7:30 p.m. — Saturday, April 30, 2022

Vernon Cook Theater – Clinton High School

Guest soloist for the evening is violinist Naha Greenholtz. She will perform Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto accompanied by the orchestra.

Greenholtz is concertmaster of the Quad City Symphony and Madison Symphony, and her past engagements include concertmaster appearances with the Oregon, Omaha, and Memphis symphonies, the San Francisco Ballet, the Calgary Philharmonic, and a 2-year residency with the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto.

Her 2018-2020 seasons have included regular guest concertmaster appearances with the Chicago Philharmonic, the Louisiana Philharmonic, and the Australian Ballet in Melbourne.

The concert is the sixth of the season. The orchestra is conducted by Brian Dollinger, now completing his 14th season in that position.

The orchestra will also perform the Fifth Symphony by Tchaikovsky. Written in 1888, it is a “cyclical symphony,” according to CSO’s program annotator and flutist Karin Anderson-Sweet. “The “fate theme” moves from a funereal, dark opening to a triumphant, dramatic close.”

Admission to the concert is by season ticket, or by individual adult concert tickets, available at the door or online for $20. All students are admitted free, and an adult with a student will be admitted for half price (please ask about this offer at the ticket table).

Program Notes:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791.                   

   Likely the most renowned of all musical child prodigies, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed in nearly every major genre, leaving us music that serves as archetypes of the Classical period. Mozart wrote his first piece of music at the age of five, published his first composition by seven, and wrote his first opera by his twelfth birthday. One of the most prolific and influential composers of all time, he composed over 600 works in his short lifetime, almost single-handedly developing the piano concerto.

   Born to Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang was the youngest of seven and one of only two siblings to survive birth. His father Leopold was one of Europe’s leading music teachers, Deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg and a successful composer. Leopold gave up his career and became his son’s only teacher when his musical genius was discovered at the age of three. His older sister, Maria Anna was also musically talented, and Leopold traveled the two all over Europe to show off their precocious ability, allowing Wolfgang to meet and become familiar with many musicians and their music. 

   When the tours ended, Wolfgang was hired as court musician, performing and composing for Salzburg’s Prince. Popular and beloved in Salzburg he composed in many genres; symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, serenades and opera. Even these early works were already excellent enough to remain popularly performed today. Eventually growing discontented with his low salary and few opportunities to work on his favorite, the opera, he searched Germany and Paris for jobs, moving to Paris where he was unsuccessful. He grudgingly returned to Salzburg where his unhappiness continued, he felt unappreciated and was finally fired by the Prince.

   It was in Vienna where his career eventually took off, and he established himself as the finest pianist in the city. He was able to continue composing, writing a hugely successful opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, which was performed throughout Europe. His reputation established, he was able to marry Constance Weber with whom he had six children, two of whom survived. He began studying the works of Bach and Handel and met Haydn, all of whom influenced his work. He and Haydn became friends, playing together in string quartets. In awe of Mozart’s talent, Haydn told Leopold, “Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me…”

   Mozart put on a very popular concert series as the piano soloist in his own compositions and wrote three or four concertos each season. He and Constance became very wealthy and were able to live lavishly, which led to financial issues later.

Next he shifted back to opera, collaborating with famed librettist Lorenzo da Ponte with whom he premiered his Marriage of Figaro to acclaim in Vienna and Prague. Don Giovanni followed, considered among his most important works. Finally, by 1787 he obtained steady work under the aristocratic patronage of Emperor Joseph II who appointed him as his chamber composer. Unfortunately, Austria was at war a year later, which led to his career decline. He had to move his family to cheaper lodgings and was forced to borrow from his friends. He made long trips to improve his fortunes with little success. 1791 was his last year of great productivity, resulting in The Magic Flute, his final piano concertos, a clarinet concerto, his last great string quintets, the revision of his 40th symphony and his unfinished Requiem. His finances began to improve as new patrons began subsidizing him, but he fell ill in September and died in December 1791.

Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K218

   Although Mozart performed as one of the greatest pianists of his time, he played the violin as well. This piece is the fourth of five violin concertos he wrote in Salzburg in 1775. The first movement opens energetically with a trumpet fanfare and unison orchestra in military style. The second movement continues aria-like, an andante of tenderness and grace. The finale begins gently and then becomes an energetic, rustic dance. 

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 1840-1893

   The first Russian romantic composer to enjoy widespread international acclaim, Tchaikovsky remains the most popular and original Russian composer of all time, the emotional turmoil of his life reflected in his brooding music. His astounding output includes 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 4 cantatas, 3 ballets, 5 suites, 3 piano concertos, 11 overtures, 20 choral works, a violin concerto, 3 string quartets and over 100 songs and piano pieces. His most famous works, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, 1812 Overture, his symphonies and Eugene Onegin, all displayed his beautiful melodies, impressive harmonies and picturesque orchestration.

