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Signature Concert 4: Anxious, Tender & Jaunty
March 5 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm MST
This concert is also available for Livestream on March 5th.
Written for hornist Joseph Leutgeb, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s melodious Horn Concerto No. 3 is a tender expression of their friendship. Felix Mendelssohn’s lively Symphony No. 4, Italian interprets his extensive travels in Italy. George Walker’s commission work for the new millennium, Tangents, has overtones of both anxiety and hope. “Jaunty” is the only way to describe Florence Price’s exuberant Suite of Dances.
At the Lincoln Center
417 West Magnolia St.
Fort Collins, CO 80521
Access the Digital Program
Or text “Horn” to 970-292-6559
- Symphony No. 4, The Italian
- Horn Concerto No. 3
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
- Featuring Guest Horn Soloist Oto Carrillo
- Suite of Dances
Hornist Oto Carrillo
Oto Carrillo was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn section by Daniel Barenboim in 2000. A native of Guatemala, Mr. Carrillo grew up in Chicago. He received a bachelor’s degree in music performance from DePaul University and master’s degree in both music performance and musicology from Northwestern University. After graduating, he won positions with the Memphis and Cedar Rapids orchestras, and continued playing for two seasons as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, coached by Dale Clevenger.
Mr. Carrillo has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Lisbon’s Metropolitana Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and has played in various summer festival orchestras including the National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. He has collaborated with chamber groups such as the Chicago Chamber Musicians and appeared on the MusicNow series. Carrillo was a member of the Millar Brass Ensemble whose performances have been recorded on the Delos and Koss labels. In addition, he gave the Chicago premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ Silver Chants the Litanies for horn and chamber orchestra.
Currently, Carrillo is faculty at DePaul University and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, a unique summer training program for aspiring young orchestral musicians in British Columbia.
Learn more about Oto Carrillo at DePaul.edu.
Interview with hornist Oto Carrillo on the Open Notes Podcast:
Please Note: Our goal is to keep all of our attendees, musicians, and staff safe and healthy! Thank you for cooperating with the protocols listed below:
Each attendee must provide proof of full vaccination (14 days from their final shot) or a valid negative COVID test within 72 hours of attendance, present a valid photo ID, and wear a mask at all times inside the venue (nose and mouth fully covered). Please plan to arrive early for hall entrance checks.
For more information, please visit the Lincoln Center’s Safety Protocols or call the Lincoln Center Box Office: 970-221-6730
The Fort Collins Symphony Association is deeply grateful to our Friends of the Symphony whose support totaling $10,000 helped make it possible for us to present the Anxious, Tender & Jaunty concert on March 5, 2022.
With appreciation, we acknowledge the following Friends of the Symphony donors:
Karel Applebee, Kathleen Batterton, Margaret and Donald Beaver, Gary Betow and Kathy McKeown, Cornelia Bevill, David and Alison Dennis Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, Paul and Katherine Dudzinski Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, Kay and Larry Edwards, Sandra Godfrey, Susan and Charles Greer, Paul and Carol Gresky, Phyllis and Howard Hay, Robert Heer and Mary Koleshyk, Faye and Wayne Irelan, Emily and Doug Kemme, Leslie and Wes Kenney, Mary and Paul Kopco, Albert and Barbara Leung, Fenton S. Martin, Robert C. Michael, Cyndy and Ed Miron, Ruth Potter, Kay Quan, John Roberts, Sharyn and Larry Salmen, Claire Schamberger and Gordon McClintock, Carolyn Stack, Jane Sullivan, Lee and Ken Thielen, Margaret Webber, and Elly and Paul Wiebe.
Dr. David and Alison Dennis
Dr. Ed Siegel
Dr. Peter Springberg and Janet Kowall
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Week-of Concert Events:
Wednesday, March 2 at noon
Free, over zoom
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84344118970?pwd=eE4wQjhEa2Y1cjI3RDJjTWRhem1YQT09
Meeting ID: 843 4411 8970
Join CSU professor Dr. K. Dawn Grapes on the Wednesday prior to most Signature concerts for an entertaining and informative lecture about the upcoming featured composers. Sponsored by the Friends of the Symphony.
Thursday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m.
at the Lincoln Center
Learn firsthand what it takes for an orchestra to bring live music to the stage. Houselights remain on during this comfortable preview of each upcoming Signature concert. The rehearsal closes to the public at 8:30 p.m. intermission. Sponsored by Bank of Colorado.
