatic representation of the poem, a piece in which musical details corresponded closely to the literary narrative. And yet Bernstein stated, “I discovered ... detail after detail of programmatic relation to the poem—details that had ‘written themselves’ wholly unplanned and unconscious.” Stylistically, the symphony is highly eclectic, with modern dissonances and complex rhythms mingling with elements of jazz, traditional harmony, and a warm, romantic lyricism. There also is an important part for piano, which Bernstein played in the work’s first performance. The several portions of the work, together with their programmatic correspondences to Auden’s poem, are as follows: Part I Prologue. This short section evokes the setting of Auden’s narrative: a bar in Manhattan, where the four protagonists find themselves one evening. Two clarinets echoing each other’s phrases establish a lonely atmosphere. A descending scale then serves, Bernstein noted, “as a bridge into the realm of the unconscious, where most of the poem takes place.” The Seven Ages. The characters fall into a discussion about life and its meaning. Bernstein represents their colloquy as a series of “variations,” in which each takes up and expands a musical idea introduced in the previous passage. The Seven Stages. The unusual variation format of the previous section continues as the characters undertake a dream-like journey in search of security and happiness. “This set of variations,” Bernstein observed, “begins to show activity and drive, and leads to a hectic, though indecisive, close.” Part II The Dirge. The four protagonists lament the apparent loss of a patriarchal deity. The main theme has a decidedly modern tone, but a contrasting central episode turns to what Bernstein described as “Brahmsian Romanticism.” The Masque. The four characters try to shed their anxiety in a late-night party, which Bernstein portrays in a jazz-inflected scherzo featuring piano and percussion. The festivity ends in fatigue and disappointment, and the musical energy subsides, leading directly into the final section. The Epilogue. As the strains of the party music fade away, a trumpet announces a theme emblematic, Bernstein explained, of “something pure.” To this the strings give out a melancholy recollection of the music of the Prologue. The trumpet theme, taken up by the winds, confronts the music of loneliness and alienation in a passage of rising tension. At last, a radiant pianissimo in the strings indicates a new perception of the existential dilemma. The entire orchestra now joins in articulating a new-found faith.
JOHN ADAMS City Noir AMERICAN COMPOSER, AMERICAN MUSIC Widely recognized as the pre-eminent American composer of his generation, John Adams has created a rich and critically acclaimed body of music that draws on different traditions: the expansive sonic architecture of the Romantic masters, the harmonic sophistication of the 20th century, the rhythmic drive and momentum of American popular music, the shimmering textures of the so-called “minimalist” school, and the delight in new discoveries that has always characterized the American avant-garde. During the past two decades, and especially during David Robertson’s tenure as Music Director, the St. Louis Symphony has performed many of Adams’s works, including Harmonielehre, The Dharma at Big Sur, Guide to Strange Places, the piano concerto Century Rolls, the Doctor Atomic Symphony (in its U.S. premiere performances), Harmonium, and the oratorios On the Transmigration of Souls and El Niño. This weekend brings a new addition to the St. Louis Symphony’s repertory of Adams compositions: City Noir, a large, three-movement work dating from 2009. Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the London and Toronto Symphony orchestras, the piece received its initial performance in Los Angeles during Gustavo Dudamel’s inaugural concert as Music Director of the L.A. Philharmonic. It was heard again shortly thereafter during that orchestra’s “West Coast/Left Coast” festival. Knowing that the composition’s early performance history would be closely associated with the “City of Angels” surely contributed to Adams’s decision to write a work evoking Los Angeles in the 1940s and early ’50s, a milieu memorialized in the novels of Raymond Chandler and many film noir movies of the period. The flavor of Los Angeles at this time was encapsulated in Kevin Starr’s multivolume history Americans and the California Dream. In a passage cited by Adams, Starr writes that “postwar Los Angeles ... for all its shoddiness ... possessed a certain sassy, savvy energy. It was,
Born February 15, 1947, Worcester, Massachusetts Now resides Berkeley, California First performance October 8, 2009, in Los Angeles, Gustavo Dudamel conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra STL Premiere This week Scoring 3 flutes 2 piccolos 3 oboes English horn 3 clarinets 2 bass clarinets 2 bassoons contrabassoon alto saxophone six horns 4 trumpets 3 trombones tuba timpani percussion 2 harps piano celesta strings Performance Time approximately 34 minutes
among other things, a Front Page kind of town where life was lived by many on the edge, and that made for good copy and good film noir.” ENERGY AND LYRICISM Adams describes the music of City Noir as “pockets of high energy that are nested among areas of a more leisurely—one could even say ‘cinematic’—lyricism.” The first movement’s title, “The City and Its Double,” alludes to the idea of the city as not just a geographic place but also one that exists in the popular imagination. “I [remember] well,” the composer recalls of his childhood, “the program that always ended with the familiar tag line ‘There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one.’” The frenetic music of this initial portion of the symphony gives way to a more relaxed second movement whose tone is established by an alto saxophone solo. The finale, “Boulevard Night,” brings what Adams calls “a study in cinematic colors.” At times its mood is languorous, at times nervous and at times, the composer admits, “brash and uncouth.” Always, Adams continues, “the music should have the slightly disorienting effect of a very crowded boulevard peopled with strange characters ... the kind who only come out very late on a very hot night.”
