The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music interview: Madison violinist Suzanne Beia speaks with The Ear, Part 1 of 2

September 20, 2010
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Though she doesn’t get a lot of publicity, Suzanne Beia – recognizable as the blond woman who sometimes uses magenta-dyed horsehair on her bow — really is a violinist for all seasons.

In Madison, the hard-working Beia (below) performs as a soloist, a chamber musician and orchestral player, all in addition to teaching. She is legendary for learning music quickly and playing chamber music from memory even when using music.

This Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, several colleagues will join Beia for her UW-Madison faculty recital. It features a program of 20th and 21st century music – some classics and some rarely heard. The works are Ravel’s Piano Trio, Stravinsky’s “Duo Concertante” for violin and piano, Roger Sessions’ “Duo for Violin and Cello” and Bright Sheng’s “Four Movements” for piano trio.”

Then on this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, Beia will perform with the Pro Arte Quartet in a program of Mozart (Quartet in E-Flat Major, K. 428), Dvorak’s Quartet in D Minor, Op. 34) and Schumann (Quartet No. 3 in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3).

Admission to both concerts is free and open to the public.

Her background, according to program notes for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, is as follows:

“A native of Reno, Nevada, she began her musical studies on the viola at the age of ten. Three years later, she shifted her attention to the violin and made her solo debut at the age of 14 with the North Lake Tahoe Symphony. Since that time, she has performed on numerous occasions as a soloist with orchestras throughout the United States and Germany. Before coming to Madison, Suzanne held the position of Principal Second Violin in the Wichita Symphonyand has held concertmaster positions with the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic, Spoleto Festival Orchestra and Chamber Symphony of San Francisco. She also held the Assistant Concertmaster position in theNew World Symphony. Her chamber music experience has been extensive, having been invited to perform in numerous festivals such as Chamber Music West, Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Token Creek, Festival de Prades, and Chamber Music at the Barn. Suzanne has served on the faculties of the Rocky Ridge Music Center and Florida International University.”

Today and tomorrow, The Ear will feature a two-part e-mail interview that Beia provided:

What are your various posts in Madison as professional violinist?

As a violinist in Madison, I perform as a member of the Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), Concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Co-concertmaster of the Madison Symphony, and I am a member of the Rhapsodie String Quartet, which is the string quartet of the Madison Symphony’s nationally acclaimed HeartStrings program. I also coach younger chamber ensembles at the University of Wisconsin, as well as through the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

What duties are special about each position? How about the Pro Arte?


In the Pro Arte Quartet, I play second violin, which requires slightly sharper skills in the areas of following and blending. The Pro Arte Quartet allots 15 hours per week for rehearsal and performs an average of 25 concerts per year.

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra?

As concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, I am responsible for choosing bowings for the string section and checking the violin parts for errors and misprints, in addition to learning and performing any violin solos that might be found within the pieces. The Chamber Orchestra performs several subscription concerts each season, plus Madison’s very popular summer events, Concerts on the Square.

And the Madison Symphony Orchestra?

In the Madison Symphony, I see my job as playing my part to the best of my ability, and serving as a sort of liaison between the conductor/concertmaster and the rest of the violin section. Of course, part of my job as Co-concertmaster is also to be ready to “step in” at any moment, should there be any type of unforeseen emergency involving the concertmaster.

In addition to our regular subscription concerts and extraordinary educational programs, the musicians of the Madison Symphony comprise the orchestra that accompanies the Madison Opera.

The Symphony’s HeartStrings program is a truly innovative program of which I am very grateful to be a part.  Through the program, a string quartet (below, featuring myself, violinist Laura Burns, violist Christopher Dozoryst and cellist Karl Lavine) brings music of a variety of genres to Madison Area special needs communities such as adults with dementia or developmental disabilities, children with autism spectrum disorder, and the like.

In addition to performing approximately 95 programs per season for these audiences, I have been granted a great deal of authority to help in deciding the programming of these performances.

Tomorrow: Rewards from each post, advice to young violinists and Beia’s concert program



Posted in Classical music

Classical music review: How good is Horowitz’ Mozart?

September 19, 2010
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

I was talking the other day with The Piano Teacher.

