NewPhil Orchestra
New Phil Administration

Archival Programs


CLASSICS I: New Phil Reawakened
Piece 1 Mozart
Keila Wakao, violin
Piece 2 Mahler
CLASSICS II: (cancelled due to COVID-19)
CLASSICS III: Sights, Sounds, & Ukrainian Reflection
Ukrainian National Anthem
Nocturne Yakymenko
Olga Lisovskaya, soprano
Ryne Cherry, baritone
Metropolitan Chorale, Lisa Graham, Music Director


While our 2019-2020 season was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19, the following represents the 25th Anniversary season that we had planned and rehearsed. We are disappointed that we weren’t able to perform our Classics II & III programs, but we are grateful for the wonderful Classics I concerts we performed, and looking forward to future seasons of music making.
CLASSICS I: From Gustav, With Love
Flute Concerto No. 1 in G major Mozart
Bruce Falby, Flute
Symphony No. 5 Suite Mahler
CLASSICS II: St. Petersburg Virtuosos (cancelled due to COVID-19)
Polonaise from Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky
Violin Concerto No. 1 Prokofiev
Tatiana Dimitriades, violin
Symphony No. 4 Tchaikovsky
CLASSICS III: Music For All (cancelled due to COVID-19)
World premiere, a New Phil anniversary commission Vignieri
Symphony No. 9 Beethoven
Rachele Schmiege, soprano
Britt Brown, mezzo soprano
Omar Najmi, tenor
Ryne Cherry, baritone
Metropolitan Chorale, Lisa Graham, Music Director


CLASSICS I: Masters and their Masterpieces
Leonore Overture No. 3 Beethoven
Cello Concerto No. 1 Shostakovich
Lev Mayuma, Cello
Der Rosenkavalier Suite Strauss
CLASSICS II: An Evening of Brahms
Piano Concerto No. 1 Brahms
Michael Lewin, Piano
Symphony No. 4 Brahms
CLASSICS III: American Fête
Divertimento for Orchestra Bernstein
Sonnets: I, IV Tsontakis
Robert Sheena, English Horn
Spaghetti Western Daugherty
Robert Sheena, English Horn
Symphony No. 9: “From the New World” Dvorak


CLASSICS I: Soul and Redemption
Rainbow Body Theofanidis
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 37 Korngold
Owen Young, Cello
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 Shostakovich
CLASSICS II: The French Russian Connection
Mother Goose Suite Debussy
Snow Maiden Aria
Marfa’s Aria from the Tsar’s Bride
Chanson Georgienne Rachmaninoff
Yelena Dudochkin, soprano
L’apres midi d’un Faun Ravel
Firebird Stravinsky
CLASSICS III: All Beethoven
Consecration of the House Beethoven
Concerto for violin and orchestra Beethoven
Irina Muresanu, violin
Symphony No. 7 Beethoven
Jorge Soto, guest conductor


CLASSICS I: Gustav Mahler, Song and Symphony
Songs of a Wayfarer Mahler
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen Mahler
Joanna Porackova, Soprano
Symphony No. 1 Mahler
CLASSICS II: Tubin and Tchaikovsky
An American Hymn Vignieri
Double Bass Concerto Tubin
Edwin Barker, Double Bass
Symphony No. 6 Tchaikovsky
CLASSICS III: Brahms and Elgar
Pavane for a Dead Princess Ravel
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 Brahms
Alexander Velinzon, Violin
Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 Elgar


CLASSICS I: 21st Season Spectacular!
Cantus (in Memory of Benjamin Britten) Pärt
Concerto for Violin, Op. 53 Dvorák
Haldan Martinson, violin
Symphony No. 2 Sibelius
CLASSICS II: Inspired by Shakespeare
Overture to “The Merry Wives of Windsor” Nicolai
Love Scene from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17 Berlioz
Hamlet: Film Suite, Op. 116 Shostakovich
Tina Packer, Gertrude
Jason Asprey, Hamlet
Nigel Gore, Claudius
Sarah Bowles, Ophelia
CLASSICS III: Blockbuster Beethoven
Symphony No. 6, Op. 68 in F Major “Pastoral” Beethoven
Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Op. 112 Beethoven
Choral Fantasy, Op. 80 Beethoven
Jonathan Bass, piano
New World Chorale


