November 5 Clinton Symphony Concert features Sirena Huang

7:30 p.m. — Saturday, November 5, 2022

Centennial Auditorium – Sterling High School

Violinist Sirena Huang is the 2022 winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and was the 2017 first prize winner of the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition. She is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists, praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique….deeply expressive phrasing….and poetic weight.” She will play the Dvořák “Violin Concerto” with us. Also on the program is Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” and Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 3 (Scottish Symphony)”.

Tickets are available online, or at the door. Students are always admitted free, and the Symphony would also like to extend a half price ticket to one adult the student brings with them. Ask at the ticket table for this offer.

In partnership with Community State Bank, we offer a bus from Clinton, through Fulton and Morrison to the concert in Sterling. Reservations: 563-219-8084

Learn more about Ms. Huang’s recent win, and enjoy video of the competition, including the Dvořák piece she will play with the Clinton Symphony.

Praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique…deeply expressive phrasing…and poetic weight,” Sirena Huang is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists. She brings not only technical brilliance and powerful artistry to the stage, but also a profound sense of connection to her audience.

Sirena made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the age of nine, and, since then, has performed in seventeen countries across three continents. She has been featured as a soloist with more than fifty prestigious ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestras of Cleveland, Baltimore, Shanghai, Russia, and Singapore, and the Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. She has appeared as a guest artist at the Verbier Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Sarasota Arts Series, Albuquerque Chamber Music Festival, “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City, and many others.

Motivated by a deep wish to inspire peace and harmony with her music, Sirena has performed before world leaders, thinkers and humanitarians. At age eleven, she gave a TED talk that garnered more than 2.5 million views. In 2006, she received the honor of playing for thirty Nobel Prize Laureates at the World Peace Conference held in Petra. In 2007, she played in the Opening Ceremony of the “Forum 2000 World Conference” in Prague. In 2008, she was invited to perform during the ceremony in which the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity presented its Humanitarian Award to President Sarkozy of France.

Please enjoy the following Program Notes:

Richard Wagner 1813-1883
One of the world’s most famous and controversial composers, Richard Wagner is famous for
his epic operas, including the four-part, 18-hour Ring Cycle. He is also known for his tumultuous
love life involving several scandalous affairs.
Born Wilhelm Richard Wagner in Leipzig, Germany, he displayed none of the expected
musical genius of major composers, but apparently quickly made up for that with confident
ambition. Although an early piano teacher said he “tortured the piano”, at 11 he wrote his first
drama and at 16 he was already composing music. On his death, a New York Times obituary
noted that “even in the face of mortifying failures and discouragement, he never lost
confidence in himself.”
Attending Leipzig University, his first symphony was performed in 1833, inspired by
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony which Wagner called “that mystic source of my highest ecstasies.”
Th following year he became chorus master of the Wurzburg Theater and wrote his first opera,
Die Feen. In 1836 he married the singer and actress Minna Planer, and his Das Liebesverbot was
produced. Wagner called his concept “Gesamtkunstwrek” (total work of art) – a method he
often used of weaving German myths with larger themes of love and redemption.
After moving to Russia, he began work on his next opera, Rienzi, but had to flee to avoid
creditors. In Paris he took whatever work he could find and became part of the revolutionary
“young Germany” movement, his leftist politics reflected in his opera. He sent his score to
Dresden, Germany, where it premiered successfully. The Flying Dutchman followed the next
year to great critical acclaim and he was on his way. Appointed director of the Dresden Opera,
in 1845 Wagner completed Tannhauser and began Lohengrin. Politically vocal, Wagner was
forced to flee to Switzerland, unable to return to Germany for 11 years. He began work on his famous
Ring Cycle which anticipated the future of film by combining literature, visual elements, and music.
His use of leitmotifs would influence composers including John Williams and film scores such as
Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
In 1862 Wagner was invited to return to Germany by King Ludwig II, an ardent admirer who
financially supported him. Separating from his wife, he famously conducted several notorious
affairs, finally marrying Cosima van Bulow in 1870 after they had two children together while
she was still married to her conductor husband Hans. The first two operas of the Ring Cycle, Das
Rheingold and Die Walkure, were presented in Munich by 1870, and the entire 18-hour
performance was staged in 1876 – all 18 hours. His last opera, Parsifal, was performed in 1882
followed by Wagner’s death in 1883 at age 69.
Because Hitler was such a fan, Wagner’s legacy became all the more controversial, leading a
New York Times article to write, “How did such sublime music come from such a warped man?
Maybe art really does have the power to ferret out the best in us.”

