Fall 2014

Conductor Mark Shapiro
with Guest Artist David Parker, horn

Overture to Oberon, J. 306

C. von Weber (1786–1826)

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.

Weber's operas Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. Der Freischütz came to be regarded as the first German "nationalist" opera, Euryanthe developed the Leitmotif technique to a hitherto-unprecedented degree, while Oberon may have influenced Mendelssohn's music for A Midsummer Night's Dream and, at the same time, revealed Weber's lifelong interest in the music of non-Western cultures. This interest was first manifested in Weber's incidental music for Schiller's translation of Gozzi's Turandot, for which he used a Chinese melody, making him the first Western composer to use an Asian tune that was not of the pseudo-Turkish kind popularized by Mozart and others.

Oberon, or The Elf King's Oath, is a 3-act romantic opera in English with spoken dialogue. The libretto by James Robinson Planche was based on a German poem, Oberon, by Christoph Martin Wieland, which itself was based on the epic romance Huon de Bordeaux, a French medieval tale.

Against his doctor's advice, Weber undertook the project commissioned by the actor-impresario Charles Kemble for financial reasons. Having been offered the choice of Faust or Oberon as subject matter, he travelled to London to complete the music, learning English to be better able to follow the libretto, before the premiere of the opera. However, the pressure of rehearsals, social engagements and composing extra numbers destroyed his health, and Weber died in London on 5 June 1826. 

Horn Concerto in B-flat Major, Op. 91

R. Glière (1875–1956)

Reinhold Glière was a Russian composer of German-Polish ancestry. Glière's Concerto for Horn and Orchestra was completed in 1951. It was premiered on May 10, 1951 by Russian hornist Valery Polekh in Leningrad (later renamed St. Petersburg) with the Leningrad Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The Horn Concerto is perhaps the best known of Glière's acclaimed works. Concertos for horn are rare; well-written concerti rarer still. The addition of valves in the early 19th century allowed composers a greater flexibility in their compositions, and the horn became a full range solo instrument. Many composers, valuing its large range and unique tone, incorporated it more prominently in their compositions. Glière went one step further; he captured its full power by composing a concerto for horn and orchestra, the longest commonly played.

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 73

J. Brahms (1833–1897)

Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. In his lifetime, Brahms's popularity and influence were considerable. He is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs."

Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.

Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and other composers.

The Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, was composed by Brahms in the summer of 1877, during a visit to Pörtschach am Wörthersee, a town in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Its composition was brief in comparison with the fifteen years it took Brahms to complete his First Symphony.

The cheery and almost pastoral mood of the symphony often invite comparisons with Beethoven's Sixth Symphony but, perhaps mischievously, Brahms wrote to his publisher on November 22, 1877, that the symphony "is so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score must come out in mourning."

The premiere was given in Vienna on December 30, 1877 by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Hans Richter.

7:30 pm, Faith Tabernacle Church, 6225 Summit Street, Halifax, NS