Clinton Symphony Kicks Off 70th Season on September 23

7:30 p.m. — Saturday, September 23, 2023

Vernon Cook Theater – Clinton High School

Violinist Marcia Henry Liebenow returns to the stage with us to perform the Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor. Marcia is Concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony and teaches at Bradley University in Peoria. Two Beethoven compositions complete the program: first the overture to his incidental music The Ruins of Athens, and then his Eighth Symphony. Altogether an exhilarating evening of live music.

Season Tickets and individual concert tickets are available at the door, or avoid the wait at the concert and order them for Will Call here on our website.

Not sure where to park amid Clinton High School’s renovations? A map showing parking and entrances is available here.

To celebrate our 70th Season, join us for an Overture to the Season buffet featuring pasta, chicken, and meatballs as well as salad, bread, dessert and beverages. This will take place in the Clinton High Commons at 5:30pm prior to the concert. Maestro Brian Dollinger will share an overview of the musical works he has chosen for the Clinton Symphony to perform this season. Tickets are $15 per person and available by calling Karl Wolf at 563-212-6075 by September 19.

Please enjoy the following program notes:

Ludwig van Beethoven
Long recognized as one of the greatest composers of Western classical music, Ludwig
van Beethoven fought the onset of deafness by the age of 28 to produce an output that
encompasses 722 works, including 9 symphonies, 35 piano sonatas and 16 string
quartets. Popularly, Beethoven personifies the idea of the creative genius struggling
against convention and his own physical limitations to push the boundaries of form and

Born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, his musical talent was recognized at an early age. By
the age of 9 his teacher proclaimed that Beethoven “would surely become a second
Wolfgang Mozart”. As he eventually took on the positions of assistant organist and
violist, his first publications, 3 keyboard sonatas, appeared in 1783. His early reputation
came from his virtuosity as a pianist, performing in public and private concerts and he
continued to publish piano solos and concertos which he often premiered. Famous for
his improvisations, he also performed works by other composers, including Mozart. By
1814 his increasing deafness forced him to stop playing in public, but he continued
composing for piano, stretching the instrument’s accepted limits in dynamics,
expression, rhythm and technique.

Hints of his interest in the symphonic form date back to his earliest years. His nine
completed symphonies span the years 1800 to 1824, each distinctive in character and
innovative in different ways. Chamber music formed another enduring element of his
output, notably the 16 string quartets composed between 1800 and 1826, the last four
exploring new sound worlds from a final burst of creativity.

Beethoven’s music encompasses many other genres as well, including songs,
canons, variations, bagatelles, overtures, dances, opera, incidental music and marches,
reflecting the diversity of his interests. More than any other composer, Beethoven’s
music has come to be identified with transcendental notions of struggle, revolution and
the sublime. Ideals of freedom and emancipation from tyranny permeate works such as
his only opera Fidelio and the Ninth Symphony, the French Revolution and Napoleonic
Wars forming the backdrop of his life between 1789 and 1815. He was celebrated
throughout Europe during his lifetime, and his funeral procession in Vienna attracted
thousands of onlookers in 1827.

Beethoven’s Die Ruinen Von Athens Overture
In 1811 Beethoven was commissioned to compose incidental music for two Hungarian-
themed plays by August Von Kotzebue, written to commemorate the opening of a
magnificent new theater in the city of Pest, funded by Emperor Franz I to unify Hungary
with the interests of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy. A masterful piece of political and
cultural propaganda, The Ruins of Athens was transformed by Beethoven into a virtual
operetta with a mix of dialog and music. Uncharacteristically, Beethoven quickly
composed the music while taking a cure at the spa of Teplitz and received an
enthusiastic reception by incorporating Hungarian themes and folk music, all
nationalistic themes designed to flatter the emperor.

