Program Notes
Program Notes for Van Cliburn Recital  October 24, 2015.

This  concert includes three piano sonatas, from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Together they testify to the durability of the genre, while they also show its remarkable diversity.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809) was the most significant composer of the piano sonata of the eighteenth century. His sixty sonatas show the development of the form from very simple pieces to substantial masterpieces marked by imaginative structures and profound emotions.
The piano sonata reached its highest level with the thirty two by nineteenth-century composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827). The earliest were directly inspired by late works of Haydn, who was Beethoven's teacher for a time when he was about 22. But the late sonatas exist in a spiritual realm uniquely his own. Later composers such as Schumann and Brahms were awed by his piano sonatas, but for the most part they found more success working in other genres.
In the twentieth century, Rachmaninov, Bartok, Barber, Hindemith, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky sometimes wrote piano sonatas, and some are masterpieces. But the only composer to really concentrate on the piano sonata was Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953). He produced nine and a fragment of a tenth, and many are in the repertoires of some of the world's greatest pianists.

Sonata in E Major, Hob. XVI: 31                                  Franz Joseph Haydn
Haydn's Sonata in E Major was composed between 1774 and 1776 and published, along with five others, by Johann Nepomuk Hummel as Haydn's Opus 14. This is an excellent example of the "sonata allegro" or "first movement design" that evolved during Haydn's creative years. The first movement beautifully illustrates the structure: an exposition contrasts two keys (here, E major and B major), each with its own theme.The exposition is marked to be repeated, so listeners can fix the themes well in their memories. A brief development section takes the themes through a tonally unstable treatment before the recapitulation brings them back, now both solidly in E major. 
The second movement provides a contrast of mood (more pensive than brilliant) and of mode (E minor rather than E major). The finale, back in E major, brings the sonata to a close with a lively theme followed by four high-spirited variations.

Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6                                               Robert Schumann
For Robert Schumann, Beethoven's large sonata compositions were a particular challenge. He did try to follow in Beethoven's steps with his three piano sonatas and his great Fantasie in C major, though he always moved away from the model to create a work that was distinctly his own. But Schumann's more characteristic works for piano were collections of shorter pieces with relatively simple structural designs. Sometimes these pieces are sketches of particular people (as in Carnaval, Op. 9), or particular activities (as in Scenes from Childhood, Op. 15), or particular places (as in Forest Scenes, Op. 82).
The Davidsbundlertanze ("Dances of the League of David") from 1837 is such a collection of shorter pieces. The name comes from an imaginary organization of musicians created by Schumann as editor of the music periodical Die neue Zeitschrift fur Musik. The "League of David" supposedly banded together to do battle with the conservative "Philistines" of the day, who were opposed to innovation in composition. Chief among its members were two characters representing two aspects of Schumann's own personality—Florestan, assertive and aggressive, and Eusebius, sensitive and dreamy. In the original edition each brief movement was marked with "F" or "E" (or occasionally both), according to its mood. In the revised edition the letters were removed, as was the word "tanze" from the title, since they are character pieces rather than dances.
The eighteen movements that make up the collection offer a delightful series of contrasts. Particularly impressive is the next-to-last piece, marked "as from afar," that quietly recalls a lovely melody heard in the second movement.

Sonata in F Minor, Op. 57                                      Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven is represented by one of his most impressive middle-period sonatas, the so-called " Appassionata" from 1804. The sonata allegro design evolved by Haydn is still present in the first movement and the finale, though greatly expanded. The second movement is a serene set of variations on a simple theme, more a harmonic progression than a recognizable melody.
Pianist Jonathan Biss, who performed the work for us during the 2015 Georgetown Festival of the Arts, describes it this way:
The first movement, average in length but massive in scope, is built from nothing more than its opening theme - laconic but fantastically malleable, transforming itself from repression, to warmth, to fury as necessary - and a four note motive that serves as an increasingly ominous leitmotif. The middle movement is a theme and variations whose theme barely merits the title; it is a chorale with almost no melodic interest to speak of. And yet, it is the basis for a world of feeling, each variation moving a step away from placidity and toward the ecstatic, until the rug is pulled out from underneath at the last moment. And Beethoven links the last movement to the first with one simple harmonic progression, which slithers eerily up a half step. At every turn, the work reveals the freakish architectural acuity of its author.