Program notes © 2013 by Paul Schiavo
BEOFOR MUSIC DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR
David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony travel to California in March.
David Robertson has established himself as one of today’s most sought-after American conductors, and has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music-making and stimulating ideas. In fall 2012, Robertson launched his eighth season as Music Director of the 133-yearold St. Louis Symphony. In January 2014, while continuing as St. Louis Symphony music director, Robertson also will assume the post of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony in Australia. In September 2012, the St. Louis Symphony and Robertson embarked on a European tour, which included appearances at London’s BBC Proms, at the Berlin and Lucerne festivals, and culminated at Paris’s Salle Pleyel. In March 2013 Robertson and his orchestra return to California for their second tour of the season, which includes an intensive three-day residency at the University of California-Davis and performance at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, with violinist James Ehnes as soloist. The orchestra will also perform at venues in Costa Mesa, Palm Desert, and Santa Barbara, with St. Louis Symphony Principal Flute, Mark Sparks, as soloist. In addition to his current position with the St. Louis Symphony, Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera houses around the world. During the 2012-13 season he appears with prestigious U.S. orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony, as well as internationally with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, and Ensemble Intercontemporain. Born in Santa Monica, California, David Robertson was educated at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting.
CAROLYN AND JAY HENGES GUEST ARTIST
Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. A highlight of her international performance schedule in 2012-13 is the eastand west-coast premieres of a piano concerto written for her by the acclaimed American composer Steven Mackey, with the New Jersey Symphony conducted by Jacques Lacomb and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by David Robertson. Shaham continues her role as curator and performer in the Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series in Costa Mesa, California, as well as her role as host of the public radio series America’s Music Festivals, a two-hour weekly program broadcast on more than 100 stations. Shaham’s highly acclaimed classical concert series for young children, Baby Got Bach, is in its third season, now presented by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and has expanded to venues in St. Louis and Aspen. Designed for preschoolers, Baby Got Bach provides hands-on activities with musical instruments, and concepts and concert performances that promote good listening skills. Shaham was recognized early for her prodigious talents. She received her first scholarship for musical study from the AmericaIsrael Cultural Foundation at age five to study with Luisa Yoffe at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. By age seven, she traveled to New York with her family to begin study with Nancy Stessin, and became a scholarship student of Herbert Stessin at the Juilliard School a year later. She has also won the Gilmore Young Artist Award and the Avery Fisher Career Grant, two prestigious prizes given to further the development of outstanding talent. In addition to her musical education, Shaham holds a degree in history from Columbia University. Shaham lives in New York and St. Louis with her husband, conductor David Robertson, stepsons Peter and Jonathan, and kindergartner twins Nathan and Alex.
Orli Shaham most recently performed with the St. Louis Symphony in September 2011.