The opening of the overture reveals a desolate and foreboding landscape in G minor.
With the entrance of the oboe, celebration erupts in a jubilant G major.
The most famous music is the spirited Turkish March. With cymbals blazing, it seems to
begin in the distance, pass by, and then fade into the distance.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
Beethoven’s odd numbered symphonies were big, heroic game changers, stunning
audiences with their bold innovations and often ferocious energy. By contrast, his often
neglected even numbered symphonies are sometimes described as more “classical”,
strikingly different, but equally thrilling. In fact, at the Eighth’s Vienna premiere in 1814,
it was overshadowed by the Seventh, performed at the same program to more
enthusiastic applause.

Beethoven himself possessed a great fondness for his “ little symphony in F”, imbuing it
with a spirited sense of daring pushing forward into inventive, new territory. The
buoyancy of this music gives no hint to his darkly complicated personal life at the time:
the anguished “immortal, beloved” letter ending a relationship with a mysterious woman,
and concern over his brother Johann’s love life.

The first movement has no introduction, no chord, just a jump from the starting gate into
a manic race. A boisterous and jovial ending closes the movement, marked fortissimo,
the loudest possible dynamic which Beethoven rarely uses. Only at the end do we hear
the opening melody charging forward in the low strings, almost drowned out by the rest
of the orchestra in a jubilant wave.

Instead of the slow, expected adagio, the second Allegretto movement is much more
perky and mischievous with a chirping tick-took rhythm, perhaps a parody of the
metronome which had just been invented.

The third movement, Beethoven’s only symphonic minuet, provides a bit of nostalgia
broken up by jabs on unexpected beats by the tympani, and unending conversation
traded between instruments.

The finale is another mad dash, though begun softly with silent hesitations. It quickly
becomes an exhilarating musical romp, filled with erratic key changes, sudden silences
and the intrusion of an out-of-place C sharp. The loud, dissonant interruption plays an
important role in one of the most over-the-top codas from the master of outsized codas.
Tchaikovsky, not noted for his sense of humor, thought this movement one of
Beethoven’s greatest masterpieces.

Max Bruch: Concerto No. 1 in G Minor for Violin, Op.26

Born in 1838 in Cologne, Germany, Max Bruch became a Romantic composer, violinist,
teacher and conductor who wrote more than 200 works, including three violin concertos.
In his day, Bruch was a substantial figure in the musical landscape, but the promise of
his early years failed to blossom and he comes perilously close to being a one-hit
wonder with his richly seductive Concerto No. 1. Indeed, the very popularity of this
composition irked Bruch no end. “The G Minor again! I could not bear to hear it even
once more. My friends, play the second concerto or the Scottish Fantasy for once,” he is
said to have exclaimed after receiving yet another request to conduct it.

By the age of nine, Bruch had written his first composition, a song for his mother’s
birthday, and from then on, music became his passion. With his parents’ enthusiastic
support, he wrote many minor early works, few of which have survived.

After briefly studying philosophy and art, Bruch has a long career as a teacher,
conductor and composer throughout Germany. At the height of his career, he spent
three seasons as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. He also taught
composition until his retirement, his most notable student being Ottorino Respighi.
His complex and well-structured works placed him in the German Romantic tradition
exemplified by Johannes Brahms. In his time, he was known primarily as a choral
composer, often overshadowed by his friend Brahms who was more popular and widely

Today, as during his life, Bruce’s Violin concerto No. 1 is one of the staples of standard
violin repertoire. The first version was completed in 1866; its premiere with Otto Von
Konigslow as soloist was followed by extensive revision. Performed throughout Europe
and America in Bruch’s own lifetime, it offered audiences exactly what they wanted in a
violin concerto: singing lines, passionate phrasing, extreme dynamics, high drama,
double and triple stops. The concerto is marked by Bruch’s characteristic alternation of
moods: simmering, soulful melodies build to explosive outbursts of passion. The
prelude opens in an air of quiet, brooding melancholy before breaking a full- blown,
impassioned allegro. It builds up to two major climaxes before dying away in emotional
exhaustion. Without pause, Bruch segues into the central and heartfelt adagio. This
begins in a prayer-like atmosphere, gradually gaining in activity and expressiveness,
some of the most beautiful writing in the entire literature for violin. Bruch concludes with
the drama and energy of the allegro energetico in a crackling, gypsy-tinged finale.

Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Clinton Symphony Presents Free Riverfront Pops Concert

6:30 p.m. — Sunday, June 4, 2023

Riverview Park Bandshell – Clinton, Iowa

Join us for the annual Sunday Pops in Riverview Park concert! Enjoy a variety of music from light classical, Broadway, film, and television music. It is a free concert, open to the public and you are invited to bring along your whole family, friends and neighbors for this once-a-year festival of music. Activities provided by the Felix Adler Discovery Center will begin at 5:30pm, music at 6:30pm.

Lorraine Min Returns to Perform Brahms Piano Concerto No 1

7:30 p.m. — Saturday, April 22, 2023

Vernon Cook Theater – Clinton High School

Pianist Lorraine Min returns following her exciting performance with Clinton Symphony Orchestra in 2019. This time she will perform the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1. A native of Victoria, Canada, she has dazzled audiences internationally with her poetic artistry and brilliant virtuosity. She has caught the attention of a local patron of the arts, who for the second time underwrites her performance with us. Conductor Brian Dollinger has also chosen the overture to Haydn’s opera L’isola disabitata (The Uninhabited Island), and the Brahms Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn to complete the program.

Steinway Artist and critically acclaimed pianist, LORRAINE MIN has dazzled audiences internationally with her poetic artistry and brilliant virtuosity.

Cited by the New York Times for her “impeccable phrase-shaping (and) crystalline sound,” and by the Washington Post for her “admirable playing,” Min has performed extensively throughout Canada and USA, in Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, India, and in South America. She has performed solo recitals and has made concerto appearances in some of the world’s most important concert halls such as New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre, and the Chan Centre, to name only a few.

A dynamic chamber musician, Min has performed in prestigious North American venues including at the Ravinia and Tanglewood Festivals, in Europe, Asia, Australia, notably in Perth’s Western Australia Symphony Orchestra’s Amberley Mozart Day concerts where she was a featured guest artist. She can regularly be heard on CBC and ABC (Australian) radio.

Min’s success in prestigious international competitions include top prizes and special awards of distinction in the Washington International, D’Angelo, Frina Awerbuch, and the William Kapell Competitions. She was the top ranking Canadian pianist at nineteen years old in the Harveys Leeds and Busoni International Competitions, and laureate in the Van Cliburn Competition.

Min’s discography includes her solo CD of Schubert and Liszt and a CD featuring chamber music of Beethoven and Brahms for Canada’s esteemed Eine Kleine Music Festival. In 2013, Min released two CD’s, her subsequent solo CD, “In Recital” which features works by Chopin, Liszt, and Bartok, as well as a CD of Violin and Piano Sonatas by Franck, Debussy, and Prokofiev.

Born in Victoria and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Min studied on full scholarship at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and earned her Bachelor degree, Pi Kappa Lambda. On generous scholarships and numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Min received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School.

Franz Josef Haydn 1732-1809

Composer Franz Josef Haydn was born in Austria in 1732 and is known as one of
the greatest masters of classical music. His capacity for both musical wit and depth of
feeling, as well as his sheer productivity have won him the title of “father” to both the
string quartet and the symphony. His compositions include 104 symphonies, 50
concertos, 84 string quartets, 24 stage works, and 12 masses, among numerous other
Given great scope for composition, Haydn became musical director for the
Esterhazy family for whom most of his musical output was produced during 29 years of
service. In the 1780s, Haydn received commissions from London and Paris and honors
from all over Europe. He formed a close friendship with Mozart, an association that
influenced the music of both. Hayden’s works were known for his originality, liveliness,
optimism and instrumental brilliance, and became the model and inspiration not only for
Mozart, but also for Beethoven, who studied under him.
Two great oratorios, The Creation, based on Milton’s Paradise Lost, and The
Seasons were written later in life, planned on the grand scale for solo voices, chorus
and orchestra. Haydn’s output was so large that at the end of his life, he could not be
sure how many works he had written. He died in Vienna on May 32, 1809.

