Spring 2015

Conductor Peter Oleskevich
with Guest Artist Heemin Choi, violin

We are pleased to welcome Peter Oleskevich as our conductor, who will be replacing Mark Shapiro for this concert. 

Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77

Johannes 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' 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 Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.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 Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honour the "purity" of these venerable "German" structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, was composed in 1878 and dedicated to his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. It is Brahms's only violin concerto, and, according to Joachim, one of the four great German violin concerti.

Symphony No. 2 “A London Symphony”

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)

Ralph Vaughan Williams was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and songs.

A London Symphony is the second symphony composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The work is sometimes referred to as the Symphony No. 2, though it was not designated as such by the composer. First performed in 1914, the four-movement symphony was lost, reconstructed and later modified by Vaughan Williams.

The symphony was composed from 1912 to 1913. It is dedicated to Vaughan Williams's friend and fellow composer George Butterworth (1885–1916) who was subsequently killed by a sniper on the Somme during World War I. It was Butterworth who had first encouraged Vaughan Williams to write a purely orchestral symphony.

The symphony went through several revisions before reaching its final form. Vaughan Williams revised it for a performance in March 1918, and again in 1919–20. This second revision became the first published version and was recorded for the gramophone in 1925 by the London Symphony Orchestra.

While he was working on his fourth symphony in 1933, Vaughan Williams made time to revise A London Symphony yet again. He regarded this version, which was published in 1936, as the definitive one, and it is this version that entered the repertoire, being played in concert and on record by many conductors. However, in 2001, when the composer's widow, Ursula, gave permission for a recording of the original 1914 score, there was a widely expressed view among music critics that the composer had cut many bars of interesting music. One writer commented: "The 1913 score is more meditative, dark-shaded and tragic in tone, almost Mahleresque in its inclusiveness. By 1933, Vaughan Williams's concept of symphonic architecture was becoming more aligned with a Sibelian logic and severity."

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

Tickets available online and at the door.