Siegfried Idyll
Tribschener Idyll, the original name, is a symphonic poem for chamber orchestra presented to
Wagner’s second wife after the birth of their son Siegfried in 1869. It was first performed in
typical Wagnerian elan by a small ensemble on the stairs outside the new mother’s room. His
opera Siegfried premiered in 1876, incorporating the Idyll’s theme sung by Brunhilde in a love
duet with Siegfried. Also incorporating a German lullaby, the piece first intended as a tender,
private tribute was later sold to help cover the composer’s many debts.
Most of the musical themes in Siegfried Idyll relate to pastoral passages in the third act of
the opera Siegfried, although far differently in an untraditional three-part sonata form.
Wagnerian fans will recognize Familiar horn calls, bird songs and bucolic contours. Ecstatic and
flowing, it begins at sunrise with beautiful shades of tone using clever combinations and bold,
simple colors. Unlike operatic Wagner, the mighty, heroic melodies are transformed here into
gentle, intimate poetry.
A brief motif in the first entrance of the flute in counterpoint against the main theme recalls
Brunhilde’s magic sleep from the opera as she awaits Siegfried. A gentle refrain in the horn
against the upper strings leads into the second theme group. A new theme, introduced by the
oboe, is from a German lullaby. After further theme development, the clarinet introduces yet
another theme portraying the lovers in their final duet. Next is the theme of the forest bird who
leads Siegfried to Brunhilde’s rock protected by a magic ring of fire, combined with one of
Siegfried’s horn motifs. The Idyll ends by very gradually and dramatically slowing down and
fading to a whisper.

Felix Mendelssohn 1809-1847
A German composer, pianist, conductor and teacher, Felix Mendelssohn is one of the most
celebrated figures of the early Romantic period. Born into a prosperous middle-class family,
Felix had already composed four operas, 12 string symphonies and many chamber and piano
pieces by the age of 12. Four years later he had written an accomplished String Octet and, only
a year later, the magical overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, considered two of the most
stunning displays of youthful talent in western music.
He traveled widely, and often to Britain. In 1829 Mendelssohn conducted his Symphony No. 1
at the London Philharmonic, visiting Scotland that summer. Merging pictorial and musical
elements, he described the waves breaking on the Scottish coast in the opening bars of The
Hebrides. Between 1830 and 1832 he traveled in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland,
publishing his first book of piano music, Song Without Words. In 1842 he enjoyed his first
personal contact with Queen Victoria, dedicating his ‘Scottish’ Symphony to her. Britain loved
him, and in 1846 he directed the first performance of his oratorio Elijah as the chief attraction
of the Birmingham Festival. The Queen referred to him as “the greatest musical genius since
Mendelssohn gradually became the most popular of 19 th century composers in England. The
fashion for playing the Wedding March from his Midsummer Night’s Dream originated from its
performance at the wedding of the Princess after Mendelssohn’s death. He was the first to
conduct Beethoven’s Emperor and was among the first to play a concerto from memory as well
as becoming known for his organ works. The popularity of his oratorio Elijah established him as
a composer equal to George Frederic Handel. In 1843 he founded a conservatory of music in
Leipzig where he taught composition along with Schumann. After the death of his beloved
sister his energies deserted him and he died at only 38 of a ruptured blood vessel.

Symphony No.3 ‘Scottish’
Dedicated to Queen Victoria, the symphony opens with a dark and brooding introduction in
the rich, mid-range orchestration of the oboe, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and violas. The violins
enter, then the full orchestra with impassioned strains, at the same time, quiet, yet simmering
with loud outbursts. The introduction fades, then builds volume and texture into a full gallop.
The Scherzo features repeated staccato strings until the winds enter with fanfare-like outbursts.
A solo clarinet takes up the main theme. The Adagio movement mixes Mendelssohn’s signature
sweet, songlike melodies with darker passages. A breathless, energetic Finale switches to a
brighter A major near the end as low woodwinds, horns, and violas conclude with a hymn of