A BRIEF EXPLANATION
You don’t need to know what “andante” means or what a glockenspiel is to enjoy a St. Louis Symphony concert, but it’s always fun to know stuff, such as “scherzo.” Scherzo: Program notes author Paul Schiavo describes “The Masque” movement of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” as a “jazz-inflected scherzo.” You’ll recognize the jazziness of it, and the particular Bernstein jazziness, right away. What makes it a scherzo? One element that fits one definition of the word is that Bernstein is depicting a party scene. “Scherzo” literally means “joke,” so it sometimes signifies a passage that may be comic or ironic—welcome qualities to any party at the Bernstein’s.
FROM “DRIVING MR. COPLAND”: JOHN ADAMS
In John Adams’s blog “Hell Mouth” he talks of his interactions with the preeminent American composer of the 20th century, Aaron Copland, including a job driving the great man in a beat-up VW bug from San Francisco Conservatory, where Adams was a student. “I found myself driving down Route 280 in my dilapidated turquoise blue VW bug with its clattering engine and moldy upholstery with the idolized composer of my youth sitting, slightly nervously, in the passenger seat. I don’t recall the conversation. The car was so noisy it may have been difficult to talk much. “A side window that wouldn’t close properly kept emitting a highpitched sound, and Copland, in his rich Brooklyn accent looked over and said ‘Sound like you gotta boid in there.’ I didn’t know what he meant and gave him a puzzled look, to which he made fluttering motions with his fingers. ‘Oh, you mean a BIRD!’ I said. I was probably 25 at the time, a young wiseass with sideburns and a surfeit of brown hair and grubby bachelor clothing. I suspect he was enjoying himself, although he looked a bit tired.”
YOU TAKE IT FROM HERE
If these concerts have inspired you to learn more, here are suggested source materials with which to continue your explorations. coplandhouse.org Aaron Copland’s home for the last three decades of his life is now part of a foundation that continues his legacy with concerts, artists-inresidence, tours, and educational activities. leonardbernstein.com A whole lot of information about the charismatic Bernstein earbox.com Keep up with John Adams’s blog, “Hell Mouth,” and all other things “John Adams”
Aaron Copland’s house, “Rock Hill,” in Cortlandt Manor, New York
Read the program notes online at stlsymphony.org/planyourvisit/programnotes Keep up with the backstage life of the St. Louis Symphony, as chronicled by Symphony staffer Eddie Silva, via stlsymphony.org/blog The St. Louis Symphony is on
CORPORATE DONOR SPOTLIGHT
A message from Joe Imbs, St. Louis market president for U.S. Bank U.S. Bank is the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, with roots in St. Louis dating back to 1855. Given our significant business presence in St. Louis, it is important for our employees to be active in the community. At U.S. Bank, strong connections start with understanding the needs of our communities and deepening relationships in ways that move us all forward. As our communities face challenges, we endeavor to help address those challenges through employee leadership and volunteerism, financial support of our nonprofit partners, investments in and loans for transformational community projects, and sharing our knowledge through financial education. Who do we serve? U.S. Bank is the largest bank in St. Louis with 120 branches, and more than 4,000 local employees—up almost 20 percent in the last five years. Additionally, U.S. Bank’s community development subsidiary, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, is headquartered in St. Louis. Why does U.S. Bank support the St. Louis Symphony? U.S. Bank is proud to continue our support of the St. Louis Symphony. We have supported the Symphony through donations and volunteer work for more than 19 years. In 2012 we were pleased to support The Sounds of New Orleans: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong, and this year we are excited to sign on for another performance sponsorship—the 45th Anniversary Celebration of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 28, 2013. Why should other organizations support the STL Symphony? The St. Louis Symphony is a significant part of what makes us all proud to live in St. Louis. The Symphony not only gives St. Louis first-rate performing arts, but makes the community better in many ways. I have always been impressed with the way that the Symphony gives back through musical education programs and develops young musicians through its Youth Orchestra. It is a privilege for our community to have access to the St. Louis Symphony. Being a good corporate citizen is a core value for U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank is the presenting sponsor and supporting the Symphony is a of the Sgt. Pepper 45th Anniversary natural way that other businesses can Concert on June 28, 2013. join us in sharing that value.
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