A visually stunning collection of photos of the interiors of European Opera Houses
…and a reminder of the importance of the visual in the performance of music
See the entire exhibit, and more…
See the entire exhibit, and more…
Carnegie Hall presents a really excellent discussion of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 complete with audio clips. Well worth a look…
“Farewell. Farewell. Farewell. Mahler’s last three symphonies all say the same thing, but so differently. The Ninth, like the unnumbered “song-symphony,” Das Lied von der Erde, which immediately preceded it, ends with a slow movement in which gestures of leave-taking are extended over a half-hour span. Sadness, regret, awareness of death, a sense of lifting off—these things are easy to hear in such music, even without a singer as a guide.”
Very interesting concept developed by my old friend China Blue. Take a look.
For me, the music of Aaron Copland is the music of America. His America is a land of hope, of values, of limitless vistas. I first became acquainted with his music in high school choir singing the “Three American Songs”. This was the beginning of a life-long appreciation.
(unfortunately, if you are reading this in the HIDOE domain k12.hi.us, all you are seeing between the text is empty space. HIDOE feels that students and staff need to be protected from “harmful” content like Music.)
Copland was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 14, 1900. The child of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, he first learned to play the piano from his older sister. At the age of sixteen he went to Manhattan to study with Rubin Goldmark, a respected private music instructor who taught Copland the fundamentals of counterpoint and composition. During these early years he immersed himself in contemporary classical music by attending performances at the New York Symphony and Brooklyn Academy of Music. He found, however, that like many other young musicians, he was attracted to the classical history and musicians of Europe. So, at the age of twenty, he left New York for the Summer School of Music for American Students at Fountainebleau, France.
In France, Copland found a musical community unlike any he had known. It was at this time that he sold his first composition to Durand and Sons, the most respected music publisher in France. While in Europe Copeland met many of the important artists of the time, including the famous composer Serge Koussevitsky. Koussevitsky requested that Copland write a piece for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The piece, “Symphony for Organ and Orchestra” (1925) was Copland’s entry into the life of professional American music. He followed this with “Music for the Theater” (1925) and “Piano Concerto” (1926), both of which relied heavily on the jazz idioms of the time. For Copland, jazz was the first genuinely American major musical movement. From jazz he hoped to draw the inspiration for a new type of symphonic music, one that could distinguish itself from the music of Europe.
In the late 1920s Copland’s attention turned to popular music of other countries. He had moved away from his interest in jazz and began to concern himself with expanding the audience for American classical music. He believed that classical music could eventually be as popular as jazz in America or folk music in Mexico. He worked toward this goal with both his music and a firm commitment to organizing and producing. He was an active member of many organizations, including both the American Composers’ Alliance and the League of Composers. Along with his friend Roger Sessions, he began the Copland-Sessions concerts, dedicated to presenting the works of young composers. It was around this same time that his plans for an American music festival (similar to ones in Europe) materialized as the Yaddo Festival of American Music (1932). By the mid-’30s Copland had become not only one of the most popular composers in the country, but a leader of the community of American classical musicians.
It was in 1935 with “El Salón México” that Copland began his most productive and popular years. The piece presented a new sound that had its roots in Mexican folk music. Copland believed that through this music, he could find his way to a more popular symphonic music. In his search for the widest audience, Copland began composing for the movies and ballet. Among his most popular compositions for film are those for “Of Mice and Men” (1939), “Our Town ” (1940), and “The Heiress” (1949), which won him an Academy Award for best score. He composed scores for a number of ballets, including two of the most popular of the time: “Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo” (1942) and Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring” (1944), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Both ballets presented views of American country life that corresponded to the folk traditions Copland was interested in. Probably the most important and successful composition from this time was his patriotic “A Lincoln Portrait” (1942). The piece for voice and orchestra presents quotes from Lincoln’s writings narrated over Copland’s musical composition.
Throughout the ’50s, Copland slowed his work as a composer, and began to try his hand at conducting. He began to tour with his own work as well as the works of other great American musicians. Conducting was a synthesis of the work he had done as a composer and as an organizer. Over the next twenty years he traveled throughout the world, conducting live performances and creating an important collection of recorded work. By the early ’70s, Copland had, with few exceptions, completely stopped writing original music. Most of his time was spent conducting and reworking older compositions. In 1983 Copland conducted his last symphony. His generous work as a teacher at Tanglewood, Harvard, and the New School for Social Research gained him a following of devoted musicians. As a scholar, he wrote more than sixty articles and essays on music, as well as five books. He traveled the world in an attempt to elevate the status of American music abroad, and to increase its popularity at home. Through these various commitments to music and to his country, Aaron Copland became one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American music. On December 2, 1990, Aaron Copland died in North Tarrytown, New York.
