BOCA RATON PHILHARMONIC SYMPHONIA
February 12, 2006
Roberts Theater at St. Andrew’s School


ALEXANDER PLATT, Conductor
WILLIAM WOLFRAM, Pianist

Program:

Franz Joseph Haydn
Symphony No.86 in D Major (“Paris”) 
I. Adagio – Allegro spiritoso
II. Capriccio: Largo
III. Menuet: Allegretto
IV. Finale: Allegro con spirito

Dimitri Shostakovich
Piano Concerto No.1 in C Minor, Op.35 
I. Allegretto – Allegro vivace – Moderato
II. Lento
III. Moderato
IV. Allegro con brio
William Wolfram

Intermission

George Walker
Lyric for Strings* 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No.31 in D Major, K.297 (“Paris”) 
I. Allegro assai
II. Andante
III. Allegro

*First local performance 

Program Notes:


By Lawrence Budmen

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony No.86 in D Major (“Paris”) 


In 1761 Franz Joseph Haydn began his employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy. After the 
Prince’s death in 1762 he was succeeded by his son Prince Nikolaus. In 1766 Haydn ascended to the position of principal Kapellmeister to the Esterhazy Court. With the building of the palace at Esterhaza on the Hungarian plains Haydn assumed control of a remarkable musical establishment. A professional orchestra, singers, and an opera house were at Haydn’s disposal. His continuing duty was to create new work – symphonic music, opera, and music for the church. For the Prince’s enjoyment he also created a varied body of chamber music. He even created works for Prince Esterhazy’s own unusual instrument – the baryton, a stringed instrument that could be bowed or plucked. 
The composer would remain in the employ of the Esterhazy family for the remainder of his life.

Haydn became known as the father of the symphony and the string quartet. It was inevitable that the wider world (outside the Esterhazy Palace) would beckon. In 1786 Haydn accepted an invitation from Comte d’Ogny, Claude-Francois-Marie Rigoley to write a series of symphonies for the Concert de la Loge Olympique in Paris. In addition to Symphonies Nos. 83 and 87 which Haydn had just completed at the time of the commission, the composer completed four more symphonies within a single year. The six compositions (Nos. 82-87) comprise the Paris symphonies. French audiences greeted Haydn’s music with boundless enthusiasm. In 1788 the Mercure de France wrote “we could hear Haydn’s symphonies at each concert. Day in, day out…our admiration for each 
composition written by this genius increases. His talent shows in all his works. He is able to develop a single idea into rich and manifold variations…Haydn’s symphonies are ever impressive experiences.” The acclaim of the Parisian public was a prophetic. Haydn’s visits to London (organized by impresario Johann Peter Solomon) in 1790, 1794, and 1795 would bring him fame and success beyond anything imaginable at Esterhaza. 

The orchestra for the Paris concerts was much larger than the relatively modest forces available to Haydn at Esterhaza. The scoring of the Symphony No.86 calls for strings, timpani, one flute, and oboes, bassoons, and French horns in pairs. There is grandeur of sound and expression in this work that sets it apart from the composer’s earlier 
symphonic essays. A slow introduction leads to the Allegro spiritoso. The second subject is indeed “spiritoso” (witty, brilliantly characterful). The slow movement is a largo with the title Capriccio suggesting a modified rondo form. The commanding Minuet offers bold writing for trumpets and percussion. The trio is a typically quirky Haydnesque subject for strings (later doubled by the winds). A lively finale in sonata form concludes this high spirited symphony. 

Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Piano Concerto No.1 in C Minor, Op.35 


Dimitri Shostakovich achieved phenomenal success with his First Symphony in 1926. Seven years later he created his First Piano Concerto – a virtuoso vehicle composed in a light, deftly satirical manner. The concerto was written immediately after Shostakovich had penned his 24 Preludes for solo piano. There is a relationship in character and 
pianistic style between the two works. The concerto’s scoring was unique: strings with a prominent role for solo trumpet. The trumpet part (which is practically a second solo voice) was conceived for Alexander Schmidt, principal trumpet of the Leningrad Philharmonic. Shostakovich was a pianist of considerable gifts. He had studied with Leonid Nikolayev at the Petrograd Conservatory. He won honorable mention at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. The concerto thus provided a bravura showpiece for Shostakovich’s performing career. He gave the premiere on October 15, 1933 with the Leningrad Philharmonic under the baton of Fritz Stiedry. (Stiedry would subsequently garner acclaim at England’s Glyndebourne Festival and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.) 

