NY Philharmonic to Give First Performance of Toscanini's 1951 Arrangement of STAR SPANGLED BANNER, This Weekend
The New York Philharmonic will give the first performances of a new edition of Arturo Toscanini's 1951 arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" during several summer concerts taking place throughout July. The historic arrangement of the United States' national anthem will open the Philharmonic's Summertime Classics program titled "Star-Spangled Celebration," conducted and hosted by Bramwell Tovey, July 4-6, 2014; the free Central Park concert on July 14, 2014, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert, during the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer; and the Philharmonic's first concert of its 12th- annual Bravo! Vail residency, on July 18, 2014, also led by Alan Gilbert. The new edition - an engraved score and parts derived from Toscanini's autograph manuscript from the New York Philharmonic Archives - was created as part of the nationwide "The Star-Spangled Banner" celebrations surrounding its bicentennial in September 2014. The new edition will be made available to educators across the nation at no charge at starspangledmusic.org; it was prepared by a team from the University of Michigan, led by musicology professor Mark Clague, working with New York Philharmonic Archivist/Historian Barbara Haws.
New York Philharmonic Music Director from 1928 to 1936, Toscanini originally created an orchestration of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for an international broadcast in 1943, and a few months later he completed a manuscript to be auctioned for war bond purchases. In December 1951 he revised his arrangement and donated the new autograph score to the Philharmonic for a fundraising auction; William Rosenwald, a Philharmonic Board Member (1941-75), bought the manuscript and donated it back to the Philharmonic. It remained in the Orchestra's Archives until Dr. Clague and Ms. Haws met in December 2013, and decided to collaborate on the new edition.
In the years leading up to World War II, Toscanini was active as an anti-fascist. Upon relocating to the United States, he presided over the NBC Symphony Orchestra and was noted for championing "The Star-Spangled Banner" during World War II. In performance he faced the standing audience to lead them in singing the anthem's first verse, and in every performance, including rehearsals or recording sessions, he insisted that all of the orchestra's musicians stand while playing the anthem as a sign of respect.
Mark Clague describes Toscanini's musical choices as employing "traditional" harmonies, unlike the 1941 arrangement by Igor Stravinsky, which was considered shocking. Dr. Clague added: "The Italian conductor's original expressive contributions are located in the grandeur of the especially slow tempo and rich orchestration, including the added bass voices of English horn, bass clarinet, and contrabassoon. Rolled chords in the winds and strings animate a hymn-like presentation of the melody. Key's lyrical invocation of 'rockets' and 'bombs' inspires a brass countermelody accompanied by repeated, militaristic calls in the horns. Toscanini sets the final phrase of Key's text and its vision of freedom as the song's emotional climax - stretching the tempo, raising the dynamic to its maximum, filling out the harmony with passing tones as well as trills in the inner voices, and extending cadential repose with fermatas. The percussion is also finally unleashed for this climactic grandioso, made all the more dramatic by Toscanini's passionate and physical conducting."
Francis Scott Key set the text of "The Star-Spangled Banner" to music by John Stafford Smith immediately following the September 13-14, 1814, defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812. An Act of Congress, endorsed by the signature of then President Herbert Hoover, made "The Star-Spangled Banner" the official national anthem of the United States of America in 1931.
Tickets for Summertime Classics start at $47.50. All tickets may be purchased online at nyphil.org or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the Avery Fisher Hall Box Office. The Box Office opens at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. On performance evenings, the Box Office closes one-half hour after performance time; other evenings it closes at 6:00 p.m. A limited number of $13.50 tickets for select concerts may be available through the Internet for students within 10 days of the performance, or in person the day of. Valid identification is required. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. [Ticket prices subject to change.]