Saturday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.
at the Lincoln Center
included with ticket purchase
Prior to each Signature concert, join Maestro Wes Kenney for his musings on what you are about to hear.
Dr. K. Dawn Grapes
Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847)
Symphony no. 4 in A Major, “Italian,” op.90
Date of Composition: 1833
Duration: 28 minutes
In 1830, the world was Felix Mendelssohn’s for the taking. Just barely into his twenties, the young German musician had already established an international reputation as a virtuoso pianist, budding conductor, and successful composer. The previous year, he had embarked on a world tour, exploring the Scottish Highlands and enjoying societal and musical introductions in London. After returning home to Berlin in the spring and summer of 1830, he headed across the Alps via Munich and Vienna for an Italian adventure. By October, Mendelssohn reached Venice, and then travelled onto Florence where he delighted in the magnificent artworks housed in some of the most beautiful venues in the world. In November, Mendelssohn finally arrived in Rome. He entrenched himself in the city’s excellent sacred music environment, even composing some motets, cantatas, and psalm settings of his own. He also ruminated on the Italian Symphony he hoped to compose. Tours of Naples, Milan, and a return to Rome provided fresh sonic visions of the Italian countryside. The music he envisioned, however, remained in his head for some time.
It was not until 1833, after trips to Paris and London, that Mendelssohn finally penned his first complete version of what is known today as Symphony No. 4, “Italian,” op. 90. It was on a return trip to London that year that the young composer led the London Philharmonic Society premiere. Like so many of his works, the score was published posthumously in 1851. The symphony utilizes a standard four-movement formal structure. While some musicologists have questioned whether the work truly represents any sort of “Italian-ness,” the opening Allegro vivace positively shimmers with excitement, channeling Mendelssohn’s own sentiment: “Why should Italy still insist on being the land of Art when in reality it is the land of Nature, delighting every heart? No lack of music there; it echoes and vibrates on every side.” A thoughtful Andante con moto, perhaps inspired by a procession the composer witnessed in Italy, and an elegant Con moto moderato demonstrate the composer’s natural melodic tendencies. The inspiration for the finale is clear. Mendelssohn presents an energetic Saltarello, showcasing the enchanting Italian dance all the way to the last notes of the work. What a fitting way to conclude a celebration of the land known as “Bel Paese”!
George Walker (1922–2018)
Date of Composition: 1999
Duration: 5 minutes
George Walker’s name is often associated with a string of firsts. Among other accomplishments, he was the first Black graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, the first Black musician to earn a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, the first Black instrumentalist to present a recital in New York’s Town Hall, the first Black artist to solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the first Black composer to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music (for Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra, 1996). The American pianist-composer’s training backs up these achievements. He began piano studies with his mother at age five. He graduated from high school at just fourteen years old and from Oberlin College at eighteen. Halfway through his undergraduate degree, he was named organist for the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology. In addition to his degrees from Oberlin, Curtis, and Eastman, he also studied at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleu with Nadia Boulanger. Walker served as a visiting professor at a number of U.S. universities, including the University of Colorado at Boulder in the 1960s. His permanent academic home, however, was Rutgers University in New Jersey. From 1969 to 1992, he took on the roles of professor, composer, department chair, and performance collaborator, presenting at least one faculty recital every year.
Walker’s catalog includes almost one hundred works for orchestra, voice, and chamber ensembles. The composer explored many modernist compositional trends of the twentieth century but still developed a personal style, mixing contemporary influences with his own use of color and sound layering. Tangents for chamber orchestra was Walker’s tribute to the new millennium. Written in 1999 and premiered in the year 2000, this short piece opens with fanfare-like declamation that settles into alternating sections of musical anticipation and introspection, foreshadowing a new era full of unknown possibilities—a striking composition by a remarkable musician!