L’isola Disabitata Overture
While working for Prince Esterhazy, Haydn composed 14 operas, 9 in Italian and 5 in
German. Since the Prince loved opera, Haydn had a ready audience, and as he was
contracted to write an opera a year, he had many opportunities to experiment with the
form. Said to be his favorite, L’isola was number 10 and composed in 1789 during a
season that premiered 3 of his own operas.
The overture, sometimes likened to a miniature symphony, is an example of Haydn’s
Storm and Drang style. Manifested primarily between the late 1760s and early 1780s,
Sturm and Drang refers to the practice of releasing sudden, wild emotion in contrast to
the enlightenment values of rationalism and control. Evident in literature and music, its
purpose was to counter polite control with sudden shock, exuberance and energy.
Haydn embraced this element in highly emotional music with sudden fits and starts,
agitation and loud dynamics.
In this piece, the Largo begins with 6 unisons before a tiny theme is introduced
quietly by the strings, ending with 3 repeated eighth notes, a final sustained tone and
unexpected silence. Then a sudden explosion bursts from the entire orchestra, strings
leading with racing notes and accents. A soft, gasping second theme adds a contrast
before being swept away in the full sturm and Drang conflagration. A small minuet
dances with poise and elegance until the orchestra again explodes in a furious
conclusion with 3 firm chords.

Johannes Brahms 1833-1897
Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1833 and died in Vienna,
Austria in 1897. He was the great master of symphonic and sonata style, writing
symphonies, concerti, chamber music, piano works, choral compositions and over 200
songs. He championed the Classical tradition of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven at a
time when the standards of this tradition were being questioned by the Romantics.
Although considered a traditionalist by his contemporaries, his music also embeds
innovative and deeply romantic motifs. Enshrined as one of the “Three B’s” along with
Bach and Beethoven, his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire.
Brahms learned piano by age 8, improvised a piano sonata at 11, and made his
public concert debut conducting a choir at age 14. Young Johannes was even able to
supplement his family’s income playing piano in Hamburg’s rough dock area. In 1850 he
met Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi, who introduced him to Roma music, which
was to become one of his strongest influences. His first big break came in 1853 when
he met violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim who recognized his talent and recommended him
to Robert Schumann. Schumann’s enthusiastic support introduced him to the public with
the prophetic words, “This is the chosen one!”
From 1857 to 1860, posts teaching piano and conducting gave him time to compose
2 serenades, a string sextet and his turbulent Piano Concerto No. 1. He eventually
settled in Vienna directing a choral society. As his reputation grew, so did rivalry
between his supporters and those of the New Romantic school, such as Wagner and
Bruckner, who deemed him too old-fashioned. By 1872 he was directing the Vienna
Philharmonic. His composing skills flourished during this period, including his most
famous choral work, his German Requiem, based on the Bible story of Good Friday, still
seen today as one of the most significant works of 19th century choral music. Light
works from this period included his Hungarian Dances for piano duet, a brilliant
arrangement of Roma tunes which enjoyed phenomenal success. He also published his
Liebeslieder (love songs) for vocal quartet, using Viennese waltzes with sparkling
By the 1870s he was moving to purely orchestral works, including Variations on a
Theme by Haydn, which gave him the confidence to continue work on his tempestuous
1st Symphony completed in 1876. His 2nd Symphony followed in a more serene, idyllic
mood. Six years later he finished his 3rd Symphony which begins calmly, but ends in a
gigantic conflict of elemental forces. His 4th Symphony was inspired by Sophocles’
Greek tragedies. Further demonstrating his creative genius, he also took a simple
theme from a Bach cantata, spinning it into 30 intricate variations.
Brahms’ fame spread and he was able to tour to great acclaim all over Europe. He
composed his Academic Festival Overture in 1881 as a thank you to Poland. He never
married, and some credited his “immense reserve” to an inability to express emotion
except through his music. Brahms dedicated his later years to composing and died in
Vienna in 1897.

Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn
When Brahms turned 40 he began composing a set of variations based on a Wind
Divertimento by Haydn. An irregular structure based on five rather than the usual four
measures in length became the basic theme for his eight variations with a concluding
passacaglia and finale. Credited as the first set of independent variations for orchestra
ever composed, the success of his composition gave Brahms the confidence to move
forward with orchestral works. Although the simple theme was likely not from Haydn, the
name lives on in a series of meditations and rhapsodic developments, unlike common
variations which merely embellish the central melody.
The finale wonderfully illustrates Brahms’ mastery of traditional composition, a
veritable textbook of counterpoint, canons, double counterpoint and more. Beginning
with a hymn-like statement, the chorale grows in powerful elaboration, bursting into a
roaring climax.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, op. 15
Brahms spent his life struggling to emerge from Beethoven’s shadow, so intimidated
by his master that more than half his career would pass before writing his first
symphony. Beginning in 1854, the young Brahms wrestled for four years with the form
and his own uncertainty. It began as a symphony, then turned into a massive sonata for
two pianos which he played with his dear friend Clara Schumann. Finally, it emerged as
a piano concerto, but not the traditional solo with orchestral accompaniment. Instead, it
became a work on symphonic scale in which piano and orchestra are equals. As with
many monumental new works, when it debuted in Leipzig, the audience hissed, not yet
ready for its stormy, ferocious intensity. It would only begin to be accepted years later.
The ominous opening theme returns throughout the first movement, rising like some
awesome supernatural power. When the piano enters, it is in a different world of quiet,
restless melancholy. A second theme of passionate warmth is echoed in a distant horn
The Adagio begins in quiet majesty, weaving in lines of the bassoon, strings and
oboe. The piano’s elaborate trills introduce the final statements of the orchestra and a
distant drumbeat.
The final Rondo alternates a principal theme, surging forward with spirited
momentum as the soloist begins with a furious, Bach-inspired melody. The movement
continues with rhythmic vigor including a string fugue, and comes to a transcendent
close filled with warmth and grand drama.

Clinton Symphony to share Stories in Music

2:00 p.m. — Sunday, February 19, 2023

Morrison High School Auditorium, Morrison, Illinois

The Clinton Symphony Orchestra will present “Stories in Music” as their family concert on Sunday, February 19 at 2 p.m. at the Morrison High School Auditorium. The popularity of the afternoon time trialed at last year’s family concert has brought it back this year, this time on Sunday. Imagine the giants of the past with Bryant’s Dinosaurs: A Primeval Symphony, and meet the instruments of the orchestra through Aesop’s Fables by Richard Maltz. We’ll enjoy Mozart’s Concerto for Flute presented by our 2023 Young Artist, Akshar Barot. The concert will conclude with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. The music program honors the excellent opportunities for music education offered by area schools and music teachers. Many musicians of the symphony are teachers.

Students always attend free, Adult tickets are $20. A student may bring their favorite adult who will enjoy a 50% discount on their ticket, please ask about this offer at the ticket table.


Curtis Bryant –  Dinosaurs; A Primeval Symphony
I. Ultimate Tangle
II. Plated March
III. Pterrible Flight
IV. Duckbilled Ragtime
V. Tyrannical Tarantelle

W.A. Mozart – Concerto in G for Flute, K313
Allegro Maestoso
Akshar Barot, 2023 Young Artist

Richard Maltz – Aesop’s Fables

I. Prelude
II. The Hare and the Tortoise
III. The Fox and the Grapes
IV. The Ant and the Grasshopper
V. The Oak and the Reeds
VI. The Milkmaid and her Pail
VII. Finale

W. A. Mozart – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K550
Allegro Molto
Menuetto – Allegretto
Allegro Assai

Akshar Barot

Akshar Barot, the winner of the Clinton Symphony’s 2023 Young Artist Auditions, is a junior at Rock Falls High School, his music teachers are Patrick Anderson and Ramiro Martinez. He is a flute student of Julie McCord. In school, he is an active member of Scholastic Bowl, Speech Team, Knights Alumni Drumline, and of Sterling Municipal Band and Jazz Band. In addition to flute he plays Marimba, Xylophone, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Indian Bamboo Flute, and Tabla. He plans to study aerospace engineering in the future, while continuing his passion for music. He will perform Mozart’s Concerto in G for Flute as part of the Symphony’s February concert, “Stories in Music” at 2:00pm on Sunday, February 19, in Morrison High School Auditorium.

