Bard Music Festival Presents
Program Nine: Sustaining the Beautiful: Art during and after the Catastrophe7 pm Preconcert Talk
8 pm Orchestral Performance: Marjorie Owens, soprano; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897–1957)
Symphony in F-sharp Major, Op. 40 (1949–52)
The Passover Psalm, Op. 30 (1941)
Paul Hindemith (1895–1963)
Symphonia Serena (1946)
Richard Strauss (1864–1949)
Four Last Songs (1948)
Composed for Rabbi Jacob Sonderling, who also commissioned works from Schoenberg and other Jewish immigrants, the choral Passover Psalm represents a rarity in Korngold’s oeuvre, both as a religious composition and as a large-scale concert work written during the war. Once peace was restored, however, he composed the Symphony in F-sharp that opens the American Symphony Orchestra’s second concert, Program Nine. Dedicated to the memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in gratitude to the nation that gave his family refuge, Korngold’s sole symphony is one of the most demanding orchestral works in the repertoire, and only received its live concert premiere some 15 years after his death. Yet, as Greek maestro Dimitri Mitropoulos recognized, it is “an important work of original thematic substance, of a rare emotional power in a masterly symphonic form.” Other composers shared Korngold’s compulsion to write ambitious art music immediately after the war. Paul Hindemith combined wry humor with intensely chromatic counterpoint in his Symphonia Serena, while the Four Last Songs for soprano and orchestra crowned the creative flowering of Richard Strauss’s final years.
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