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Program Notes

10/10/2016


FRI NOV 25, 8 pm • SAT NOV 26, 8 pm

LOUIS LANGRÉE conductor • BRANFORD MARSALIS saxophone

BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)

Overture to Candide

COPLAND (1900-1990)

Our Town, Music from the Film Score

MICHAEL FIDAY (b.1961)

Three for One   WORLD PREMIERE

• starting over

• presence/absence

• twitter

 

INTERMISSION

JOHN WILLIAMS (b 1935)

Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from Catch Me If You Can

COPLAND 

Suite from The Tender Land

• Introduction and Love Music
• Party Scene—
• Finale: The Promise of Living


Overture to Candide

Born: August 25, 1918, Lawrence, Massachusetts | Died: October 14, 1990, New York City

Work composed: 1956

Premiere: October 29, 1956 in Boston

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals a2, glockenspiel, snare drum, tenor drum, triangle, xylophone, harp, strings

CSO subscription performances: Five previous subscription weekends, plus several performances on Pops, regional and youth concerts as well as the CSO’s 2009 Asian tour and 1969, 1995 and 2001 European tours

Premiere: January 1962, Haig Yaghjian conducting 

Most Recent: September 1997, Jesús Lopez-Cóbos conducting; this work also appeared on the CSO’s most recent LUMENOCITY program in August of 2016

Duration: approx. 5 min.

François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694–1778) was the leading figure of the French Enlightenment and one of the 18th century’s most vitriolic intellectual iconoclasts. He railed throughout his long career against absolutism and persecution and dogmatism, extolling rationalism and skepticism as the proper foundations for human society. Among the best-known of his vast number of writings is the “philosophical novel” Candide of 1759, a swift and pointed satirical finger in the eye of unthinking convention that flattens the notion that “this” (whenever and wherever “this” is) is “the best of all possible worlds.” One such less-than-best world was created in the United States in the early 1950s by Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose ideological witch-hunt targeted some of the country’s most creative and independent personalities. Among those who became ensnared in McCarthy’s machinations was the writer Lillian Hellman, who had visited Russia in the 1930s and been involved with Communist activities during the following decade. In 1951, her lover, the mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, was called before the congressional committee, refused to answer its questions, and was sentenced to prison. Hellman was subpoenaed, wrote to the committee that she would testify about her politics but no one else’s, and was allowed to remain silent, though she was blacklisted for a time by Hollywood. She vented her rage in an anti-establishment adaptation of The Lark by Jean Anouilh, based on the story of Joan of Arc, for which the young composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein supplied the incidental music. Hellman’s next artistic reaction to her political harassment was a theatrical rendering of Voltaire’s Candide.

Lillian Hellman conceived a contemporary stage version of Candide as early as 1950, but it was not until 1956 that the project materialized. She originally intended the piece to be a play with incidental music, which she asked Bernstein to compose, but his enthusiasm for the subject was so great after re-reading Voltaire’s novel that the venture swelled into a full-blown comic operetta; Tyrone Guthrie was enlisted as director and Richard Wilbur wrote most of the song lyrics (after that task had passed through several other hands). Candide was first seen in a pre-Broadway tryout at Boston’s Colonial Theatre on October 29, 1956 (just days after Bernstein’s appointment as co-music director of the New York Philharmonic had been announced for the following season), and opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York on December 1. Reviews in both cities were mixed. All agreed that the production, designed by Oliver Smith, was opulent and attractive, but that the show itself was disjointed and clumsy. (“Three of the most talented people our Theatre possesses—Lillian Hellman, Leonard Bernstein and Tyrone Guthrie—have joined hands transforming Voltaire’s Candide into a really spectacular disaster,” wrote Walter Kerr in the New York Herald Tribune.) Bernstein’s music, however, received nothing but praise, which Guthrie neatly summarized in his autobiography: “Bernstein’s facility and virtuosity are so dazzling that you are almost blinded—if ever I have seen it, the stuff of genius is here.” Though the show closed after just 73 performances, Godard Lieberson of Columbia Records produced a splendid original cast album that won for Candide, or at least for Bernstein’s score, an inextinguishable following.

An occasional brave production was mounted during the following years, but it was not until director Harold Prince took the piece in hand in 1973, stripped it of Hellman’s proselytizing text and gave it a riotous new book by Hugh Wheeler based more faithfully on Voltaire’s novel (and with additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) that Candide at last became a popular success, though at the expense of the loss or reshuffling of some of Bernstein’s music as well as the submerging of the dramatic structure and ethical core of the original work. In 1982, the brilliant and eclectic conductor John Mauceri, a Bernstein protégé, revised Candide for performance at the New York City Opera, restoring several cuts, enlarging the orchestration and reworking Wheeler’s book into the conventional two acts. For a Scottish Opera production in 1988, Mauceri prepared with John Wells yet another version of Candide, which included virtually all of the music Bernstein had written for the show over the years and reassigned numbers to their original intended characters and situations. Bernstein used this Scottish Opera version, with a few additional revisions and restorations, for his London concert performances and his Deutsche Grammophon recording in 1989, just a year before his death. Candide, like its title character, had made a long journey before reaching its settled state.

