Jubilee from Symphonic Sketches George Whitefield Chadwick Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, November 13, 1854; died in Boston, April 4, 1931

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1 Classics 5 Program Notes Jubilee from Symphonic Sketches George Whitefield Chadwick Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, November 13, 1854; died in Boston, April 4, 1931 Chadwick s father did not approve of a musical career, so the youth, active as an organist by the age of fifteen, had to pay for his own instruction as a special student at the New England Conservatory. He then taught briefly at Olivet College in Michigan, leaving in 1877 to pursue further studies at the Leipzig Conservatory and in Munich. Back in Boston in 1880, Chadwick worked as an organist, private teacher, conductor, and composer mainly of choral and orchestral music. He was appointed to the faculty of the New England Conservatory in 1882, serving as its director from 1897 to His innovations there, modeled on his experiences in Europe, helped the Conservatory grow into an institution of international reputation. Known as one of the Boston Classicists, Chadwick actually adopted the Romantic style assimilated during his studies in Germany and from other New England composers who had embraced that tradition. He was also greatly influenced by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, who was himself steeped in the Germanic style and who spent several years in the United States. In 1895 impresario George W. Stewart asked Chadwick to compose a piece for an orchestra that he was sending on tour and to conduct that group. Chadwick declined the conducting offer but did write the piece. He completed the first two movements, Jubilee and Noël, in 1895 and A Vagrom Ballad, eventually the fourth movementh in his Symphonic Sketches, in early The three Sketches were premiered in New Bedford, Connecticut, before the tour, and Chadwick conducted the first Boston performance of the same movements on November 21, That year Chadwick added Hobgoblin as the third movement, but the premiere of the fourmovement work did not take place until 1908, with Karl Muck conducting the Boston Symphony. About the Symphonic Sketches, said Chadwick, I determined to make it American in style as I understood the term. He did not specifically define what American style was, but he did emphasize rhythm and syncopation, as well as constant tempo changes and quick shifts in mood from jollity to deep seriousness and back again, as typifying the American spirit. It is fascinating that his Symphonic Sketches do bring Dvořák s music to mind not only in regard to these traits but also to frequent switches between groups of three and two beats, folksounding and pentatonic melodies, scintillating percussion in fast sections, and third-related harmonic procedures. Chadwick had previously written three numbered symphonies, but with the Symphonic Sketches he began looking toward the more descriptive realm of the symphonic poem. He wanted each movement to create an image or mood, which he indicated by prefatory lines of

2 poetry. He actually penned these himself, later admitting gleefully, Very few people know it to this day. The following poem introduces Jubilee in the score: No cool gray tones for me! Give me the warmest red and green, A cornet and a tambourine, To paint MY Jubilee! For when pale flutes and oboes play, To sadness I become a prey; Give me the violets and the May, But no gray skies for me!. Full of local pride, Chadwick had glowing memories of the 1869 Boston Peace Jubilee, a five-day festival featuring orchestral, choral, and solo performances with more than 11,000 participants. Scholar Bill Faucett suggests that Chadwick s poem was a reaction against the impression of William Dean Howells of Ohio, whose mostly positive account nevertheless described the crowd s opening-day gaiety as taking on sarcastic pathos as the festival wore on. Chadwick s emphasis on MY jubilee shows him taking a different view. Jubilee projects an overall mood of joy and exuberance interspersed with passages of serene reflection. A fanfare-like main theme contrasts with a gentler folk song like second theme in a relatively short exposition. Chadwick takes numerous harmonic excursions in the development section as one might expect, but he also uses his recapitulation and multisectioned coda to explore his themes further and even to introduce a new one in the coda. Here, in one of the most striking events of the piece, Chadwick creates a lovely atmosphere of peaceful repose only to banish it with the jubilant return of the opening fanfare. Jane Vial Jaffe Scored for 2 flutes, 2nd doubling piccolo, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, triangle, tambourine, cymbals, suspended cymbal, bass drum, harp, and strings Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, op. 23 Pyotr Il yich Tchaikovsky Born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Vyatka province, May 7, 1840; died in St. Petersburg, November 6, 1893 Composing did not come as easily to Tchaikovsky as the finished product might lead one to expect. I bite my nails to the quick, smoke endless cigarettes, and walk up and down the room for hours before an idea comes to me. He had problems with his First Piano Concerto at the outset and wrote to his brother Modest on October 29, 1874: I would like to start a piano concerto but somehow I have neither ideas nor inspiration. Then later to his brother Anatoly

