Concert Program for September 30, 2011

David Robertson, conductor Ward Stare, conductor IVES
(1874-1954)

Central Park in the Dark (1906)

Ward Stare, conductor David Robertson, conductor COPLAND
(1900-1990)

Suite from The City (1939)

Ward Stare, conductor Intermission SCHOENBERG
(1874-1951)

Vorgefühle (Premonitions) Vergangenes (Yesteryears) Farben (Colors) Peripetie (Peripetia) Das obligate Rezitativ (The Obligato Recitative) David Robertson, conductor

Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16 (1909)

rev. Campbell-Watson

GERSHWIN/
(1898-1937)

An American in Paris (1928)

David Robertson, conductor

David Robertson is the Beofor Music Director and Conductor. Suite from The City, with film accompaniment, created by Jonathan Sheffer, by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes. The concert of Friday, September 30, is underwritten in part by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Barry H. Beracha. Pre-Concert Conversations are sponsored by Washington University Physicians. This concert is part of the American Arts Experience-St. Louis. This concert is part of the Wells Fargo Advisors Series.

David Robertson Beofor Music Director and Conductor A consummate musician, masterful programmer, and dynamic presence, David Robertson has established himself as one of today’s most sought-after American conductors. A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive knowledge of orchestral and operatic repertoire, he has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music-making and stimulating ideas. In fall 2011, Robertson embarks on his seventh season as Music Director of the 132-year-old St. Louis Symphony, while continuing as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since 2005. Following summer appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, Aspen Music Festival and School nationally, and at the Lucerne Festival and BBC Proms abroad. Season highlights with the St. Louis Symphony include last weekend’s world premiere of Steven Mackey’s piano concerto, Stumble to Grace, a St. Louis Symphony cocommission, and the orchestra’s eighth consecutive appearance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Robertson’s guest engagements in the U.S. include performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Ensemble ACJW, and the New York Philharmonic, where Robertson is a regular guest conductor. In May 2012, Robertson returns to the Metropolitan Opera to conduct Britten’s Billy Budd with Nathan Gunn and James Morris in the leading roles. Internationally, guest engagements include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, where Robertson appears regularly, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, as part of Music Viva, and several concerts with the BBC Symphony. In addition to his fresh interpretations of traditional repertoire, this season Robertson conducts world premieres of Graham Fitkin’s Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma; John Cage’s Eighty with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Providence, a newly commissioned work by Dutch composer Klaas de Vries, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; and new works by Yann Robin and Michael Jarrell with the New York Philharmonic. A champion of young musicians, Robertson has devoted time to working with students and young artists throughout his career. On February 5, 2012, he conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and a chorus of New York City students in the Carmina Burana Choral Project at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. The program will include Orff’s cantata, as well as new works written by three high school-aged composers based on musical themes of Carmina burana.

Michael TaMMaro

Ward Stare Ward Stare is currently the Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony—a position created for him in the fall of 2008 by Music Director David Robertson—and concurrently acts as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. In April 2009, Stare made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the St. Louis Symphony, stepping in at the last minute to conduct while Maestro Robertson made his debut as chansonnier in H.K. Gruber’s Frankenstein!!. In August 2007, Stare made his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at the famed Blossom Music Center. Highlights of recent seasons include appearances with the Memphis Symphony, Florida Orchestra, and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra—both in Russia and on the orchestra’s North American tour. In 2009, Stare made his debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, as second conductor in Ives’ Symphony No. 4, as well as his critically acclaimed subscription debut with the St. Louis Symphony. The 2010-11 season included Stare’s return to the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin as guest conductor, as well as his European operatic debut at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo, with a production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. He also conducted with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and at the DITTO Festival in Seoul (South Korea). Upcoming engagements include his debut as guest conductor with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Following in the path of many great orchestral conductors whose careers began as instrumentalists, Ward Stare was trained as a trombonist at the Juilliard School in Manhattan. At the age of 18, he was appointed principal trombonist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and has performed as an orchestral musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. As a soloist, he has concertized in both the U.S. and Europe.

American Masters
BY PAUL SCHIAVO

Ideas at Play

Two developments loom large in the emergence of American concert music as a vital art form. One is a willingness to embrace aspects of popular music. By appropriating folk melodies, the syncopations of jazz and ragtime, the expressive harmonies of the blues, and elements of other vernacular idioms, many of our best composers not only created individual masterpieces but established our country’s homegrown musical traditions as a source of vitality and artistic value. The other development that contributed to the rise of a distinctive American style of composition was the advent of modernism, with its valuing of innovation and originality. During the 19th century, while Romanticism and a relatively conservative harmonic language prevailed in music, American composers attained little more than pale imitations of Mendelssohn, Brahms, and other European masters of the day. But the modernist revolution of the early 20th century allowed our leading musical thinkers to venture new ideas, new modes of expression, even new uses for their art. The results were splendid, and of lasting value. As we help launch American Arts Experience-St. Louis, the Symphony plays this evening works by three of the foremost American composers active during the early part of the modern era. We also hear from a European who eventually made this country his home, and who deeply appreciated the achievements of some of our native composers.

