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7th Annual ATL Symphony Musicians Appreciation Concert

​Dear Friends,

On behalf of the ATL Symphony Musicians Foundation, we would like to wish you a very joyful holiday season!

ATL Symphony Musicians Foundation is honored to serve our community and the state of Georgia, as performers, teachers, and stewards of classical music. We are grateful for the support we receive, and we are fully committed to our mission.

As the year comes to a close we ask you to consider a donation to support our endeavors, including the ATLSMF Scholarship Fund providing private lessons and masterclasses for deserving students.

We hope you will join us for our 7th Annual ATL Symphony Musicians Appreciation Concert on January 5th, 2020, celebrating the partnership and unique relationships formed between teachers and students. Members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform side by side at 3pm in Kellett Chapel at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. The event is not ticketed, general seating is first come first served, and a suggested donation at the door of $10 per person.

​Thanks you for helping us reach our 2019 fundraising goal of $5000, to further excellent classical music performances and education in our community.

Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960)

Last Round, for string nonet (1996)

I. Movido, urgente

II. Lentissimo

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)

Six Tango Etudes for Flute (1987) (arr. for two flutes)

Etude No. 1. Décidé

Etude No. 2. Anxieux et rubato

Etude No. 3. Molto marcato e energico

Etude No. 4. Lento meditativo

Etude No. 5. Quarter note = 120

Etude No. 6. Avec anxiété

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Appalachian Spring (1944)

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Metamorphosen, A Study for 23 Solo Strings (1945) (Realization for String Septet by Rudolf Leopold)

Notes on the Program by Ken Meltzer

Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960)

Last Round, for string nonet (1996) 14 minutes

Last Round, by “Atlanta School” composer Osvaldo Golijov, was commissioned by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, who premiered the work at Sir Adrian Boult Hall on October 25, 1996, with Stefan Asbury conducting. Last Round, composed for strings, may, according to a preface in the score, be performed in three different ways, “depending on the size of the string ensemble”: (1) 9 players (two string quartets and a double-bass), (2) small string orchestra, or (3) large string orchestra. This performance features the string nonet version.

The composer provided the following commentary on Last Round:

Astor Piazzolla, the last great Tango composer, was at the peak of his creativity when a stroke killed him in 1992. He left us, in the words of the old tango, “without saying good bye”, and that day the musical face of Buenos Aires was abruptly frozen. The creation of that face had started a hundred years earlier from the unlikely combination of African rhythms underlying gauchos’ couplets, sung in the style of Sicilian canzonettas over an accompanying Andalucian guitar. As the years passed all converged towards the bandoneon: a small accordion-like instrument without keyboard that was invented in Germany in the 19th century to serve as a portable church organ and which, after finding its true home in the bordellos of Buenos Aires’ slums in the 1920’s, went back to Europe to conquer Paris’ high society in the 1930’s. Since then it reigned as the essential instrument for any Tango ensemble.

Piazzolla’s bandoneon was able to condense all the symbols of tango. The eroticism of legs and torsos in the dance was reduced to the intricate patterns of his virtuoso fingers (a simple C major scale in the bandoneon zigzags so much as to leave an inexperienced player’s fingers tangled). The melancholy of the singer’s voice was transposed to the breathing of the bandoneon’s continuous opening and closing. The macho attitude of the tangueros was reflected in his pose on stage: standing upright, chest forward, right leg on a stool, the bandoneon on top of it, being by turns raised, battered, caressed.

I composed Last Round in 1996, prompted by Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman. They heard a sketch of the second movement, which I had written in 1991 upon hearing the news of Piazzolla’s stroke, and encouraged me to finish it and write another movement to complement it. The title is borrowed from a short story on boxing by Julio Cortázar, the metaphor for an imaginary chance for Piazzolla’s spirit to fight one more time (he used to get into fistfights throughout his life). The piece is conceived as an idealized bandoneon. The first movement represents the act of a violent compression of the instrument and the second a final, seemingly endless opening sigh (it is actually a fantasy over the refrain of the song My Beloved Buenos Aires, composed by the legendary Carlos Gardel in the 1930s). But Last Round is also a sublimated tango dance. Two quartets confront each other, separated by the focal bass, with violins and violas standing up as in the traditional tango orchestras. The bows fly in the air as inverted legs in crisscrossed choreography, always attracting and repelling each other, always in danger of clashing, always avoiding it with the immutability that can only be acquired by transforming hot passion into pure pattern.