Program Notes:

Dinosaurs: A Primeval Symphony

Curtis Bryant

An Atlanta native, Curtis Bryant earned his Master of Music
Theory from Georgia State University. His music has been heard
across multiple continents, as well as on radio and television
broadcasts. He has composed for virtually all concert media
including chamber, choral, opera, art song and orchestra, as well
as a variety of ethnic and folk styles. Although classically trained,
his diverse and unique style is influenced by blues and jazz and
exhibits a strong sense of melody.
Bryant has also composed music for numerous television
series and specials, including the award- winning Portrait of
America series produced by Georgia Public Television. He has
won seven Southern Regional Emmy Award nominations for
original music and numerous ASCAP Awards.
Inspired by his eight-year-old son’s love of dinosaurs, His
Primeval Symphony is an orchestral fantasy based on favorite
fossils of prehistoric North America in five movements from the
Jurassic to the late Cretaceous. Some of these legendary giants
are depicted in a series of dance-inspired musical episodes in the
manner of a classical suite.
I. Ultimate Tangle. A primeval forest with a herd of giant
ultrasound, their necks entwined as they feast on the surrounding
trees. It takes on the form of a fugue transformed into a habanero,
a tango of long necks.
II. Plated March. A dramatic stalemate between an
herbivore (stegosaurus) and a carnivore (allosaurus) of the
Jurassic period.
III. Pterrible Flight. The heightened depiction of a
dramatic encounter between the Pteranodon with a twenty- foot
wingspan and the sturdy three-horned triceratops.
IV. Duckbilled Ragtime. Depicts a clan of hadrosaurs
found throughout North America in the Cretaceous era.
V. Tyrannical Tarantelle. The favorite monster of the
Cretaceous, Tyrannosaurus Rex in a dark and ominous setting as
he waits in ambush and then lunges forward after his prey.

Flute Concerto in G Major, (Allegro)

W. A. Mozart

In 1777 Mozart was commissioned by a wealthy Dutch flutist,
Ferdinand De Jean, to write 3 concertos and several quartets.
Mozart, who has been rumored to dislike the flute, found it an
“unpleasant commission” and procrastinated, missed his
deadlines and was only partially paid. Despite complaining to his
father that “you know that I become quite powerless where I am
obliged to write for an instrument that I cannot bear,” the concerto
has become one of the most significant pieces in the flute
repertoire. The comments probably reveal more about the volatile
relationship between an overbearing father and his rebellious son,
as Mozart managed to write particularly effectively and sensitively
for the instrument, and one of his favorite musicians and close
friends was principal flutist in Mannheim.
Tonight our Young Artist performs the first movement, which
brilliantly integrates stately, lyrical and virtuosic elements. Written
in the “gallant style”, the bright, energetic Allegro in sonata form
exudes elegance and a delectable melody.

Aesop’s Fables
Richard Maltz

Raised in Massachusetts, prolific composer Richard Maltz has
earned degrees from North Texas and the University of South
Carolina where he is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus. His
music has been performed nationally and internationally and
includes symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music,
percussion ensembles and children’s pieces. Some of his
commissions include the Charleston Symphony, the Pennsylvania
Sinfonia and the South Carolina Philharmonic.
He describes his musical style as primarily neoclassical,
favoring lyrical melody, tonal harmony and energetic rhythms cast
in traditional forms.
The descriptive and colorful character of Aesop’s Fables is
composed of light musical vignettes designed to introduce the
instruments of the orchestra and teach elements of music to
young students.

