Mozart, Brahms & Schumann
with Elliot Moore, Music Director & Hsing-ay Hsu, piano
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414
Robert Schumann (1810-1856): Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Opus 120
I. Ziemlich langsam: Lebhaft
II. Romanze: Ziemlich langsam
III. Scherzo: Lebhaft
IV. Langsam: Lebhaft
by Charley Samson, copyright 2021
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897):
Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80
In March of 1879, the University of Breslau awarded Brahms the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Brahms was going to send his thanks on a postcard, but a friend reminded him that the University expected his gratitude to take some musical form.
Brahms responded with the Academic Festival Overture, which he called “a rollicking potpourri of student songs a la Suppé.” Indeed, the work is based on four traditional German student songs: Wir hatten gebauet (We had built a stately house), Der Landesvater (Father of the land), Was kommt dort von der Höh (What comes from afar) and Gaudeamus igitur (Therefore let us rejoice).
The Overture was first performed at the University of Breslau on January 4, 1881, with the new Doctor himself conducting. Biographer Karl Geiringer describes the music as “the lively, ‘occasional’ composition of a genius. To take it too seriously would not be fair to Brahms…. The hand of the master is revealed in the way the Overture grows from the mysteriously soft, almost somber opening, to the pealing jubilation of the concluding Gaudeamus igitur, played by the full orchestra. The composer succeeded in investing each of the songs with a specially effective instrumental garb.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791):
Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414
After settling permanently in Vienna in 1781, Mozart composed 17 piano concertos in the next decade. The first three, K. 413-415, were all intended for a subscription concert series given between autumn, 1782 and the following January.
K. 414 was probably the first of the three to be completed, sometime during the fall of 1782. Mozart wrote to his father: “There are still two concertos wanting to make up the series of subscription concerts. These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which the connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why. I am distributing the tickets at six ducats apiece.”
A year later Mozart wrote to the Parisian publisher Jean-Georges Sieber: “Well, this letter is to inform you that I have three piano concertos ready, which can be performed with full orchestra, or with oboes and horns, or merely a quattro [with string quartet]. Artaria wants to engrave them. But I give you, my friend, the first refusal.” Apparently Sieber did refuse, for the Viennese publisher Artaria printed the three concertos in 1785 as “Opus IV.”
The March 22, 1783 issue of Cramer's Magazine contained a report that “today the celebrated Chevalier Mozart gave a music academy for his own benefit at the National Theater in which pieces of his own composition, which were already very popular, were performed. The academy was honored by the presence of an extraordinarily large audience and the ‘two new concertos’ and other fantasies which Herr Mozart played on the piano were received with the loudest approval. Our Monarch, who contrary to his custom honored the whole academy with his presence, joined in the applause of the public so heartily that one can think of no similar example. The proceeds of the academy were estimated at 16 hundred gulden.” It's not certain which two of the three concertos Mozart played that day.
Referring to K. 414, Sir Donald Francis Tovey remarked: “it would be difficult to find another work of Mozart in which practically every single theme is so typical of his style.” Of the opening movement, Philip Radcliffe writes: “By the end of the exposition Mozart has already produced at least four themes, but he is in so insatiably inventive a mood that most of the development section is devoted to yet another tune.”
The theme of the second movement is borrowed from Johann Christian Bach's La Calamita dei cuori (The Calamity of the Heart), an opera that the eight-year-old Mozart may well have heard in London a year after its premiere in 1763. The “English Bach,” Johann Sebastian's youngest son, had been a great musical influence on Mozart during his prodigy years. Georges de Saint-Foix figures the appearance of this theme is Mozart's tribute to J.C. Bach, who had died on January 1, 1782. Mozart wrote to his father: “I suppose you have heard that the English Bach is dead. What a loss to the musical world.”
Radcliffe says the finale “is in a lighter vein than either of the other movements, but its construction is more adventurous and unexpected. It is a sonata rondo and, as in the first movement, there are many themes.”
Robert Schumann (1810-1856):
Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Opus 120
Schumann's Fourth Symphony is really his second in order of composition. It was revised and published after his Third Symphony, and therefore is numbered last nowadays.
Just two months after the first performance of his First Symphony, Schumann sketched his next. On September 13, 1841, he gave the score to his wife Clara as a present for her twenty-second birthday. “I will portray you with flutes, oboes, and harps,” he told her, even calling the work the “Clara Symphony.” Ferdinand David conducted the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra for the première on December 6, 1841. It failed miserably.
Ten years later, in the space of just seven days, Schumann revised the piece--“a complete reorchestration of the old Second Symphony,” as he put it. He found the new version to be “certainly better and more effective than it was before.” He even considered changing the name to “Symphonic Fantasy,” because there were no pauses between movements.
Schumann conducted the first performance of the new version of the Symphony during the Spring Festival of the Lower Rhine in Düsseldorf on May 15, 1853. This time, the work was a success. It was published that same year as Symphony No. 4.