Charles Ives Central Park in the Dark
Born: Danbury, Connecticut, October 20, 1874 Died: New York City, May 19, 1954 First performance: Although Ives once alluded to Central Park in the Dark being played by a theater orchestra “in 1906 or ’07,” the first documented performance of the work took place on May 11, 1946, in New York; Theodore Bloomfield conducted an orchestra of students from the Juilliard School STL Symphony premiere: Tonight Scoring: Two flutes and piccolo, oboe, clarinet and E-flat clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, two pianos, and strings Performance time: Approximately nine minutes

Ives

In Context 1906 British Empire ruled one-fifth of the world; President Theodore Roosevelt awarded first Nobel Peace Prize; French painter Paul Cézanne dies It is fitting that we begin our program with music by Charles Edward Ives. More than just an important American composer, Ives is an iconic figure, the quintessential American artistic loner, original and uncompromising. An insurance executive who spent his weekends and vacations composing works of astonishing originality, Ives was ignored by the musical establishment

Ives

of his day. As a result, he worked for years in artistic isolation, producing novel and complex scores that he had little hope of hearing. Only after he had all but abandoned composition did a small band of admirers discover and begin to champion his music. Ives composed Central Park in the Dark in 1906, a time when he resided across the street from Manhattan’s Central Park. He described this work as “a picture in sounds of nature and of happenings that men would hear ... (before the combustion engine and radio monopolized the earth and air) when sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night.” The Music In this sound-picture, soft, sustained sonorities represent the darkness. But all is not still. Noises from a nightclub drift by; a piano plays a popular song in ragtime style; a band plays part of a Sousa march. At the climax of the piece, a horse-drawn cab runs out of control and ends in a noisy collision. All this activity and more makes for an audacious aural tapestry, with different strands of music juxtaposed for maximum contrast, rather than harmoniously integrated. At the end, Ives described, “again the darkness is heard—an echo over the pond—and we walk home.” Central Park in the Dark prefigures a type of musical collage that would not be ventured by other composers for half a century. But like many of Ives’ compositions, it lay neglected until late in the composer’s life. Ives was, however, admired by another musician, one precisely his age and who also struggled with unsympathetic critics and listeners throughout his career. This was Arnold Schoenberg, from whom we will hear shortly. Sometime after emigrating to the United States, in 1934, Schoenberg jotted the following on a piece of paper that was found among his affects after his passing: “There is a great man living in this country—a composer. He has solved the problem of how to preserve one’s self and to learn. He responds to negligence with contempt. He is not forced to accept praise or blame. His name is Ives.”

Aaron Copland Suite from The City
Born: Brooklyn, New York, November 14, 1900 Died: Tarrytown, New York, December 2, 1990 First performance: 1939, studio recording, conducted by Max Goberman STL Symphony premiere: Tonight Scoring: Flute and piccolo, oboe and English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, and alto saxophone, two horns, two trumpets, and trombone, timpani and percussion, celesta, and strings Performance time: Approximately 22 minutes

Copland

In Context 1939 Spanish Civil War ends as Madrid falls to forces of Francisco Franco; World War II begins; comic strip “Superman” debuts Aaron Copland composed music for seven films over the course of his long and productive career. The first was a documentary titled The City, for which Copland fashioned music early in 1939. Created to advance the notion of urban planning, The City paints a bleak picture of conditions in a modern industrial metropolis, especially

Copland

in comparison with the bucolic life of a New England farming town in days gone by. But the film takes an optimistic view of what might be, presenting a concept for a model community that offers humane environments for both work and residence. The Music The cinematography and, especially, the editing of images that make up The City proved wonderfully effective in conveying the nervejangling experiences of factory work, traffic jams, and other aspects of city life at the end of the Depression. Copland’s music worked hand-in-hand with those images, heightening their effect. We are able to experience that synergy between sound and picture this evening, as we play Copland’s music with the film scenes for which it was written.

Arnold Schoenberg Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16
Born: Vienna, September 13, 1874 Died: Los Angeles, July 13, 1951 First performance: September 3, 1912, in London, conducted by Henry Wood STL Symphony premiere: November 15, 1963, Eleazar de Carvalho conducting Most recent STL Symphony performance: May 9, 1970, Walter Susskind conducting Performance time: Approximately 16 minutes

