Young Artist's Crescendo
April 15, 2023 @ 7:30 PM - Belle Mehus
We end our season by featuring our Young Artist Competition Winners and the powerful, provocative melodies of Dvorak Symphony No. 8.
You can purchase tickets here, or at the Bismarck Event Center box office.
Concerto for Viola.........William Walton (1902-1983)
I. Andante comodo
Jasper Kuleck, viola
Una Voce Poco Fa (The Barber of Seville)......Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
Teresa Cecilia Luke
Poem for Flute & Orchestra.............Charles Griffes (1884-1920)
Katelyn Cermak, flute
Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88......Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
I. Allegro con brio
III. Allegretto grazioso
IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Symphony No. 8, G Major, Op. 88
Dvorak, like Beethoven before him, wrote nine symphonies. He was only 24 when he composed his first two symphonies – youthful efforts, exuberant and without inhibitions – each totaling more than 2200 measures, longer than Beethoven’s Ninth. In the next two symphonies it is clear that Dvorak has learned to concentrate, economize, and tighten. The third symphony won the Austrian State Prize, but still he wasn’t satisfied. After finishing the 6th Symphony (Old No. 1) he disowned his first five works in this form, made no further attempts to publish them and they disappeared until 1923 and weren’t performed until 1936. To confuse things further, in 1887 he decided to return to his 5th Symphony (Old No. 3) and revise it for publication.
He composed the 8th Symphony in his small country house outside of Prague. The beauty of the autumnal landscape and the songs of the birds were so inspirational to Dvorak that he complained to a friend “my head is so full of ideas it is a pity that it takes so much time to jot them down.” He completed the new symphony, including the orchestration, in a record three months and conducted the primiere in Prague the following February. Later that year he took the piece to England, where he conducted it for a ceremony at Cambridge University honoring him with a Doctor of Music degree. A London music critic said the work was “pastoral, teeming with rural sights and sounds,” and stressed its freshness and charm. In America a 1941 performance led a writer from the New York Times to remark that “the score is redolent of the Bohemian countryside,” and marked with “charm and allure.” Dvorak’s Czech biographer believed that “the symphony is not profound. It awakens no echo of conflict or passion. It is a simple lyric singing of the beauty of our country for the artist’s consolation. It is a lovable expression of idyllic genius.”
The pensive melody in the cellos and clarinets that opens the first movement reappears only near the end of the movement. The main theme of the movement is an airy figure for solo flute, which suggests bird song, and the movement continues with many dance-like rhythms and catchy melodies. An English critic thought he heard a story in the Adagio but admitted there was no indication of this in the score. “Wanting the story,” he said, “one must be content with picturesque utterances, a great deal of absoulte beauty, and the fresh aroma which the whole work gives forth.” The movement is built around several imaginative variations of its short opening phrase. The waltz-like Scherzo (third movement) has a sturdy peasant lilt. What would normally be the trio (contrasting section) of the scherzo is taken up with a charmingly simple, Schubertian melody in folk style. A fanfare of trumpets ushers in the finale as if summoning the listener to a celebratory whirl of Bohemian folk dancing. Echos of the first movement’s main theme filter through the texture as the finale climbs to a dazzling climax.
- Patrick Riley