The Overture to Candide was taken almost immediately into the concert hall—Bernstein conducted it with the New York Philharmonic only six weeks after the play opened on Broadway—and it has remained one of the most popular curtain-raisers in the orchestral repertory. Its music, largely drawn from the show, captures perfectly the wit, brilliance and slapstick tumult of Voltaire’s novel. The group of first themes (the work is disposed, like many of Rossini’s overtures, in sonatina form) comprises a boisterous fanfare, a quicksilver galop, and a brass proclamation, used later in the show to accompany the destruction of Westphalia, the hero’s home. Lyrical contrast is provided by a broad melody from the duet of Candide and his beloved Cunegonde, “Oh, Happy We.” These musical events are recounted, and the Overture ends with a whirling strain from Cunegonde’s spectacular coloratura aria, “Glitter and Be Gay.”

Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Our Town, Music from the Film Score

Born: November 14, 1900, Brooklyn, New York | Died: December 2, 1990, North Tarrytown, New York

Work composed: 1940 

Premiere: June 9, 1940 in New York City, conducted by Howard Barlow

Instrumentation: 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets (incl. bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 3 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, glockenspiel, strings

CSO subscription performances: CSO premiere

Duration: approx. 11 min.

Copland composed his first film music for The City, a documentary produced for the 1939 New York World’s Fair by Pare Lorenz, the American director most widely known for The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1937), to which Virgil Thomson contributed two of his finest and most characteristic scores. The City caught the attention of producer Hal Roach when he saw the film in Hollywood, and he and director Lewis Milestone settled on Copland as the appropriate composer to score their film version of Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck’s powerful and controversial novel about life on a California ranch. Copland flew from New York to California in October 1939, and his arrival created a stir on both coasts: the Hollywood people congratulated themselves on getting such a high-toned composer involved in their venture; the East Coast concert establishment worried that Copland might be slipping from serious composition into the lucrative maw of commercial filmmaking. Copland finished the score in less than six weeks, and Of Mice and Men was premiered at a glamorous Hollywood opening night on December 22, 1939.

Copland returned briefly to New York, but he was back in Hollywood in March and April 1940 to compose the score for producer Sol Lesser’s screen adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Our Town. “I welcomed the opportunity,” wrote Copland in his autobiography. “With the threat of impending war, the atmosphere was one of nervousness and insecurity.... Composers as well as writers and artists were drawn to patriotic and nostalgic themes, and the American public, fearing the violence to come, was comforted by works like Wilder’s Our Town, which looked back at an America of simple, homespun values that seemed to have been lost.” Copland was also drawn to the project because Wilder had written his play at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, which he used as the model for the small town of “Grover’s Corners,” the setting of the drama—Copland had also spent many happy summer months at the Colony, and knew Peterborough well. In creating the atmosphere for Wilder’s New England town, Copland employed what he called “a kind of musical naturalness” which, like Wilder’s characters, is plain and straightforward and devoid of frills and small-mindedness, yet richly evocative and deeply moving. When the film opened in June 1940, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times, “We hesitate to use superlatives, but of Our Town the least we can say is that it captures on film the simple beauties and truths of humble folks as very few pictures ever do; it is rich and ennobling in its plain philosophy—and it gives one a passionate desire to enjoy the fullness of life even in these good old days of today.” Buoyed by his early successes, Copland returned several times to the film medium in later years, writing scores for The North Star (1943, by Lillian Hellman), The Cummington Story (1945, a documentary about rural New England life produced by the United States Office of War Information), The Red Pony (1948, Steinbeck), The Heiress (1948, based on Henry James’ novel Washington Square; Copland won an Academy Award for his music) and Something Wild (1961, adapted from Alex Karmel’s novel Mary Ann by director Jack Garfein).

By the time Our Town had its official opening, in Boston on May 24, 1940, Copland had hastily worked about 10 minutes of its score into an orchestral piece, which the Columbia Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra played under the direction of Howard Barlow on June 4. Copland later prepared what he called “a more careful version” of the suite, which Leonard Bernstein introduced at a Boston Pops concert on May 7, 1944. This definitive version includes three sequences from the film: the title music, scenes in the churchyard, and daily life in Grover’s Corners.

—Dr. Richard E. Rodda

MICHAEL FIDAY

Three for One

Born: March 10, 1961, Joliet, Illinois  

Work composed: 2016

Premiere: This weekend’s performances mark the work’s world premiere

Instrumentation: 3 flutes (incl. piccolo), 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons (incl. contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, piano, harp, strings

Duration: approx. 12 min.

