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New Orford Quartet - New Orford String Quartet Performs Schubert And Beethoven

String Quartet No. 15 In G Major, D. 887, Op. 161: II. Andante Un Poco Moto

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February is I Love To Read Month. So while invited guests are going into schools across the country reading aloud to classes, we're going to commemorate the month with musical selections inspired by great literary works. Tune in every day at 1 PM to hear what Chris has programmed for the day! Keep reading here for more details.

MONDAY: We start the week with Carl Nielsen's Aladdin Suite--written at the request of Johannes Nielsen, the director of the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen for a stage production of the drama Aladdin (1805) by the Danish author Adam Oehlenschläger. In the eighteenth century, the Aladdin motif had already been incorporated into the corpus of texts related to the material of A Thousand and One Nights. It gains prominence again in 1805, in a play called Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp, written by the danish writer Adam Oehlenschläger. Oehlenschläger considered himself both a German and a Danish author, and the piece was written in German and danish.

Aladdin

ElfHillAs an added bonus, Chris also programmed a work by a contemporary of Nielsen, the danish composer Louis Glass. Music Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and in particular a story called The Elf Hill. Two lizards scramble about the entrance to the Elf Hill, commenting on the hustle and bustle within. They have heard the elf maidens are practicing new dances and both wonder the reason why. An old maid elf hurries out and summons a raven to deliver invitations to an important event. The dishes for the night's festivities include skewered frogs, fungus salad made of mushroom seed, and hemlock. The king polishes his crown and tells his inquisitive youngest daughter that he has arranged marriages between two of his daughters and two of the sons of the Goblin Chief of Norway, who all arrive at that moment with pomp. The feast is held and the two sons prove rowdy and boisterous. The elf maidens are paraded as potential brides, declaiming their most notable talents. The Goblin Chief is so delighted he chooses one for his wife. Dawn approaches, and the old maid elf wants to close the shutters. The two sons of the Goblin King hurry outside to continue their tomfoolery and horseplay, leaving without actually selecting brides . . . 

 

 

TUESDAY: We continue with the fairytales and go to the Brothers Grimm classic Hansel & Gretel. The music is compliments of the nineteenth-century composer Engelbert hansel and gretal grimm talesHumperdinck. Long before his name was hijacked by a 1960s crooner from Leicester, Engelbert Humperdinck was one of those rare figures in music history - a composer who became a household name on the basis of a single work. Almost every opera company in the world will have a production of Hänsel und Gretel in its repertory, and the fairy-tale opera also holds the distinction of being the first complete work to be broadcast live from both the Royal Opera House in 1923 and, eight years later, from the Met in New York. Humperdinck's sister, Adelheid Wette, had written a dramatised version of the Brothers Grimm story of Hänsel und Gretel for her children to perform as a private family entertainment. She asked Humperdinck to compose four folk songs as part of the show. Something clearly struck a spark. After completing the songs, Humperdinck set about making an opera from the text, first as a singspiel - a sequence of self-contained songs with dialogue, which he presented to his fiancee as an engagement present at the end of 1890 - and then, more slowly, as a full-scale opera, through-composed and complete with orchestral interludes, which was completed in 1893. Richard Strauss immediately declared it a masterpiece; and, when the Munich premiere had to be postponed, he found himself conducting the first performance in Weimar. In the one o'clock hour of Intermezzo we are treated to the Hansel and Gretel Suite. 

 

WEDNESDAY: As we hit the half way point of the week, we turn now to French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz. At an early performance of his Symphonie Lord Byron Childe Harolds Pilgimage Dugdale edition1825 edition of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Lo! where the Giant on the mountain stands, His blood-red tresses deep'ning in the sun, With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands, And eye that scorcheth all it glares upon; Restless it rolls, now fixed, and now anon Flashing a far,—and at his iron feet Destruction cowers to mark what deeds are done. For on this morn three potent nations meet, To shed before his shrine the blood he deems most sweet.Fantastique in 1833 Berlioz was approached by a tall cadaverous man who showered praise on him. It was the great virtuoso, Nicolo Paganini, of whom Berlioz only knew by repute. Touched by the master’s kindness, Berlioz felt that his musical vision had been validated, all the more so when some weeks later Paganini showed up at his door with a request. The great violinist had just purchased a Stradivarius viola and asked Berlioz if he would write a work that he could use to play in concert. Berlioz was reticent at first, pointing out that a great work for viola should be written by someone who could actually play the instrument. Paganini disagreed and overrode the composer’s objections.

Berlioz soon began to envision a type of work quite unlike anything that had been tried before, drawing inspiration from his own Symphonie Fantastique which had been about the emotional journey of an individual described in music. He determined on a heavily modified symphony in which the orchestra would be one protagonist and the solo viola the other. The viola was not intended to play continuously but would interact with the orchestra, which in turn would not merely be an accompaniment.