Antonin Dvorak 1841-1904
One of the best-known composers of all time, Antonin Dvorak contributed to the
dissemination and appreciation of Czech music throughout the world. Applying the Romantic
tradition, he used the rhythms and other aspects of his country’s familiar folk music. His
portfolio includes around 200 works in all genres including 9 symphonies, 14 string quartets and
12 operas.
Born September 8, 1841, in Bohemia, his early musical talent was recognized and nurtured;
by the age of six he had begun violin, and at 12 he moved in with an aunt and uncle to begin his
formal musical studies of harmony, piano and organ. His first professional years were lean as he
played viola in inns and theater bands and took on private students to augment his small salary.
But even in those early years he had composed 2 symphonies, an opera, chamber music and
numerous songs, yet to be heard. The first public performance of his work in Prague was in
1872, impressing Johannes Brahms who became a close personal friend.
As an adult, he eventually earned worldwide attention with his Moravian Duets and Slavonic
Dances. Although suffering from an unrequited love, Dvorak eventually married and settled in
the small village of Vysoka where he composed some of his best-known works. His fame spread
quickly abroad, leading to successes in England, Russia and eventually the United States where
he famously made his way to Spillville, Iowa, the inspiration for his New World Symphony. He
had become director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York in 1892 but became
homesick and returned to Czechoslovakia in 1895.
Dvorak’s nationalist movement in music quickly came to rank in popularity with those of his
great German contemporaries, his talent for melody and fresh character in music offering a
welcome contrast to the heavier fare of many other composers.

Violin Concerto in A Minor
Composed in 1879, Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A Minor finally premiered in Prague in 1883.
Written in the classic concerto structure, it features three movements: fast – slow – fast. The
Allegro opens with a bold orchestral fanfare introducing the first half of the movement’s theme,
followed by the soloist who enters with the graceful second portion. The Adagio follows
without pause as the soloist introduces the flowing, expressive principal melody, contrasting
with episodes of bravura passages. The Finale most reflects the spirit of Czechoslovakian folk
music. The soloist sings the principal theme, a vigorous dance taken up by the orchestra. The
piece concludes with a solo flourish and four emphatic chords to a vibrant finish.

Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

A Cold Mountain Premiere

7:30 p.m. — Saturday, October 1, 2022

Vernon Cook Theater – Clinton High School

Clinton Symphony Orchestra has joined a consortium of other orchestras around the country to commission a suite of music by Jennifer Higdon from her award-winning opera Cold Mountain. The suite uses dramatic themes highlighting the emotional throes of love, war, and the journey of a Confederate soldier making his way back home to Cold Mountain. The program will also feature a Rhapsody for Violin and Strings by American composer David Stern and the glorious Symphony No. 1 by Johannes Brahms.

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.

Program Notes:

Johannes Brahms  May 7,1833 – April 3, 1897 

     The German pianist and composer Johannes Brahms, permanently enshrined as one of the “Three B’s” (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms), mastered nearly every type of classical music in his lifetime; 4 great symphonies, chamber music, fine music for piano, choral compositions and over 200 songs. “This is the chosen one,” Robert Schumann wrote to introduce Brahms to the public, beginning a career as the last great successor of musical Classicism.

     Growing up in Hamburg, Germany, Brahms learned piano by 8, improvised a piano sonata at 11, and made his public concert debut at 14 conducting a choir. Johannes was even able to supplement his family’s income by playing piano in inns in the rough dock area. In 1850 he met and gave concerts with Eduard Remenyi, a Hungarian violinist who introduced him to one of his strongest influences, Roma music.  His first break came in 1853 when he met violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim who recognized his talent and recommended him to Robert Schumann. A friendship ensued and Brahms’ reputation spread via Schumann’s enthusiastic support.

     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 by 1863 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 Buckner who found him too old-fashioned, but by 1872 he was directing the Vienna Philharmonic. His composing skills flourished during this period, including his most famous choral work, hisGerman Requiem, based on the Bible story of Good Friday. This is still seen today as one of the most significant works of 19th century choral music. Lighter 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 dance tunes with sparkling humor. 

     By the 1870s he was moving to purely orchestral works, including Variations on a Theme by Haydn which gave him confidence to continue work on his tempestuous 1st Symphony which was finally 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 Symphony No. 4 was inspired by Sophocles’ Greek tragedies, and he took a simple theme of a Bach Cantata and spun it into 30 intricate variations.

