Category: Program Notes

Béla Bartók
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Dance Suite

Hungarian composer, conductor, and pianist Béla Bartók (1881–1945) was born in Nagyszentmiklós, a town that now lies within Romanian borders. He spent his childhood in various locations in present-day Ukraine...

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Arturo Marquez
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Danzón No. 4

Music was a way of life for the family of Mexican composer Arturo Márquez (b. 1950). His grandfather was a folk musician and his father a dance-hall performer in a mariachi band. Thus...

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Erik Satie
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Gymnopédie No. 3, 1

Erik Satie (1866–1925) was an outlier, both musically and socially. As a piano student, he left the Paris Conservatory twice without completion because he could not adapt to the inflexible...

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Antonin Dvorak
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Violin Concerto in A Minor

In 1879, one of the leading violinists of the time, Joseph Joachim, heard a Dvořák string quartet and went on to champion the composer’s chamber music. In return, Dvořák composed his...

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Florence Price
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Ethiopia's Shadow in America

Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887–1953) is an American treasure whose music was almost forgotten due to her race and gender. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Price’s family supported her musical...

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Rodrigo at the piano
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Concierto de Aranjuez

Born in the region of Valencia, twentieth-century Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–1999) lost his sight as a small child. He learned to play piano and violin at the school for the blind he attended...

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Astor Piazzolla
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Sinfonietta

Few composers have developed a style as individual and recognizable as Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992). Born in Argentina, but raised in New York City, Piazzolla was intrigued...

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Vince Oliver
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Las Vistas Doradas

Las Vistas Doradas (Golden Views), was commissioned by the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and premiered by the ensemble at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in 2023 with the Fort Collins Symphony’s very own...

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William Grant Still
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Miniature Overture

William Grant Still (1895–1978) came of age in the early twentieth century at a time when composers were trying to establish a uniquely American identity. For Still, that sometimes meant...

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Sergei Prokofiev
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Symphony No. 5 in Bb Major, Op. 100

Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich are the two composers who stood above the rest of those who labored during the years of the Soviet Union.  Unlike Shostakovich, however, Prokofiev enjoyed part of his career living and composing in the West, voluntarily returning to the USSR in 1936. Like his compatriot...

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Claude Debussy Square image
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Global Warming

Claude Debussy composed the three movements of his Nocturnes for orchestra between 1897-99. The early reception of this work was not wholly enthusiastic by any means, and they continued to receive mixed reviews...

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Michael Abels
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Global Warming

With a “keen ear for musical color and a deft ability to adapt structural elements from popular music into the symphonic idiom” (Houston Chronicle), contemporary composer Michael Abels has...

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Benjamin Britten
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Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge

Twentieth-century British composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) was a precocious child. By the age of fourteen, he had already composed more than one hundred works. Recognizing his talent, his viola teacher introduced the boy to Frank Bridge, a highly acknowledged composer of the time....

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Fela Sowande
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African Suite

The music of Fela Sowande (1905–1987) is an excellent example of biculturality—music that blends elements of different socio-political artistic traditions. Born in Oyo, Nigeria, Sowande grew up in an upper-middle class family. This was almost forty-five years after Great Britain had declared Nigeria...

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Amy Beach portrait
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Bal masqué, op. 22

Pianist-composer Amy Cheney Beach (1867–1944) was a remarkable woman whose life and career may have turned out very differently had she lived at a different time. Beach was born on her grandfather’s New Hampshire farm just after the American Civil War, the only child of a paper maker and his wife.

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Symphony No. 103 in Eb Major "Drum Roll"
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Symphony No. 103 in Eb Major "Drum Roll"

Haydn’s nicknames—“Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” are well earned. His sixty-plus quartets and over one hundred symphonies standardized the genres and inspired other great composers of the era such as Joseph Bologne, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Portrait
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Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491

In 1778, the twenty-one year old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was in Paris, performing and peddling his own music in hopes of finding employment outside his hometown of Salzburg. In the next decade, his desire for an appointment in one of the great European courts grew desperate.

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Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
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Symphony No. 1

A long, overdue revival of the music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745–1799) has taken root in recent years. Saint-Georges, a mixed-race French courtier, musician, and military man, led a multi-faceted life, highlighted by his exceptional athletic and artistic skills.

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Florence Price
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Suite of Dances

Program Notes by Dr. K. Dawn Grapes The music of Florence Price has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Price worked hard to overcome racism...

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George Walker
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Tangents

Program Notes by Dr. K. Dawn Grapes George Walker’s name is often associated with a string of firsts. Among other accomplishments, he was the first...

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