The subject was Mozart’s piano sonatas. I was trying to figure out which one I should learn to play. They’re good, most of them, but not as good or as appealing to me as the piano concertos.

They always feel treble heavy and bass light to me – except for the great C minor Sonata – and kind of tossed off by the supremely gifted and overly prolific Mozart (below).

We also talked about who plays the sonatas well.

Yes, of course there is Alfred Brendel, who adds improvisations and variations. Mitsuko Uchida and Andras Schiff also come to mind. I also like Ingrid Haebler, who recordings are unfortunately hard to find and should be reissued.

And then The Piano Teacher said: “And don’t forget Horowitz. People underestimate his Mozart.”

It gave me a start. After all, The Piano Teacher can be quite fussy about his likes and dislikes when it comes to interpretations of Classical repertoire.

A lot of critics have accused Vladimir Horowitz (below) of being much too Romantic and eccentric or uneven is his approach to Mozart. They say he used too much pedal, too much rubato, too much flexibility in his tempi, too many accents and too much loudness or variations in dynamics.


Always it’s too much of this or too much of that. But then Horowitz was like that. Too much.

“But,” continued The Piano Teacher, “I like Horowitz’ Mozart. He completely gets the opera thing.”

By which he meant that Horowitz knew how to make Mozart’s lines sing like an aria out of the opera, and he also knew how to play up the kind of drama you expect from a Mozart opera – and Mozart’s operas are the key to all his work.

You could even argue that the prominence Horowitz often gives the left hand makes his keyboard Mozart like a vocal duet.

So I listened to some of Horowitz’ Mozart again over the past few days.

Horowitz (below, at his last concert, in Hamburg) turned to Mozart late in his long life, after he spent most of his years exploring the great Romantic repertoire along with some “moderns” like Prokofiev.

He also played and recorded the Sonata in C Major, K. 330 at the famous Moscow recital. He also included the Sonata in B flat, K. 333, and the early Sonata in B-Flat major, K. 281. He also recorded two rondos, a late adagio and the Concerto in A major, K. 488.

It was, I believe, Horowitz who once quipped you should play Chopin like Mozart and Mozart like Chopin – by which I think he meant that Chopin needs to be clear, not overpedalled, and that Mozart needs some flesh and blood in order not to be pristine or brittle.

And to be fair, Horowitz doesn’t play what I call “music box Mozart. ”I tend to like his full-bodied approach, though I also think he at times overdoes it.

But all in all, Horowitz treats Mozart as an important and beautiful composer, not just a charming composer.

So in the end I find myself agreeing with The Piano Teacher.

Here’s an example — and there are plenty more on YouTube. See what you think:

Now, the only question is which sonata should I play?

Anyway, what do you think of Horowitz’ recordings of Mozart?

Do you like his approach?

Why or why not?

What are your favorite Horowitz performances or recordings of Mozart pieces?

And what is your favorite Mozart piano sonata to listen to?

To play?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music profile: Seiji Ozawa speaks out about cancer, conducting

September 18, 2010
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

In 2002, Japanese-born conductor Seiji Ozawa (below) — a protege of Leonard Bernstein — left the Boston Symphony Orchestra after almost 30 years. Born in 1935, he had previously been in San Francisco and Toronto.

When he left, there were unkind words about how the symphony had degenerated or grown lax under his long — some said too long — tenure. So he was replaced with Met Opera conductor James Levine.

But Ozawa, who went to the Vienna State Opera, recently faced serious health problems, including esophogeal cancer.

He recently returned to the podium, albeit briefly, at a festival in Japan.

On that occasion, the New York Times featured a fine interview with the veteran musician.

Ozawa’s story of persistence is an inspiring testament to the importance that making music continues to hold for him.

It’s worth reading and so here is a link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/09/arts/music/09ozawa.html

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s bio of Ozawa;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiji_Ozawa

Here is also a link to Ozawa on Ozawa:

I’d be interested in hearing if you heard Ozawa live or like his recordings.

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Oakwood Chamber Players will perform at a new ‘nature’ venue this season

September 17, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

The schedule of this season’s Oakwood Chamber Players Pathways Concert Series will allow listeners to hear classical music amid nature.