CLASSICS I: Festive & Fantastique
Festive Overture Shostakovich
Shiloh – A Requiem (world premiere) Tarrh
Symphonie Fantastique Berlioz
CLASSICS II: Local & Imported: Lenny & Johannes
Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety” Bernstein
Randall Hodgkinson, piano
Symphony No. 2 Brahms
CLASSICS III: Let’s Pull Out all the Stops!
Variations on “America” Ives
Cello Concerto No. 1 Kabalevsky
Sophie Applbaum, cello
Organ Symphony Saint-Saëns
John Finney, organ


CLASSICS I: Budapest to Vienna
Dances of Galanta Kodaly
Piano Concerto No. 3 Bartok
Jonathan Bass, piano
Serenade No. 1 Brahms
CLASSICS II: Tragedy & Triumph
Romeo & Juliet Overture Tchaikovsky
Francesca di Rimini Tchaikovsky
Violin Concerto Tchaikovsky
Adrian Anantawan, violin
Concerto Competition Winners
Symphony No. 8 Dvorak


CLASSICS I: Duo of Threes
Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish” Schumann
Piano Concerto No. 3 Rachmaninoff
Abel Sanchez Aguilera, piano, 1st prize winner, 2011 Boston International Piano Competition
CLASSICS II: Memories of Italy
The Birds Respighi
Concerto Gregoriano Respighi
James Buswell, violin
Pines of Rome Respighi
CLASSICS III: Now and Then
Quintessence (world premiere) Erika Foin
Symphony No. 5 Mahler


CLASSICS I: Land of the Free, Music of America
Divertimento for Full Orchestra Bernstein
Piano Concerto No. 2 MacDowell
Frederick Moyer, piano
Symphony No. 9 Dvorak
CLASSICS II: Of Youth and Music
Symphony No. 1 (world premiere) Anna Larsen
Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 Schumann
Aaron Wolff, cello
Symphony No. 1, “Winter Dreams” Tchaikovsky
CLASSICS III: The Beauty of Brahms
Nanie, Op 82

Setting of Friedrich von Schiller’s “Nanie” (“Dirge”)

Song of Destiny, Op. 54

Setting of Friedrich Holderlin’s “Schicksalslied”

In collaboration with the New World Chorale
Holly MacEwen Krafka, Artistic Director
Symphony No. 1 Brahms


CLASSICS I: Poland, Paris, and Russia
Excerpts from Les Sylphides Chopin
Piano Concerto No. 1 Chopin
Vincent Schmithorst, piano
Symphony No. 9 Shostakovich
Symphony No. 1 in B flat Major Boyce
Symphony No. 2 Beethoven
Double Concerto for

Violin and Cello

Haldan Martinson, violin;
Sato Knudsen, cello
CLASSICS III: Reflect and Rejoice
Symphony No. 5

IV. Adagietto

Symphony No. 4 Mahler
Sara Heaton, soprano


CLASSICS I: Russian/American Connection
Blue Cathedral Higdon
Variations on a Theme of Paganini Rachmaninoff
Ben Pasternack, piano
Scheherazade Rimsky-Korsakov
CLASSICS II: Brahms/Vienna Connection
Concerto for Violin No. 2 in D minor, Movement I Wieniawski
Francesca Bass, violin
Concerto for Cello in B minor, Movement I Dvorák
Lev Mamuya, cello
Symphony No. 4 Brahms
CLASSICS III: Spanish/French Connection
Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra Rodrigo
Eliot Fisk, guitar
Danzas Fantásticas, Op.22 Turina
Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2 Ravel


CLASSICS I: Scotch Plaid
Scottish Fantasy Bruch
Peter Zazofsky, violin
Symphony No. 3, “Scottish” Mendelssohn
CLASSICS II: Tragedy and Triumph
Ford’s Theater:

A Few Glimpses of Easter Week 1865

Ernst Bacon
Piano Concerto No. 1 Prokofiev
Jonathan Bass, piano
Symphony No. 5 Tchaikovsky
CLASSICS III: Austrian Artisans
Symphony No. 94, “Surprise” Haydn
Symphony No. 1 Mahler