     His fame spread and he toured to great acclaim all over Europe. He composed his Academic Festival Overture in 1881 as a thank you to Poland. Brahms never married, and some blamed his “immense reserve” on an inability to express emotion except through his music. Brahms dedicated his later years to composing and died in Vienna.

Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, op.68

     Brahms began his 1st Symphony in 1854, but it was not premiered for 22 years after numerous severe edits. A work of heroic pathos, his orchestral works display highly distinctive use of tone color in his use of woodwinds and brass instruments. Although a traditionalist in his reverence for the subtlety of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, his music complemented and counteracted the rapid growth of Romantic individualism which often lacked structure. His compositional style is in developing variations, a combination of profound, emotional feeling combined with eloquent restraint.

     His first movement with the persistent pounding of tympani and a long, dramatic single bass, is one of the more exciting introductions of any symphony. The opening promises a moody, portentous work punctuated with short thematic fragments. The second movement, a tender, wistful Andante Sostenuto, contrasts with a series of dialogues among sections of the orchestra, concluding with a duet between solo violin and horn. The third movement begins with a long, melancholy violin before the song- like Allegretto relaxes into easy, lilting themes for strings and woodwinds.  A long introduction signals the fourth movement with a strong, mournful horn, becoming more agitated leading to a majestic theme. A lovely, dark melody in the darkest strings transforms and embellishes, concluding with a loud brass utterance of the chorale first introduced softly by the trombones at the beginning and ending the work with an overwhelming statement of joy, power, and triumph.

Jennifer Higdon — December 31, 1962

     Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most acclaimed and frequently performed living composers. A major figure in contemporary Classical music, she has received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto, a 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto and another Grammy for her Harp Concerto in 2020.

     Born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, Jennifer taught herself to play flute at the age of 15 and began formal musical studies at 18. Later, she began studies in composition at 21. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in music from Bowling Green State University, an Artist Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music, and an M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania.  She received the prestigious Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University in 2018, awarded to contemporary classical composers of exceptional achievement who have significantly influenced the field of composition. 

     Higdon enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works; her Blue Cathedral is today’s most performed contemporary orchestral work, with more than 600 performances worldwide. She has been a featured composer at many festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, and Vail, and has served as composer-in-residence with several orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony. She was honored to serve as the Creative Director of the Boundless Series for the Cincinnati Symphony as well as the prestigious Barr Laureate Scholar at the University of Missouri.

Cold Mountain Suite

     Based on Charles Frazier’s National Book award-winning novel, Jennifer Higdon’s opera Cold Mountain was a hit that sold out performances across the country, garnering 2 Grammy nominations, and winning the International Opera Award for best new opera, the first American opera to do so in the award’s history. A consortium including Clinton Symphony commissioned her to compose a suite using dramatic musical themes from the opera to highlight the emotional throes of love, war, and the journey of a soldier making his way back home to Cold Mountain.  Premiere performance of the suite is scheduled for Delaware on September 23. Clinton Symphony’s performance will be the second.

     The composer writes: “While creating this suite, it was a wonderful challenge to determine which music to feature in order to create a dynamic and engaging orchestral work. Because Cold Mountain is about love, war and death (imagine that in an opera!) there was a lot of dramatic music from which to pick. I chose various arias, duets and quintets, with the idea that they would be arranged not in story order, but in a manner to create the greatest contrast for the listener.

    “ The beginning and end of the suite come from the opening of Act 2 and the closing of Act 1– purely for its style of ramping up. It then quickly moves into the Storm Music; followed by the quintet I Should be Crying; the duet Orion (which I calculated would need two weeks to write, but in an amazing fit of inspiration, came to me in one day. — the very thing creative types dream about); the fiddling duet Bless You Ruby; Ada’s contemplative aria, I Feel Sorry For You; then music from the scene where Inman and Ada finally get together after 4 years of his being away at war; and finally to the music that ends Act 1 to close out the suite.