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447
Date of Composition: 1787
Duration: 15 minutes
Unless you are a horn player, the horn is not the instrument usually associated with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A master of the classical concerto, the prodigious composer wrote over two dozen featuring his primary instrument, the piano. Many were composed for his own performance. He also wrote five violin concertos. But while Mozart wrote many beautiful wind parts in his orchestral and opera music, his output of wind solos is not nearly as striking. Still, of the composer’s dozen surviving works featuring wind soloists such as flute, oboe, bassoon, and clarinet, an impressive four showcase the horn, in addition two rondos written for the instrument. Another two survive in fragments. The impetus for many of these pieces was Mozart’s relationship with Joseph Ignaz Leutgeb, a hornist and longtime friend of the Mozart family. Leutgeb had served in the Esterhazy orchestra, earning the respect of Haydn, before taking a position in Salzburg where he served with Leopold Mozart. In this position, he watched the young Wolfgang Amadeus come of age as a musical master. Simultaneously, Leutgeb made a name for himself as a soloist in important musical centers across Europe. He was lauded in Paris for his impressive lyrical abilities. This is especially noteworthy, as the horn of the time did not yet include valves as we know them. The natural horn’s range of possible notes was limited and often not treated in the same melodic ways as other instruments. Leutgeb, however, was adept at the recently-introduced stopping technique in which the right hand is inserted into the horn’s bell, thus enabling the performer to add additional notes to the instrument’s natural harmonic series, especially in the lower range. An excellent player like Leutgeb could accomplish this so smoothly that the melodic line sounded seamless.
The younger Mozart settled in Vienna in 1781 after his release from the Archbishop of Salzburg’s service. There he pursued musical activities as an independent artist, a risky venture for the time. It was in Vienna that he wrote his horn works for Leutgeb. Horn Concerto in E-flat, K. 447 was likely composed in 1787. The year 1783 is noted as an addition on the original score, now housed in the British Library, but later evidence shows the piece was scribed on the same manuscript paper stock as Don Giovanni, which was completed in 1787. This discovery prompted musicologists to rethink the concerto’s chronological listing. The work also features a narrower range for the soloist than Mozart’s previous horn works, which may indicate an accommodation for Leutgeb, whose embouchure likely weakened with age. The work is organized in the manner of most Mozart concertos, with a standard three-movement fast-slow-fast structure. The orchestration, however, varies from the expected two oboe and two horn wind section, substituting clarinets and bassoons instead. This unique color provides an especially mellow aesthetic to the ensemble, complementing the horn timbre. The first movement of K. 447 is full of motives that can only be described as “Mozartian” with their dotted rhythms and scalar contour. The second “Romanze” movement provides an opportunity to imagine Leutgeb’s lyrical acumen, while the third falls back upon the hunt motives so stereotypical for the instrument in that era.
Florence Price (1887–1953)
Suite of Dances
Date of Composition: 1933/1951
Duration: 6 minutes
The music of Florence Price has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Price worked hard to overcome racism and misogyny in the Chicago music scene during the 1930s and 1940s and faded from public consciousness in the years following her death. Now, almost seventy years later, performers and conductors are newly discovering and programming her works, giving them the attention they have long deserved. Florence Beatrice Smith was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. She learned to play the piano at age four. After graduating as valedictorian of a segregated Black High School at fourteen years old, Price enrolled at the New England Conservatory. She misrepresented herself as Mexican because, although she was proud of her African-American heritage, her parents hoped to minimize the discrimination she was certain to face. After Price left NEC with artist diplomas in organ performance and piano pedagogy, she taught at a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Georgia and Arkansas in the 1910s and 1920s before marrying lawyer Thomas J. Price and starting a family. In 1927, as racism in the south raged uncontrolled and John Carter’s horrific Little Rock lynching made national headlines, the Price family joined the Great Migration of the Black population, moving to a new home in Chicago. It was there that Price’s compositions began receiving meritorious notice. Perhaps most significantly, Price took first place in the prestigious 1932 Wanamaker Competition for her Symphony No. 1. The piece was subsequently included in a 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As such, the symphony became the first by a Black woman to be performed by a major U.S. orchestra. Singer Marian Anderson also championed Price’s work, performing her spiritual arrangements before national audiences. Throughout her lifetime, Price composed more than three hundred works, including symphonies, concertos, songs, and choral, chamber, organ, and piano music. Most of her music remained unpublished and some pieces were almost lost. In 2009, a trove of documents, including more than a dozen manuscript scores, was discovered during a home renovation in what was formerly the Price summer house in Illinois. Fortunately, the new residents recognized they had happened upon something important and contacted archivists at the University of Arkansas. In 2018, publisher Schirmer gained rights to Price’s catalog and her works are becoming increasingly available.
