On the ﬁrst Saturday of the month, Jack Moore and I host Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection on WRTI, where we take a look at some of the treasures housed in the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music in the Free Library of Philadelphia. It’s the largest lending library of orchestral performance material in the world. Listen to WRTI 90.1 FM in Philadelphia or online at wrti.org. We broadcast encore presentations of Discoveries every Wednesday at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2. For a look at all the shows, click here.
Saturday, January 3rd, 2009, 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Julián Aguirre (1868-1924). Due danze Argentine, La huella, El gato (orchestrated 1938 by Ernest Ansermet). Orquesta Sinfónica de Entre Ríos, Gabriel Castagna. Chandos 10185. 4:59
Jenö Hubay (1858-1937). Scènes de la Csárda, No. 4, Hejre Kati (Come on, Katy) (c.1882-6). Ferenc Balogh, violin, Hungarian State Orchestra, Mátyás Antal. Naxos 8.550142. 6:22
Jenö Hubay. Violin Concerto No. 3 (1906-7). Ragin Wenk-Wolff, violin, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Dennis Burkh. Centaur CRC 2790. 30:11
We look at two folk traditions through the eyes of Western classical music on this Discoveries. Julián Aguirre from Buenos Aires studied composition and piano in Spain, then returned to Argentina to make his career. At ﬁrst, Aguirre was mostly known as a pianist, but he quickly became an indispensable part of the musical culture in Buenos Aires for his compositions and for his part in the establishment of two music schools. “La huella” (The footstep) and “El gato” (The cat) show Aguirre taking the leap to use folk material, something that very few in his country were doing at the time—soon, Argentina began breaking European hegemony over its concert music. The conductor on this recording, Gabriel Castagna, continues to champion not only the music of Aguirre, but also others from Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America.
Jenö Huber, a composer and violinist from Hungary born into a German family, later adopted the Magyar form of his last name, Hubay. Like Aguirre, he also returned home to become an inﬂuential educator. Studying in Berlin and Paris, the supremely talented soloist became friendly with many of the stars of the day: Liszt, Joachim, Vieuxtemps among them. His works, especially for violin and orchestra, make use not only of Hungarian themes, but also of the feeling of improvisation that is associated with much of the popular music from that area. Hubay took these elements and folded them into the world of late European Romanticism he knew so well. The composer wrote a lot of music, including eight operas and four violin concertos, but is known today almost solely for the 14 Czardas Scenes, especially the one we hear today.
While much of his music has faded from popularity, his greatest legacy may be as a teacher. The violin training he gave (and oversaw, as Director from 1919 to 1934) at the Budapest Academy of Music produced some of the greatest players of the 20th century, including Jozsef Szigeti, Stefi Geyer, and many others. Their playing and that of another institution he founded, the Budapest String Quartet, still affect music-making today: especially, it could be argued, in Philadelphia, as his string sound lived on through one of his violin students, Jenö (Eugene) Ormandy.
In this new year, as the world of classical music looks around the globe for new inspiration, let us take a moment to remember those who have forged this path already. Both Aguirre and Hubay fused national themes into works to create new languages—and pride—for their cultures. Their lives expanded possibilities for other composers and performers, and they live on through their music.