1 Program One Hundred Twenty-Third Season Chicago Symphony Orchestra Riccardo Muti Music Director Pierre Boulez Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus Yo-Yo Ma Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Global Sponsor of the CSO Thursday, April 24, 2014, at 8:00 Saturday, April 26, 2014, at 8:00 Sir Mark Elder Conductor Richard Goode Piano Ives Symphony No. 2 Andante moderato Allegro Adagio cantabile Lento maestoso Allegro molto vivace Intermission Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488 Allegro Adagio Allegro assai Richard Goode Strauss Till Eulenspiegel s Merry Pranks, Op. 28 Saturday s concert is sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company. This program is partially supported by grants from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
2 CommEntS by Jan Swafford Phillip huscher Charles Ives Born October 20, 1874, Danbury, Connecticut. Died May 19, 1954, New York City. Symphony no. 2 Often in viewing a given artist, there is a tendency to assume that they are always the same creator: Beethoven always Beethoven, Brahms always Brahms. The reality is that every artist undergoes an evolution, and often requires a journey of years to find a voice with distinctive rhymes and reasons. Mahler and Brahms found their voices fairly early; for Beethoven, it was a much longer journey to arrive at the personality that fashioned the Eroica. Charles Ives s path to maturity was particularly long and difficult, because from early on he was dealing with unprecedented musical ideas and had no guidelines anywhere to help him. The foundation of his musical experience was equally late-romantic concert music by Brahms, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, et al., and, at the same time, the kind of church and community music he grew up with as the son of a small-town bandmaster. He was a prodigy organist who played in churches from age fourteen. At the same time, Charles Ives inherited from his father George an experimental attitude toward the materials of music. George Ives, a sort of Yankee tinker in sound, built gadgets to play quarter tones, tried to capture the timbre of a church bell on piano, and marched two bands around Danbury town common playing different tunes to hear what it sounded like as they neared and passed. Once a Civil War bandmaster, George taught his son that the music of the war was profoundly connected to the hearts and souls of the people who heard and sung and played it: soldiers singing the sentimental Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground on the night before battle. From his father, Charles learned that any music, if done earnestly and authentically, was a reflection of the deepest feelings, a symbol of the human soul. At the same time, George Ives told his teenaged son (surely the first time any budding composer had been told this) that any harmony whatever was acceptable if you knew what you were doing with it. These ideas, working on the sensibility of a prodigious born talent, goes far to explain how Ives s music turned out as it did. Added to these experiences was the exciting new popular style called ragtime, which Ives absorbed and eventually integrated into his work. Meanwhile, during the 1890s, while Ives was at Yale, Antonin Dvořák was in America calling for the country to find its own national voice on the concert stage; he wrote the New World Symphony as an example of how to do it. I ves resonated with all these sometimes conflicting influences, but his integration of them in his work did not come easily or quickly. For years, starting in his teens in the 1880s and ComPoSED , frequently revised FIrSt PErFormanCE February 22, 1951, New york City FIrSt CSo PErFormanCES August 8, 1959, Ravinia Festival. walter hendl conducting May 21, 22 & 24, 1981, orchestra hall. Michael Tilson Thomas conducting 2 most recent CSo PErFormanCE July 7, 1984, Ravinia Festival. James Levine conducting InStrUmEntatIon two flutes and piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, snare drum, bass drum, strings approximate PErFormanCE time 37 minutes