Florence Price’s Suite of Dances was first realized in 1933 as a set of piano pieces titled Three Little Negro Dances. They were then arranged for wind band in 1939. Individually subtitled “Hoe Cake,” “Rabbit Foot,” and “Ticklin’ Toes,” they demonstrate Price’s practice of incorporating traditional Black musical styles into her compositions. All the movements are upbeat with marked dance rhythms. Price’s notes in the score state: “In all types of Negro music, rhythm is of preeminent importance. In the dance, it is a compelling, onward-sweeping force that tolerates no interruption. All phases of truly Negro activity—whether work or play, singing or praying—are more than apt to take on a rhythmic quality.” The last movement evokes a Juba dance, originally a rural folk idiom that became a popular stage dance in minstrel shows of the 1800s. Price also incorporated this style into movements of both her first and third symphonies. The three dance pieces were reset as a suite for symphony orchestra in 1951, utilizing more traditional, tempo-indicated movement titles.
Program Notes by Dr. K. Dawn Grapes, ©2022
Dr. William E. Runyan
Symphony No. 4 in A Major, op. 90 (“Italian”)
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn was a prodigy, born into a distinguished family of Jewish bankers and philosophers. He and his sister Fanny—also a talented composer, conductor, and pianist—were raised in a warm, intellectual, highly supportive artistic family. As musicians, they matured early and a stream of compositions flowed from them both. Mendelssohn was clearly one of the most important German composers of his time, infusing the expressiveness of early romantic music with the clarity and intellectuality of Mozart and Haydn’s classicism. This exquisite balance found expression in a wide variety of musical genres. Mendelssohn was equally at home writing Protestant oratorios such as Elijah and St. Paul and composing chamber music and symphonies. He created a significant body of work in his relatively short life, including major works for orchestra that constitute an important part of today’s repertoire. These works (from his maturity) include six concert overtures, six concertos, and five major symphonies.
Mendelssohn’s musical style reflects, to a large degree, his upbringing and his personality. It speaks of discipline, balance, and an overall cheerful, largely untroubled mien. While his compositions reflect solicitude for clear, balanced musical structures, and an obvious avoidance of excess of romantic emotion and empty virtuosity, nevertheless there is a sentimental and emotive quality to them. This is certainly true of his symphonies. Symphony No. 4, like No. 3, “Scottish,” was composed in direct response of the sights and sounds from his well-known travels. As a superbly talented, and highly intellectual scion of a distinguished and wealthy family, Mendelssohn was encouraged by Goethe (and funded by his doting father) to take an extended tour of various European countries in the years 1829-31. Early in the tour he visited Scotland, the experience of which resulted in the afore-mentioned “Scottish” symphony, and the overture, The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave).
Traveling to Italy in May of 1830, he toured the major cities, including Rome, Naples, Venice, and Florence. By the time of his return to Germany in late 1831 he was effusive about his experience and stimulation in Italy. In a letter to his sister, Fanny, he spoke enthusiastically of his “Italian” symphony, and characterized it as the “happiest piece I have ever written.” Few would argue with that description, but it took a little while for its full realization. Upon his return to his native Germany, other affairs took precedence. However, a commission from the Philharmonic Society in London for several works—the princely offer of 100 guineas surely played a part, as well—ensured the symphony’s rapid completion by early 1833. The première was a great success and the composition became a major contributor to the composer’s popularity in Great Britain thenceforth. Apparently, Mendelssohn felt that what almost everyone subsequently deemed as a practically perfect piece nevertheless needed some substantial revision and tweaking. He wrestled with the project for some years, and complained about the trouble and “bitter moments” that it had caused him. It came to nothing. Notwithstanding the creator’s artistic opinions, the original version has stood as the only one, and ironically is seen as perfect in every way. It was not until 1851, four years after his death, that it was published.
The first movement instantaneously sets the mood: if any music may be said to be joyous, this is it! The vigorous repeated notes of the woodwinds propel the leaping theme in the strings. Mendelssohn’s reaction to the excitement and warmth of the Italian experience is palpable. Rhythmic drive pervades the whole movement. It is not lessened in the development section, where the composer’s familiarity with J.S. Bach’s contrapuntal wizardry comes to the fore. A few long-held notes in the oboe heralds the recapitulation of a marvelously spirited and happy movement. No wonder it has almost become a cliché for those in the media who have appropriated it.
