February 6, 2017. Concert Notes.

New Frontiers

February 6, 2017, at 8:00 PM
Brunswick High School Auditorium
Luis Haza, Music Director and Conductor

Creatures of Prometheus Overture                                         Ludwig van Beethoven

Hungarian Dance No. 5                                                             Johannes Brahms

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C Sharp Minor                       Franz Liszt


Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”
                                 Antonin Dvorak

Experience New Frontiers …

as we continue our travels through the Romantic Period and on to the “New World” of music.  Creatures of Prometheus was Beethoven’s only full length ballet and his first theater work.  It is the story of Prometheus, “an exalted spirit, who found the humans of his time in a condition of ignorance, refined them through science and art and brought them to civilized manners, customs, [and] morals.”  Lewis H. Lockwood, considered the leading American authority on Beethoven, calls the music “easier and lighter than music for the concert hall. [It] shows Beethoven exploiting instruments and coloristic orchestral effects that would never appear in his symphonies or serious dramatic overtures.”  The lusty sounds of Hungarian folk music with its unique gypsy scale, rhythmic spontaneity, and direct, seductive expression follow with Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

Following intermission, it is the influence of Native American music and African American spirituals that we hear in Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s symphony, popularly known as the New World Symphony.   Dvorak called this music “…the product of the soil.  They are the folk songs of America.”  While he was also influenced by the music of his native Bohemia, as well as  Beethoven and Schubert, Dvorak combined these influences in original themes and used modern rhythms, counter point and orchestral colors.  His work is considered a major milestone in the validation of America on “New World” music and lore as source material for classical competition.  Leonard Bernstein called it multinational in its foundations, and the symphony has been very popular in the United States, London and Japan. It was composed in 1893 while Dvorak was visiting America, and a recording went to the moon with astronaut Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.