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American Symphony Orchestra's 2014–2015 Season Includes MARRIAGE ACTUALLY, MONA LISA, and More

American Symphony Orchestra's 2014–2015 Season Includes MARRIAGE ACTUALLY, MONA LISA, and More

American Symphony Orchestra's 2014-2015 season explores Strauss's marriage music, posthumous discoveries, 20th century darkness, Mona Lisa the opera, and a special holiday presentation - the journey to 'Botsteinburg' continues...

• Strauss's anniversary year gets an unusual spin with three rarely performed works that give a fascinating insight into the composer's views on marriage

Leon Botstein conducts Mona Lisa by Max von Schillings, once one of Germany's favorite operas, now seldom-heard

• An entire posthumous concert - major surprise discoveries from Dvo?ák, Schubert and Bruckner

• George Perle centenary, recognition for a great American composer

• ASO returns to Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space and special event at Alice Tully Hall

Last season the New York Times memorably described the experience of one of Leon Botstein's American Symphony Orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall as "this faraway world, Botsteinburg." It's a world where concerts are journeys of discovery, sudden contextual power, and opportunities to hear some of the finest music rarely performed. Also, in the Classics Declassified series at Peter Norton Symphony Space, it gives listeners a chance to get under the skin of a single popular masterpiece through discussion and performance. And all of this, played by one of America's finest orchestras at affordable prices. The voyage to Botsteinburg - and it is an addictive excursion - is in that sense ASO's mission, and the 2014/15 season once again offers a great adventure.

The Carnegie Hall 'Vanguard Series' concerts

Marriage Actually
October 15, 2014 at 8pm
(Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage)
Conductor: Leon Botstein

The marriage of Richard and Pauline Strauss is one of the most perplexing, interesting and in some ways inspiring in the whole of music history. Her barbed tongue was well-known, with often amusing reflections left to us by luminaries as diverse as Sir Thomas Beecham and Alma Mahler. According to Alma's memoirs, Strauss confided to her that, "My wife is often extremely harsh, but, you know, I need that." And amidst the scolding and the fretting, there was a pure, true, mutual devotion between Mr. and Mrs. Strauss that fed his genius and somehow gave the famous soprano Pauline de Ahna a new calling as the wife of a great composer.

Strauss depicts a very realistic view of marriage informed by his relationship with Pauline in each of the works that Leon Botstein and the ASO bring to Carnegie Hall to mark Strauss's 150th anniversary year. The Four Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo draw impressions from an opera in which a composer's wife opens his mail, finding a love letter from a fan and provoking a marital crisis. Parergon on Symphonia Domestica is a rarely heard left-handed piano concerto composed for Paul Wittgenstein, elaborates on the "child" theme from the Symphonia Domestica and depicts the panic of the Strausses as their son Franz suddenly fell feverishly ill. Finally the full Symphonia Domestica, premiered in New York at Carnegie Hall and Wanamaker's Department Store 110 years ago by Strauss himself, arches across the bumpy terrain of family life as Strauss saw it.

Requiem for the 20th Century
December 10, 2014 at 8pm
(Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage)
Conductor: Leon Botstein

As modernizing and uplifting as the 20th century was, it was also one of the most violent and shatteringly destructive periods in human history. Composers are among the chroniclers of their times, and Leon Botstein and the ASO bring together three unforgettable memorials to some of the 20th-century's tragedies by composers who lived through them. For this concert the ASO will be joined by the Collegiate Chorale Singers.
Although he himself insisted that "a man might just want to write a piece of music," Vaughan Williams's brooding Sixth Symphony (1946) is usually thought of as his reflections on World War II and a newly atomic world. Having suffered the agonies of military service in World War I (including damage to his hearing which never left him) he related as well as anyone to the fears of a war-weary world, and this immediately popular symphony was given more than 100 performances in its first two years. György Ligeti was sent to a forced-labor camp and much of his family died in the Nazi death camps. Ligeti's Requiem was his memorial, famously used by Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Alfred Schnittke's Nagasaki brings together three poems by Russian and Japanese authors, dealing with an unspeakable tragedy.

Mona Lisa
February 20, 2015, at 8pm
(Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage)
Conductor: Leon Botstein

Joined by the Collegiate Chorale Singers, Leon Botstein and the ASO perform perhaps the most popular German opera ever to have sunk into obscurity! Inspired by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting, Max Von Schilllings, the German composer sometimes grouped with Richard Strauss and others as the fathers of modern German dramatic music and a great teacher (of Wilhelm Furtwangler among others) set an entrancing story of love, betrayal, and the secret meaning of that enigmatic smile. Mona Lisa was Schilling's best-loved work. It was conducted by Strauss in Berlin and made it to the Met in 1923, and enjoyed over 1000 European performances before it all but vanished from the repertoire.

Opus Posthumous
March 26, 2015 at 8pm
(Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage)
Conductor: Leon Botstein

Imagine the shock of discovery. Of happening upon a major work by an anointed great composer, not just hidden, but never discovered, never played, not even during the composer's long-ago lifetime. It hasn't happened often, but such glorious events have occurred. Here, Leon Botstein and the ASO group together three such works : Schubert's Overture from Claudine von Villa Bella, an opera that was partially destroyed and its remains discovered years after his demise; Bruckner's Symphony No. 00, what he called the "Study" symphony he penned with Otto Kitzler and which was premiered 27 years after he died; and Dvo?ák's Symphony No. 1, submitted by its composer to a competition and never returned, purchased in a used bookstore 17 years later by a curious Mr. Dvo?ák (no relation!) and only finally performed nearly two decades after the composer had died. So, an entire posthumous concert - best listened-to, however, while still alive and kicking!

Music U.
April 19, 2015 at 2pm
(Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage)
Conductors: Leon Botstein, Robert Isaacs

Universities in the United States play an important role in the country's musical development. Where kings and courts have historically acted as arts patrons across Europe, in the US the top educational institutions have often served to nurture great art. In tribute to that tradition the ASO, together with the Cornell University Glee Club, bring together works by five composers associated with Ivy League universities, for "Music U." They comprise Randall Thompson's Alleluia, an a cappella choral work written in reaction to the fall of France (Thompson taught at Princeton and Harvard); Horatio Parker's Dream-King and his Love, a cantata that won first prize in a competition judged by Antonín Dvo?ák (Parker was Dean of Music at Yale); George Rochberg's Symphony No 2, written in what the composer called his twelve-tone "hard romanticism" style (Rochberg was chair of the music department at the University of Pennsylvania); Leon Kirchner's Music for Cello and Orchestra, commissioned by Kirchner's former student at Harvard, Yo-Yo Ma, for the Philadelphia Orchestra; and, in celebration of its 150th anniversary, Cornell University has commissioned one of its own for this event: concert will conclude with the world premiere of Roberto Sierra's Cantares.

The Cornell University Glee Club, one of America's most distinguished collegiate vocal societies, has been in existence since 1868, and has commissioned and/or premiered works by composers such as Ned Rorem, Steven Stucky, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lefkowitz and David Conte. It has given the US premieres of works by Carl Orff and Bohuslav Martinu. The Randall Thompson work in this concert will be conducted by CUGC's music director Robert Isaacs, the other works by Leon Botstein.

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