     “After taking 28 months to write this opera, and having lived with the characters so deeply in my heart and soul, it is truly a privilege to share this music with you. Thank you for joining us on this journey through Cold Mountain.”  -Jennifer Higdon

David Stern —  May 21, 1963

     An American conductor, director and founder of the Paris-based opera studio and period-instrument ensemble Opera Fuoco, David Stern has been the chief conductor and artistic director of Palm Beach Opera since 2015. Born in New York City, Stern’s musical leadership has spread across three continents conducting major symphonies, baroque opera, teaching vocal masters classes and defending cultural activities. In 1918 he was named the Program Director of the Heifetz International Music Institute’s inaugural Baroque Vocal Workshop.          

     Known for his extensive range of repertoire, Stern championed eclectic works such as Simone Mayr’s Medea, Berg’s Wozzeck and Britten’s Turn of the Screw as music director of the Israel and St. Gallen Opera houses. He has also premiered four new operas since 2010; Gil Shochat’s A Child Dreams, Nicolas Bacri’s Cosi Fanciulli, Ben Moore’s Enemies, A Love Story, and Jan Sandstrom’s The Rococo Machine. He has also collaborated with many international stage directors creating iconic settings received with acclaim.

     Committed to developing young voices, he created Opera Fuoco as a platform for young professional singers in France, producing concertante and staged projects both nationally and internationally. He works regularly with the Young Artists Program in Palm Beach

     Stern is a frequent guest conductor around the globe.from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Russia to Sweden, Boston, Vienna and Denmark. Our own maestro Brian Dollinger has premiered Stern’s beautiful Rhapsody for Violin and Strings with the Muscatine Symphony. Dollinger states, “I have had the honor and pleasure of not only performing a number of his compositions, but have also given a number of premieres for his works. His music has always reached inside listeners in such personal ways with profound impact.”

                                                                        Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Birdies for Clinton Symphony

Enjoy the John Deere Classic? We have a great way FORE! you to support your favorite Symphony! Simply click through to the Birdies for Charity site to make your donation and guess at the number of Birdies. You’ll be entered for prizes, plus your guess at the number of birdies during the tournament could win the grand prize of a free 2 year lease on a Lexus RX 350! (Entries are due June 10 to be eligible for prizes.)

It is gratifying to know that 100% of every pledge collected goes directly to the Clinton Symphony Orchestra. The John Deere Foundation covers all administrative costs to make that possible. Plus, the tournament takes its profits each year and delivers a second check from between 5% and 10% of that charity’s final total to make the deal even sweeter. There is no more impactful way for you to help your favorite organization!

Or print and mail the form below. Please mark Clinton Symphony Orchestra as the charity, and Bird Number 1411 so the CSO will receive your donation and the match!

Clinton Symphony to conclude 68th season with A Grand Finale

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

Meet 2022’s Young Artist!

Keegan Roddy is a senior at Sterling High School and first chair cellist in her High School Orchestra. Her parents, Stuart and Joselynne, are teachers at Sterling High School and she is the middle of five children in the family. She has participated in Illinois Music Educators All-District and All-State Orchestras. Her cello teachers have included Clinton Symphony Orchestra musicians Barbara Lauff, Erik Oberg, and Robert Whipple. Keegan’s future plans include a four year university with a major in Atmospheric Science or a related field. Keegan will receive a cash award from Clinton Symphony Orchestra. Join us on Saturday, February 19th at 2:00pm at Morrison High School to hear Keegan perform the Saint-Saens “Cello Concerto No 1” with the Symphony.

Clinton Symphony Orchestra’s annual Young Artist Auditions named an additional two area high school students for honorable mention. They will each receive award money from the Symphony. 

Anna Current, cello, a junior at Clinton High School.

Clara Ashdown, violin, a sophomore at Erie High School.

The Music of Friendships – Chamber Concert to be January 16.

Please make plans to join us for our annual Chamber Music concert on Sunday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m. The concert will take place at Zion Lutheran Church • 439 3rd Avenue South, Clinton.


Duet “With Two Eyeglasses Obligato” for Viola and Cello 

by Ludwig van Beethoven 

Paul Price-Brenner, viola <> Kevin Price-Brenner, cello 

– • – 

Terzetto, Op. 74 

for String Trio 

by Antonín Dvořak 

 Ann Duchow and Hana Velde, violins 

Natalie Delcorps, viola 

– • – 

Fantasy Pieces, Op. 88 

for Piano Trio 

by Robert Schumann 

Nadia Wirchnianski, piano 

Julie Marston, violin <> David Spaulding, violoncello

Program Notes:

Dvorak — Terzetto in C, Op. 74 for two violins and viola

     One of the best-known composers of all time, Antonin Dvorak contributed to the dissemination and appreciation of Czech music throughout the world. His portfolio includes around 200 works in all genres including 9 symphonies, 14 string quartets and 12 operas.