—Osvaldo Golijov

I. Movido, urgente

II. Lentissimo

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)

Six Tango Etudes for Flute (1987) (arr. for two flutes) 26 minutes

Astor Piazzolla, father of the “Tango Nuevo” (“New Tango”), was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on March 11, 1921. Four years later, the Piazzolla family moved to New York City’s Little Italy. There, a neighbor who was a classical pianist introduced the young Piazzolla to the music of Bach and other great composers. Jazz also played an important role in Astor Piazzolla’s early music life. And of course, the tango had a major presence in the Piazzolla household, most notably through the recordings of the great singer and songwriter, Carlos Gardel. As a young boy, Astor Piazzolla mastered the bandoneon, a square-build button accordion prominently featured in tango ensembles.

Before the close of Piazzolla’s teenage years, he returned to Argentina, where he worked in various tango clubs. In 1944, Piazzolla began musical studies in Buenos Aires with the Argentine classical composer Alberto Ginastera.

In 1954, Piazzolla moved to Paris, where he studied with the legendary teacher, Nadia Boulanger (whose students also included Aaron Copland). Piazzolla’s classical works failed to impress Boulanger. “This music is well written,” Boulanger observed, “but it lacks feeling.” But when Piazzolla performed one of his tangos, Boulanger exclaimed: “This is Piazzolla! Don’t ever leave it!” This marked a turning point for Piazzolla. As he later recalled, Boulanger “helped me find myself.”

Piazzolla “threw away all the other music and, in 1954, started working on my New Tango.” This “New Tango” infused the seductive Latin American dance with elements of jazz and modern classical music.

Piazzolla encountered considerable initial resistance to his “New Tango,” particularly in his native Argentina. However, by the time of his death in 1992, Piazzolla was recognized and mourned as a national hero. The admiration for Astor Piazzolla extended far beyond his native land. He earned the acclaim of some of the world’s greatest musicians, including such classical artists as Gidon Kremer, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Kronos String Quartet.

The Six Tango Etudes for Solo Flute are a superb example of Piazzolla’s blending of his “new tango” aesthetic with the traditional instrumental etude. These varied, remarkable, and challenging works are performed in this concert in an arrangement for two flutes.

Etude No. 1. Décidé

Etude No. 2. Anxieux et rubato

Etude No. 3. Molto marcato e energico

Etude No. 4. Lento meditativo

Etude No. 5. Quarter note = 120

Etude No. 6. Avec anxiété

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Appalachian Spring (1944) 23 minutes

In 1943, the legendary American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham accepted a commission to stage new works for the Festival of the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, held at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. For that event, Graham, in turn, commissioned music by three prominent contemporary composers—Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, and Aaron Copland.

It was Graham who chose the title for Copland’s piece--Appalachian Spring, taken from the heading of a poem by Hart Crane. Copland began work on the score in June of 1943. Because of various delays, the premiere of Appalachian Spring did not occur until October 30, 1944. Graham and Eric Hawkins danced the principal roles.

Copland scored the original ballet for a chamber group of thirteen instruments (that version is performed at this concert). Subsequently, Copland arranged a Suite from Appalachian Spring for a larger ensemble. The Suite received its premiere in 1945.

Appalachian Spring takes place in the early part of the 19th century, in the hills of Pennsylvania. The story concerns the wedding of a young farmer and his bride.

The work is divided into eight sections, performed without pause. The composer offered the following program notes for the Suite's 1945 premiere:

I. Very Slowly. Introduction of the characters, one by one, in a suffused light.

2. Fast. Sudden burst of unison strings in A-major arpeggios starts the action. A sentiment both exalted and religious gives the keynote to this scene.

3. Moderate. Duo for the bride and her Intended—scene of tenderness and passion.

4. Quite fast. The revivalist and his flock. Folksy feelings—suggestions of square dances and country fiddlers.

5. Still faster. Solo dance of the Bride—presentiment of motherhood. Extremes of joy and fear and wonder.

6. Very slowly (as at first). Transition scenes reminiscent of the introduction.

7. Calm and flowing. Scenes of daily activity for the Bride and her Farmer-husband. There are five variations on a Shaker theme. The theme, sung by a solo clarinet, was taken from a collection of Shaker melodies compiled by Edward D. Andrews, and published later under the title The Gift to be Simple. The melody I borrowed and used almost literally is called “Simple Gifts.”

‘Tis the gift to be simple

‘Tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down

Where we ought to be.

And when we find ourselves

In the place just right

‘Twill be in the valley

Of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d

To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d

To turn, turn will be our delight,

‘Till by turning, turning we come out right.

8. Moderate. Coda. The Bride takes her place among her neighbors. At the end the couple are left “quiet and strong in their new house.” Muted strings intone a hushed, prayer-like passage. We hear a last echo of the principal theme sung by the flute and a solo violin. The close is reminiscent of the opening music.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Metamorphosen, A Study for 23 Solo Strings (1945) (Realization for String Septet by Rudolf Leopold) 26 minutes

The final decade of Richard Strauss’s long and productive life was, in many ways, the most difficult. Along with the kinds of challenges typically encountered in later years, Strauss witnessed the destruction of his native Germany, as World War II reached its devastating conclusion. In 1945, Strauss and his wife, Pauline, sought refuge in Switzerland.