3 he wrote, [The Concerto] is not going very well very slow progress but I am sticking to it and manage to hammer passages for the instrument out of my brain. Filled with doubt and insecurity, the composer wanted the advice of his friend Nikolay Rubinstein, whom he hoped would introduce the Concerto to the public. Tchaikovsky played it over to him on Christmas Eve What followed is perhaps one of the most famous stories in the history of music, albeit written three years later to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck. Rubinstein s eloquent silence [after the first movement] had great significance. As much as if to say My friend, how can I speak of details when the thing as a whole disgusts me? I armed myself with patience, and played it through to the end. Again silence. I stood up and said, Well? Then from the lips of N.G.R. poured a torrent of words.... It appeared that my Concerto is worthless, impossible to play, the themes have been used before, are clumsy and awkward beyond possibility of correction; as a composition it is poor, I stole this from here and that from there, there are only two or three pages that can be salvaged, and the rest must be thrown away or changed completely! Seeing how mortified Tchaikovsky was, Rubinstein said that if the Concerto was changed according to his wishes by a certain date he would perform it at his concert. Tchaikovsky refused saying, I won t change a single note, and will print it exactly as it is now. Tchaikovsky had planned to dedicate the Concerto to Rubinstein, but upon completing the orchestral score at the end of January he dedicated it to a young unknown Russian pianist, Sergei Taneyev. He crossed this out, however, penning in the dedication to Hans von Bülow, the famous German pianist and conductor who already liked Tchaikovsky s music and would be able to give his Concerto more exposure than someone unknown. Consequently, von Bülow premiered it on his American tour, on October 13 and 25, 1875, in Boston. The cable von Bülow sent to Tchaikovsky telling of the Concerto s success was possibly the first ever between Boston and Moscow. The Russian premiere occurred in St. Petersburg with Gustav Kross as soloist. Tchaikovsky was displeased (as were the critics) by the performance, but much happier with the first performance in Moscow three weeks later, in which Taneyev was the soloist and Rubinstein, of all people, conducted. Tchaikovsky did publish the first edition without changing a note, but he allowed alterations in the piano part when Edward Dannreuther performed it in 1876 in London, and included these changes in the second edition (1879). In 1889 he revised it even further; it seems that the famous piano chords accompanying the opening theme did not range the entire keyboard until this last edition. Ironically, it was Rubinstein who eventually showed the Concerto off to its best advantage. He admitted he had been wrong and he and Tchaikovsky made up, albeit not for three or four years after the Christmas Eve incident. The oddities of the First Piano Concerto, some of which may have caused Rubinstein s disparagement, are now considered some of its greatest charms. Much ink has been spent over the fact that the first movement s long introduction is not really an introduction in the Classical

4 sonata movement tradition, but rather a large ternary structure, based on a beautiful theme that never returns. In addition, the Concerto is billed in B-flat minor, yet after only six bars in which B-flat minor is suggested but not anchored, the opening theme occurs in D-flat major. The main body of the movement begins with a scherzando main theme, which Tchaikovsky said is a tune that every blind beggar sings in Little Russia (largely the Ukraine). The second theme is in A-flat major, a curious key for a second theme, unless one relates it to the D-flat major opening. The second movement, in three-part form, combines the elements of a beautifully lyrical slow movement and a scherzo. The scherzo-like middle section, according to Modest, is based on a French chansonnette, Il faut s amuser. The finale, a kind of sonata rondo, has the flavor of a Cossack dance; the first theme is actually based on the Ukrainian folk song Come, come, Ivanka. Though the movement is in B-flat minor, it ends emphatically in the parallel major, thus very little time is spent in the home key throughout the work. The condescending comments the Concerto received at first and ironically its later popularity have obscured the achievement that this work represents. Its greatness lies in its masterful orchestration, in the novel structure of the first movement, and in the advancement of pianistic virtuosity. If composers like Tchaikovsky had not written unplayable parts, piano technique could not have advanced to its present state of excellence. Jane Vial Jaffe Scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op. 47 Dmitri Shostakovich Born in St. Petersburg, September 25, 1906; died in Moscow, August 9, 1975 Shostakovich s fortunes with the Soviet government ran a roller-coaster course: one moment he was uplifted by extravagant praise, the next plunging into disfavor. His First Symphony began a series of highs, bringing immediate recognition at home and abroad. Shostakovich was much surprised and shaken in 1936 by the denouncement by Pravda of his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, which had already proved fantastically successful since its premiere on January 22, Having already begun his Fourth Symphony, he continued working with no noticeable style change following the denouncement. However, after ten rehearsals he aborted its premiere, withdrawing the work ostensibly out of personal dissatisfaction; unfortunately the Fourth Symphony was not heard until One cannot help wondering what was in Shostakovich s mind during this period of soul-searching and what effect the denouncement actually had on his creative processes. The Fifth Symphony was the work that returned him to favor. It was termed the creative reply of a Soviet artist to justified criticism by an unknown commentator, a phrase accepted by Shostakovich, and later attributed to him. Did he indeed agree with the authorities that he

