Composers
  Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
"Study Bach. There you will find everything." — Johannes Brahms
  Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest composers in Western musical history, created masterpieces of choral and instrumental music, both sacred and secular. More than 1,000 of his compositions survive, including works in virtually every musical form and genre in use in 18th-century Germany.
During his lifetime he enjoyed greater renown as an organist than as a composer, and although such later composers as Mozart and Beethoven held his work in great esteem, it was not until nearly a century after his death that the broader musical public came to appreciate the level of craftsmanship his works embody. Bach's music is now regarded as the high point of the baroque era, which lasted from 1600 to 1750, the year of his death.


 Amy Marcy Beach (1867-1944)
  Born Amy Marcy Cheney in Henniker, NH. in 1867, Mrs. H.H. Beach, as she styled herself after her marriage to a prominent physician in 1885, became the first woman composer to achieve wide recognition in America. A child
prodigy on the piano, composing her first song at age four, she made her Boston concert debut at age sixteen. She was very sound sensitive and heard music in colors. To Amy, the key of G was red, E flat was pink, A flat was blue, the color green was the key of A and E Major was yellow.Within two years she had performed Chopin's F MINOR CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA with the Boston Symphony and had begun to tour widely as a soloist.

  After marriage to Dr. Beach, however, she curtailed her concertizing in favor of homemaking. It was during this period until her husband's death in 1910 that Mrs. Beach first began to compose. Her FESTIVAL JUBILATE, written
for the dedication of the Women's Building at Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1892, won recognition for her as a serious composer in the Romantic genre. She followed this success with a GAELIC SYMPHONY, performed by the
Boston Symphony in 1896, and her PIANO CONCERTO IN C-SHARP minor in 1899, which she herself premiered with the same orchestra.

  As a widow, Mrs. Beach resumed her concertizing in America and Germany and increased her compositional output. Amy spent many summers composing at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. She was a close friend of Edward MacDowell's widow, Marian. In addition to her piano music and large scale orchestral works, she created more than 150 songs, almost all in the grand, operatic, heart-on-sleeve vein of the late 19th century. Settings
like AH, LOVE, BUT A DAY! and THE YEAR'S AT THE SPRING became staples of the early 20th century concert repertory.

 Sometimes criticized for the sentimentality of her writing, like so many other composers of her day, Amy Beach was simply exploring her roots and her cultural context; she was a child of the great Romantic era which swept Europe and America, and she was also a student of that more intimate kind of romanticism--the sentiment born of hearth and home and the individual heart.

  Recently, on a beautiful summer evening at Boston's famous Hatch Shell, the Boston Pops paid tribute to Amy Beach. Her name was added to the granite wall on "The Shell". The unveiling took place on July 9th, 2000. Now Amy
Beach's name is carved into the granite facade along with the names of 86 other composers such as Bach, Handel, Chopin, Debussy, MacDowell and Beethoven. Amy Beach is the only woman composer on the granite wall!

  The words of Amy Beach still ring out true today..."The monuments of a nation mark the progress of its civilization, but its intelligence and education are qualified by its music."


Ludwig van Beethoven's
(1770-1827)
Serenade in D major, Op. 25, for flute, violin and viola dates from 1801, falling between the first two symphonies in Beethoven's oeuvre. As one might expect from the title and the scoring, this is one of the composer's most light-hearted works. Instead of a large, complex opening movement, the work starts with a little march, opened by two measures of flute solo before the strings accept its invitation to join in.
The following Minuetto has the form ABACA; the flute rests in the B episode. The third movement is a quick number in D minor, with a contrasting middle section. Next comes a theme with three variations, each featuring one of the three instruments. The fifth movement reverses the pattern of the third movement, with the outer sections in D major and the middle section in D minor. The finale consists of a slow introduction leading into a cheerful rondo.