Nevertheless, Strauss’s last decade proved to be a remarkably creative period, one affectionately referred to as the composer’s “Indian Summer.” During the 1940s Strauss produced several marvelous works, including the opera Capriccio (1942), the Second Horn Concerto (1942), the Oboe Concerto (1945) and the Four Last Songs (1948). Perhaps the crowning glory of Strauss’s “Indian Summer” is Metamorphosen, subtitled “A Study for 23 Solo Strings.”

In the summer of 1944, the Swiss conductor, Paul Sacher, commissioned Strauss to write a new piece for his Zürich Collegium Musicum. Strauss began the Sacher commission in August and September of that year. Strauss continued work on the new piece until October, when he set it aside. The composer turned his attention to other projects, and did not return to the Sacher commission until January. On March 13, 1945, Strauss began the full score, finally completing Metamorphosen in Garmisch on April 12.

During this period, Germany was under constant and blistering attacks from Allied forces. On October 2, 1943, the Allies bombed the Opera House in Munich, the city of Strauss’s birth. In response to the bombing of Munich, Strauss composed a few bars of music he entitled “Trauer um München” (“Mourning for Munich”). The descending melodic line and dotted rhythms of “Mourning for Munich” foreshadow the central theme of Metamorphosen.

On February 13, 1945, Allied bombs devastated the city of Dresden. The Royal Opera House, where many of Strauss’s greatest operas received their premieres, now lay in ruins. Strauss wrote: “I am in despair. The Goethehaus (in Frankfurt), the world’s greatest sanctuary destroyed! My lovely Dresden—Weimar—Munich, all gone!” On March 12, the day before Strauss began work on the full score of Metamorphosen, the Vienna State Opera House was bombed as well.

The premiere of Strauss’s Metamorphosen took place in Zürich on January 25, 1946, with Paul Sacher conducting. The dress rehearsal was held the prior evening. Strauss attended the rehearsal, and asked Sacher if he could conduct. By all accounts, the composer gave a magnificent reading of the score many view as his most personal and heartfelt. Richard Strauss thanked all of the players, and quietly left the theater. He did not return for the premiere.

The String Septet Version

This concert features a performance of Metamorphosen in a version for string septet (pairs of violins, violas and cellos, and a single double bass) by Rudolf Leopold. In a preface to the score, Rudolf Leopold explains:

In 1990 a short score of Metamorphosen was discovered in Switzerland and acquired by the Bavarian State Library in Munich. It is headed “Metamorphosen. Andante (für 2 Violinen, 2 Bratschen, 2 Celli[,] Contrabaß) Richard Strauss”. This gives rise to the assumption that the composer had clearly conceived the piece as scored for seven strings and then changed his mind upon receiving a commission from Paul Sacher to wrote a work for a larger string group. The short score bears the date 31 March 1945 at the end, the full score for twenty-three strings having already been started on 13 March.

For the most part, the latter version consists of doublings. In the realization of the ‘original version’ for string sextet and double bass I have made use of both the short score and the final score so that the complete tonal image appears in a chamber music format whilst retaining certain interesting details from the short score (for example the original closing modulation).

The premiere of the String Septet version of Metamorphosen took place during the “Richard Strauss-Tage” in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on June 8, 1994, played by the Vienna String Sextet, joined by Alois Posch, double-bass.

Musical Analysis

Metamorphosen opens with a brooding passage (Andante) in the violas, cellos and double-bass. The second viola then plays a descending, dotted-rhythm theme, marked espressivo. Strauss confessed that this central theme “escaped from his pen.” Its kinship with the music of another great German composer becomes clear in Metamorphosen’s concluding measures. Additional themes follow, suggesting memories of other works, both by Strauss and his predecessors. The central section presents various permutations of the thematic material, with rich, contrapuntal writing for the various strings. The music propels to a stirring climax. Optimistic energy yields to the ensemble’s fortissimo reprise of the opening (Adagio, tempo primo). Here, the second cello plays the dotted-rhythm theme. An extended treatment of the opening measures resolves to Metamorphosen’s despairing resolution. In the finale measures (Sehr langsam), the cellos and double-bass play the opening of the second-movement Funeral March from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica” (1803) (during this passage, the first viola plays Metamorphosen’s opening dotted-rhythm theme). Under the Beethoven quotation, Strauss wrote the words “IN MEMORIAM!”

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