Friday, August 13, 2021 – 7:30PM
Maestoso, Allegro con fuoco
Maestoso, Allegro con moto
Composers and Compositions
Sergei Rachmaninoff (April 1st, 1873 – March 28th, 1943) was a Russian composer whose career took place during the late Romantic period. He graduated in 1892 from the Moscow Conservatory where he had already composed various piano and orchestral pieces. Rachmaninoff was a phenomenal pianist and conductor as well and had influences such as Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, and other Russian composers. Later on, he adopted a more personal song-like melodic, expressive and rich orchestral style for his pieces.
Rachmaninoff took the opportunity of a concert tour of Scandinavian countries to free Russia and its Revolution and left with his family in 1917. An opportunity to move to the United States was made available to him and in November of 1918, Rachmaninoff sailed for New York. Soon after, he and his two daughters fell ill to the ‘Spanish’ flu. He did recover and needing money, immediately embarked upon a number of concert appearances against the orders of his doctors. In fact, he had not fully revoked when his tour began. Luckily, he had a mild version of the flu. He lived until 1943 at age 69.
Piano Trio élégiaque, G minor (1892)
Prelude Op. 23, No. 4 in D major
As did a few of his fellow composers, Rachmaninoff wrote a set of Preludes for piano – one for each of the 24 keys. The preludes are some of his most important works for piano. The opus 23 group of ten pieces was written in 1903.
Étude-Tableaux Op. 39, No. 9 in D major (1917)
Étude-Tableaux Op. 39, No. 9 in D major is part of his second set of études for piano. He coined the term “picture etudes” but he was not the first to do such works. As is the tradition, each etude presents a pianistic problem and each is based on an extra-musical image of an idea, not disclosed by Rachmaninoff. He said, “I do not believe in the artist disclosing too much of his images. Let them paint for themselves what it most suggests”
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.
Piano Trio No. 2, B minor
The piano trio had become one of the standard chamber music instrumental combinations by the time that Parry tried his hand at it. Written in 1884 it shows influence from the great chamber music composers immediately preceding Parry such as Schumann, Brahms and Dvorak. It abounds in melody and rhythmic strength. Seldom performed, it is a mature work that displays musical challenges to performers. It was premiered at the salon of a London music enthusiast.