In an interview during his residency at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire during the summer of 2010, Michael Fiday vividly recounted his introduction to classical music, a testament to the efficacy of music education in the schools:

This happened in 5th grade growing up in Colorado, when our general music teacher, Mrs. Hebert, played a recording of Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King for the class. I was very excited by what I heard, and left school that day with the conviction that “I was going to be a composer.” I went to the nearest department store, found a little music paper notebook, went home, opened up the booklet, saw these mysterious groups of five lines and said…“Wait a minute…What do I DO with this?”

Fiday began to answer that question by trying to write a few of his own pieces and beginning violin lessons with a man he said was a “very inspiring teacher who encouraged me to take formal studies in composing.” He did, at the University of Colorado (with Richard Toensing) for his baccalaureate, at the University of Pennsylvania (with George Crumb, Jay Reise and Richard Wernick) for his master’s degree and doctorate, and at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague on a Fulbright Grant. Fiday then taught at West Chester University in Chester, Pennsylvania and at Temple University before joining the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2002, where he has served as teacher of composition and orchestration and as department chair, directed the CCM New Music Ensemble, developed collaborative multimedia workshops and classes with other departments, and received several grants and awards. His compositions, which include works for orchestra, dance and diverse chamber ensembles, have been performed by the Atlanta Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Percussion Ensemble of The Hague, pianists James Tocco and Marc-André Hamelin, electric guitarist Seth Josel, and other noted artists and ensembles. Michael Fiday is the recipient of numerous awards, grants and residencies from, among others, BMI, ASCAP, American Composers Forum, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Yaddo, Headlands Center for the Arts and Ohio Arts Council.

Michael Fiday wrote, “Three for One is a collection of three character sketches composed especially for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to be premiered on their One City, One Symphony concert in November of 2016.

“Each of the movements centers on or emanates from a specific orchestral choir: the woodwinds in movement I, strings in movement II, and brass (especially horns) in movement III. While each movement inhabits a consistent and distinct expressive space—the first giddy and strident, the second meditative and elegiac, the third bright and propulsive—they all emanate from the same harmonic source/game, which explores the variety of ways in which notes can be added to the interval of a perfect fifth to form a spectrum of harmonies ranging from dark to light.

“Each movement bears a title that gives clues into how it is put together and/or plays out in time. In starting over, a manically optimistic yet conflicted figure in the woodwinds feigns forward motion before stopping abruptly, repeating the process a total of three times, each time advancing further towards some sort of resolution. presence/absence is essentially a four-voice chorale in which the chords in the strings build and dissipate one note at a time, much like the steady ebb and flow of a wave. twitter simply refers to the constant propulsive 16th-note energy that pervades the last movement, particularly when it ascends into the higher register of the woodwinds. The second movement in particular (presence/absence) is dedicated to Richard Toensing, an important teacher, mentor and friend who passed away two summers ago.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to write for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on this occasion: an incredibly wonderful ensemble whose sound I’ve come to know well these past 14 years, and many of whose members I count as close friends.”

Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Escapades for Alto Saxophone from Catch Me If You Can

Born: February 8, 1932, Flushing, New York

Work composed: 2002–2003

Premiere: Premiered on July 12, 2003 in Washington, D.C. by the United States Marine Band conducted by the composer and Staff Sergeant Gregory Ridlington as soloist; orchestral premiere given on June 6, 2003 in Pittsburgh, conducted by the composer with Mark Ortwein as soloist.

Instrumentation: solo alto saxophone, 3 flutes (incl. piccolo), 2 oboes (incl. English horn), 3 clarinets (incl. 2 bass clarinets), tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons (incl. contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, bell tree, chimes, glockenspiel, marimba, sleigh bells, suspended cymbals, tambour de basque, triangle, vibraphone, xylophone, harp, celeste, piano, strings

CSO subscription performances: CSO subscription premiere

Duration: approx. 14 min.

John Williams is one of America’s most widely known composers. Born in New York in 1932, he moved with his family when he was 16 to Los Angeles, where his father was active as a studio musician. After serving in the Air Force, Williams returned to New York in 1954, working there as a jazz pianist in clubs and on recordings while attending the Juilliard School. He subsequently moved back to Los Angeles to enroll at UCLA and study privately with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. By the early 1960s, he was composing music for feature films and television, as well as working as a pianist, arranger and conductor for Columbia Records. His music began to receive wide recognition during the 1960s, when he won Emmys for his scores for the television movies Heidi and Jane Eyre.