After a few months, Paganini came by again to see what progress had been made. He was sorely disappointed, declaring that he wanted to be playing throughout the work and that it wasn’t showy enough. By now, Berlioz was totally invested in his visionary new work and pressed on. Inspired by Childe Harold's Pilgrimage--a lengthy narrative poem in four parts written by Lord Byron, Berlioz’ Harold in Italy was described by the composer as “a series of orchestral scenes, in which the solo viola would be involved, to a greater or lesser extent, like an actual person, retaining the same character throughout.”

Lord Byron's work was published between 1812 and 1818 and is dedicated to "Ianthe". The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands. The title comes from the term childe, a medieval title for a young man who was a candidate for knighthood. The work provided the first example of the Byronic hero. The overnight success of Childe Harold arguably made Lord Byron the first modern celebrity. But it would be several years before he understood the full significance of his creation.

Berlioz's composition is structured in four long movements. The first, titled “Harold in the Mountains,” carries the subtitle “Scenes of Sadness, Happiness, and Joy.” It is an introspective introduction to the protagonist, a subtle theme, first played by the solo viola, that echoes throughout the work. The second movement, “The March of the Pilgrims Singing Their Evening Prayer,” contrasts Harold’s lush romantic perspective with the pilgrims’ gentle religious fervour. The “Serenade” of the third movement depicts a mountaineer of the rugged Abruzzi region singing to his beloved. The English horn serves as the voice of the singer, yet Harold is there too, in the solo viola, observing the intimate scene. For the final movement, Berlioz turns to a more-animated episode, “The Orgy of the Brigands,” but, even amid the tumultuous action, he recalls the earlier scenes, with musical echoes of the previous movements.

The premiere in November of 1834 was a catastrophic failure, largely due to a poor choice of conductor, but the work soon began to find its way. Paganini first heard it in December of 1838. Already ailing from the throat cancer that was to carry him off two years later, he could not speak, but at the end of the performance pulled Berlioz onto the stage, knelt and kissed the composer’s hand. A few days later, Paganini sent a congratulatory letter and a cheque for 20,000 francs.

 

THURSDAY: We're going to the movies today and to the golden age of Hollywood with Gone with the Wind. The epic 1939 American historical drama reamins the most successful film in box office history with 10 Academy Awards. But did you know the film was adapted from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel of the same name. In fact it was the ONLY novel she wrote and published during her lifetime. The American Civil War-era novel won the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. In more recent years, a collection of Mitchell's girlhood writings and a novella she wrote as a teenager, Lost Laysen, have been published. A collection of articles written by Mitchell for The Atlanta Journal was republished in book form.

Gone with the Wind coverWhile "the South" exists as a geographical region of the United States, it is also said to exist as "a place of the imagination" of writers. An image of "the South" was fixed in Mitchell's imagination when at six years old her mother took her on a buggy tour through ruined plantations and "Sherman's sentinels",  the brick and stone chimneys that remained after William Tecumseh Sherman's "March and torch" through Georgia. Mitchell would later recall what her mother had said to her:

She talked about the world those people had lived in, such a secure world, and how it had exploded beneath them. And she told me that my world was going to explode under me, someday, and God help me if I didn't have some weapon to meet the new world.

From an imagination cultivated in her youth, Margaret Mitchell's defensive weapon would become her writing.

Mitchell said she heard Civil War stories from her relatives when she was growing up:

On Sunday afternoons when we went calling on the older generation of relatives, those who had been active in the Sixties, I sat on the bony knees of veterans and the fat slippery laps of great aunts and heard them talk.

On summer vacations, she visited her maternal great-aunts, Mary Ellen ("Mamie") Fitzgerald and Sarah ("Sis") Fitzgerald, who still lived at her great-grandparents' plantation home in Jonesboro. Mamie had been twenty-one years old and Sis was thirteen when the Civil War began.

As for the film score, Producer David O. Selznick chose Max Steiner, with whom he had worked at RKO Pictures in the early 1930s. Warner Bros.—who had contracted Steiner in 1936—agreed to lend him to Selznick. Steiner spent twelve weeks working on the score, the longest period that he had ever spent writing one, and at two hours and thirty-six minutes long it was also the longest that he had ever written. Five orchestrators were hired, including Hugo Friedhofer, Maurice de Packh, Bernard Kaun, Adolph Deutsch and Reginald Bassett.

The theme that is most associated with the film today is the melody that accompanies Tara, the O'Hara plantation; in the early 1940s, "Tara's Theme" formed the musical basis of the song "My Own True Love" by Mack David. In all, there are ninety-nine separate pieces of music featured in the score. Due to the pressure of completing on time, Steiner received some assistance in composing from Friedhofer, Deutsch and Heinz Roemheld, and in addition, two short cues—by Franz Waxman and William Axt—were taken from scores in the MGM library.