Evocative Music of Open Spaces
These folk song settings, upon which Grainger’s fame still rests, often exist in several forms–the result of Grainger’s belief that his works should be available to as many different performing ensembles as possible.
Grainger created three settings of the English Renaissance-era ballad My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone, including the version for solo strings and woodwinds on this program.
His variable-instrumentation treatment of the British folk song Green Bushes takes the form
of a passacaglia, where the repeating melody is clothed with constantly-changing accompaniment. The composer wrote: “In taking the view that the Green Bushes tune is a dance-folksong, I was naturally led to keep it running like an unbroken thread through my setting, and [felt] prompted to graft upon it modern musical elements expressive of the swish and swirl of dance movements.”
1905 - 06
My Robin is to the
1882 - 1961
Eccentric in both his personal and musical life, Percy Grainger defies easy categorization. Australian by birth (and self-identification), Grainger spent most of this career and adult life in England and the United States, even becoming a member of a US Army band during World War I.
His musical activities spanned composition, teaching, concert piano, and ethnomusicology. His compositional output ranged from experiments in chance music (decades before such techniques were widely explored) to arrangements of folk songs that remain among the most popular works in the band repertory.
Concerto No. 1
for Flute and Oboe
Franz Joseph Haydn
1732 - 1809
By the end of his life, Franz Joseph Haydn was probably the most popular composer in Europe – certainly the most popular outside the operatic realm. This was no accident: Haydn had spent the heart of his career churning out music at the pleasure of his employer, the Hungarian Count Esterhazy. By the time he had the opportunity to seek fame and fortune in the cosmopolitan centers of Paris and London, Haydn had mastered the art of giving the audience what they wanted to hear.
Such a statement is hardly disparaging. Haydn was no panderer; rather, his gift lay in bringing beauty, innovation, and impeccable craftsmanship to works that were immediately engaging to listeners. If there’s a downside to his made-to-order compositional approach, it is that some of these “orders” led him to genres which did not survive the 18th century.
For example, Haydn produced 175 pieces for baryton, the archaic string instrument which Count Esterhazy (and virtually no one since) happened to play. Similarly, he wrote five double concertos for two lire organizzate (like a hurdy-gurdy–a string instrument that employs a spinning wheel rather than a bow) for King Ferdinand IV of Naples. Modern performances (like the one on this program) tend to replace the lire with flute and oboe.
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1900 - 1990
From the end of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th, many Americans were asking questions about what sort of nation the US ought to be, and what place it should hold in the world – questions which have not entirely been settled.
At the same time, composers applied similar questions to the musical realm, wrestling with what it meant to write truly American music. Ironically, two of the most influential figures on the matter were European: Czech composer Antonín Dvorák (who taught in New York in the 1890s) and Parisian pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (to whom many major American composers took pilgrimage in the mid-1900s).
While no definition of American music will ever be all-encompassing, Aaron Copland (one of the Boulanger students) has probably been most influential in establishing the quintessential American classical music sound in the popular imagination.
Many subsequent composers, like John Williams and Jennifer Higdon, have incorporated the famous breadth and “openness” of Copland’s scoring when evoking the American landscape. Copland’s name became synonymous with this “Americanness” through the three ballets which made his name in the 1930s and ’40s: Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring.
This last ballet earned Copland the Pulitzer Prize and remains his most widely admired work. Written for choreographer Martha Graham in 1944, Appalachian Spring tells a highly stylized and iconic story of pioneer life, including marriage, farming, and dancing, before ending with a famous setting of the Shaker hymn “The Gift to Be Simple.”
Franz Joseph Haydn
Free tickets will be available to 2019-2020 subscribers one week before the general public: OCTOBER 26-30. Due to the fact that we cannot guarantee seats this year, free tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
Free tickets will be available to the general public (as capacity allows) one week prior to the live concerts: NOVEMBER 2 - 6.
WHERE TO GET TICKETS
Pick up free tickets at the Mansfield Box Office:
M - F 11:00am to 4:30pm.
No phone or online ordering for non-subscribers.
Only 200 will be seated for each performance: 100 on the main floor and 100 in the balcony.
Tickets and masks are required to be seated.