3 during his musical studies at Yale, he wrote pieces in two streams: smaller works experimenting with radical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, dissonant counterpoint, effects of space, and the like; and large pieces including the First Symphony and First String Quartet both begun at Yale that were far more conservative and clearly related to the music of their time: Dvořák, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and so on. Yet, if the more conservative pieces were eclectic in style and not particularly prophetic, they were still marked with Ives s personality, and all of them are striking, often delightful, sometimes moving works, each with a distinctive voice. Ives finally united his experimental and nationalistic side with large pieces that in spirit rose from the great European tradition. They include the Fourth Symphony and Concord Sonata. These and the other works of his maturity starting around 1908 were largely made of portraits of events in home and community: church services, holidays, parades, parlor music, train journeys, modern urban life, the exaltation of the individual heart and soul in nature. To that end, much of their material is American tunes, from gospel hymns to marches to Victorian parlor songs to Civil War melodies. T he Second Symphony, more or less finished in 1902, was an important way station on Ives s journey in a direction he did not yet fully understand. At the same time, it is one of the most significant landmarks in the history of American music a landmark with a sort of sad asterisk. It is the first symphonic work in history with a manifestly American voice, prophetic of the Americana music Aaron Copland and others would be writing twenty-five years later. At the same time, the Second had no influence at all on the country s music, because it was not heard until Leonard Bernstein premiered it in When he wrote the Second Symphony, Ives was an obscure young insurance clerk and church organist in Manhattan writing a great deal of music that remained unheard until the 1920s; the large works emerged only sporadically in the decades after that. The climax of the discovery period came in 1965, over a decade after Ives died, with Leopold Stokowski s premiere of the Fourth Symphony. For Ives, the Second was another brilliant one-off, a way station after which he moved on. It has a full measure of distinctively Ivesian elements, but its tonal and formal world is close to the conventions of its day. It begins with a brooding fugue recalling Bach, and, in its tone, perhaps Brahms. An animated middle section again suggests Bachian counterpoint. Before the final return of the fugue, we get a bit of Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, which will make a memorable appearance in the finale. Already this short movement shows Ives s game in the symphony: the fugue theme is subtly based on a bit of Stephen Foster s song Down in de Cornfield ; the animated section on the old fiddle tune Pigtown Fling. In this symphony, Ives is going to be concerned with unifying the voice of the American people with the European Stephen Foster, whose songs were an inspiration for Ives tradition, and the prime inspiration of the whole symphony is the songs of Stephen Foster. The second movement begins with a jaunty lilt, the theme recalling the Civil War song Wake Nicodemus. Here, as in most of his music, Ives often builds his own new themes on a foundation of old ones, the connections ranging from clear to subtle. For a whimsical touch, the wistfully pretty second theme in this sonata-form movement is the Dartmouth student song Where, Oh Where, are the Pea-Green Freshmen? The development section features a warmly beautiful incursion of the hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross and a quite literal eruption of Brahms s First, like a window opened onto the past and quickly shut. Here is another aspect of the Second s integration of Europe and America: an occasional burst of 3
4 Brahms, Tchaikovsky, et al., breaking into the American stream. Ives himself later groaned over this aspect of the symphony ( it was sort of a joke, and not a very good one ), but it is still part of the symphony s distinctive personality, its singular integration of old and new. The ABA third movement was written at Yale, originally intended for the First Symphony. Its tone is surging and passionate, high-romantic, and there are some ingenuously earnest perorations on America the Beautiful. The Lento maestoso fifth movement is an extended introduction to the finale, beginning with the horns recalling the fugue theme of the first movement, which is contrapuntally spun out before the return of the Pigtown Fling theme. Then, Ives applies the spurs. The finale erupts with a racing and ebullient fiddle tune, again built on Foster songs including unmistakable bits of Camptown Races. In the movement, the structure has a quality of constantly turning on a dime, with quick cuts almost like film scenes. An example is the fife-and-drum corps that breaks into the end of the first theme section (we re back in old-fashioned sonata form). The gentle second theme recalls Foster s Old Black Joe. The coda, announced by Reveille in the trumpets, is a grand summation of themes from the symphony, most of it carried by the brass. The leading voice is Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean played by trombones as loud as possible. The professionally copied final manuscript of the symphony is lost. The sketches reveal that Ives was searching for an ending more appropriate than the traditional final home-key chord or unison. In the 1940s, he sketched in the now-famous final chord, a brassy dissonant yawp. Many assume that the final chord is the older Ives giving a raspberry to convention, but he pointed out that at the end of an evening of square dancing in New England, the fiddlers (usually sitting by the cider keg and showing the effects) would play a dissonant chord across the strings to indicate the music was over. So the ending of the Second Symphony is another bit of Ivesian realism, another demonstration of his concern with the life of communities and their music, and their connections to the heart and soul. Jan Swafford 4
