Wednesday, August 11, 2021 – 7:30PM
The Lake at Evening
The Vale of Dreams
The Night Wind
Allegro moderato ma energico
Composers and Compositions
Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848 – 1918) was an English composer, writer, and teacher, influential in the revival of English music at the end of the 19th century.
Parry’s first major works appeared in 1880. As a composer he is best known for the choral song “Jerusalem”. His orchestral works include five symphonies and a set of Symphonic Variations. He also composed the music for Ode to Newfoundland, the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial anthem (and former national anthem).
Parry resigned his Oxford appointment on medical advice in 1908 and, in the last decade of his life, produced some of his best-known works, including the Symphonic Fantasia 1912 (also called Symphony No. 5), the Ode on the Nativity (1912) and the Songs of Farewell (1916–1918). The piece by which he is best known, the setting of William Blake’s poem “And did those feet in ancient time” (1916), was immediately taken up by the suffragist movement, with which both Parry and his wife were strongly in sympathy.
At the age of 70, Parry fell victim to the global Spanish Flu pandemic and died in west Sussex on 7 October 1918. He was buried in the crypt of St Paul’s, alongside fellow musicians Arthur Sullivan and William Boyce.
Twelve Short Pieces
These charming works were written in 1894 and were dedicated to Parry’s wife (Maude), his two daughters (Dorothea and Gwen) and his good friend Kitty Maxse. They were commissioned by the publisher Novello, perhaps as small pieces for developing violinists with their modest technical requirements. Aspects of these works can be scene and later pieces and some stylistically seem to be an homage to other composers such as Schumann, Dvorak and Brahms. These five movements from the complete set have been arranged for this performance.
Gershwin was one of the few composers able to compose effectively in both popular and classical idioms. He had begun his career as a pianist and song writer for Broadway but went to Paris to study classical composition with the famous Nadia Boulanger. She refused him thinking it would ruin his already developed jazz-infused style. He went on to write many well-known works for symphony as well as opera. Later in the 1930s he moved to Holly wood writing soundtracks for film.
Songs arranged for Piano
Gershwin’s popular songs are one of his greatest legacies to American music. Some, such as ‘I got Rhythm’ began as a song in a musical, was then arranged by him for piano and then converted into a set of variations for orchestra. In 1931 he began ‘George Gershwin’s Songbook’ which were a collection of his favourite songs written ‘for the above average pianist.’
Respighi was a unique voice in classical music of the early twentieth century while being one of the leading composers of his day. He composed a huge range of music from operas and ballet to chamber music, songs and interestingly transcriptions of works from Italian composers of the 15th through 18th centuries as well as the works of Bach and Rachmaninoff. He studied strings at the Liceo Musicale di Bologna, leaving school to become a full-time composer. He worked with some for the great artists of his day including the choreographer Diaghilev and the Italian conductor, Toscannini.
Violin Sonata, B minor (1917)
The violin sonata P110 is one of Respighi’s major chamber works. It was premiered in 1918 with the composer at the piano and his old teacher, Sarti, on violin. The sonata is known for its demanding technical nature and its rather complex use of tonality. Rhythms are also complex with the violin and piano sometimes playing in different time signatures.
In the spring of 1918, Respighi fell ill with the ‘Spanish Flu’ and spent most of two months in bad. Luckily, he had a reasonably mild attack, and was able to fulfill a commission from Diaghilev later that summer.