Rodney Marsalis, Trumpet
Helen Chang Haertzen, Violin
Fri. Oct 20 First Covenant Church 7pm
1280 Arcade Street, St. Paul, 55106
Sun. Oct 22 Basilica of St. Mary 2pm
1600 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 55403
September and December from The SeasonsPeter Tchaikovsky
Concerto for Trumpet and ViolinAntonio Vivaldi
Rodney Marsalis, Trumpettrans. Johann Sebastian Bach
Helen Chang Haertzen, Violin
Yizkor for MomJay Fishman
Concerto for TrumpetGiuseppe Torelli
Rodney Marsalis, Trumpet
Symphony no. 96, “The Miracle”Franz Joseph Haydn
September and December from The SeasonsPeter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
To this day, Peter Tchaikovsky is one of Russia’s most famous composers. Known the world over for his ever-popular ballet, The Nutcracker, he was also a gifted composer of symphonies, concertos, operas, other ballets (including Sleeping Beauty – which was the music that Walt Disney used for his animated feature film), and, of course, piano music. Tchaikovsky was a romantic composer who was also very proud of his Russian heritage. His melodies were beautiful and singable, and there was a spirit and excitement that permeated his output that can only be described as “Russian.” Folk music, songs and stories were important, and they influenced much of his output. At times he would incorporate folk melodies into his works, and at other times, he would simply create tunes that sounded like folk songs.
The Seasons is a set of 12 individual pieces originally composed for piano. Each work is unique and can stand on its own, or as part of the larger (35-minute) suite. Because the individual movements each have their own distinguishing characteristics, I felt it would be fun to choose a few and orchestrate them for chamber orchestra, and thereby create a reduced, but still viable, suite. I chose four works which contrast nicely with each other, and at the same time form a complimentary (smaller, shorter) group. For these programs I chose to include two of my arrangements, a march (September) and a waltz (December). Each movement was accompanied by short descriptive quotes written by famous Russian writers, and most likely were chosen by the publisher. jf
No. 9. The Hunt (September):
It is time! The horns are sounding!
The hunters in their hunting dress
Are mounted on their horses;
In early dawn the borzois are jumping.
No. 12. Christmas Tide (December):
Once upon a Christmas night
The girls were telling fortunes:
Taking their slippers off their feet
And throwing them out of the gate.
Yizkor for MomJay Fishman (b. 1947)
“Yizkor” is Jewish prayer for remembering those who have died, and is recited at special Jewish holidays and on the anniversary of the person’s death. My mother, Dorothy Fishman Jacobs, died in 2018 at the age of 95. She had a full and adventurous life, first living through the depression, then later expecting to join my father Bernie (who was an oboist with the Minneapolis Symphony) to play flute in that orchestra. But then my brothers and I came onto the scene, dashing her hopes of a symphony career, and instead led to a life of teaching flute and raising three boys. Her life encompassed many joys – family bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, helping me to build first the old Minneapolis Chamber Symphony, and then later the Sinfonia – and sorrow (my father died in 1960 from cancer at the age of 37). But through it all, she had an indomitable spirit and energy that persevered and permeated all of her undertakings.
After she died, even though we all knew that her time had come, I felt traumatized. Mom was the last living relative of her generation, and I knew that we as a family had not only lost our matriarch, but also that we would undergo a difficult transition. I coped in the only way that I could – I decided to compose a memorial piece. For over forty years, Mom, her sister Rosalyn Locketz, and a family friend, Fanny Brudnoy, played in a trio that performed for countless weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other happy occasions. One of her favorite pieces was Daber Elay Bifrachim (“Speak to me with flowers”), and the trio played this piece scores and scores of times. I decided to take the first three notes of the song and build a piece around this motif. As I wrote the music, I knew that I wanted to highlight both the flute and the oboe, and I decided that the most fitting way was to end the piece not only with the Daber motif, but also to feature the flute and oboe as soloists, both being accompanied by a string quartet. And that is how I conceived my Yizkor for Mom. jf
Symphony no. 96, “The Miracle”Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Franz Joseph Haydn (born in Lower Austria in 1732 and died in Vienna in 1809) is commonly known as the father of the classical symphony. Because he had the luxury of consistent financial security, and the opportunity to work with quality musicians over a long period of time, he was able to develop slowly and methodically as a composer and craftsman. Haydn spent the years of 1761 to 1790 in the employ of the Esterhazy family – first with Paul Anton, and after his death, his brother Prince Nicolaus. Nicolaus (who had the longer tenure) loved music and was very supportive of Haydn and his efforts. Nicolaus employed excellent musicians and singers, which gave Haydn a marvelous laboratory to develop and sharpen his compositional skills. The Esterhazy estate, which was described by a French traveler as “having no place but Versailles to compare with for magnificence,” became a center for excellent music making and productions.
At first Haydn’s orchestra was small (his early symphonies generally used few winds and a small string compliment), but over time the size of the orchestra grew, as did the proficiency of its players. Haydn’s composing mirrored these changes. The complexities and the lengths of his symphonies increased, and he made more technical demands on his players. Over this time frame, the typical four movement classical symphony format became formalized, largely because of the development of his compositions.
Haydn’s fame spread across Europe, and after the death of his patron Prince Nicolaus, he was very much in demand. He was brought to England by the impresario Johann Peter Salomon, who commissioned him to compose two sets of six symphonies. These twelve symphonies (numbers 93-104), which are referred to as the London Symphonies or the Salomon Symphonies, are considered to be the pinnacle of the classical symphonic form, and the best of Haydn’s enormous symphonic output.
Many of these symphonies have nicknames, somehow related to the musical content. Examples include the Surprise because of the sudden loud noises in the slow movement, or the Drumroll because of the opening roll in the timpani. Other symphonies have specific associations, such as the Oxford, because Haydn was awarded an honorary doctorate at one of the town’s universities, or the Clock because of the constant “ticking” sound of the regular rhythm in the second movement. In the case of the symphony on this program, an event supplied the reason for the nickname. Stories (rumors) circulated that during the premiere of this work, a chandelier crashed from the ceiling to the floor of the concert hall. Fortunately, before the crash, the audience had rushed to the stage to see the famous composer, and so no one was hurt by the falling fixture. The lack of injuries was called a miracle, which led to the nickname. Although this is a great story, reality tells a different tale. According to historical records, a chandelier did fall during a concert, and no one was injured. But it was during the premiere of Haydn’s symphony number 102, not 96. So even though the numbers did not work, the story stuck, the nickname caught on, and to this day it has been associated with the wrong symphony. jf