5 Wolfgang mozart Born January 27, 1756, Salzburg, Austria. Died December 5, 1791, Vienna, Austria. Piano Concerto no. 23 in a major, K. 488 From 1782, the year after he moved to Vienna, until 1786, Mozart wrote fifteen piano concertos. That s an incredible outpouring of important music and it corresponds precisely to Mozart s heyday as a performer. These concertos were his main performing vehicles as well as his primary source of income and time has placed them among the crowning glories of all music. There s little else in all Mozart s output, aside from the great operas, to compare with the magnificence, subtlety, and consistent brilliance of these scores, and in no other works did Mozart so ingeniously merge the symphonic, operatic, and chamber music styles into a uniquely personal language of expression. In the winter of , Mozart wrote three piano concertos while he also worked on Th e Marriage of Figaro. This was the most productive period of his life, and the only reasonable way to explain the enormous and varied output of these six months is to assume that the intense work on the complicated musical and dramatic structures of Figaro set his mind racing with more ideas than a single four-act opera could contain. It has been suggested that the purely mechanical task of writing it all down would produce only six full pages per day. Neither that challenge, nor the infinitely greater one of conceiving so much glorious music, appears to have inconvenienced Mozart in the least. Throughout the winter, he kept to his regular routine of teaching and performing, while also maintaining a full social calendar. The only activity that seems to have suffered was his correspondence, so we have only a sketchy account of his daily life at the time. M ozart entered the A major piano concerto (K. 488) in his catalog on March 2, 1786, only a month after the one-act comic opera, Th e I m p r e s a r i o ; just three weeks before the famous C minor concerto (K. 491); and less than two months before The Marriage of Figaro. Although it s not documented, Mozart probably performed the A major concerto at one of the Vienna Lenten concerts a few days after finishing it. This and the other two concertos of the Figaro winter are the first in Mozart s output to call for clarinets. (Sketches show that Mozart started writing this A major concerto as early as 1784 with oboes instead.) Mozart begins as if he were following the conventional recipe for a classical concerto (which is totally unlike him), but then, after a few pages, he proceeds to ignore nearly every subsequent instruction. The result is the kind of risky though not reckless creation known only to the very greatest chefs and composers. The tone of the entire movement is generous and warmly lyrical, although, as in the duet in the same key between the count and Susanna in act 3 of Figaro, there s still room for mischief, doubt, and the thrill of imminent danger. ComPoSED entered in catalog March 2, 1786 FIrSt PErFormanCE probably spring of 1786; Vienna, Austria. The composer as soloist FIrSt CSo PErFormanCES december 10 & 11, 1920, orchestra hall. harold Bauer as soloist, Frederick Stock conducting most recent CSo PErFormanCES March 31 & April 2, 2011, orchestra hall. Louis Lortie as soloist, Kurt Masur conducting InStrUmEntatIon solo piano, one flute, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, strings CaDEnZaS Mozart approximate PErFormanCE time 26 minutes 5
6 Mozart marks the slow movement adagio instead of the more common andante what he has to say can t be rushed. This magnificent and justly famous music stands alone among all Mozart concerto movements, not only because of its tempo or key (it s his only work in F-sharp minor), but also because it unlocks a tragic power that won t surface in music again until Beethoven. The wind writing is particularly expressive, and the piano solo is as simple and haunting as any slow aria. Even in Figaro, with its celebrated mixture of laughter and tears, there s scarcely a moment that plunges so deeply into the heart. The finale, a buoyant and delightful rondo, brings us back to A major, and, after the Adagio s revelations, it sounds like the happiest key on earth. Phillip Huscher Mozart s Walter clavier, which now stands in the Geburtshaus, Salzburg. The instrument, built by the Viennese maker Anton Walter in 1780, was purchased by Mozart in