CLASSICS I: Solo Brilliance
St. Paul’s Suite for String Orchestra Holst
Oboe Concerto in c minor Marcello
Keisuke Wakao, oboe
Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra Tubin
Edwin Barker, double bass
Symphony No.6 in D Major, Op. 60 Dvorak
CLASSICS II: For Love of Mankind
Suite from “Lt. Kije” Prokofiev
Songs of a Wayfarer Mahler
Gale Fuller, mezzo-soprano
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 Brahms


CLASSICS I: Fact and Fantasy
Tragic Overture Brahms
Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467

“Elvira Madigan”

Mia Chung, piano
Symphony Fantastique, Op. 14 Berlioz
CLASSICS II: Nordic Sketches
Suite from “Peer Gynt” Grieg
Jay O’Callahan, narrator
Violin concerto, Op. 47
Haldan Martinson, violin
CLASSICS III: From the Country to the Sea Community Convergence Concert
Overture to Fidelio, Op. 72c Beethoven
Al Leisinger, guest conductor
Symphony No. 6, Op. 68, “Pastorale” Beethoven
Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes, Op. 33a Britten
April 28 featuring the Medfield High School Orchestra
April 29 featuring the Newton All-City Treble Chorus, Charlotte Brumit, Director


Selections from Old American Songs Copland
Newton All-City Chorus
Charlotte Brumit, Director
Made in America Tower
Symphony No. 4 Tchaikovsky
Overture to The Magic Flute Mozart
Images, Interactions, Incantations Kechley
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 Beethoven
Everything Changes Foin
Symphony No. 2 Mahler
Jayne West, soprano
Marion Dry, mezzo-soprano Newton Choral Society,
David Carrier, conductor Heritage Chorale, John Finney, conductor


CLASSICS I: Dvorak Meets America
Carnival Overture Dvorak
Cello Concerto Dvorak
Cello Concerto Korngold
Carmen Fantasy Waxman
Music From the Golden Age of Cinema
Matt Haimovitz, Cello
CLASSICS II: Celebrate the Stage
Fingal’s Cave Overture Mendelssohn
Symphony No. 3 Brahms
Hamlet: Film Suite (1964) Shostakovich
Dramatic Readings by Annette Miller, Daniel Gidron and Barry Abramowitz
CLASSICS III: Celebrate Creativity
Overture to the Bartered Bride Smetana
Rhapsody in Blue Gershwin
Adam Birnbaum, Piano
Pictures at an Exhibition Mussorgsky/Ravel


Classics I: JFK Memorial Concert
Variations on a Theme by Haydn Brahms
A German Requiem Brahms
Jane Shivick, soprano; Donald Wilkinson, baritone; Heritage Chorale, John Finney, Director

Classics II
Variations on a Nursery School Song Dohnanyi
Jonathan Bass, piano
Symphony No. 5 Tchaikovsky
Classics III
Enigma Variations Elgar
Symphony No. 5 Shostakovich


Classics I
Knoxville, Summer of 1915 Barber
Sharon Baker, soprano
Symphony No. 6 Tchaikovsky
Classics II
Dream Journeys DiDomenica
Serenade Bernstein
Emmanuel Borok, violin
Classics III
Symphony No. 5 Mahler


Classics I: A Russian Tapestry
“Autumn” from The Seasons Glazunov
Concerto for Double Bass Koussevitsky
Edwin Barker, double bass
Symphony No. 2 Rachmaninoff
Classics II: Brass & Beethoven
Fanfares for Brass & Percussion Dukas
Symphony No. 9 Beethoven
Boston College Chorale, John Finney, Director
Classics III: Flute Francais
Jeux d’Enfants Bizet
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra Ibert
Eugenia Zukerman, flute
Symphony No. 6 Dvorak


Classics I: The French—Russian Connection
Ma Mere L’Oye (Mother Goose Suite) Ravel
Piano Concerto in G Major Ravel
Lori Sims, piano
The Rite of Spring Stravinsky/Rudolf
Classics II: Beethoven in Threes
Overture to “Creatures of Prometheus” Beethoven
Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Cello Beethoven
Jonathan Bass, piano; Tatiana Dimitriades, violin;
Sato Knudsen, cello
Symphony No. 3, “The Eroica” Beethoven
Classics III: Season Finale!
Alla Marcia from Karelia Suite Sibelius
Piano Concerto No. 2 Brahms
David Deveau, piano


Classics I: New and Not So
Symphony No. 2 S. Albert
Piano Concerto No. 1 Beethoven
David Deveau, piano
An American in Paris Gershwin
Classics II: Khach as Khach Khan
Flute Concerto Khachaturian
Jacques Zoon, flute
Symphony No. 3 Schumann
Classics III: Van Ness & Verdi
Work for Chorus & Brass (World Premiere!) P. Van Ness
Requiem Verdi
Ellen Chickering, soprano; Gale Fuller, mezzo-soprano
Ray Bauwens, tenor; Robert Honeysucker, baritone


Classics I: Horns-a-Plenty
Sorcerer’s Apprentice Dukas
Horn Concerto No. 1 Strauss
Daniel Katzen, french horn
Symphony No. 8 Dvorak
Classics II: Presenting Si-Jing!
Le Corsair Overture, Op. 21 Berlioz
Violin Concerto, Op. 82 Glazunov
Si-Jing Huang, violin
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 Brahms
Classics III: From Russia with Love
Russian Easter Overture Rimsky-Korsakov
Piano Concerto No. 3 Prokoviev
Randall Hodgkinson, piano
Pictures at an Exhibition Mussorgsky


Classics I: Things that go Bump in the Night
Burleske for Piano and Orchestra R. Strauss
Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra Liszt
Jonathan Bass, piano
Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 Berlioz
Classics II: Vive la France
“Phedre” Overture Massenet
Le Tombeau de Couperin Ravel
Symphony No. 3 in c minor, Op. 78 Saints-Saens
James David Christie, organ
Classics III: Younger than Springtime
Symphony No. 6 in F, K. 43 Mozart
Appalacian Spring Suite Copland
Violin Concerto No. 1 in g minor, Op. 26 Bruch
Stefan Jackiw, violin


Classics I: Music for the Imagination
Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Mendelssohn
Violin Concerto Glass
Emanuel Borok, violin
Prelude a l’apres midi d’un faune Debussy
Firebird Suite (1919) Stravinksy
Classics II: Out of Darkness
Tragic Overture Brahms
Concerto for String Quartet and Chamber Orchestra Schulhoff
Hawthorne String Quartet
Ronan Lefkowitz, violin; Si-Jung Huang,
violin; Mark Ludwig, viola; Sato Knudsen, cello
Classics III: Music From the Master
Coriolanus Overture Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58 Beethoven
Janice Weber, piano
Symphony No. 7, Op. 92 Beethoven

1995-1996 – Inaugural Season

Classics I
Ruy Blas Overture Mendelssohn
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Rachmaninoff
Benjamin Pasternak, piano
Symphony No. 6 Dvorak
Classics II
Concerto for Flute and Harp Mozart
Doriot Anthony Dwyer, flute; Ann Hobson Pilot, harp
Symphony No. 1 Brahms
Classics III
Polonaise from Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky
Violin Concerto Tchaikovsky
Tamara Smirnova, violin
Symphony No. 4 Tchaikovsky

Program Notes: Classics I – November 2022

By Steven Ledbetter



Danzón No. 2, for orchestra

Arturo Marquez was born in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, on December 20, 1950. He composed his Danzón No. 2 in 1994. Francisco Savin conducted the first performance in Mexico City’s Netzahualcoyotl Hall on March 5, 1994. The score calls for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, four percussionists, piano, and strings. Duration is about 10 minutes.

Arturo Marquez studied the violin, piano, and trombone in his teens, then piano and theory at the National Conservatory in Mexico from 1970 to 1975. After that he studied privately in Paris and completed a master’s degree at the California Institute of the Arts in 1990. His major teachers were Federico Ibarra and Morton Subotnick.

The majority of his early works were multi-media creations, uniting music with theater, dance, cinema, and photography, for which the music was often electro-acoustic combinations of an avant-garde character. 

In the early 1990s he stepped aside from the modernist track to play with popular dance styles in a series of seven compositions, for different instrumental combinations, under the generic title Danzón, which refers to a formal couple dance that grew out of 19th-century Cuban traditions of the contredanse and the habanera. By the 20th century, it began to interact with other Cuban dance types, and its popularity spread to Mexico as well. The couple undertaking the danzón performed an elaborate set footwork on syncopated beats, sometimes stopping completely in elegant frozen positions to listen to an instrumental section. Gradually the danzón was involved in the mambo and the cha cha cha.

The danzón continues to be danced in its traditional form by members of the older generation.

Arturo Marquez composed his first Danzón in 1992 for pre-recorded tape with optional saxophone. Soon the dancer Irene Martinez and the painter Andres Fonseca persuaded him to compose a Danzón for full orchestra. In preparation for the work, he traveled to Veracruz, where, in the port city saloons, the dance had first conquered Mexico; then he continued his research in the dance saloons of Mexico City.

The resulting lively dance composition, combining French, African, Cuban, and Mexican elements in a rondo pattern of tremendous vigor and color, is Marquez’s best-known work.



Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Opus 70 

Antonín Dvořák was born in Nelahozeves (Muhlhausen), Bohemia, near Prague, on September 8, 1841, and died in Prague on May 1, 1904. Dvorák began sketching the D-minor symphony on 13 December 1884; the final score was completed on March 17, 1885. The composer conducted the first performance in a concert of the London Philharmonic Society in St. James’s Hall on 22 April of that year. Dvorák made a cut in the slow movement during June before declaring the score definitive. The score calls for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, and strings. Duration is about 35 minutes.

Five years elapsed between the composition of Dvořák’s Sixth and Seventh Symphonies, but they were years of increasing fame and busy composing in other genres, including the brilliant Scherzo capriccioso, the dramatic Hussite Overture, and the closely argued F-minor trio. His opera Dmitri (which, in terms of its plot, is a sequel to Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov) had been performed in Prague, and the comic opera The Cunning Peasant in Hamburg. Most important for Dvořák’s international reputation, though, was the extraordinary popularity that he enjoyed in London after the successful performance there of his Stabat Mater in 1883. He himself conducted the Stabat Mater and other works, including his Sixth Symphony, during a London visit made in the spring of 1884 at the invitation of the Royal Philharmonic Society. Not long after his return home, Dvořák learned that the Philharmonic Society had elected him a member; at the same time, it commissioned a new symphony. 

Though the commission was tendered in June, Dvořák waited six months before starting to sketch, and even then the composition involved more than his usual amount of preliminary sketching and rewriting. The result, though, was a symphony that many writers consider to be his greatest single achievement, a work of powerful moods and wide-ranging feeling, a nationalistic symphony that offers more than quaint touristy views of peasant dancing—a stereotype of the nationalistic schools—that offers, indeed, the highest degree of musical seriousness and refinement. 

The symphony opens with a theme of deep Slavic foreboding, lyrical in character but built from motives that could serve as the germ for development. The first page of the final score contains a note in the composer’s hand that reveals, “The main theme occurred to me when the festival train from Pest arrived at the State station in 1884.” The theme certainly has little of the “festival” character, but the train in question (Dvořák was noted for his fondness for locomotives and his familiarity with their schedules) brought dozens of anti-Habsburg patriots to a National Theater Festival in Prague, so it is not unlikely that the Czech colorations in melody and harmony arose from his patriotic mood. Some of the transitional themes are related to ideas in the Hussite Overture, another recent patriotic score composed in memory of the 14th-century Czech religious reformer Jan Hus; these, too, no doubt arose from patriotic connections in Dvořák’s mind. These stern reflections usher in a rocking, sunny secondary theme that contrasts strikingly with the other material. The concentration of both development and recapitulation make this one of Dvořák’s densest symphonic movements in terms of sheer quantity of incident. 

The Poco adagio begins with a square-cut melodic phrase that comes to its ordained end after eight measures, raising visions of a possible theme-and-variations form with a series of starts and stops. But immediately after the statement of that theme, the musical thought opens out to become increasingly chromatic and expressive in a movement filled with wonderful touches of poignancy and colorful elaboration in the orchestral writing.   The Scherzo is written in 6/4 time, but from the beginning there is an exhilarating conflict between the two beats per measure of 6/4 (in the accompaniment) and the three beats per measure of 3/2 that the ear perceives in the melody. This is, in fact, a furiant, a characteristic Czech dance that plays with the various possible subdivisions of a six-beat pattern. Dvořák worked hard at the rhythmic lightness evident throughout this utterly delightful movement, spontaneous in effect yet actually the result of much sketching and rewriting to achieve that bubbling effervescence. 

In stark contrast, the Finale begins in a mood of tragedy–starting right from the intense opening phrase, the last three notes of which—are repeated to begin a slow, hymnlike march—with vivid themes developed to a majestic close that only turns definitively to the major in the last bars. 



Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra

Heitor Villa-Lobos was born in Rio de Janeiro on March 5, 1887, and died there on November 17, 1959. He composed his Guitar Concerto in 1951. In addition to the solo guitar, the score calls for one each of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trombone, and strings. Duration is about 22 minutes.

Brazilian-born Heitor Villa-Lobos was given cello lessons by his father, and he later attained mastery of the guitar. But as a composer he was almost entirely self-taught. As a young man intended for the medical profession, he preferred to spend his days in the bohemian life of the street musician, developing the ability to improvise guitar accompaniments to the capricious modulations of the popular instrumental music known as the chôros. Between ages eighteen and twenty-five, he traveled extensively throughout Brazil studying the various types of popular music and noting its characteristic features. At first his music was scorned in his own land for its novelty, but in the 1920s it was taken up enthusiastically in Paris, where Villa-Lobos attracted wide interest in many circles of the avant-garde. He made friends with many leading musicians (such as the pianist Artur Rubinstein) who not only became devoted admirers but promoted his music in performance. Throughout his long life he continued to pour forth an unending stream of new works, almost all of them marked by a freshness of melodic line (often marked by Brazilian popular styles), a rhythmic vitality, and imaginative instrumental color.  

Some of his most popular works attempted to combine Brazilian folk material with the contrapuntal style of J.S. Bach, and to these works Villa-Lobos gave a generic title that might be translated “Brazilian Bach-like Pieces” (Bachianas brasileiras); some of them are for full orchestra, others for as few as two instruments. One of the most popular movements in all of this section of the composer’s output is a miniature tone-poem depicting a train that runs through jungle and mountain, with evocative sound effects from the instruments.

The public response to his music varied widely throughout his life. Though he was regarded as too advanced for the public in his early Brazilian years, he nonetheless produced during that period four string quartets and five symphonies (of which the fifth is completely lost), as well as the delightful nationalistic piano pieces published as Prole do bebê (“The baby’s family”); these suggest the kind of fusion of folk traditions with modernism that Stravinsky was writing at exactly the same time—but Villa-Lobos had not yet encountered Stravinsky’s music, and came upon this approach independently.

The overt and exotic nationalism of the works that Villa-Lobos began to create in his Paris years attracted the greatest and most lasting attention. There are two great cycles of works—the Chôros of 1920-29 and the Bachianas Brasileiras that followed from 1930-1945. These explicitly call up the popular music of the Brazilian cities and the folk music of the countryside, gathered and recreated in concert works of astonishing variety. Some of the pieces in each cycle are for large ensembles (including, for example, chorus, band, and orchestra for Chôro No. 14 of 1928 and Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 2, 3, 7, and 8), while others are for as varied a range in size and instrumentation as one can imagine (the much-loved Bachiana Brasileira No. 5 calls for eight cellos and soprano voice; No. 6 for solo flute and bassoon).

During the ‘30s, too, Villa-Lobos was playing an active and vital role in developing music education in his native country, and to this end he composed a great deal of choral music and other works designed for use in schools, just as Kodály did in Hungary and a few other composers have done in their native lands.