In Context 1909 Ballets Russes appears at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; Henri Matisse paints “The Dance”; Coco Chanel opens first shop in Paris With the rise of Fascism in Europe during the 1930s, many European artists left their homelands and found refuge in America. Among them was the composer Arnold Schoenberg, who found himself stripped of a professorship in Berlin and made persona non grata just weeks after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, in Schoenberg 1933. Making his way to the United States, Schoenberg settled in Los Angeles, where he became an influential teacher of many young American composers. One of Schoenberg’s most original compositions, Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16, also constitutes one of the most anomalous portions of the composer’s output. Schoenberg initially wrote the work in the summer of 1909, during a concentrated burst of creative activity. He revised the work several times over some three decades. We hear it, however, in its original version, which best preserves the most remarkable quality of the music: its beautiful and quite unusual orchestral sonorities and textures. Rarely did Schoenberg raise the sensual element of tone color so near in importance to the structural functions of melodic and harmonic discourse. The Music The first of the pieces, Vorgefühle (“Premonitions”), is extraordinarily compressed. Brief motifs appear and vanish in seconds. These thematic kernels all are set forth in the first moments of the piece, where highly contrasting and everchanging rhythms give the music a

Schoenberg

seemingly inchoate character. But then Schoenberg introduces an even pulse that underlies nearly the entire rest of the movement. Over this unvarying rhythm the music builds to a frenzied but short-lived climax. Vergangenes (“Yesteryears”), the second piece, opens with expressive statements given out in a series of solo phrases for individual instruments. As in the previous movement, the fluid rhythms of these melodies give way in the central section of the piece to a more steady pulse, here in the form of a circling ostinato (repetitive) figure that provides a background for increasingly complex aural textures. The final moments combine fragments of the ostinato and the melodic phrases of the opening measures. As its title suggests, Farben (“Colors”) is a study in changing instrumental timbres, or tone colors. Peripetie (“Peripetia”), the heading of the fourth piece, refers to a sudden, dramatic reversal—a notion quite appropriate to music marked, as this is, by frequent changes of tempo and mood. In the final piece, the continuous declamatory melody that constitutes “the obligato recitative” of its title passes from one instrument to another amid a thicket of accompanying counterpoint.

George Gershwin An American in Paris
Born: Brooklyn, New York, September 26, 1898 Died: Los Angeles, July 11, 1937 First performance: December 13, 1928, in New York; Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Philharmonic STL Symphony premiere: February 1, 1930, George Szell conducting Most recent STL Symphony performance: May 21, 2010, Ward Stare conducting Scoring: Two flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani and percussion, celesta, and strings Performance time: Approximately 16 minutes

In Context 1928 Amelia Earhart becomes first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; George Eastman shows first color motion pictures in the U.S.; “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse, premieres As already noted, Arnold Schoenberg knew and respected the music of Charles Ives. He also held George Gershwin in high esteem. Indeed, Schoenberg and Gershwin became friends when the latter moved to Los Angeles, in the final year of his tragically short life. Gershwin Gershwin gave Schoenberg free use of his tennis court— both men enjoyed the game—and planned to study with him. For his part, Schoenberg paid tribute to his American colleague this way: “Many musicians do not consider George Gershwin a serious composer…. I know he is an artist and a composer, he expressed ideas, and they were new, as is the way he expressed them.” Schoenberg’s statement touches on the issue that dogged Gershwin’s music throughout the composer’s life, and beyond. Briefly, many listeners

Gershwin

who enjoyed it felt reluctant to consider it “serious,” since it was rooted in the rhythms and harmonies of American popular music, especially jazz. That view, which seems surprising today, ignores that Gershwin used those rhythms and harmonies, as well as the energy and spirit of our popular music, in extended and sophisticated pieces. In doing so, he created a new and vital musical idiom while establishing himself as one of the great American composers. Although Gershwin’s music is thoroughly American in character, he got the idea for one of his most successful compositions during a trip to Paris. Gershwin visited the French capital briefly in 1926, just before the opening of his show Lady, Be Good in London. He returned to New York with two unexpected souvenirs: a French taxicab horn he had found in an automobile store, and the sketch of a melody that he imagined as the opening of an orchestral composition. The demands of Broadway claimed Gershwin for the next two years. But in the spring of 1928, after an especially strenuous season of shows, he decided to take a break from the theater and returned to Paris for a more extended sojourn. There he composed the work that had germinated with the tune jotted down during his earlier visit, the tone poem An American in Paris. The Music Gershwin wrote of this piece: “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor to Paris as he strolls about the city.” The work’s opening measures suggest a busy urban street scene, with hurrying throngs and bustling traffic that rush past the imaginary tourist.” Here the composer famously uses the taxi horns that so caught his fancy on his first visit to the French capital. The central section brings a blues-tinged episode that Gershwin said was intended to convey the homesickness that can overtake a visitor in a foreign city. But the music soon recaptures its former exuberance, and the piece closes, as Gershwin said, with the French atmosphere triumphant.

Program notes © 2011 by Paul Schiavo

The St. Louis Symphony has invited four writers to produce program notes this season. The first, Paul Schiavo, is no stranger to fans at Powell Hall, since he has been the Symphony’s program annotator for many seasons.