7 richard Strauss Born June 11, 1864, Munich, Germany. Died September 8, 1949, Garmisch, Germany. Till Eulenspiegel s Merry Pranks, op. 28 Had Strauss s first opera, Guntram, succeeded as he hoped, he surely would have gone ahead with his plan to make Till Eulenspiegel s Merry Pranks his second. But Guntram was a major disappointment and Strauss reconsidered. We ll never know what sort of opera Till Eulenspiegel might have been the unfinished libretto isn t promising but as a tone poem it s close to perfection. The failure of Guntram hurt Strauss wasn t used to bad reviews or public indifference. Now, more than ever, he refused to give up on his hero, Till Eulenspiegel, an incorrigible prankster with a contempt for humanity, who sets out to get even with society. (There was a real Till Eulenspiegel who lived in the fourteenth century.) But Strauss was no longer certain that the opera stage was the best place to tell this story the figure of Master Till Eulenspiegel does not quite appear before my eyes, he finally confessed and he returned to the vehicle of his greatest past successes, the orchestral tone poem. Till Eulenspiegel s Merry Pranks is arguably his greatest achievement in the form. Ferruccio Busoni once said that in Till Eulenspiegel Strauss reached a mastery of lightness and humor unrivaled in German music since Haydn. The humor wasn t so surprising although some listeners had found the deep seriousness of Death and Transfiguration, Strauss s previous tone poem, worrisome but to achieve such transparency with an orchestra of unparalleled size seemed miraculous. At the time of the premiere of Till Eulenspiegel, Strauss resisted fitting a narrative to his music, but he later admitted a few points of reference. He begins by beckoning us to gather round, setting a warm once-upon-a-time mood into which the horn jumps with one of the most famous themes in all music the teasing cart-wheeling tune that characterizes this roguish hero better than any well-chosen words ever could. The portrait is rounded off by the nose-thumbing pranks of the clarinet. From there the music simply explodes, as the orchestra responds to Till s every move. When he dons the frock of a priest, the music turns mock-serious; when he escapes, down a handy violin glissando, in search of love, Strauss supplies sumptuous string harmonies Don Juan would envy. Rejected in love, Till takes on academia, but his cavalier remarks and the ComPoSED FIrSt PErFormanCE November 5, 1895; Cologne, Germany FIrSt CSo PErFormanCES November 15 & 16, 1895, Auditorium Theatre. Theodore Thomas conducting (u.s. premiere) most recent CSo PErFormanCES october 3, 2009, orchestra hall. Paavo Järvi conducting September 16, 2010, Benito Juárez Community Academy. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducting InStrUmEntatIon three flutes and piccolo, three oboes and english horn, two clarinets, clarinet in d and bass clarinet, three bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, large rattle, strings approximate PErFormanCE time 16 minutes CSo recordings Frederick Stock conducting. CSo (Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The First 100 Years) Fritz Reiner conducting. CSo (From the Archives, vol. 11: The Reiner Era II) Sir Georg Solti conducting. London Sir Georg Solti conducting. London (video) daniel Barenboim conducting. erato Pierre Boulez conducting. CSo (From the Archives, vol. 19: A Tribute to Pierre Boulez) 7
8 After a quick review of recent escapades a recapitulation of sorts Till is brought before a jury (the pounding of the gavel is provided by the fff roll of the side drum). The judge s repeated pronouncements do not quiet Till s insolent remarks. But the death sentence announced by the brass, falling the interval of a major seventh, the widest possible drop short of an octave silences him for good. It s over in a flash. Then Strauss turns the page, draws us round him once again, and reminds us that this is only a tone poem. And with a smile, he closes the book. Phillip Huscher Till Eulenspiegel s street ditty in a 1944 autograph copy of the score made for Till s fiftieth birthday professors ponderous deliberations (intoned by the bassoons and bass clarinet) find no common ground. Till departs with a Grosse Grimasse (Strauss s term) that rattles the entire orchestra, and then slips out the back way, whistling as he goes. Jan Swafford is a composer and writer and author of Charles Ives: A Life with Music. Phillip Huscher is the program annotator for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chicago Symphony Orchestra 8