This year audiences may choose between two venues: Saturday evening concerts among the oaks at the Oakwood Village West Auditorium or Sunday afternoon concerts surrounded by the prairie views at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s historic Arboretum at the Visitor Center (below).


As usual, the well known local group will offer eclectic repertoire including rarely heard composers and works as well as classical classics.

Concerts in the “Pathways” Series include “Summer Stretch” with pieces by Sharma, Beethoven and Brahms; “Lullaby Lane” with pieces by Gershwin, Saint Saens and Foote; “Bagatelle Byway” with pieces by Mayer, Poulenc and Juon; and “Garden Gateway” with pieces by Fine, Stravinsky and Kodaly.

For information about the complete programs and other information, here is a link:

http://www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com/season.html

Performances will take place at the Arboretum Visitor Center on Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m.

Dates of the performances are October 3, 2010; February 6, March 13, and May 22, 2011.

Concerts are held at Oakwood Village West Auditorium (below) on Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on October 2, 2010; February 5, March 12 and May 21, 2011.

Season tickets are available by calling (608) 230-4316 and leaving a message with the Oakwood Chamber Players ticket office.

Season ticket prices are $60 for adults and $45 for seniors.  Season ticket packages include four concerts for the price of three.  Individual ticket prices are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

Tickets are also available at the door, but purchasing season or individual tickets in advance is encouraged due to limited seating, especially at the arboretum.

The Oakwood Chamber Players (below) are a professional musical ensemble proudly supported by Oakwood Village Retirement Communities in collaboration with Friends of the Arboretum, Inc.

Players (above) include: Anne Aley, horn; Vincent Fuh, piano; Michael Allen, cello; Nancy Mackenzie, clarinet; Marilyn Chohaney, flute; Leyla Sanyer, violin; Christopher Dozoryst, viola; and Amanda King Szczys, bassoon.

All Oakwood members perform actively in the Madison area with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and an eclectic mix of other professional ensembles.

The Oakwood Chamber Players have been performing since 1984.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music review: New CD set marks Mexico’s bicentennial, and is a stand-out anthology of unjustly neglected music

September 16, 2010
5 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Classical music fans know that 2010 is a Chopin Year and a Schumann Year – both great composers were born in 1810.

But this year — specifically, this week — is also a celebration of the bicentennial of free and independent Mexico.

Here is a link to a great backgrounder piece that aired Wednesday on National Public Radio:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129830316

And although Mexico is far better known for its folk music, classical music has loomed large in its history. Indeed, there were even Mexican and Spanish composers of the Baroque era.

Now Sony Classical has marked the occasion with a specially priced ($24) 2-CD set called “My Mexican Soul” (Mi Alma Mexicana).


Here is a link to the CD’s website:

http://www.sonymasterworks.eu/alondra/dpp/index.html

It features classical music by Mexican composers performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas under the young Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra (below), who founded the orchestra she is director of and who is making her debut on Sony with this album.


She has garnered critical praise, including form the New York Times.

Here is a link too her discussing the new CD:

A woman Mexican conductor? Maybe northern attitudes about Latin machismo need some revising.

The wide variety of music runs from 1884 to 2006, with an emphasis on the 20th century.

A couple of names – Manuel Ponce and Carlos Chavez – are familiar to North American and even worldwide listeners. But most composers’ names – Moncayo, Campa, Huizar, Roasas, Ibarra, Toussaint, Lavista, Chapela and others – are not are not well-known this side of The Border or elsewhere.

Maybe they aren’t even that well-known in Mexico, for all the Ear knows.

Included are two world premieres and wide variety of genres including a piano concerto, work for violin and orchestra, and a work for guitar and orchestra.

In my sampling of the CDs, I have founded the music extremely listenable and accessible, often sounding like Aaron Copland’s music and often incorporating elements of jazz or popular music, much as Ravel did. The moods range from the serious and dark to the pensive and lyrical, to the festive and celebratory.

In short, this is an enjoyable recording and stands out as a unique in a field where so much repertoire is constantly repeated and re-recorded. Some symphony orchestras would be wise to look to these works to include in their subscription series. It’s good music and might even draw some new Hispanic listeners to the concert hall.

Sony has done a real service. This is an impressive and educational recording, one that is long overdue as we work to better relations with Mexico, which deserves to be known for more than tourist resorts, drug violence and tales of Spanish conquest.

We know more about Mexican painters – Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo, Jose Luis Orozco – than we do about its music. But as this set makes clear, there is no longer an excuse for our ignorance.

So, you don’t have to give up mariachi bands. But why not celebrate Mexico with classical music?

If you do, “My Mexican Soul” is the place to start.

Finally, Alondra de la Parra doesn’t do just Mexico. Here she is conducting Tchaikovsky:


Posted in Classical music

Classical music anniversary: Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” turns 100

September 15, 2010
10 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

In case you didn’t realize it, this past Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the world premiere of the massive and moving Symphony No. 8 — or the “Symphony of a Thousand” — by Gustav Mahler (below).

National Public Radio featured a terrific interview with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra‘s artistic director and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas (below) who has won a Grammy for his recording of that symphony and other Mahler works.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129774251

Another blog, Clef Notes in Baltimore, also featured the anniversary with an audio-visual excerpt from YouTube:

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/classicalmusic/2010/09/marking_the_100th_anniversary.html

Here is another excerpt:

What do you think of Mahler’s Eighth?

Do you have a favorite recording?

What is your favorite Mahler symphony (mine remains No. 1)?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music news: Madison Symphony Orchestra’s new organ concert series in Overture Hall is selling well; begins Oct. 19

September 14, 2010
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Samuel Hutchison is the curator of the Overture Concert Organ and the organist for the Madison Symphony Orchestra, which owns the organ and pays for Hutchison in both capacities.

He is primarily responsible for selecting repertoire and for putting together organ programs, including this year’s first-ever Overture Concert Organ Subscription season that starts this fall.


There are three events. The first two are on Tuesday nights at 7:30 p.m. and the third is on a Thursday night at 7:30. All are in Overture Hall:

Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m.: John Scott in recital. Scott (below) is one of the world’s preeminent organists. From his debut as the youngest organist ever to play the Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, through his tenure as Organist and Music Director at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, to his current position at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Scott has appeared in concerts throughout the world.

He will perform Scott will play Fagiani’s “Veni Creator Spiritus”; Sweelinck’s “Est –ce Mars?”; J.S. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C minor BWV 546, R. Schumann’s Canon No. 2 in A minor, Guilmant’s “March on a Theme of Handel”; Bonnet’s “Variations de Concert”; Vierne’s “Naïades”; Bolcom’s Gospel-Prelude: “What a friend we have in Jesus”; Wammes’ “Miroir”; and Jongen’s “Sonata Eroica.”

Nov. 16, at 7:30: “Three for All II: “Too Hot to Handel – Music by George Frederick and Other Hotties.” This is a festival of local talent that will celebrate the brilliant music of Handel and other composers with the return of three of Madison’s finest organists. Bruce Bengtson (below left), Director of Music and Organist at Luther Memorial Church; Gary Lewis (below right), Director of Music and Organist at Bethel Lutheran Church; and Samuel Hutchison (below center).

May 19: Samuel Hutchison in recital. Hutchison will perform his favorite works for the King of Instruments. He’s chosen soft, shimmering solos and thrilling roof raisers from among the works of Bach, Mendelssohn, Alain, Guilmant and others.

Subscriptions tickets to all three concerts are $45 plus $5 for handling and save 30 percent off the single ticket price of $20. The subscription tickets are on sale through Sept. 25. You can call 608 257-3734 or order on-line at http://www.madisonsymphony.org/organorder

Single ticket will be $20 and will go on sale Sept. 27.

In addition there is another organ event: “VOICES OF SPRING: A CELEBRATION OF THE OVERTURE CONCERT ORGAN: AN EVENING IN VIENNA” will take place on Saturday, March 19, at 6 p.m. in Overture Hall.

The evening celebrates the Overture Concert Organ. People will gather for wine and hors d’oeuvres at 6 p.m. in the Overture Lobby followed by a grand processional to the Overture Stage. There, they will enjoy a sumptuous dinner sprinkled with Viennese musical interludes by Samuel Hutchison and Viennese dancers and violinists. Tickets are $125 ($75 is tax-deductible), and all proceeds benefit the preservation and programming of the Overture Concert Organ. To order tickets, call 608 257-3734.