 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Piano Quartet no. 2, Op. 26, In A Major (Piano, Violin, Viola, Violoncello)
Allegro non troppo
Poco Adagio
Scherzo. Poco Allegro
- Trio
Finale. Allegro
  Chamber music is an essential component of Brahms' creative life. Some twenty-four published chamber works span his career. (The sublime Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, was heard at these concerts last year.) Performed today is the second of his three piano quartets, Opus 26 (first heard, Vienna, November, 1862). Sketches indicate that Brahms was simultaneously developing ideas for all three quartets in the late 1850's. The appearance of his larger works, e.g., the four symphonies, was still on the horizon. The Opus 26 Quartet illuminates significant stylistic elements of the 29-year-old composer: rhythmic and contrapuntal facility; a constant flow of thematic ideas; and a bold use of tonalities. One might add the word - difficulty. Clara Schumann, pianist, wife of Robert Schumann, and a close confidant, read through many of Brahms' manuscripts, and played at some premieres. She declared, in a letter to the composer, that virtuosity was required to play the parts. Immediately in the first movement, Brahms uses a favorite device: a triplet in the piano opposite a duple figure in the strings. Even though other themes are liberally introduced, the duality persists: the triplet motive permeates the entire movement. Muted strings and lush harmonies infuse the Adagio, evoking an atmosphere of serenity and transcendent beauty. A pulsating motive threads its way through all the instruments, but is most effective as it is repeated de profundis by the cello, surrounded by arpeggios in the piano.
Full of melodic revelations, the Scherzo ends with a dramatic flourish, followed immediately by the Trio. Here Brahms' mastery of counterpoint surfaces in the canonic writing - the piano and strings pursue each other in an imitative chase. The return to the Scherzo concludes the movement. Lively ideas abound in the Finale as it speeds to an ebullient conclusion.

 Frank Bridge (1879 - 1941)
Allegretto (Viola and Piano)
  The career of the English composer Frank Bridge extended in several directions: composer, gifted conductor (both at home and in the United States), and performer (violin first, then a shift to viola). He was prominently recognized as a skillful violist, particularly with reference to his performances with string quartets. Famed composer Benjamin Britten was his pupil.
In the United States, recognition for Bridge was enhanced by his friendship and association with the wealthy patron of the arts, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. Her benevolence was of considerable aid to Bridge, enabling first performances of his works at the Library of Congress where nine autograph manuscripts of his are on deposit.
Bridge wrote for a gamut of performance resources, many songs, as well as works scored for chamber groups or orchestra. Only a handful of his works - including this piece -relate to his specialty, the viola. An early lyrical work, composed around 1905, the Allegretto affords an infrequent opportunity to hear the particular timbre of the instrument to full advantage.
 
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
Piano Quartet, Op.30, in A Major
Being born in Paris into a prosperous and educated family no doubt aided the talented Chausson to become an important figure in the cultural milieu of late 19th century France. As a young man, however, he temporarily set
aside his early artistic proclivities (writing, drawing) to accede to his family's insistence to pursue law; he secured his degree and was admitted to the bar. He abandoned law for music, however, and belatedly began studies at the Paris Conservatory at the age of 24. His association with the cream of the creative minds of his day brought many luminaries to his prestigious salon, e.g. artists Rodin, Degas, Manet; writers Mallarmé and Gide. Included as well were a host of the musical elite, including close friend Claude Debussy. Whether or not in time Chausson would have left a lasting legacy for French music must be left to speculation: when on vacation at an alpine resort with his family in 1899, in a stunning wrench of fate, he perished at age 44 when his bicycle struck a wall.
In his compositions one can detect influences of his mentors at the Paris Conservatory - opera composer Jules Massenet and the esteemed leader of the French school of the era, César Franck. Also heard are vestiges of Wagner, hose operas Chausson heard in Germany at the 'celestial kingdom' for Wagnerians, the summer festivals held in the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. By the end of the 19th century - perhaps in an attempt to distance French music from prevailing successes abroad (e.g., Schumann, Brahms, and Wagner) - a union of French composers was formally enjoined. One of the apparent consequences of this new organization was a stimulated interest in writing for various combinations of piano and strings. In the pursuit of the piano quartet, Chausson had considerable company: Saint-Saëns, d'Indy, Fauré and dozens of other French composers wrote similar works.
In the opening movement we are immediately transported into another world: lyrical if not exotic melodies; the use of haunting modal harmonies derived from scales other than major and minor; constant chromaticism and modulations (Impressionism and Debussy are close at hand); and at all times, rhythmically challenging music. For most of the work, the four parts share the limelight equally.
Particularly striking is the song-like melody which the viola introduces in the second movement (Très calme); this is followed in the third by a charming dance-like melody, thought to reflect the music of Spain (perhaps the influence of another close friend, Albéniz, composer of Iberia); and at the conclusion of the work, a nod to Wagner, The Quartet was first performed in Paris, April 2nd, 1898.

