Thursday, September 29, 2011
Originally composed for solo piano (and later orchestrated by Ravel), Pictures at an Exhibition was written by Modest Mussorgsky after he visited a retrospective exhibit of the works of his friend Victor Hartmann. The collection of pieces represents a promenade from painting to painting, pausing in front of works called The Gnome, Ancient Castle, and Great Gate of Kiev. Mussorgsky was a member of a nationalistic, anti-conservatory group of young musicians, and he had an unusual ability to interpret visual art in musical expression.
Posted by San Francisco Symphony Podcasts at 1:49 PM
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Born the son of a piano tuner and educated by playing in and conducting small amateur bands (including that of the Worcester Pauper Lunatic Asylum), Sir Edward Elgar had already written the Enigma variations, four Pomp and Circumstance marches, and the oratorio Dream of Gerontius before composing his Symphony No. 1 in 1908 at the age of fifty. While his colleagues Vaughan Williams and Holst encouraged a return to folk music, Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 pushed English music into the romanticism of the rest of the European community, and earned Elgar the nickname “the English Mahler.”
Posted by San Francisco Symphony Podcasts at 2:48 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Upon visiting Stravinsky in late 1910, expecting to find him immersed in composing the Rite of Spring, Serge Diaghilev, director of the Ballet Russe, was quite surprised to find him instead composing the ballet of an anthropomorphized puppet. The story recounts the rise and fall of mischievous Petrushka, a puppet brought to life by a magician as he courts the Ballerina and fights the Charlatan. The work was premiered one hundred years ago, with Nijinsky dancing the title role. Former SFS Music Director Pierre Monteux conducted the work’s world premiere.
Posted by San Francisco Symphony Podcasts at 9:59 AM
Thursday, September 1, 2011
In summer 1895, Gustav Mahler went on vacation. He’d had a busy year conducting in Hamburg, and went to his cabin to do what he always did in his free time—compose. He outlined a program for his new work—Pan’s awakening, the Bacchic entrance of summer—but leaves the movement titles out of the program. In this Symphony No. 3, the largest and longest in the current symphonic repertoire, he leaves the story up to the listener—according to Mahler, “you just have to bring along ears and a heart and—not least—willingly surrender to the rhapsodist.”
Posted by San Francisco Symphony Podcasts at 10:06 AM