“So far, series tickets are selling really well,” says the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s director of marketing Ann Miller, who adds that a little under the goal of 300 subscription tickets have been sold and the goal should be exceeded by Sept. 25. “There are a lot of organ fans in Madison.

Hutchison recently took time to answer an e-mail Q&A about the organ and the festival:

Why did you start the series?

We started the series because there has been very strong support for all of our organ programming.

Is the organ repertoire in general less well-known than it should be? Why do you think so?

It is generally less well-known, due somewhat to the fact that many of the composers wrote only for the instrument.  Consequently, their names are not as familiar as some of the great classical composers who wrote for many different performing forces.

Much of this repertoire can only be heard in churches, as that is where the majority of organs are housed.  Many people don’t attend church and are never exposed to hearing the great literature played on a great instrument.

Sadly, I don’t think this is limited to organ music alone.  I find that classical music in general in our country is little known compared to the trivial issues and music that people throng to in the pop culture.

Is the Madison area good for organ music? How do you know?

Madison has provided a most enthusiastic audience for organ music.  All of our organ events have been well attended.

Friends of the Overture Concert Organ is an incredibly supportive group of organ ambassadors who not only support our programming, but also have made very generous financial contributions toward organ programming and maintenance.

Do you intend to make it an annual event and to expand it?

We do intend to make the organ subscription series an annual event. We also have plans to expand it for the 2011-2012 season to include a major European choir accompanied by the organ.

Do you have a philosophy or overarching theme to programming and to choosing repertoire and artists?

Primarily, I believe that organ programming must always be accessible for the audience.  Organ recitals tend to be notoriously NOT SO!  Based on feedback we have received, our programming has accomplished that goal.

Repertoire and artists need to be both varied and imaginative in order to hold an audience’s attention.  All of our guest artists have understood this concept and have greatly helped to continue to build an audience for all of our events.

What has been the public reaction so far to the series and how are tickets selling?

Organ season subscriptions are selling very well. Last season’s Three-for-All drew an audience of 1,300.  We hope for a similar response this year.

What is your reaction to that reception?

I’m thrilled, of course!   The organ has been extremely well received in Madison.  Colleagues around the country are amazed and very envious of the large audiences that we draw for concerts.

Will there be special repertoire – old and new works, classic and neglected works or composers?

All programs will be well-balanced between old and new. John Scott’s program contains 21st century works as well as works from 15th century composers. November’s “Three-for-All” will spotlight the works of Handel.  Other composers from the French and German organ schools will be included.

Does the Overture organ attract major talent? What role does the hall play?

Artists world-wide are attracted by the hall and the organ.  We have numerous requests from international organists to perform here.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music news: UW Choral Union won’t get to perform in Overture Hall this season — but maybe next season

September 13, 2010
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Tonight is the first rehearsal of the University of Wisconsin Choral Union, an outstanding choral group of some 150 to 200 campus and community members.

The first rehearsal also brings relevant news.

Longtime Choral Union director Beverly Taylor (below) recently told The Ear that a tentative plan for the group to perform in Overture Hall at the Overture Center ran into a wall.


So the hoped for performance there won’t happen.

That’s because the Madison Symphony Orchestra beat them to one date, and UW rules prohibit doing the performance a weekend closer to spring finals.

The net effect is this: This fall semester the Choral Union will perform Handel’s “Israel in Egypt” with the UW Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m. Then on Saturday, April 30, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m., it will perform Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the UW Symphony Orchestra.


Tickets will be $15 general admission, $8 for senior and students. However, they are not yet available.

Next fall, says Taylor, will probably see the group do a modern or contemporary work, though she didn’t say which one.

And then if the Overture Hall concert materializes, they will do either Verdi’s Requiem or Brahms’ “German” Requiem. Mozart’s Requiem may also be a possibility.

But there is a big IF: fundraising.

Taylor has asked adult community members of the chorus to contribute $20 — in the form of a first-time ever “participation fee” — towards the goal of meeting rent and soloist costs. I expect some members will give more, and that other donors, large and small, will be sought out or voluntarily come forward. Certainly the accomplished group deserves a chance to perform in a great venue (below) with its outstanding acoustics. (It is also a way of dealing with UW budget cuts prompoted by the state deficit.)