I’m beginning a piece on the death of fine music in our communities. I’ll be adding more as time allows. This is personally disturbing to me as the parent of a musician. It should also disturb us since this trend seems to be symptomatic of some larger social and cultural shift. (more to come)
My son had the great good fortune to attend the Interlochen Arts Camp and subsequently, to graduate from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. At Interlochen, he was surrounded by the most talented young artists in the world. These young people are committed to excelling at their craft. Upon graduation, many go on to places like Julliard, Eastman, the Boston Conservatory as well as other colleges and universities. These are students full of promise. They are the next Perlman’s, YoYo Ma’s, and the generation that will pick up the batons of Leonard Slatkin and Seiji Ozawa. The question now is, what kind of future is there for a gifted artist in our society?
It’s been about a month since the Detroit Symphony Orchestra went on strike. Concerts at Orchestra Hall have been cancelled through November seventh, and more cancellations are likely…since no new contract talks have been scheduled.
“It’s just heartbreaking; absolutely heartbreaking,” says Tim Murphy. He and his wife Claire paid twenty bucks each to attend the sold-out concert, all of which goes to the striking musicians. Murphy says he’s not taking sides in the disagreement, but he says something has to be done, fast.
“This is a world class orchestra, and people on this level have to get paid and they have to recognize that this is a jewel,” he says. “And it’s an investment. And once it’s gone, it’s gone, because these people will move away, find other positions, and then this orchestra will no longer have that cache they’ve had for all these years.”
Right now, the DSO is one of the top ten orchestras in the country. But it’s a top ten orchestra with a nine million dollar budget deficit. So, to stay afloat, cuts need to be made. At least that much the two sides agree on.
Drew McManus, in discussing the problems encountered by the St. Louis Symphony a few years ago projects a troubling scenario for DSO:
“You’re definitely gonna see your top tier, like your fixed-chair players, your first chair players, start to peel away first and those are the players that inevitably help guide the sound of the orchestra,” he says. “So once that starts to go away you start to lose things music directors are hired to build in the first place.”
This is the situation we’ve seen happen in Honolulu. Fine musicians, who are able to perform elsewhere, are no longer financially able to stay in town hoping for something to change.
The strike by Detroit Symphony Orchestra players enters its third week Monday. The 85 musicians walked out October 4 against management attempts to cut their base pay by 33 percent and the pay of starting players by 42 percent, along with additional cuts in health benefits (which would, in fact, reduce pay by more than 33 percent) and other humiliating demands.
The Honolulu Symphony orchestra, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in December, negotiated a settlement of an unfair labor practices complaint with the union representing musicians. The symphony said in a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Honolulu that it was “highly unlikely” there could have been a reorganization plan without a settlement with the union.
Assuming the symphony’s board and the union formally agree, the musicians will waive claims for back pay and severance. Absent waiver, the claims would have been administrative expenses requiring full payment. The symphony said the settlement was “brokered” by the National Labor Relations Board.
The symphony said it cannot file a Chapter 11 plan until the settlement is formally approved. The symphony therefore filed a motion to extend the exclusive right to propose a plan. A hearing on the exclusivity motion will be held Dec. 18. The symphony said bankruptcy resulted from a decline in donations.
The case is In re Honolulu Symphony Society, 09–02978, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Hawaii (Honolulu).
HONOLULU (october 16, 2010) — A Friday deadline for a Honolulu Symphony reorganization plan came and went without one, and the next scheduled hearing in the case is two months away. Symphony management sought an extension of the filing deadline to buy time to settle an unfair labor practice charge made by the Symphony musicians.The bankruptcy judge set a Dec. 13 hearing date on the motion, effectively giving the Symphony another two months. The musicians, meanwhile, announced Friday afternoon that to facilitate reorganization they had withdrawn the complaint they filed with the National Labor Relations Board in July. “The musicians wanted to withdraw the charge to remove their stated reason for not filing,” said Jonathan Parrish, a member of the musician’s union who had sat on the Symphony board.
KHON2 November 20 2010
t’s been almost a year since the 110-year old Honolulu Symphony filed for Chapter 11 re-organization. According to the Musicians Union, the symphony board has had serious discussions about converting to Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy.
The Philadelphia Orchestra, a storied American institution that lifted classical music to new heights of public awareness when Leopold Stokowski conducted it for the 1940 Disney film “Fantasia” and that has remained one of the world’s finest musical ensembles, is showing signs of emerging from a troubled moment. The Fabulous Philadelphians, as the musicians have long been known, were hit by leadership turmoil even as they were suffering from the financial distress that has struck most orchestras during the recession.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday that it has raised $20.68 million toward a $50 million Great Orchestra Campaign. More than $15 million of the total was pledged since Sept. 15, during Paul Stewart’s first 60 days as DSO president.
For Cello lovers, Violoncello’s cello art photo gallery on FB
With the Honolulu Symphony’s future in doubt, some of its musicians are struggling in limbo
The people of Hawaii should hang their collective heads in shame…