     Born September 8, 1841 in Bohemia, his early musical talent was recognized and nurtured; by the time he was 12, he moved in with an aunt and uncle and began his formal musical studies. As an adult, his fame spread quickly abroad, leading to successes in England, Russia and eventually the United States where he famously made his way to Iowa,  the inspiration for his New World Symphony.

     His Terzetto in C  is one of the best known works of this combination of instruments. Completed in only one week in January 1887, it was composed at the height of his creative career. Intended as Hausmusik to be performed informally by Dvorak himself and two friends, it proved too difficult for one of the violinists and he rewrote it in a simpler style for violin and piano, titled Romantic Pieces, as well as an easier work for the same instruments entitled Romantic Pieces. The first public performance of the Terzettl was in March 1887 in Prague by virtuoso violinists.

     The first of four movements, the Introduction begins with a sweetly lyrical theme, followed by a more energetic moment. The second movement, Larghetto, is slower and expressive with an agitated contrasting middle section.  The dance-like Scherzo is in his characteristically folk style. The concluding Tema con Variazioni in the darker key of C minor includes ten brief variations with numerous grand pauses and tempo changes.

     The fact that Dvorak spontaneously composed this small chamber piece at a time in his career when he was so incredibly busy touring and flooded with commissions speaks to a remarkable creative genius. 

Schumann – Fantasy Pieces for Piano, Violin, Cello, Op.88

     Robert Schumann, 1810-1856, known for his piano music, songs and orchestral pieces, was in many ways typical of the Romantic Age, his life filled with emotional extremes, passion, tragedy and creativity. 

     Encouraged in literary and musical interests as a child, Robert was allowed to study music under a famous piano teacher who was already intensely focused on training his own talented daughter, Clara. Although a distracted student with difficulty focusing, Schumann promptly fell in love with the much younger Clara, earning the disapproval of her father who was concerned about his instability. Legal battles ensued, but the pair were eventually married and Clara, a brilliant pianist, toured successfully as Robert found great difficulty in finding his own suitable career. Fortunately, this became one of his most fertile periods, and he wrote many of his piano pieces for his wife. He also returned to his neglected song compositions, producing nearly all the songs that solidified his reputation in only 11 months.

A number of unsuitable career opportunities left him to focus on his wife’s touring success, conscious of his own failures. Suffering from bad health and bouts of depression and suicide attempts, Schumann had himself committed to a mental asylum where he died a year later at only the age of 46.

     The Fantasy Pieces for Piano, Violin, Cello  represents Schumann well, expressive and intense. In 4 movements, the Fantasy begins with a Romanze centered on a=the simplicity of a melancholic folk melody. The Humoreske follows with a march theme continued from the first movement. A Duett for the two stringed instruments continues with a beautiful melody accompanied by the gentle, rippling piano. The piece concludes with the Finale which repeats the opening march, gradually dying away. A coda surprises with sudden energy.

Beethoven – With Two Eyeglasses Obligato, WoO 32

   Born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, Ludwig von Beethoven is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of musical construction in the late classical/early romantic period. He innovated in almost every form of music he touched and composed in a great variety of genres including symphonies, concerti, piano and other instrument sonatas, string quartets, other chamber music, masses, lieder and one opera.

     Although there remains no clear origin for the odd name of the Obligato, it was probably written for Beethoven’s good friend and accomplished cello player Baron Nikolaus von Domanovecz.  Beethoven himself played viola, so the piece was likely meant for the two to play together. A lifelong friend, it was von Domanovecz who provided accommodations and supplies for Beethoven, even helping proof his editions. The playful title likely refers to the fact that both men had bad eyesight and wore eyeglasses.

     Although possibly incomplete, the obligato is composed of 3 movements; an Allegro, Minuetto and Trio.  The viola begins with an energetic theme, immediately followed by the cello. The two take turns as either theme or accompaniment. The Minuetto is a gentle movement with phrases played in chords and in a canon between the two instruments. Clearly, this was intended to be fun to play as a comfortable interlude between friends.

                                                   Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet