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Andrews University Orchestra Concert
March 7, 1998

Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 | Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme |
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Wolfgang A. Mozart (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 "Turkish"


As a child, Mozart's reputation as a prodigy was primarily due to his prowess at the keyboard. When he grew too tall to continue as a prodigy, his first regular position was as a violinist -- concertmaster of the archbishop's court at Salzburg.  Since this position encouraged composition as well as performance, it was during this time that Mozart's five violin concertos were born.  The first four concertos follow the standard three-movement form of Vivaldi, but in the fifth, the Concerto in A Major, K.219, completed in December of 1775, the listener is greeted with a number of surprises.  The first movement begins with a rather ordinary orchestral tutti that could have come from the pen of a number of 18th century composers. Usually, this would be followed by the soloist joining the orchestra for a reiteration of the opening theme. Instead, the solo enters with a slow arioso accompanied by a running line. When the first theme is restated with the solo, the listener discovers that the tutti exposition was just the accompaniment for the real main theme. Following the poetically beautiful second movement, the final rondo begins with a charming minuet. After two episodes in rather normal sequence, the listener is again surprised with a boisterous dance in "Turkish" style. The concerto's common nickname is derived from this section.  Mozart creates the effect of percussion by asking the cellos and basses to strike the strings with the wood of the bow. The concerto concludes with a return to the elegant rondo.

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Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 22
Written a century after the first work on this program, the Variations on a Rococo Theme is one of several of Tchaikovsky's works that pay homage to the music of his beloved Mozart. One of four pieces for solo cello and orchestra (2 original and 2 arrangements), the variations were commissioned by a colleague at the Moscow Conservatory. This colleague, the German cello virtuoso Wilhelm Karl Friedrich Fitzhagen, played the piece on concert tours to great acclaim. The composer gave him license to make adjustments to the solo part, but the cellist didn't stop there, and in the end made significant musical revisions as well. The original version was finally published in Russia, but is not well known in the west; therefore it is the Fitzhagen version that we hear tonight. Regardless of which version is performed, the piece sparkles with elegance and beauty, the solo cello soaring above the light orchestral texture of double woodwinds, horns and strings.

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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Allegro con brio
Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Beethoven himself said on more than one occasion that his Symphony No. 7 in A Major was one of his best.  Completed in the spring of 1812, it was first performed in conjunction with the premiere of Wellington's Victory on December 8, 1813 at a Vienna concert to benefit Austrians and Bavarians wounded in the battle against Napoleon at Hanau.  The concert, with the composer conducting and several famous musicians of the day participating, was such a great success that it had to be repeated four days later.  Although Wellington's Victory was the hit of the evening, the symphony was well received, and the second movement, Allegretto (even today one of Beethoven's most popular works) was encored on the spot.  While this symphony is constructed in the "classical" arrangement of four separate movements, with the slower movement placed second, it stretches the genre in new directions.  The slow introduction is extensive -- almost a movement in itself.  In the third movement Beethoven outdoes the scherzo (with which he had replaced the minuet in previous symphonies) with presto.  The final movement engages players and listeners alike in its tremendous energy.  In disagreeing with a critic who thought that Beethoven was drunk when composed the finale, French writer and Beethoven's biographer, Romain Rolland, remarked, "It was indeed the work of an intoxicated man, but one intoxicated with poetry and genius."
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Program notes by Linda Mack. Copyright 1998.
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