Monthly Archives: August 2016

Three Things I Learned from Gregg Smith

Blues on Now Is the Time

KucharzIt’s blue and it’s the blues on Now Is the Time, Saturday, August 20th at 9 pm, We pick a Blueberry Rag-A-Muffin to begin the program, one of Linda Robbins Coleman’s many delightful piano rags, and then turn to the second movement of David Amram’s Violin Concerto, called Blues, which also includes an extended saxophone solo.

Larry Kucharz is represented by two of his ambient electronic works, Blue Drawing No. 02 and 03, while Mason Bates juggles blues fragments in his piano homage to Alan Lomax, White Lies for Lomax. John King puts the string quartet Ethel through its blues paces in ’Round Sunrise, and with Symphony in Blue for solo piano, Kamran Ince interprets a painting of the same name.

PROGRAM:
Linda Robbins Coleman: Blueberry Rag-A-Muffin
David Amram: Blues, from Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Larry Kucharz: Blue Drawing No. 02
Mason Bates: White Lies for Lomax
John King: ’Round Sunrise
Larry Kucharz: Blue Drawing No. 03
Kamran Ince: Symphony in Blue

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Jupiter’s Moons on Now Is the Time

Callisto

Jupiter’s moon Callisto

We’re looking at the sky and beyond on Now Is the Time, Saturday, August 13th at 9 pm, Dark Clouds Bring Waters is William McClelland’s setting of John Bunyan: “Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.” Elena Ruehr follows that with lovely music for flute and piano, Of Water and Clouds.

from Elena Ruehr: Of Water and Clouds

The first of two substantial works for piano is Judith Lang Zaimont’s Jupiter’s Moons, and the composer Beata Moon (we know, it’s a stretch, but a good excuse to hear her always-appealing music!) ends the show with her Piano Sonata from 2006. In between the two piano works is a trio for clarinet, bassoon, and piano, written by Justin Rubin honoring the birth of a little boy, Night Song for Noa.

PROGRAM:
William McClelland: Dark Clouds Bring Waters
Elena Ruehr: Of Water and Clouds
Judith Lang Zaimont: Jupiter’s Moons
Justin Rubin: Night Song for Noa
Beata Moon: Piano Sonata

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Pick Up the Pieces on Now Is the Time

QuartetSanFranciscoPieces of this and that country make up Now Is the Time, Saturday, August 6th at 9 pm. Two works of Mason Bates seemingly float in space, as Chanticleer sings the Maori-inspired Observer in the Magellanic Cloud, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project performs Mothership, along with electronics and a guzheng, the Chinese zither. Argentine sounds invest the lovely Dances of Mario Broeders for flute and harp, and the Cambodian American Chinary Ung brings Water Rings Overture for orchestra.

George Crumb sets one of his favorite poets, Federico Garcia Lorca, in Spanish Songbook I, or The Ghosts of Alhambra, for baritone, guitar, and percussion. In the midst of all this, Jeremy Cohen takes the Average White Band’s pop/jazz hit Pick Up the Pieces and arranges it for his band, which just happens to be a string quartet.

from Mason Bates: Mothership 

PROGRAM:
Mason Bates: Observer in the Magellanic Cloud
Mario Broeders: Dances
Average White Band, arr. Cohen: Pick Up the Pieces
Mason Bates: Mothership
George Crumb: The Ghosts of Alhambra
Chinary Ung: Water Rings Overture

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Anton Seidl and New Music in the New World

On the next Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, July 2nd, 5–6 pm on WRTI-FM:

Richard Wagner (1810-1883): Die Meistersinger, Prelude (1862)
Victor Herbert (1859-1924): Cello Concerto No. 2 (1894)
Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde, Prelude and Love Death (1857–59)

Conductor Anton Seidl

Conductor Anton Seidl

As we’ve seen this year on Discoveries, the rise of American orchestral music followed composers and orchestras, as you might think. And because orchestras have leaders, we’ve started looking at conductors, too.

We began last month with Theodore Thomas, who not only led his own ensemble but helped start the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In between—along with many other jobs—he directed the New York Philharmonic Society from 1877 to 1891, after having played in its first violin section since 1854. Thomas solidified classic German orchestral literature—beginning with its central voice, Beethoven—in the Philharmonic. He also brought in the new and revolutionary Richard Wagner.

Seidl and Wagner

When Thomas left for Chicago in 1891, the Hungarian Anton Seidl took over in New York. As a boy, he had thought of becoming a priest, loving to read the mass and to preach to his friends. But his love of music, and his adeptness at it, won out. He studied at the Hungarian National Academy, which Franz Liszt directed, then went to the Leipzig Conservatory, and began copying and preparing operas for performance, working with none other than Wagner himself, who launched him on his career as a sought-after opera conductor.

In 1885, after a stint at Bremen’s opera house, he accepted the call from New York and became a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and Tristan und Isolde both had their American premieres at the Met under Seidl. Soon, the Philharmonic noticed, and as he took over from Thomas in 1891, New York was already America’s musical powerhouse. Many other Europeans crossed the Atlantic to perform or to set up shop there.

Antonin Dvořák was one; he ran New York’s National Conservatory for a few years and in 1893 the Philharmonic commissioned his Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” Seidl had already been at the helm of the Philharmonic for two years, so the world premiere performance of the “New World” Symphony was conducted by Anton Seidl.

Victor Herbert

Someone else who made the American voyage (in 1886) was an Irish cellist and composer who had studied in Germany, Victor Herbert. He took a job at the Met when his new wife, a soprano, was hired there. He also taught at the National Conservatory. Operettas would later make him famous (Babes in Toyland, Naughty Marietta), but he was a gifted composer of concert music. In 1894 Seidl conducted, and Herbert soloed, in the premiere of his most successful work, the Cello Concerto No. 2, with the Philharmonic.

Seidl, being well trained in Hungary and Germany, believed strongly in education. “America does not need gorgeous halls and concert rooms for its musical development, but music schools with competent teachers,” he once said. But the role of friends to help pave the way was not lost on him. He benefited from Wagner’s influence, and he gave back, too. On the boat to America, in fact, who befriended the newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Herbert, on the way to new jobs in New York? It would be the one who had hired them: Anton Seidl.