The piano’s opening melody is somewhat capricious. The orchestral strings offer a subtle commentary throughout the first movement’s development. (Shostakovich would use a similarly sparse orchestration in his final concerto – the Violin Concerto No.2 of 1967.) The Lento is surprisingly romantic. There are moments when the piano writing 
approaches Rachmaninoff or early Scriabin. The Moderato movement is an extended cadenza which introduces the Allegro con brio finale. This lively movement gives the trumpet an extended role. There is a sense of musical parody as Shostakovich quotes Beethoven’s Rage Over a Lost Penny, a Haydn sonata, and his own Hamlet incidental music. The entire movement forms a brilliant, rapid fire showpiece for the piano soloist. 

George Walker (1922- )
Lyric for Strings 


George Walker, a native of Washington, D.C., entered the Oberlin Conservatory at age fifteen and later became one 
of the first African-Americans to study at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. An impressively gifted pianist, Walker studied with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski no less. Gregor Piatigorsky and William Primrose coached him in chamber music. He took advanced studies at the Eastman School of Music and worked with Robert 
Casadesus and Clifford Curzon. Nadia Boulanger recognized his early compositional efforts and took him on as one of her few private students. After holding faculty positions at universities in Maryland, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Colorado, Walker became Chair of the Music Department of Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has received 
commissions from many leading symphony orchestras and performing institutions. In 1996 Walker became the first living African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music – for his Lilacs (premiered by soprano Faye Robinson with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa). 

Lyric for Strings was composed in 1941 in memoriam to Walker’s grandmother. Walker later reconfigured the piece as the second movement of his First String Quartet of 1946. In the tradition of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, an emotional theme dominates the work and leads to a climax of powerful intensity. The theme is then restated prior to a soft, eloquent conclusion. This moving vignette shows the romantic side of a composer who considers his musical style to be essentially neo-classical. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) 
Symphony No.31 in D Major, K.297 (“Paris”) 


In 1778 Mozart went to Mannheim which had the finest court orchestra of its day. After attending rehearsals and performances of the Mannheim Orchestra and meeting some of the court composers, Mozart was dispatched to Paris by his father Leopold. Mozart’s visit to Paris began on a bright note. For the Concerts Spirituel he composed his 
Symphony No.31. The Concerts Spirituel orchestra was larger than Mozart was accustomed to working with heretofore. The Paris ensemble had forty string players and clarinets in the woodwind section. This would be the first time Mozart had written a part for clarinets in a symphony. The symphony’s grand design and large scale gestures were a concession to French taste. Despite an inadequate rehearsal the first performance on June 18, 1778 was well received. Then, on July 3, 1778, tragedy struck. Mozart’s mother (who was traveling with him) became seriously ill and died.

Mozart was faced with preparing his father for the tragic news and also reporting his personal success. He chose to do the latter first. In a letter to Leopold on that tragic day (July 3) Mozart wrote: “Just in the middle of the first Allegro theme was a passage which I felt sure must please. The audience was quite carried away – and there was a 
tremendous burst of applause…I was so happy that as soon as the symphony was over, I went off to the Palais Royal, where I had a large ice, said the rosary as I had vowed to do – and went home.” In the days that followed he informed his father of the great loss they both had suffered. 

The Paris Symphony was one of Mozart’s favorite works. It was performed numerous times during and after his stay in the French capital. Mozart would repeatedly bring out this score when he needed music to impress a new audience. The work is in three movements – omitting the usual third movement minuet. The vigorous opening 
movement centers around one central theme. Mozart wrote two alternate slow movements. (Legros, the impresario of the Concert Spirituel, persuaded Mozart to write an alternative second movement for later Paris performances.) Today the original elegant, lyrical Andante is usually played. The final Allegro opens with violins only. The rest of 
the orchestra takes up the principal theme later. (This was a deliberate avoidance of the French tradition of opening a fast movement with the full orchestra in unison.) There is contrapuntal treatment of an engaging second subject. The final recapitulation is unusually brief. The entire symphony is joyous and vivacious – a souvenir of Mozart in Paris.


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