 Frederic Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Nocturne, Op. 48, no.1, in C Minor for Piano
  Having left Poland for Paris in his early 20's, Chopin found several promising avenues awaiting him: an expanding coterie of piano students (for the most part, wealthy, high-bred, and female); a reputation as a pianist of highest esteem; and his ever-expanding body of music for solo piano. These compositions bear titles often associated with the composer: for example, Preludes; Mazurkas; Etudes and Polonaises.
Defining "nocturne" is an imprecise affair but it often describes music reflective of the end of the day, therefore, meditative and tranquil. Removed from the clamor of Paris, the two Nocturnes of Opus 48 were composed in 1841 on summer retreat with his companion, George Sand. Heard today, the first of the two- particularly in its middle section in C Major - is deeply expressive and contemplative. Thus said, a full range of individual interpretation avails itself.
 

 Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) is a modern classical composer and violist who is most famous for her viola compositions. She was born in Harrow, England, and studied at London’s Royal College of Music. Her greatest compositions include her Viola Sonata and a short, lyrical piece for viola and piano entitled Morpheus.
  “There’s nothing in the world more thrilling [than composing], or practically nothing. But you can’t do it unless-at least I can’t; maybe that’s where a woman’s different-I can’t do it unless it’s the first thing I think of every morning when I wake and the last thing I think of every night
before I go to sleep. And I have it on my mind all the time. And if one allows too many other things to take over, one is liable not to be able to do it. That’s been my experience.” -Rebecca Clarke, interview with Robert Sherman, 1976

 Aaron Copland, American Composer (1900-1990)
Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness - I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness. -Aaron Copland
  Aaron Copland was born on November 14, 1900 in New York City. His musical works ranged from ballet and orchestral music to choral music and movie scores. For the better part of four decades Aaron Copland was considered the premier American composer.
Copland learned to play piano from an older sister. By the time he was fifteen he had decided to become a composer. His first tentative steps included a correspondence course in writing harmony. In 1921 Copland traveled to Paris to attend the newly founded music school for Americans at Fontainebleau. He was the first American student of the brilliant teacher, Nadia Boulanger. After three years in Paris he returned to New York with his first major commission, writing an organ concerto for the American appearances of Madame Boulanger. His “Symphony for Organ and Orchestra” premiered in at Carnagie Hall in 1925.
  Copland’s growth as a composer mirrored important trends of his time. After his return from Paris he worked with jazz rhythms in his “Piano Concerto” (1926). His “Piano Variations” (1930) was strongly influenced by Igor Stravinsky’s Neoclassicism. In 1936 he changed his orientation toward a simpler style. He felt this made his music more meaningful to the large music-loving audience being created by radio and the movies. His most important works during this period were based on American folk lore including “Billy the Kid” (1938) and “Rodeo” (1942). Other works during this period were a series of movie scores including “Of Mice and Men” (1938) and “The Heiress” (1948). In his later years Copland’s work reflected the serial techniques of the so-called 12-tone school of Arnold Schoenberg. Notable among these was “Connotations” (1962) commissioned for the opening of Lincoln Center.
After 1970 Copland stopped composing, though he continued to lecture and conduct through the mid-1980s. He died on December 2, 1990 at the Phelps Memorial Hospital in Tarrytown (Westchester County), New York.

 Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904)
Romance, Op. 11, in F Minor (violin and piano)
  No matter the milieu - sacred or profane - our response to the word "romance" may be shaped by life's experiences: idyllic, tumultuous, benign. Historically, as a musical genre, the Romance has also had its share of manifestations but is generally described as a brief accompanied solo song without melodic or structural complexity. By Dvorák 's time, however, the use of the word had been expanded to include compositions written for almost any performing medium; commonplace were works for piano solo, or pieces for a vocal or instrumental soloist, accompanied by piano or orchestra. The lyrical melody which permeates this Romance is a direct reworking of the Andante from an earlier string quartet. (In choosing a title, Dvorák was susceptive to inducement: his Berlin publisher wrote that he needed "a short piece for violin with orchestra, Romance or some other good title ..." The composer obliged.) His new work, Opus 11, first performed in Prague in the winter of 1877, featured solo violin with small orchestra (winds and strings only). The work unfolds gracefully, exhibiting his characteristic colorful, shifting harmonies; there is significant ornamental work for the soloist. Dvorák's Romance exemplifies "romantic violin music" at its best.

 Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
  Claude Achille Debussy (1862-1918) was one of the most influential composers of his time. He created a unique and forward-looking style of innovative technical finish and poetic appeal. His works significantly broke away from the concepts of traditional form and harmony. He is also considered the most important composer of piano music since Frédéric Chopin. Debussy first entered the Paris Conservatory when he was only ten years old. Within a
few years, he shocked his professors with "bizarre" harmonies that defied the rules. Claude Debussy's influence is very much alive in music at the end of the Twentieth Century. Many neo-tonal composers have chosen elements of his compositional style for their creations of late Twentieth Century eclecticism.
 
Maurice Duruflé (1902 - 1986)
Prélude, Récitatif et Variations, Op. 3
Dufuflé was long heralded as one of the premier organists in Paris, holding positions in the most esteemed cathedrals in the city. His major teacher of composition was Paul Dukas, remembered today as the composer of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," later embodied in Disney's "Fantasia," Other than his works for the organ, Duruflé's compositional output was meager. His works might be almost forgotten today if it were not for his Requiem (Opus 9, 1947). This subdued masterpiece omits those more forceful sections of the requiem which Berlioz and Verdi set to music. It is a tranquil and sublime version of the Latin Requiem Mass, not soon forgotten.
The Prélude, Récitatif et Variations, Opus 3, is dedicated "A la mémoire de Monsieur Jacques Durand," the famed Parisian publisher and entrepreneur of French music. The first two sections "Prélude" and "Récitatif ," are marked "Lent et triste;" a lovely modal theme leads to the "Variations."

 Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
  Gabriel Fauré won acceptance with difficulty. He was a pupil of Camille Saint-Saëns and taught at the Conservatoire, where his pupils included Ravel and Enescu. He was organist at La Madellaine, where he was never allowed to introduce something new that might upset the establishment; and when he did try, he usually got into trouble. Yet it was characteristic of Fauré to constantly renew himself in his compositions. He always wanted to try something new, something different that no one else had done; and he never followed the fads of his day, preferring instead to follow his heart.
Thus his songs show a continuous personal and unique evolution. In 1905 he became director of the Conservatoire. By that time, however, he was losing his hearing. His late works were thus written almost entirely without help from the piano. He never heard any performance except what he could imagine in his head. He died in Paris in 1924.

 Franz Joseph Haydn's (1732-1809) contribution to the string quartet has long been documented. He never really indulged in the domain of the flute quartet; what survive are only a few early works and the exact date of composition of the G major quartet is not known. It is full of the charm, wit and high-spirited ebullience associated with the youthful Haydn. The first movement is cheeky and jaunty in character, showing an eccentric genius at work. Essentially monothematic, everything grows out of the three initial notes which frequently re-appear. These three notes are developed in the second half of the movement, where the flute and violin join forces against the viola and cello. The second movement, a minuet, is full of Austrian robustness, warmth and charm, and is folk-like in character. The Adagio is evocative of Gluck's 1762 opera Orfeo. The flute and viola share most of the thematic material, supported by an accompaniment on the violin.
The closing Presto is a bustling number in 3/8 with playful alternations of forte and piano.

 Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
  Jules Massenet was one of the most brilliant of all French composers at the end of the nineteenth-century, and enjoyed a considerable reputation as an operatic composer. He was a member of the Academy and a professor of
composition at the Conservatoire. In addition to his own music, he had a monumental impact on his contemporaries in France and, through his teaching, the generation that followed him. Massenet used Wagner's Leitmotiv
device, but translated it into his melodious and agreeable style, a style considered by some to be saccharine but which has won admiration in the later 20th century for its stylishness, craftsmanship, and understanding of the human voice.

 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
  An early romantic German composer, Mendelssohn’s music remained essentially classical. He was a complete musician - a pianist, conductor and scholar responsible for the early Bach revival. He wrote symphonies, oratorios, concertos, songs, chamber and piano music, and the memorable incidental music to a Midsummer Night's Dream.


 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is surely among the most fondly remembered of composers. Such was his greatness that Joseph Haydn was led to remark, "I declare to you on my honour, that he is the greatest composer who ever lived. The Flute Quartets K.285, K.285a, K.285b date from 1777 and the K.298 from 1778. These works, scored for flute, violin, viola and violoncello are wonderful pieces of chamber music at its highest form. In
all the works, the flute is scored as would the first violin be in a string quartet. Each quartet is distinct in melodic treatment and is perfect in form with the usual graceful style Mozart gives to each of his compositions.

Piano Quartet, K. 493, in E-flat Major
Mozart introduced his piano quartets at a time when there was no immediate precedent for this combination of piano and the three strings: for example, Haydn wrote none. (Mozart's innovation is strikingly similar to Schumann's handling of the piano quintet.) Subsequent composers, however, did write music in this format, for instance, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Dvorák, although the four-movement string quartet remained in high fashion. Mozart had signed a contract with his publisher and fellow Mason, Anton Hoffmeister, to produce three piano quartets, but after the publication of the first, K. 478, sales were dismal. It was thought the work was in a "dark" key, too serious, and much too difficult. Emperor Joseph II allegedly admonished him - "too many notes, my dear Mozart, too many notes. "Additionally, in the atmosphere of light-hearted Vienna and its preference for salon music, the character of the work was not suited for the publisher's primary clientele, the talented amateur. The contract with Hoffmeister was abrogated, but for a new publisher Mozart had ready a second quartet,the E-flat major, heard today. This work shortly followed the successful premier of "Le Nozze di Figaro" in 1786. It is apparent that Mozart did not relinquish creativity in this new work: in particular, the piano parts put that "talented amateur's" feet to the fire. The piano dominates at times, recalling the soloist's role in Mozart's piano concertos. The first movement epitomizes what we expect of Mozart: elegance, grace. Streams of melodic ideas are introduced and then interposed with the repetition of previous themes - a feature of the ubiquitous first-movement style of the day, the sonata (or sonata -allegro) form. Following is the Larghetto (a little faster than Largo) which features a serene melody, quietly exchanged between the strings and piano
Music historian Alec Hyatt King has characterized the final movement, Allegretto, as "one of the happiest and most mellifluous works he ever created." It is a spirited and cheerful movement, with the piano again given over to expansive, sweeping solo passages, together with numerous exchanges - some playful - between strings and piano. Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein - a cousin of the physicist - concurs: "the purest, most childlike, and most godlike melody ever sung . . . a flawless masterpiece."

Trio, K. 498 "Kegelstatt"
Modern research often now discredits the notion that Mozart conceived this trio while playing skittles ("Kegelstatt"), a form of bowling akin to ninepines or tenpins. Rather, it appears that the piece was written for a
private performance, with a pupil of Mozart's at the piano, his friend and esteemed virtuoso Anton Stadler on clarinet, and perhaps even Mozart himself playing the viola, one of his favorite instruments. (Imagine this cast of performers in your piano room!)
When the Viennese publisher Artaria issued the work in 1788, the title page read: "for Harpsichord or Piano Forte, with the accompaniment of a Violin or Viola; the Violin part can and should be played only on the Clarinet." (Translation by Alfred Einstein, Mozart scholar.) The work is almost always performed - to the applause of clarinetists worldwide - in the version heard tonight.
A salon or drawing room is the appropriate environment for this Trio: intimate music written for friends and acquaintances, and, with all three parts of equal importance, no particular instrument stands out. Pleasurable music to be enjoyed by performers and audience alike.