The second movement—traditionally a slow one—here takes the guise of an Italian procession of some kind, walking along leisurely. A Neapolitan religious procession comes to mind, which was a common sight at that time. It may be helpful to the imagination to think of the one in New York’s Little Italy in the film “The Godfather.” It trudges along, borne above the pizzicato strings, with a middle section in a contrasting, somewhat lighter, mood, before returning to the tranquil, melancholy main tune, ending quietly.
The third movement in the “old days” of late musical classicism would have been a minuet and trio, and Mendelssohn, ever the traditionalist, cheerfully supplies one. Beethoven’s vigorous, energetic models for this movement still ringing in everyone’s ears are nowhere to be heard. Mendelssohn is himself, here. This tender movement comes from an untroubled land of gentility. The important part for the horns in the middle section stems from the newly-developing sound of German romanticism, so clearly heard in the works of the composer’s countryman, Carl Maria von Weber.
The last movement takes us back to the vivacity and élan of Italy in its driving evocation of the scintillating native dance, the saltarello. Others have posited the presence of the tarantella, as well. Driving breathlessly along, never relenting, Mendelssohn’s interpretation of these old, medieval frenetic dances is an exhilarating ride. Catapulting along to the climactic end, we sense dancers gradually reaching exhaustion, despite the constant rhythmic drive, only to reach down and pull out just enough energy to sizzle at the dynamic ending.
Composer: George T. Walker
An iconic figure among Black American composers who worked in the classical field, Walker excelled marvelously in difficult times for men such as he. He was a native of Washington, DC, the son of a Jamaican immigrant. The first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, he was educated at some of the most prestigious American schools: Oberlin, Eastman, Curtis, and the American Conservatory, Fontainebleau. Winner of Fulbright, Guggenheim, MacDowell, Whitney, and Rockefeller fellowships, he received commissions from outstanding orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. An accomplished pianist, he gave his debut recital at New York’s Town Hall, and performed Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra two weeks later—an auspicious beginning of a performing career. Later, he toured Europe extensively. After receiving the first doctorate given to an African-American from the Eastman school, he taught at several universities, including the University of Colorado at Boulder. Honored, respected, and admired, he lived a long life, dying in 2018 at the age of ninety-six.
Any composer as highly educated, sophisticated, and long-lived as Walker is bound to have explored many fundamental ways of creating music. The variety of styles that he explored in his compositions bears out this truth. From simple, tuneful allusions to Black music traditions to highly dissonant abstractions in the best manner of much of today’s challenging musical art, Walker cheerfully explored the limits. Composers, like all artists, reserve the right to communicate clearly with their audiences. Or, conversely, to entertain the most recondite techniques and inspirations for their art. They have no obligations. Tangents is clear evidence of music whose internal structure, sound materials, and other generating elements are internal to the composer’s mind, and not necessarily easily apprehensible or clearly understood by the listener. These internal elements served the composer well in the act of creation, but are not necessarily important to the listener. With that in mind, look not for clear given meaning, but supply your own in this case.
Commissioned by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate the turn of the millennium, the short one-movement composition has a first theme, a second theme, a diversion, and other familiar elements of musical form. But, they will not be easily followed. The putative second theme, the composer asserts is “derived from a pop tune easily identified in its proper context.” Good luck. Although, some suggest that it is a fragment of April in Paris. Possibly. But it’s good fun to look for it. There are bold, extremely dissonant sections and others that almost seem tonal and pleasant. Dynamic, soaring gestures contrast with somewhat lyrical ones. Loud and soft, disjunct and smooth, traditional elements and the avant-garde, Tangents is a study in all and is aptly illustrative of its original working title, Juxtapostion. Throughout, an easily appreciated element is Walker’s complete mastery of eliciting a remarkable variety of textures and colors in the orchestra—perhaps this is the best place to start in enjoying this remarkable composition by one of our outstanding twentieth-century American composers.
Horn Concerto No. 3 in Eb Major K. 447
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
During his relatively brief life Mozart composed at an amazing rate, and so today we are blessed with a multiplicity of his works in almost all musical genres. His operas, of course, are his most important contributions, but they are followed close in significance by his concertos. Collectively, they defined the form and set the mark for all composers who followed. Mozart wrote over twenty concertos for piano, about a dozen for various stringed instruments, and roughly the same number for wind soloists. The latter include such important works as the bassoon concerto and the clarinet concerto, but certainly none more esteemed and cherished than the four horn concertos. They are the cornerstones of solo horn literature.
