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Steven R. Swayne Discusses Walter Piston’s Symphony No. 4 and Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (Program Nine)

The American Symphony Orchestra’s first concert opens with Fête galante by Dame Ethel Smyth, a Victorian-born English suffragist whose lovers included the Princesse de Polignac, and whose grand opera The Wreckers received its first fully staged American production at SummerScape 2015.

Program Nine also features the harmonically adventurous Fifth Violin Concerto by Boulanger’s student Grażyna Bacewicż, a revered figure in Poland who merits wider recognition worldwide.

Boulanger’s own reach extended far beyond her homeland, and her impact on American composition was immense. She taught no fewer than eleven Pulitzer Prize laureates, including modernist masters Aaron Copland and Walter Piston, who was one of three Boulanger students to win the award twice. Both composers are represented, Piston by his Fourth Symphony, one of the past century’s finest contributions to the genre, and Copland by the popular and patriotic Lincoln Portrait, a work performed on many significant occasions with such venerable narrators as Eleanor Roosevelt, Barack Obama and the composer himself.

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