Williams has since composed music and served as music director for more than 300 movies and television shows, including all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, Jaws, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, Home Alone, The Witches of Eastwick, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. His recent projects include the Harry Potter movies, Memoirs of a Geisha, Munich, War of the Worlds, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, The Adventures of Tin-Tin and Lincoln. Williams has received 50 Academy Award nominations (the most of any living person and second only to Walt Disney) and has won five Oscars, 22 Grammys, four Golden Globes and four Emmys, as well as numerous gold and platinum records. The original soundtrack album from Star Wars has sold nearly five million copies, more than any non-pop album in recording history.

In addition to his film music, Williams has written many concert pieces, including two symphonies as well as concertos for violin, cello, flute, clarinet, bassoon, tuba, horn, saxophone and trumpet. For the 350th anniversary of the city of Boston, he composed the Jubilee 350 Fanfare; for the Boston Pops, he wrote the Esplanade Overture and Pops on the March. In 1986, he wrote the Statue of Liberty March for the celebrations marking the centenary of that national monument. He was among the 21 composers who contributed fanfares to the Houston Symphony Orchestra’s celebration of the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986. His additional concert works include the Essay for Strings, the official themes of the 1996 Summer Olympics (Summon the Heroes) and the 2002 Winter Olympics (Call of the Champions), and numerous chamber pieces. Williams composed Air and Simple Gifts for Clarinet, Cello and Piano for the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

From 1980 to 1993, Williams served as conductor of the Boston Pops. In addition to leading that orchestra in Boston, on tours across the country and abroad, and in many recordings, he has also appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras in London, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Houston, Toronto, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Williams holds 20 honorary degrees, including those from the Juilliard School, Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Boston University, New England Conservatory, University of Massachusetts, Eastman School and Oberlin College. On June 23, 2000, he was the first person inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. On New Year’s Day 2004, he served as the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, and the following December he was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor, America’s highest award for artistic achievement. In June 2006, Williams received the prestigious Golden Baton Award for Lifetime Achievement from the League of American Orchestras; in 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts at the White House.

John Williams called Catch Me If You Can (2002) a “delightful departure” for director Stephen Spielberg. The film, based on a true story, tells of the precocious Frank Abagnale, Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who drops out of high school and within a few years poses as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician and an attorney, and passes $4,000,000 in bad checks before fleeing to France and being extradited, tried and jailed through the persistent pursuit of dour FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). Despite Frank’s many encounters, his only emotional attachment is with his father (Christopher Walken), whose wife left him and whose financial difficulties his son tries to ease with his schemes. “The film is set in the now nostalgically tinged 1960s,” wrote Williams, “and so it seemed to me that I might evoke the atmosphere of that time by writing a sort of impressionistic memoir of the progressive jazz movement that was then so popular. The alto saxophone seemed the ideal vehicle for this expression and the three movements of this suite are the result. In Closing In, we have music that relates to the often humorous sleuthing that took place in the story. The following movement, Reflections, refers to the fragile relationships of Abagnale’s broken family. Finally, in Joy Ride, we have the music that accompanied Frank’s wild flights of fantasy that took him around the world before the law finally reined him in.”

Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Suite from The Tender Land

Work composed: 1952-1954

Premiere: April 1, 1954, New York City

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, piccolo, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets (incl. bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals a2, orchestra bells, ratchet, slapstick, snare drum, triangle, wood block, xylophone, harp, celeste, piano, strings

CSO subscription performances: One previous subscription weekend, December 1968, Max Rudolf conducting (“Party Scene” only, October 2002, John Adams conducting)

Duration: approx. 19 min.

The Tender Land, Aaron Copland’s only full-scale opera, was composed in 1954 on a commission from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the League of Composers. Copland wrote of The Tender Land, composed in his distinctive American idiom, “The opera takes place in the Thirties, spring harvest time. It’s about a farm family—a mother (Ma Moss), a daughter (Laurie) about to graduate from High School, her sister (Beth), and a grandfather (Grandpa Moss). Two drifters (Martin and Top) come along asking for odd jobs. The grandfather is reluctant to give them any, and the mother is alarmed because she’s heard reports of two men molesting young girls of the neighborhood. Nevertheless, they sleep in the shed for the night. The graduation party begins the second act. The heroine has naturally fallen in love with one of the drifters. And they prove it by singing a 12-minute love duet. But there is something of a complication. You see, she associates him with freedom, and he associates her with settling down. Martin asks Laurie to run away with him, but in the middle of the night he decides that this kind of roving life is not for Laurie, so he silently steals off with Top. When Laurie discovers she’s been jilted, she decides to leave home anyway, and at the conclusion, the mother sings a song of acceptance that is the key to the whole opera. In it she looks to her younger daughter as the continuation of the family cycle that is the whole reason for their existence.” The Suite consists of the introduction to Act III, the love duet, the party scene from Act II, and the quintet The Promise of Living, which closes Act I.

—Dr. Richard E. Rodda