Drew Petersen | Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players

Starting on December 19, 2022 7:30 pm
Posted by Daniel McCullough
Categories: PianoFest
Tags: Classical

Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players: Dvorák’s Sparks

Monday, December 19, 2022

2:00 pm and 7:30 pm

Drew Petersen piano
Josef Spacek
violin

 

Florence PRICE  Fantasie No. 1 in G minor • 1933
   ~ a showpiece for violin and piano combining post-Romantic European idioms with those of African-American folk song

In 1893, a year after arriving in the United States, Dvorák urged American composers to look to their own folk music for inspiration, advising through the New York Herald, “The future music of this country must be founded upon what are called the Negro melodies. This must be the real foundation of any serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States.” Price was then only 6, but had already given her first public piano recital the year before. Her compositions, influenced by Dvorák, reveal that she followed his advice. The music publisher Barbara Garvey Jackson has said that Price’s “methods are actually quite close to Dvorák’s in the way she approaches the use of ethnic materials (both of the Old and the New Worlds).”

Price (1887–1953) was the first Black woman to have her work performed by major American orchestras. She was born into a middle class family in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was first taught music by her mother when white instructors refused to do so. Since women of color in the South were denied advanced training, after she completed high school in 1903 at age 16, her mother enrolled her at the New England Conservatory, where she studied the organ, piano, pedagogy, and other music disciplines (her composition teacher was the director George Chadwick). Having earned 2 artist diplomas, Price began her career as an instructor at segregated schools in Arkansas, then as head of the music department at Clark University in Atlanta until 1912. Returning to Little Rock, she managed a private piano studio, composed pedagogical music for children, married, and raised 2 daughters. However, in 1927, a brutal lynching and financial difficulties hastened the family’s move to Chicago. This move resulted in a burst of creativity, competition wins, and widespread recognition for her work beginning in the 1930s. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony in E minor in 1933, and collaborations with Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price followed.

For more on Price see http://afrovoices.com/florence-price-biography/

Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR  Nonet in F minor Op. 2 • 1894
   ~ a refined work of gentility and flair with soaring melodies and syncopated rhythms in his individual style, and with hints of the influence of Dvorák, whom the 19-year-old greatly admired

Composed for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and piano, the Nonet’s first performance (and apparently the only one until recent times) was on a student concert at the Royal College of Music on 5 July 1894.

The “Black Mahler”—brilliant son of a Sierra Leonean Creole father and English mother—was named Samuel after the poet, and in 1890 at age 15 he entered the Royal College of Music as a violin student, then switched to studying composition with Charles Villiers Stanford. Much admired in his day, his greatest hit was the cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Coleridge-Taylor was proud to be “an Englishman” even though he suffered intense racism. On several occasions he visited the United States, where he was warmly received; he met Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt, who invited him to the White House. He was an ardent supporter of the Pan African Movement, and was intent on establishing “the dignity of the Black man.” In 1912, he contracted double pneumonia and died at the age of 37. He left two children, Hiawatha and Gwendolyn, both of whom had distinguished careers as conductors and composers.

Clara Anna KORN  2 Songs • [1903]
   ~ by the American pianist and composer who studied with Dvorák—for soprano and piano

Korn (1866–1940) was born in Berlin, emigrated with her family to the United States at age 3, and was raised in New Jersey. “Eventually she began a career as a concert pianist and had a measure of success. But she received a letter from Tchaikovsky, who had seen some manuscripts of her compositions when he was in New York, and he urged her to become a composer. At that point she turned her focus to composing. In 1891 she received a scholarship to the National Conservatory in New York, where Dvorak was among her instructors. After her studies she taught theory at the Conservatory…. She [also] founded the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Women’s Philharmonic Society, and the Manuscript Society of New York. She wrote for music journals. Clara was a strong believer that women should have more opportunities in music: ‘How can any woman produce a successful orchestral work under existing conditions? You write a song, and some accommodating singer will sing it for you and give you the chance to correct mistakes; the same with a solo piece or any other solo composition. But where is the orchestra that will ‘try’ a manuscript orchestral selection, especially if it is not at all certain that it is worth trying? (letter to the editor of Musical Courier, August 7, 1907) [Mary McVicker, Women Opera Composers].” Korn composed for voice, piano, the orchestra, and an opera.

Antonín DVORÁK  Piano Quartet No. 1 in D Major Op. 23 • 1875
   ~ indulge in Slavic lyricism and harmony, its beautiful melodies influenced by Czech folk music

At age 34, Dvorák wrote this optimistic Quartet in just 18 days, after hearing the news that he had won the Austrian State Prize for poor, talented musicians. Apart from the much-needed award of 400 gulden, the Prize helped to build his career as the jury members included the music critic Eduard Hanslick, Johann Herbeck (director of the state opera), and Brahms, who was “visibly overcome” by the mastery and skill of the submitted works, which included the Quartet. Its premiere was held in Prague on 16 December 1875.

 


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