New York Philharmonic Plays Copland, Haydn, et. al. For Memorial Day Concert 5/31
Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in his first free Memorial Day Concert, Monday, May 31, 2010, at 8:00 p.m., at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street. This will be the 19th annual free Memorial Day Concert offered by the New York Philharmonic, a tradition begun in 1992 as a gift to the people of New York City. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Music will also be piped out onto the adjacent Pulpit Green, weather permitting.
This year's program will open with the stirring, all-American Fanfare for The Common Man by Copland, and will be followed by two symphonies in honor of the occasion: Haydn's Symphony No. 49, La passione, and Schubert's Symphony in B minor, Unfinished. The program will conclude with
Beethoven's Egmont Overture, a work depicting the triumph of freedom over oppression.
Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School. From 1995 to 1997 he was the assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra. In November 2008 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic. His recording of Prokofiev's Scythian Suite with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award, and his recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 received top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. Aaron Copland's Fanfare for The Common Man was composed in 1942 in response to a commission from Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conductor Eugene Goossens, who thought that fanfares by American composers could constitute "stirring and significant contributions to the war effort." Copland considered titles such as "Fanfare for the Day of Victory" and "Fanfare for the Future Heroes" until settling on the ultimate, iconic title, inspired by a radio address given by Vice President Henry Wallace, in which he declared that the era following the war must be "the century of The Common man." Copland's brief, spare, and noble score was premiered in March 1943, and went on to become his best known work, one of the most widely recognized (and imitated) compositions of the 20th century. The Fanfare was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in May 1959, led by Leonard Bernstein, and, most recently, by Musicians from the New York Philharmonic in May 2009 at the inauguration of the renovated Alice Tully Hall, led by Alan Gilbert. Joseph Haydn's 1768 Symphony No. 49 has been nicknamed La passione since Haydn's time (though not by the composer himself) because of its dark coloring. Consisting of a somber Adagio, an intense Allegro molto, a Minuet and Trio, and a taut Presto finale, the symphony is among the most dramatically forceful of the composer's so-called "Sturm und Drang" period. The New York Philharmonic first performed it in April 1941, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, and most recently while on tour in Europe in February 2010, led by Alan Gilbert. Few musical works have been subject to as much conjecture as Franz Schubert's Symphony in B minor, Unfinished, in this case, focusing on why the work was never completed. Schubert began the composition in 1822, finishing the first two movements and sketches for the third, and then stopped. One scholar has speculated that Schubert was intimidated by his own achievement in the piece; another that he was fearful of accusations of plagiarizing Beethoven's Symphony No. 2; another alludes to an unrequited romance. The piece was not premiered until 1865, decades after Schubert's untimely death in 1828. Although unfinished, the symphony's drama and melodic
invention have ensured its reputation. The work was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in February 1869, led by Carl Bergmann, and most recently while on tour in Europe in February 2010, led by Alan Gilbert. Ludwig van Beethoven, a great admirer of Goethe, was pleased and honored when the Hoftheater of Vienna commissioned him to compose music for a revival of Goethe's play Egmont - one of a half-dozen stage plays for which Beethoven wrote incidental music. The Overture, the most frequently performed piece of his Egmont music, introduced a play that addressed political ideologies that were significant to the composer, and was based on a 16th-century incident involving the Flemish nobleman, Count Egmont. The overture depicts the suffering, optimistic spirit, and eventual victory of the Flemish people over oppression by the Spanish. The New York Philharmonic first performed the overture in November 1847, with George Loder conducting, and most recently, during the tour of Europe in February 2010, led by Alan Gilbert. This concert is made possible through the generous support of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation. Credit Suisse is the Global Sponsor of the New York Philharmonic. Programs of the New York Philharmonic are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information and other upcoming events, visit the website at http://nyphil.org/.
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