Apparently, Overture Center, for all its talk about being a community organization, is not willing to give a break on the substantial rent to the UW to make it affordable for a non-profit student group.

I mean, times are tough but even so – it would a wonderful service for this community group to have higher profile.

Well, what do you think?

Which work – the Brahms, Verdi or Mozart Requiem — would most attract you to the Overture Hall and fill it with other listeners? I think the Brahms but am anxious to hear from others.

Do you think the Overture Center should give big discounts to student groups?

Finally, as either a participant or listener, do you have an opinion of the Choral Union and its repertoire and performances?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Should classical music be amplified and use more crossover programming and different venues to reach young people?

September 12, 2010
5 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Should classical music turn to electronic amplification — and maybe adopt other generally frowned upon practices — to reach out to younger audiences?

Should classical music do more crossover programming to reach young ears?

That kind of abandoning of certain practices or traditions has been the subject of a heated debate among classical music bloggers and fans for a long time but especially this past week.

Here are a couple of links to websites that talk about the subject matter and enter into the debate.

Composer Jonathan Harvey (below), in the newspaper The Observer, calls for such changes:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/05/jonathan-harvey-classical-music-amplifiers

Harvey also defends incoirpating  amplification in his own music:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3558730/Jonathan-Harvey-how-I-gave-voice-to-an-orchestra.html

And music critic Fiona Maddocks (below) responds abut altering the conventions of classical music in general:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/05/jonathan-harvey-classical-music-etiquette

Others, including cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber (below), brother of Sir Andrew, have apparently entered into debate, defending some new practices and criticizing others.

http://in.noticios.com/site/46803/http-www-guardian-co-uk-music-2010-sep-05-jonathan-harvey-classical-music-amplifiers.html

http://mimicdebate.blogspot.com/2010/09/should-classical-music-drop-some-of-its.html

You can enter the debate too. What do you think?

Would amplification add to or detract from classical music’s appeal?

Would something be lost?

Should the conventions of classical music be revised or jettisoned?

What about more crossover programming?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music poll: What classical music best commemorates 9/11?

September 11, 2010
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Sept. 11 and we commemorate 9/11 – by which, of course we in America, and many other people around the world, mean simply and in short-hand Sept. 11, 2001.

That is the day, nine years ago, when the Twin Towers in New York City were brought down by terrorist attackers in jets who also attacked the Pentagon and might have hit the White House or Capitol if not for the brave people on United Flight 93.

I won’t post pictures of any of the destruction from that dreadful day: It is still fresh enough in my mind.

But the question haunts me: What piece of classical music do you think best expresses your feelings about that day and those attacks?

So many pieces of music come to mind: Hadyn’s “Mass in a Time of War,” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with its “Ode to Joy,” and his “Missa Solemnis”; various pieces of chamber music and piano music by Schubert; piano concerti and opera arias by Mozart.

American composer John Adams (below)  even wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning work  “On the Transmigration of Souls” specifically about the event.

One year saw a community sing in Carnegie Hall, arranged by the Juilliard School, of the Mozart Requiem, which has been used for the funerals of Haydn, Mozart, Chopin and Napoleon.

Myself, I tend towards the small and the quiet, toward intimate remembrance, even though I lost no family or friends in the attacks.

I will probably play or listen to one of the more doleful Chopin mazurkas, preludes or nocturnes.

Or maybe to a late Brahms intermezzo.

Or perhaps to a choral and orchestral work by J.S. Bach.

This much is sure: I will definitely NOT listen to Chopin’s famous Funeral March from his Piano Sonata No. 2 or Beethoven’s funeral marches from the Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” or Piano Sonata Op. 26.

I want quietude and nobility and comfort, not more drama and fire.

If I want to go big, chances are I will listen to either the Brahms “German” Requiem or the Faure Requiem.

Here are excerpts from the Brahms (the last movement in two parts) and the “Pie Jesu” of the Faure:

Here is wishing all of you comfort and peace and forgiveness.

What music classical music would you turn to, or suggest others turn to, on the occasion of 9/11?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music
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