   Born in a small town in the Russian interior, Peter displayed his musical talents early, composing his first song at age 4. He began piano lessons at the age of 5 with a local tutor, although music education was not accessible in Russian schools at the time. High-strung and sensitive, he was steered in a more practical route by his parents who prepared him for a career in civil service, but he eventually became one of the first students in what would become the Moscow Conservatory of Music, studying harmony and counterpoint with Nikolai Zaremba and composition and instrumentation with Anton Rubinstein. He had also become influenced by Italian singing instructor Luigi Piccioli, developing his lifelong love of Italian music. The first public performance of one of his compositions occurred in 1865 when Johann Strauss conducted his Characteristic Dances at Pavlov’s.

   After graduating in 1865, Tchaikovsky moved to Moscow to teach music theory at the Moscow Conservatory and within 5 years produced his first symphony and his first opera. In 1868 he met a young Belgian mezzo-soprano, Desiree Artot, and first of several attempts at marriage which ended unhappily. In 1869 he completed Romeo and Juliet to mirror the drama of the Shakespearean play, which became the first of his compositions to enter the international classical repertoire. His first operas were harshly judged by critics, but his instrumental works began to earn him his reputation, and at the end of 1874 his Piano Concerto No.1 earned him acclaim along with his Symphony No.3.

   At the end of 1875, Tchaikovsky left Russia to travel Europe, where he was powerfully impressed by Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Earlier that year he had completed Swan Lake, the first of his three ballets, which premiered at the Bolshoi in Moscow to a lukewarm reception. Initially, dancers deemed it too difficult, and critics pronounced it “too noisy, too Wagnerian”. Yet this initial production survived for 6 years in 41 performances as audiences warmed to music so unlike 19th century ballet.

   In 1877 Tchaikovsky made a hasty decision to marry Antonina Milyukova, a naive student besotted with him, resulting in marital disaster. Within weeks of this marriage, he fled abroad, never to return to her. A much more successful and remarkable relationship developed with widow Nadezha Von Meck, a great admirer of his work, who became his patroness for the next 14 years, allowing him to devote himself to composition. The two agreed never to meet, instead embarking on a voluminous exchange of letters expounding on politics, psychology, creativity, religion and the very nature of love.

   This period proved very productive for Tchkovsky, producing some of his most famous works— the opera Eugene Onegin, the Symphony No. 4 and the Violin Concerto in D Minor. Over the next ten years he produced operas, symphonies, the Serenade for Strings in C Major, Capriccio Italian and the 1812 Overture. By 1887 he was conducting his own music to great acclaim and continuing to produce such works as the Sixth Symphony, Pathetique, and Sleeping Beauty. He was invited to tour the United States for the inauguration of Carnegie Hall and he conducted before enthusiastic audiences in New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia, confirming his triumphant world stature.

   Tchaikovsky became suddenly ill in October 1893 and died of cholera 4 days later.

Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, op. 64

   Tchaikovsky conducted this symphony’s premiere in 1888 in St. Petersburg, the same year he composed it. Although it has become one of his most popular works, it met with initial negative criticism. Tchaikovsky himself called it a “failure”. During a notable performance in 1941 during the Siege of Leningrad, the orchestra was ordered to continue playing as bombs dropped around the theater. A cyclical symphony with a recurring main theme, the “fate theme”, the piece moves from a funereal, dark opening to a triumphant, dramatic close. His Fifth Symphony reflects his music full of polarities — from deepest lows to soaring highs.

   The first Andante movement begins in the shadows with the haunting, darkly-veiled presence of the solo clarinet, establishing the tragic theme shrouded in the gloom of the low strings. A melody is built on simple, repeating phrases like a lamenting Russian folk song. After the slow introduction, the strings transform into a mysterious march as a restless and spirited melody takes shape. The full voice of the orchestra comes alive gradually in a rhythmic conflict like the swirling movement and grace of his ballets. It closes with the gloomy march themes fading into the distance.

   The second Andante cantabile movement also opens slowly with a low string choir and the famous horn solo, noble, sensuous and lamenting. Joined by other voices, the movement becomes soaring and passionate before being cut off by an outburst of brass fanfares and then ends serenely with the clarinet and strings.

   The third Allegro, a graceful, yet fleeting waltz, combines with a faster scherzo, ending with a return to the ominous theme.

   The Finale Andante returns in the gloomy key, but is transformed with a trumpet fanfare now in E major, launching into a furious first theme. A rising line from the bottom to the top of the strings leads to a thrilling, heroic statement of the brass. The momentum comes to a sudden halt with a shocking silence. Then the trumpet restates the theme, now in the major key, in a swelling celebratory march; a true journey from darkness to light.

       Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Clinton Symphony to conclude 68th season with A Grand Finale