5 should alter his style to appeal more to the masses? The premiere of the Fifth Symphony in Leningrad under Eugene Mravinsky s direction on November 21, 1937, was a smashing success. Whether or not Shostakovich made concessions to political pressure (many Western commentators criticized the work for such concessions), the Fifth became his most popular and is still his most frequently performed symphony. Possible concessions might have been his return to the traditional four-movement symphonic structure and to a standard-sized orchestra, more accessible themes, and more tonal harmonic language. Yet his originality, sardonic sense of humor, angularity, and complex textures the very elements that had infuriated Party officials are present here as well. Shostakovich may have been testing whether he could please the Party without repressing his individual voice or lowering his artistic standards. The intense first movement follows sonata form, opening with a dotted-rhythmic theme treated in stark octave imitation. The figure soon provides accompaniment to a lyrical theme, followed by a brief return of the dotted figure and a longer lyrical theme. Shostakovich inventively reverses the character of these motives during the course of the movement: the rhythms and intervals of the opening dotted figure become augmented and expanded to become a floating melody atop gently pulsing accompaniment, whereas the first two lyrical themes eventually become martial in character. The second movement recalls Mahler s rustic scherzos and displays Shostakovich s satiric wit. The contrasting trio incorporates a coquettish violin solo, echoed by flute, and briefly recalled by oboe before the movement s close. The slow movement dispenses with brass instruments altogether, and employs a complex divisi string texture. This movement evokes the most tragedy of the four; Shostakovich commented particularly about the many people who wept at the premiere. Like the first movement, this movement recedes introspectively after a strident climax. Conflicting testimony exists concerning the finale, in both cases attributed to Shostakovich. Apparently at the time the work appeared, Shostakovich declared: The theme of my Symphony is the stabilization of a personality. In the center of this composition conceived lyrically from beginning to end I saw a man with all his experiences. The finale resolves all the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements into optimism and joy of living. The idea of a hero arising from tragedy has subsequently received various interpretations: as a generic model for a struggling artist, as Shostakovich himself, or even as an oppressed citizen living under Stalinist rule. Yet in his memoirs, collected by Solomon Volkov entitled Testimony (some of the credibility of which has been challenged), Shostakovich later taints the model of heroic triumph:

6 I discovered to my astonishment that the man who considers himself its greatest interpreter does not understand my music. [He referred to Mravinsky, with whom the composer had a falling out at the end of his life after a long association.] He says that I wanted to write exultant finales for my Fifth and Seventh symphonies but I couldn t manage it. It never occurred to this man that I never thought about any exultant finales, for what exultation could there be? I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in Boris Godunov. It s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing, and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing. Shostakovich does not hold a monopoly on conflicting statements; contradictions and incongruities often result when one examines the relationship between a composer s life and the works themselves. The threat of political influence upon the creative process makes Shostakovich s crisis particularly pronounced. The admixture of his personal experiences with his musical creativity will remain a complex issue, but like any great artist he was able to triumph. Jane Vial Jaffe Scored for 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, E-flat clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, orchestra bells, snare drum, tam-tam, triangle, xylophone, 1 or 2 harps, piano doubling celesta, and strings

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