They were composed for Joseph Leutgeb, a friend of Mozart’s since childhood and a virtuoso of the highest order. Leutgeb circulated in the most august circles of Viennese musical society. Joseph Haydn, his brother Michael Haydn, and Wolfgang’s father, Leopold Mozart, were among his close acquaintances—Joseph Haydn also having written a horn concerto for him. Leutgeb traveled widely in the European capital cities, such was the demand for his formidable talents. And so close was his relationship with Mozart that he, Wolfgang, and Leopold Mozart toured Italy together in 1773—about a decade or so before Mozart wrote the four concertos for him. The easy casualness of their friendship is famously known for Mozart’s mocking notation about him in the manuscript of the first and second horn concertos. They border on the obscene (not unusual in Mozart’s writings) and include such comments as: “you awful swine!,” “Oh, pain in the *****.” and “. . . Mozart takes pity on Leutgeb, ass, ox, and simpleton . . . .” They must have had a close relationship.
To fully appreciate the concertos, and anything written for the horn in those times, we must remember that eighteenth-century horns were natural horns, rather like a bugle. That is, they had no valves to facilitate the production of all of the notes of the chromatic scale. So, much use was made of the technique of “hand stopping” which elicits many of the necessary pitches by dexterous shaping of the right hand in the bell of the instrument. It’s fiendishly difficult. And as any hornist will quickly tell you, the addition of valves to the modern horn doesn’t make this beast that much more tractable. Finally, in his works for horn, Mozart didn’t make things any easier by requiring frequent “lip trills” and challenging tonguing.
Concerto No. 3 was composed about 1787. It is cast in the usual concerto format of two relatively fast movements with a slow one in the middle. In all three movements one will hear the delightful results of Mozart’s creativity in wresting seemingly effortless melodies out of an instrument severely restricted in possible note choices. Leutgeb’s virtuosity made it all feasible. The first movement is in typical concerto form: an opening passage for the orchestra setting forth the main and second themes, followed by the horn taking the same. A short development section follows, usually exploring contrasting keys. In this situation, the horn, not able to modulate to those keys, often plays a minor role. But here, Mozart shows his ingenuity, and composes a development that affords the horn opportunities to participate. The recapitulation, a cadenza for the soloist, and a short coda caps it off.
Mozart captioned the slow movement a “Romance,” and it is perfectly suited to Leutgeb’s vaunted talent for lyrical playing. In form it’s a rondo, but a slow one—a rondo in that a main thematic section alternates with three short contrasting ones. The last movement is the more familiar kind of rondo, a galloping, rollicking affair that clearly stems from the horn’s ancestry as the musical instrument of the hunt. In the short contrasting sections most especially will you hear horn calls that vividly evoke the signals of say, fox hunting.
This concerto, like its other three brethren, is charming evidence, not only of an engaging and delightful eighteenth-century genre, but also of the consummate skill of both Leutgeb and Mozart—unlikely, but dedicated friends.
Suite of Dances
Composer: Florence Price
Florence Price, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, was a pioneer American composer who distinguished herself early on. Most notably, she is remembered as the first Black woman to garner success as a composer of symphonic music. Her first symphony, Symphony No. 1 in E minor, is perhaps her best-known work. Winner of a national prize, it was given its première in 1933 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—a social and cultural milestone in this country at that time.
At a young age she journeyed north to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory. She returned to Arkansas and Georgia to teach at various small Black colleges. After marriage she and her husband left a racially troubled Arkansas in 1927 for Chicago and her further study at the American Conservatory of Music. Her career blossomed, and recognition for her art led to the afore-mentioned symphony in 1931, followed by two more symphonies, concertos, and other works for orchestra. She composed in a variety of other genres: chamber works, piano music, and vocal compositions—over three hundred in all! Her songs and arrangements of spirituals were perhaps her most performed compositions. But, sadly, little of her œuvre has been published. With Price’s increasing popularity today, that very well may change.
Suite of Dances is an orchestration done around 1950 of her well-known work for piano originally entitled Three Little Negro Dances. This suite is also currently enjoying performances in a duo piano version. Composed in 1933, these three brief dances are “Rabbit Foot,” “Hoe Cake,” and “Ticklin’ Toes.” They’re a delightful evocation of the style of southern Black folk tunes, and show Price to be equally at home in the milieu of her youth as in the concert halls of the big cities.
Program Notes by Dr. William E. Runyan, ©2022