Program Notes

Program Note for Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10


The Tenth Symphony marked a big return for Dmitri Shostakovich, who had been suffering from a denunciation by the Soviet government, whose officials were against all music, art, and literature that they considered too abstract, formal, and serious. Along with Sergei Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturian, and other artists, Shostakovich was denounced in 1948 for writing “non-Russian” music. He had already been denounced once before in 1936 from which he recovered by composing his Fifth Symphony.

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Program Notes: Symphony No. 1 by Brahms


Many contemporaries of Brahms considered him to be the true successor to Beethoven. Because of this lineage, Brahms faced extremely high, if not unrealistic, expectations for his First Symphony. It would be on the basis of this symphony that many judged whether or not Brahms was the true successor of Beethoven. Who could manage to follow the Ninth Symphony’s grand musical gestures, its infinite horizon of musical depth, and its epic hope for joy and unity among the brotherhood of Mankind?

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Program Notes for February 5, 2017


Program notes written for Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra’s concert on February 5, 2017. Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16 (Grieg) Grieg was only 24 years-old when he composed this concerto—the only concerto he completed in his life. It was premiered in Copenhagen on April 3, 1869, and a months later, it was premiered in his own country in Oslo, Norway. Like many composers before him, Grieg never quite finished the work, revising it throughout his career until he died.

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Program Notes for November 17, 2016


Program notes written for Ithaca College Sinfonietta’s concert on February 5, 2017. Polovtsian Dances Alexander Borodin is one of the most interesting composers. He was not only a widely respected organic chemist in his day (he is co-credited with the discovery of the Aldol reaction) but he also composed one of the most famous Russian operas (Prince Igor), adopted children, and was an activist for women’s rights (especially in equal education).

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Program Notes for April 2, 2016


Program notes written for Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra’s concert on April 2, 2016. Semiramide (1823) While it’s accepted that many old tales have become inconsistent over the years, Semiramis is in her own class when it comes to the sheer number and diversity of variations. The version Rossini chose to write about in his last Italian opera comes from Voltaire’s tragedy Semiramis. There are threads of consistency among the plethora of different versions.

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Program Notes for January 30, 2016


Program notes written for Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra’s concert on January 30, 2016. Polovtsian Dances Alexander Borodin is one of the most interesting composers. He was not only a widely respected organic chemist in his day (he is co-credited with the discovery of the Aldol reaction) but he also composed one of the most famous Russian operas (Prince Igor), adopted children, and was an activist for women’s rights (especially in equal education).

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Program Notes for February 22, 2015


Program notes written for Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra’s concert on February 22, 2015. Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is one of Debussy’s most revolutionary pieces. Pierre Boulez said of the piece that it “brought new breath to the art of music.” Debussy said of his own work that: The music of this prelude is a very free illustration of Mallarmé’s beautiful poem.

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