Not everyone agreed that the Symphony had been improved by the revision of 1851. His friend Johannes Brahms, for one, preferred the original, which he found “bright and spontaneous” and “so absolutely natural you cannot imagine it different.” It was Brahms who saw to the publication of the first version of the Symphony in 1891.
In its thematic organization, Schumann's Fourth Symphony anticipated some of the procedures of Liszt in his symphonic poems. As Brian Schlotel puts it, “three short motifs, announced in the introduction, generate most of the melodic material of the entire work. The Symphony is therefore given a powerful unity which overrides the looseness of form that might otherwise result from the profusion of lyrical ideas and the mosaic patterns that Schumann liked to use…. Also the character of the four movements is entirely different--the first being eloquent and passionate, the second a Romance of great charm, the third a vigorous Scherzo, while the Finale, after its majestic introduction, is all exuberance culminating in increasing momentum.”
Pianist, Hsing-ay Hsu
Since her stage debut at age 4, Steinway Artist Hsing-ay Hsu (“Sing-I Shoo”) has been performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, in Europe and Asia, and at festivals including the International Odyssiad Festival and the Gulangyu Int'l Piano Festival in China. Passionate about processing life through the human experience of music, Ms. Hsu uses her rich background as a performer, studio owner, producer, consultant, clinician, and artist-teacher to help others make connections between analysis, emotions, and breath (mind/body/heart). Onstage and offstage, she creates a joyful, elegant, and multidimensional experience through music.
A versatile concerto soloist performing Bach to Barber, Ms. Hsu is described by the Washington Post as full of “power, authority, and self-assurance.” Concerto collaborations include the Houston Symphony Orchestra as first-prize winner of the Ima Hogg National Competition, the Baltimore Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, Pacific Symphony (Calif), Colorado Springs, Florida West Coast, Fort Collins, New Jersey, Waterbury (Conn.), China National, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Xiamen Symphony Orchestras. This is her second appearance with the Longmont Symphony.
Ms. Hsu is a multi-faceted cultural collaborator and producer. During the pandemic, she began to release weekly offerings of interviews, performances, and musical concepts through her Youtube Channel “hsingayhsupianist” and sharing ideas for pathways forward via her e-newsletter. Her latest collaboration with the Yale-China Association included eight live webinars connecting art, eduction, and health, and interviews with Dean Robert Blocker of Yale School of Music. Through “Artistic Ambassador Residencies” and “College Educational Residencies”, she hopes to empower new audiences and rising young stars to make deep personal connections with music and life. As owner of Nutmeg Studio NYC, she creates a retreat for creative lifelong learners like herself through lessons, coachings, workshops, and interactive listening webinars. Her Conscious ListeningTM monthly seminars and dynamic 4-Step Method bring classical music to a wider audience through the internet, festivals, private homes, music societies, and pre-concert talks.
Born in Beijing to a musical family, Ms. Hsu trained with her uncle Fei-Ping Hsu, at the Juilliard School, Yale University, as well as Aspen, Ravinia Steans Institute, the Aldeburgh Festival in the U.K., and Tanglewood. Ms. Hsu is married to composer Daniel Kellogg who is the new president of Young Concert Artists, Inc., and they have one daughter. She is based in New York City. Besides music, she loves to travel with her family and take dance classes.
LISTEN/LEARN/ENGAGE at hsingayhsu.com.
Longmont Symphony Orchestra
Ben Ehrmantraut, Concertmaster
Naira Poghosyan, Associate Concertmaster
James Nance, Principal
Holly Sidney, Associate Principal
Rae Ann Norrell
-sponsored by Margaret Spangler
Chue Vue, Principal
Athita Kuankachorn, Principal
Rob Stahly, Associate Principal
Jennifer Motycka, Principal
Erik Habbinga, Associate Principal
Kay W. Lloyd, Principal
Rachelle Crowell, piccolo
Margaret Davis, Principal
Gleyton Pino, Principal
Cody Tripp, Principal
Maddie Levinson, Principal
Noah Mennenga, Principal
-sponsored by Jesse Jenner
Kiel Lauer, Principal
Con Pappas, Principal
Euijin Jung, Principal
With gratitude to our generous contributors
In memory of Ruth Howe
In memory of Sue Wise
Paul and Diane Rickard
UC Health Longs Peak Hospital Foundation
Tina Davis Studio
Richard and Darcy Juday
Medtronic Grant Funds
Sally and Stephen Foss
In memory of Michael Hirota
Robert and Ann Parsons
Lynn and Helen Clark Fund
Carol and Tony Keig
Stevan and Jan Kukic
IBM Corp Matching Grants
Dr. Rowlin Lichter
Stapp Interstate Toyota
Bill and Ann Boettcher
Michael and Carol Minelli Foundation
Harvey and Carol Yoakum
October 16, 2021 • 7pm &
October 17, 2021 • 4pm
Haydn, Montgomery, Strauss, & Tchaikovsky
with cellist, Matthew Zalkind
400 Quail Rd - Longmont, CO
November 13, 2021 • 7:30pm
Barber & Dvorak
featuring soprano Leberta Lorál
Vance Brand Auditorium
600 E. Mountain View Ave