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Andrews University Orchestra Concert
April 20, 1997
Young Artist Concert

Bach: Violin Concerto in E major | Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto in G minor
Dvorák: New World Symphony

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Concerto in E major
for Violin and String Orchestra, BWV 1041

Bach composed his violin concertos between 1717 and 1723 during the time that he was director of music at the court of Cöthen.  He later arranged them as harpsichord concertos.  Bach's concertos, unlike most concertos of later time, are not primarily virtuosic pieces for soloists, but rather feature the interplay between soloist and tutti (the full ensemble).  The Concerto in E major, of which we hear the first movement tonight, is scored for solo violin, strings, and continuo.  Listen for the opening motive of the three notes of the triad as it is used as  theme as well as underlying the richly ornamental solo line.

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Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Concerto in G minor
for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 22

Andante sostenuto

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor, Op. 22, the second and most popular of Camille Saint-Saëns' five piano concertos, was written in great haste -- 17 days.  In fact the premiere, given with Saint-Saëns' as soloist, was less than a great success.  By the composer's own admission, he hadn't had enough time to learn it.  Saint-Saëns, known more for his loyalty to the classic spirit than to innovation, introduces the concerto with a solo piano passage, much like a Bach keyboard fantasia.  The first movement features elegant melodies with virtuosic fireworks for the piano, and concludes with a brief restatement of the opening orchestral theme.

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Antonin Dvorák
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95
"from the New World"

Scherzo.  Molto Vivace
Allegro con fuoco
Adagio -- Allegro molto

Czech nationalist composer Antonin Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor (From the New World), remains one of the most popular symphonies in the concert repertoire.  Completed during the composer's tenure as director of the National Conservatory of Music of American, the piece was premiered by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in December of 1893.  After the second movement and again at the conclusion, the composer was given wildly enthusiastic ovations.  The work received a similar receptions in subsequent performances in Boston and Vienna.  The origin of the themes has frequently been questioned.  Dvorák often encouraged his American students to draw on indigenous American music for their compositions, and he related to a friend that the experience of America had a "beneficent influence on his mind in the composition of this symphony.  In a letter he cleared up the speculation that he had been quoting American folk melodies, "Please omit the nonsense about my having used Indian and American Themes.  That is untrue.  I merely tried to write in the spirit of those national melodies."  The two middle movements were particularly inspired by Longfellow's epic poem The Song of Hiawatha; the largo by the funeral of Minnehaha, deep in a snow-bound forest, and the scherzo by the dance of Pau-Puk-Keewis at the wedding feast.

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Program notes by Linda Mack. Copyright 1997.
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Program notes home Alphabetical Index of Composers Chronological Index of Concerts