From 1945 until his death, Villa-Lobos became more interested in questions of instrumental virtuosity and produced concertos for piano (five of them), cello (two), harp, guitar, and harmonica. His piano compositions became longer and more consciously brilliant (though Rudepoema—approximately “rough poem”—for solo piano, written for Rubinstein in the 1920s, was already regarded as one of the most difficult works ever created for the instrument). He also continued, with considerable regularity throughout his life, composing string quartets (the final total was seventeen, with an eighteenth left in sketches at his death) and, after a break of a quarter century, he began to write symphonies again, composing his Sixth in 1944 and continuing to his Twelfth in 1957.

As if all this weren’t enough, he composed six ballets, film scores, a couple of operas, and even a Broadway show, Magdalena, with the team of Robert Wright and George Forrest, who were best known for converting the tunes of deceased older composers into show tunes for hits like Song of Norway (Grieg) and Kismet (Borodin). 

He composed the Guitar Concerto in 1951 for Andres Segovia, and, since he was himself a virtuoso performer on the instrument, it is a brilliant showpiece filled with evocations of Brazil. The work is cast in the traditional three movements, of which all three are constructed in sectional forms, with little attempt to suggest the classical concerto. The cadenza linking the last two movements was left for the soloist to improvise or choose, Villa-Lobos providing only a series of tempo indications. As an experienced showman, he ends the work with fiery virtuosity.



Estancia, selections from the ballet

Alberto Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 11, 1916, and died in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 25, 1983. He composed Estancia in 1941 for Lincoln Kerstein’s Ballet Caravan, which toured throughout South America with it. The score of the dance suite calls for two flutes (one doubling piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoon, four horns, two trumpets, timpani and seven percussionists, piano, and strings. Duration is about 13 minutes.

Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera showed precocious musical gifts and began to take piano lessons at the age of seven; by fourteen he was composing, though he eventually destroyed most of his juvenilia. He graduated with highest honors from the National Conservatory of Buenos Aires in 1938; even before graduation he attracted widespread attention with the ballet score Panambi (1936), following it up a few years later with Estancia (1941). Both works dealt with Argentine life and had a strong element of musical folklore enlivened by a brilliant ear for orchestral color and a strong sense of rhythm. 

World War II forced Ginastera to postpone accepting a Guggenheim grant to study in the United States, but by 1945, as a result of Péron’s rise to power, he was dismissed from his position at the national military academy. He spent the next several years in the United States, including a summer studying in Aaron Copland’s class at Tanglewood. Though he returned to Argentina and worked at reforming the musical life of his native country, he spent most of his last years abroad, in the United States and Europe, owing to continuing political unrest at home. By the late 1950s he had established an international reputation, and many of his later works were commissioned by organizations north of the Rio Grande (two of his three operas, for example, had their first performances in Washington).

In his later years, when he was widely recognized as the most important Argentine composer of the century, Ginastera composed in a more “international” style derived from the modernist traditions of the mid-century. But it was his early nationalistic ballets that first made his name and that have continued to be performed most frequently. Owing to the success of the precocious ballet score Panambi, Ginastera was selected by Lincoln Kirstein for a new ballet to be featured on the 1941 South American tour of the Ballet Caravan, with choreography by George Balanchine. The premiere immediately established the young composer as the pre-eminent musical interpreter of Argentine country life. 

The word “estancia” refers to a farm or cattle ranch on the vast grass-covered Argentine Pampas. Ginastera felt closely connected to this landscape and once wrote “Whenever I crossed the Pampas or lived in it for a time, my spirit felt inundated by changing impressions, now joyful, now melancholy, some filled with euphoria and others replete with profound tranquility.” 

The scenario of the ballet Estancia covers one day, from dawn to dusk, in the life of the ranch. There is a thread of plot about a country girl who despises the city slicker, but comes to admire him when he proves able to perform the rigorous work of the estancia. Ginastera’s music is filled with the rhythmic and melodic character of native popular song and dance. Estancia is best known as an orchestral suite made up of four dances (two of them will be performed here):  Wheat Dance, and the typical gaucho dance Malambo, reflecting the life of those who work the land and their celebration at day’s end. Much of the ballet generates its vigorous character from the simultaneous occurrence of 3/4 and 6/8 time, a motif that particularly dominates the macho finale Malambo, a dance performed only by men asserting their energetic virility.


© Steven Ledbetter