I. Prelude
II. The Hare and the Tortoise
III. The Fox and the Grapes
IV. The Ant and the Grasshopper
V. The Oak and the Reeds
VI. The Milkmaid and her Pail
VII. Finale

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Likely the best-known of all composers, Mozart created music
in nearly every major genre, leaving behind compositions that
serve as archetypes of the Classical period. A true child prodigy,
he wrote his first piece of music at the age of five, published his
first composition by the age of seven, and had written 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 and almost single-handed developed the piano
Born in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang was the youngest of
seven and one of only two siblings to survive to adulthood. His
father Leopold, one of Europe’s leading music teachers,
conductors and composers, gave up his own career to become
his son’s only teacher when Wolfgang’s musical genius was
discovered by his third birthday. An older sister, Maria Anna, was
also musically talented and their father traveled the two all over
Europe to show off their precocious ability, allowing them to meet
many musicians.
When the touring ended, Wolfgang was hired as a 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 operas.
Eventually growing discontented with his low salary and few
opportunities to work on his favorite form, the opera, he searched
for jobs, settling in Paris only to fail to find success. He grudgingly
returned to Salzburg where he continued to feel unappreciated
and was finally fired by the Prince.
Finally it was in Vienna where his career took off, and he
established himself as the finest pianist in the city while continuing
to compose, including a hugely successful opera, Abduction from
the Seraglio. His reputation established, he married, fathered 6
children and began studying the works of Bach, Handel and
Haydn, all of whom influenced his work. Mozart put on a very
popular concert series as a piano soloist, writing three of four
concertos each season. Finally attaining some wealth, the
Mozart’s lived lavishly, leading to financial problems later.
Shifting back to opera, he premiered The Marriage of Figaro
to acclaim followed by Don Giovanni. By 1787 he had obtained
steady work under the patronage of Emperor Joseph II who
appointed him court composer. Unfortunately, Austria was at war
a year later leading to a career decline. Moving to cheaper
lodgings, he still was forced to send notes to friends begging for
money. 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 Symphony No. 40 and
his unfinished Requiem. His finances began to improve, but he
fell ill in September and died in December 1791.

Symphony No. 40 in G Minor

At no time was the gulf between Mozart’s personal life and his
transcendent music more apparent than in the summer of 1788,

when at the age of 33 he had only three years to live. His wife
was ill, his own health was beginning to fail, his six-month old
daughter died, he had small prospects of participating in any
important concerts, and he was in such debt he would not answer
a knock on the door for fear of creditors. Yet, amidst all these
difficulties he produced in less than two months the three
crowning jewels of his orchestral output, the Symphonies No. 39,
40 and 41.
The G Minor may reflect the composer’s distressed emotional
state at the time. It is through these great works that epitomize the
structural elegance of the waning classical era while looking
forward to the passionately charged music of 19th century
Romanticism. French Musicologist F. J. Fetid defines the G Minor
with “the accents of passion and energy that pervade and the
melancholy color that dominates it result in one of the most
beautiful manifestations of the human spirit.”
The tragic restlessness of the first movement begins with a
brooding murmur in the lower strings before the main theme is
introduced. Masterful contrasts of dynamics, rhythm and pacing
underscore Mozart’s mastery of orchestral color.
The gentle, relaxed second movement’s Andante moves away
from the turmoil of the first with imaginative contrasts of color with
rich chromatic harmonies and melodic half-steps
The third movement, conventionally a minuet, but this time in
name only as it moves back to a minor mode with irregular
phrasing and dense texture.
An energetic finale begins with a rapid ascending of over an
octave, then moving to a more lyrical pace. A final relentless
tempo blazes to a dramatic ending like a tragic opera.

Program notes compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Learn more about our Young Artist Auditons.

Akshar Barot is Clinton Symphony Orchestra’s 2023 Young Artist Audition Winner

Akshar Barot, the winner of the Clinton Symphony’s 2023 Young Artist Auditions, is a junior at Rock Falls High School, his music teachers are Patrick Anderson and Ramiro Martinez. He is a flute student of Julie McCord. In school, he is an active member of Scholastic Bowl, Speech Team, Knights Alumni Drumline, and of Sterling Municipal Band and Jazz Band. In addition to flute he plays Marimba, Xylophone, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Indian Bamboo Flute, and Tabla. He plans to study aerospace engineering in the future, while continuing his passion for music. He will perform Mozart’s Concerto in G for Flute as part of the Symphony’s February concert, “Stories in Music” at 2:00pm on Sunday, February 19, in Morrison High School Auditorium. Learn more about the concert here.