 Walter Piston (1894-1976) was self-taught musician, and studied engineering before deciding to become composer. From 1924-1926 he studied with the great French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger; her influence is evident in the highly controlled counterpoint and masterful craftsmanship of his compositions. He composed his Duo for Viola and Violoncello in 1949; eighteen years later he called this pithy work one of his best. The first movement's exposition
presents two main ideas: a resolute series of ascending fourths, and later a lighter waltz melody with chromatic inflections, introduced by the 'cello.
In the development 'cello and viola take turns playing a brief solo line, and the viola reintroduces the motive of the ascending fourth to retransition back to the opening. The movement ends with a brief codetta. The viola opens the second movement with a gentle melody in 12/8. The melody is in C major, but several chromatically inflected tones give a darkened, modal flavor. The central section features sections of tighter imitation between the two instruments. The final movement transforms the opening motives of the first movement into a rollicking march.

 Albert Roussel (1869-1937) was the dominant French composer between World Wars. Some Frenchmen rate him their second-greatest composer of this century, behind Debussy but ahead of Ravel. Nonetheless, he is more often heard about than heard; you have to really listen to Roussel, not just have the music on as background noise. At the beginning of the first movement, a sonata-form Allegro grazioso in F major, one could be forgiven for thinking that the music was by a member of the composers' group Les Six. Whilst the first theme, played by the flute, is tonal, it is flavoured by dissonances in a manner that would have done credit to Honegger.

 
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Piano Quintet, Op. 44, in E-flat Major
Eighteen forty-two was a fertile year for Robert Schumann and for chamber music. His protracted quest for the hand of his beloved, Clara Wieck, had resulted in marriage in 1840-- it took a nasty and lengthy lawsuit against her father to obtain court permission for them to marry. At this point his musical output became prodigious. In 1841 he had concentrated on larger forms - most importantly his first symphony, the "Spring," but in 1842 he started composing works for smaller ensembles with amazing alacrity: six chamber works in all, among them three string quartets, the piano quartet, and the piano quintet, Op. 44, heard today.
Adding the piano to the customary string quartet had no notable precedent- although Brahms and Dvorák, among few others, were to follow with significant works in this genre. (For an early private performance, Clara,
for whom the quintet was written, fell ill; her replacement was none other than colleague Felix Mendelssohn, who, astoundingly, played the piano part . . . at sight!) The immense and immediate success of the quintet brought Schumann recognition, and ensured his international status. Today the work is regarded as one of the most exceptional chamber works in the repertoire. Robust energy and vitality characterize the opening movement. However, in dramatic contrast, the second movement "in the style of a march" is of a solemn if not funereal hue. To break the tension, episodes are introduced - one tender, another almost angry (marked Agitato).
At the end of the movement the march returns, much subdued, scored in the lower registers. There is an energetic awakening at the appearance of the Scherzo (Molto vivace). Elsewhere described as the "glorification of the scale," cascading ribbons of scales - ascending, descending - abound. Two trios are offered for contrast, but the overall atmosphere is one of blazing speed and rushing scales - certainly an inducement for more serious practicing by budding pianists The exuberance of this quintet - with the exception of the 'marcia' of the second movement - is apparent in the concluding Allegro.
At the end, double fugue occurs when the opening theme of this movement is interwoven with the opening theme of the first, - a contrapuntally exhilarating final touch.

Fairy Tales, Op. 132 "Märchenerzählungen"
Schumann's life ran the gamut of extremes: literary and musical creativity, but mental instability. By 1853, when his "Fairy Tales" were composed, his most fertile years lay behind him. But his mental problems were recurrent,
and in time, permanent: delusions, movement and speech problems, melancholy, and his oft-cited attempted suicide in the Rhine. His final three years were spent in an asylum.
These four movements are in the nature of character pieces, that is, brief compositions of an intimate nature, seeking to evoke a mood, emotion, or a particular scene, ideally performed in a small setting. Of especial note is
the 3rd movement; the composer's direction "in a calm tempo with tender expression" captures it perfectly (see notation above.) The middle section of the final movement has a rustic feeling, and is especially charming.