Sonata No.7 in B-flat Major                                           Sergei Prokofiev
Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas No. 6, 7 and 8 are associated with war. First performed between 1940 (before the Soviet Union entered World War II) and 1944, they are often called his "War Sonatas," though they were apparently first conceived as a group and partially written in 1939. The Russian-Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg says that the late-1930s Stalinist purges
easily provided an alternate source of gloom and stress for the composer...These three piano sonatas are documents of their time. [with their} brutally difficult, mechanistic finales softened only by small episodes."
In many ways the seventh sonata is the most brutal of the three. The opening movement, fiendishly difficult for the pianist, represents fierce conflict while still respecting the sonata form of exposition, development and recapitulation sections. The lyrical second theme of the exposition provides a welcome relief from the turbulence of the beginning, though the music soon returns to the conflict, blurring the end of the exposition and the beginning of the development. In the recapitulation the second theme appears before the first. The movement ends softly, while keeping up its driving rhythm.
The second movement begins quietly with a noble expressive melody with chromatic touches that suggest an experience of great tragedy. The central section reaches a climax representing the clanging of large bells. As the sound lessens, we are left with the presentation of just two pitches, played over and over again. The noted pianist and scholar Boris Berman says this about the passage:  For me, this music paints a picture of complete devastation. The continually repeated two notes of the ringing bell conjure up a lone belfry in a burned-out village. The solemn melody of the beginning, now much abbreviated, returns quietly to conclude the movement. The finale returns to and intensifies the ferocity of the first movement. It is a brilliant toccata, a style favored by the composer, with pounding rhythms scarcely relenting throughout the movement. A repeated three- note ostinato figure in the bass pushes the music forward to a ferocious ending, a dazzling conclusion to this "war" sonata.

Program notes by Dr. Ellsworth Peterson
Professor Emeritus of Music, Southwestern University


 
Program Notes for Fascinating Tales September 12, 2015
 
Polovtsian March from Prince Igor (1890)……………………………      Alexander Borodin
 
We old sinners, as always, are in the whirlwind of life—professional duty, science, art. We hurry on and do not reach the goal. Time flies like an express train. The beard grows gray, wrinkles make deeper hollows. We begin a hundred different things. Shall we ever finish any of them?
                                                                            ~~Alexander Borodin
 
The above quote proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as the opera Prince Igor was incomplete at the time of Borodin’s death. The Russian critic Vladimir Stasov suggested the idea of the opera to Borodin; that was in 1869. The premiere of the piece was given twenty-one years later in 1890 when fellow Russian composers Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov completed the score.
Borodin devoted years of research in the history, customs, and traditions of the Polovtsians, a people of Central Asia (of Turkish origin) around whom the opera evolves. The drama takes place in twelfth-century Russia. Prince Igor Severski, setting out to battle the constant enemy, the Polovtsians, leaves his wife Jaroslavna in the care of his brother-in-law, Prince Galitzky. Igor’s son Vladimir accompanies him on the expedition. During their absence Galitzky, together with two deserters, devises a plot to overthrow the government of Prince Igor. When Jaroslavna learns of the conspiracy she denounces Galitzky almost at the same time that news arrives of Igor’s defeat at the hands of the Polovtsians. 
Igor and his son, in the meantime, are being entertained by their conqueror, the Khan Konchak. Ovlour, a Polovtsian convert to Christianity, even offers Igor and Vladimir a plan for escape but they turn him down, as it would not be the “honorable” thing to do. That, and Vladimir has fallen in love with Konchakovna, the Kahn’s daughter.
When some Polovtsian soldiers return from Igor’s capital city Poutivle with numerous prisoners and treasures, the two captives change their minds and make a break for freedom with their new friend Ovlour. And although Konchakovna loves Vladimir, she informs the guards on their escape. Vladimir is captured, but Igor and Ovlour get away. The last scene shows the return of Igor to his wife as she is weeping amongst the ruins of the royal palace.
 
 
Concerto for Violin in A minor, BWV 1041 (c. 1730)………….           Johann Sebastian Bach
 
The aim and final reason of all music should be nothing else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit.
                                                                                              ~~J. S. Bach
 
Johann Sebastian Bach and his music have been many different things to different people at different times throughout history. He seems to have seen himself as an industrious craftsman rather than a compositional genius. His contemporaries admired him more as performer than as composer, though musicians through the end of the eighteenth century held some of his works in high regard.  The famous revival and restoration of his music in the nineteenth century turned him into a musical demigod, fixing his work as the beginning of great Western art music, an attitude that has survived well into the twenty-first century.
Bach’s concerti were generally written for performance by the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, over which he presided, and involved a great deal of recycling through transcriptions. Of the thirteen harpsichord concerti, one is a known adaptation of another composer’s music (BWV 1065 from Antonio Vivaldi), while four survive in alternate versions from Bach’s own hand including the two concerti for solo violin. The Concerto for Violin in A minor (BWV 1041) also exists as Concerto for Harpsichord No. 7 in G minor (BWV 1058). It seems that Bach’s most important compositional model in the solo concerto form was Vivaldi who became “the very embodiment of the new Italianate concerto and of a new language of instrumental music.”[1]  From Vivaldi, Bach adopted not only the three-movement form of the concerto but also ritornello form which was of significant importance to him in fashioning his outer movements.
Ritornello form is that in which phrases are repeated or “returned” (ritornello means little return in Italian) throughout a movement. This is typical of the first movement of the baroque concerto including this one. In the second movement, Bach’s beautiful melody is built upon a simple, yet intense bass line. The third and final movement is in 9/8 meter and is written in the style of an English gigue, which is how Bach chose to end many of his instrumental suites.
Many think of Bach as a master performer on keyboard, mainly organ, but he was keenly aware of the possibilities of the violin as well. In 1774, his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote of his father, “from his youth up to fairly old age . . . [Bach] played the violin purely and with a penetrating tone and thus kept the orchestra in top form, much better than he could have from the harpsichord. He completely understood the possibilities of all stringed instruments.”
 
 
 
Scheherazade, Op. 35 (1888)…………………………………...    Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
 
The folk song, the Orient, and the sea were the three influences or inspirations, which pursued Rimsky-Korsakov throughout his career, and he never got very far away of them…. He turned everything in his life to artistic account: his early life at sea, his trips to the Crimea, his summer vacations, when he noted down folk and bird songs.  He was always seduced by the picturesque and the exotic.  He might be called, indeed, a music Eurasian.
                                                                                   ~~Carl van Vechten
 
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is loosely based on the Persian fairy tales of A Thousand and One Nights, famously related by the Sultana Scheherazade to her despotic Sultan husband in a two-and-a-half year series of cliffhangers designed to postpone the ever-present threat of execution.
Sultan Shakhriar, convinced of the infidelity and fickleness of women, has vowed to execute each of his wives after the first night (the words On the next day after the wedding are crossed out in the autograph score); but the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by the fact that she was able to occupy him with her stories, which she told him over 1001 nights, so that, roused by curiosity Shakhriar continually put off her execution and finally completely abandoned his intention. Many tales Scheherazade told him were of Sinbad’s voyages at sea, the wandering Kalandar princes, the knights turned into stone, the great bird Rul, evil genies, the pleasures and amusements of the eastern rulers, Sinbad’s ship smashed to pieces on the magnetic rock with the bronze horseman, and much else, quoting the verses of poets and the words of songs, weaving story into story and tale into tale (she had quite the imagination!).
Rimsky-Korsakov did not keep to a line-by-line reproduction of any one tale in particular, recommending the listener to find out those pictures (or stories) to which the program refers on their own. In a letter to composer Alexander Glazunov, dated July 7, 1888, he reiterated that the work had no specific program, but that the first movement was a prelude (E Major), the second a narrative (B Minor), the third a Reverie (G Major) and the fourth an Eastern Festival, a dance, in a word a kind of Middle-Eastern carnival (E Minor-E Major). Scheherazade’s international success stems from its performance in Brussels conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov on March 18, 1900 when it was given at the Fifth Russian Symphony Concert at the Theatre de la Monnaie. It was staged as a ballet in Paris in 1910 at the Grande Opera as part of Ballet Russes and impresario Sergei Diaghilev’s celebrated season.
 
Notes by Dr. Stephen Crawford
Professor of Music History
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
 
[1] Karl Heller, Antonio Vivaldi (Leipzig, 1991), 358.

Dr. Stephen Crawford will write the program notes for Temple Symphony Orchestra Concerts.
Dr. Stephen Crawford is Director of Percussion Studies and Professor of Music History at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas.  He holds degrees from Minot State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. He is in his twentieth year as principal percussion/timpanist with the TSO

Dr. Crawford has presented lectures/clinics throughout the US including Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Carolina, California, New Mexico, Minnesota, and North Carolina.  He is in demand as a percussion artist, clinician, lecturer, and guest conductor having appeared throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Taiwan, Indonesia, Scotland, England, the Czech Republic, and China. Dr. Crawford lived in London, England as the UMHB faculty member for the London Studies Program for spring of 2009 where he lectured courses in British Music History.

As a university scholar, Dr. Crawford has been awarded research grants to allow study in the Czech Republic and Bali. He was also the recipient of the UMHB Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He is currently the Vice-President of the Texas Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. Dr. Crawford’s biographical record is included in “Who’s Who in America.”
 
 
[1] Wolfram Schwinger, Gershwin: A Biography (Mainz-Munich, 1983), 76.