Program Notes Archive

  • Beethoven, Coriolan Overture
    Beethoven wrote a gaggle of overtures, some were admittedly potboilers (his heart really wasn’t into them, but his financial needs were), but most were what we expect of the man.  The four overtures associated with his opera, Fidelio,…
  • Beethoven, Symphony no. 2 in D Major
    The years 1801-02 marked the nadir of Beethoven’s emotional life, as he grappled with the reality of his increasing and permanent deafness.  His despair was total, and the prospect of suicide is clearly implied in the documentary evidence. …
  • Beethoven, Violin Concerto in D Major
    By 1806 Beethoven had surmounted a series of significant distractions that had seriously affected his creative life.  The difficulties that he had with writing his only opera, Fidelio, are well documented.  Other factors were the misery of his…
  • Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique
    Of all of the major composers of the nineteenth century, Hector Berlioz is perhaps the most personally interesting.  What a vivacious, unique individual he was, both in his life and in his music. He was single-minded of purpose…
  • Brahms, Liebeslieder Waltzes
    German composer Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) may have achieved great professional success, but, personally, he remained unlucky in love. Although involved in a number of romantic relationships throughout his lifetime, many were unrequited, and he remained unmarried, never settling…
  • Coleridge-Taylor, Novelletten nos. 2, 3, 4
    They say that good things come in small packages. A handwritten note, a sampler of Belgian chocolates, or a carefully selected piece of fine jewelry, each makes a lasting impression. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Novelletten for strings, a brilliantly crafted…
  • Farrenc, Overture no. 2 in E-Flat
    Until recently Farrenc has been practically unknown to symphonic audiences—especially in this country–but in her time she was held in high regard in the first half of the nineteenth century in France.  Unlike so many women composers of…
  • Mahler, Adagietto from Symphony no. 5
    “This Adagietto was Gustav Mahler’s declaration of love to Alma! … both of them told me this!” ~ Wilhelm Mengelberg, conductor’s score What could be more romantic than a love note disguised as a musical manuscript? Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto,…
  • Mozart, Symphony No. 36 in C Major, “Linz”
    In the crystalline perfection of Mozart’s works, pride of place must be given to his operas, nonpareil dramatic works that unified drama and music like none before or since.  And secondarily, there are the piano concertos—a genre that…
  • Pilsner, A Light in the Ocean
    “A Light in the Ocean” is a pure reflection of the wonders of life across our planet. As I composed the music, I consistently envisioned the beauty and spectacle of stepping into nature and seeing the flourish of…
  • Prokofiev, Lieutenant Kijé Suite
    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…
  • Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin
    Ravel and Debussy are often paired in music lovers’ minds. They certainly were friends, admirers of their respective talents and musical works, and landmarks, not only of French musical culture, but the world, as well.  But there the…
  • Reinecke, Flute Concerto in D Major
    Public memory is cruel, and there are legions who were household names during their lifetimes, only to gradually fade into obscurity. Who today remembers folks like the formerly prominent Americans Ida Tarbell, Edward Everett, and Father Coughlin, for…
  • Sibelius, Romance in C
    In 1904, the same year that Mahler’s Fifth Symphony premiered and Coleridge-Taylor made his first tour of the United States, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) completed a little piece for string orchestra called the Romance in C. Like…