REMINDER: Don’t forget that tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is the 36th annual FREE Karp Family Labor Day concert. Usually the best attended concert of the UW School of Music season, the MUST-HEAR event will this year feature three generations of Karps performing music by George Frideric Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, John Harbison and Felix Mendelssohn with reading of texts by Shakespeare. For more information, including program notes by Howard Karp, and details here is a link to a story I posted on Friday:
By Jacob Stockinger
It’s Labor Day again.
As fans of this blog know from past years, I like to use the occasion to celebrate the hard work that goes into making art – all art, but specifically classical music. The work may seem easy or invisible, but it isn’t.
That means I am talking about not only the composers and the performers – but also the countless people behind the scenes. That means the teachers, the editors and publishers, the stage directors and managers, the lighting people, the sound engineers, the publicists, the administrators, and in opera, the people who design and create sets and costumes, the carpenters and electricians, and so many more.
It means everyone who can claim some credit for music and indeed all the performing arts.
Each year, I also like to ask what piece of music best celebrates Labor Day? You can check past years to see previous choices that have included Aaron Copland (below top) and his “Fanfare for the Common Man”; Frederic Rzewski (below middle) and his mammoth set of piano variations on “The People United Can Never Be Defeated” played by Marc-Andre Hamelin; and Giuseppe Verdi (below bottom), whose “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” seems more and more appropriate, given the widening wealth gap and low wages in this country.
But this year I thought I would take the wise advice of an old friend and a loyal reader and features the final movement of the Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, the “Farewell” Symphony by Franz Josef Haydn.
The story, as you may recall, goes that Prince Esterhazy, Haydn’s employer and patron, had kept his palace orchestra in residence for longer than usual and that the musicians wanted to head back to their families in Vienna and elsewhere. (Below is the Esterhazy estate, which you can still visit and where you can still hear concerts.)
So the celebrated Papa Haydn (below) came to the rescue and took up their cause by incorporating it aurally and visually into the “Farewell” Symphony, which has since become of his most beloved and perhaps the mostly frequently performed on his more than 100 symphonies.
During the final movement (in a YouTube video at the bottom), the various instrumentalists get up and leave as the music proceeds until, at the end, there is only one or two violinists are left. They then rise and sometimes leave, allowing their silence to speak loudly.
The prince got the message and let the musicians return home.
Talk about solidarity! The famous composer and the nameless musicians helped each other. Too bad our current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and so many other radically conservative Republicans who want to see a race to the bottom a la Mississippi can’t understand the importance and merits of cooperation and of working together instead of against each other.
Anyway, here is the finale movement, offered here in the recognition and memory of so much hard work in music and the performing arts and in the hope of future cooperation and union solidarity against the selfish big money interests that now increasingly run our government and dictate our lives: