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St.Louis Program Notes


  • MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2013, 8PMPre-concert lecture by Christopher Russell, 7pm

    Segerstrom Center for the ArtsRene and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

    st. louis symphonyDaviD RobeRtson, conDuctoR

    maRk spaRks, flute

    Don Juan, Op. 20 (1888-89) Richard STRAUSS(1864-1949)

    Flute Concerto (1993) Christopher ROUSE(b. 1949)

    AmhrnAlla marciaElegiaScherzoAmhrn

    Mark Sparks, flute


    Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche Richard STRAUSS(Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks) (1864-1949)Op. 28 (1894-95)

    Symphonie Mathis der Maler Paul HINDEMITH(Matthias the Painter) (1933-34) (1895-1963)

    Engelkonzert (Angelic Concert)Grablegung (Entombment)Versuchung des heiligen Antonius (Temptation of St. Anthony)

    Programs, artists and dates subject to change. Photographing or recording this performance without permission is prohibited. Kindly disable pagers, cellular phones

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    Born: June 11, 1864, in Munich Died: September 8, 1949, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen,Bavaria

    First Performance: November 11, 1889, in Weimar,conducted by the composer

    Scoring: 3 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion,harp, strings

    Performance Time: approximately 17 minutes

    THE LOVER AS ROMANTIC HERORichard Strauss initially gained widespread attentionin the 1880s with a series of remarkable tone poems,orchestral pieces based on dramatic or literary ideas.The first to achieve unqualified success was Don Juan.Strauss found his inspiration for the piece in a versefragment by the Austrian writer Nikolaus Lenau. Inthat work, which Lenau left unfinished at his death in1851, the poet transforms the Don Juan legend as thestory of an archetypal Romantic hero. Instead of thecruel seducer we find in other versions of his story,Lenaus Don is a dreamer driven on an impossible pur-suit of ideal beauty. That magical circle, immeasurablywide, of beautiful femininity, he declares in Lenausverses, I want to traverse in a storm of pleasure, anddie of a kiss upon the lips of the last woman.

    Lenaus text inspired Strauss to a bold and originalflight of musical fantasy. The composer offered no spe-cific program, no written narrative, for Don Juan,though it is doubtful that any verbal explication couldenhance the experience of the composition. It is impos-sible to miss the suggestions of sensuality, bravado, anddelirious flight that flow from the music, and a listenerneeds no more than that. Don Juan is a great show-piece, a chance for any orchestra to show its virtuosity.But Strauss can be lyrical also, as in the poetic oboesolo that forms the focal point of the tone poems cen-tral episode.


    Born: February 15, 1949, in Baltimore

    First Performance: October 27, 1994, in Detroit,Carol Wincenc was soloist, with Hans Vonk conducting the Detroit Symphony

    Scoring: solo flute, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, strings

    Performance Time: approximately 28 minutes

    St. Louis SymphonyPowell Hall

    718 N. Grand Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63103Phone: 314-286-4134Fax: 314-286-4474

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    First Performance: November 1895, in Cologne, conducted by Franz Wllner

    Scoring: 3 flutes, piccolo, 3 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, E-flat clarinet, 3 bassoons,contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones,tuba, timpani, percussion, strings

    Performance Time: approximately 15 minutes

    A LEGENDARY PRANKSTERSince the 16th century, accounts have circulated of thedeeds and misdeeds of Till Eulenspiegel, one of themost colorful figures in German folklore. Till was arogue, a prankster and, above all, an impudent mockerof authority. Confusion and disorder followed himeverywhere. He overturned stalls in the marketplace,caricatured priests and politicians, seduced young girlsand deceived old maids. His tricks usually were at theexpense of the most staid members of societytherich, the pious, the dull, and the prudishand thusprovided both entertainment and social satire.

    Tills fame has spread beyond Germany largely by wayof the musical portrait of him created by RichardStrauss in Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, a title usu-ally translated as Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks.Completed in 1895, this tone poem is unusual amongStrausss works in this form for its brevity, humor, andlack of a detailed programthat is, an outline of thedramatic ideas embodied in the music. On this lastmatter, the composer wrote: It is impossible for me tofurnish a program for Till Eulenspiegel; were I to putinto words the thoughts which its several incidentssuggest to me, they would not suffice for the listener

    DOUBLE SUCCESS The American composer Christopher Rouse hasachieved the sort of double success to which many ofhis colleagues aspire but seldom realize, writing musicthat is highly respected within his profession anddeeply appreciated by concert audiences. Rouse is anextremely adept composer, well schooled in the mod-ern techniques of his craft. But communication, ratherthan compositional intricacy, has always been his prin-cipal concern, and he has shown little interest in exper-imenting with new sounds and procedures simply forthe sake of novelty. I dont know what the avant-garde is any more, Rouse once stated in an interview,but Im pretty sure I was never a part of it. The factthat I had my undergraduate training in the late 60smeant that I willingly tried my hand at all sorts ofavant-garde approaches. But I kept coming back to thenotion that the technique involved was less importantthan my need to express, which must mean that Ivealways been a Romantic at heart.

    CELTIC REQUIEMRouse composed his Flute Concerto in 1993 for thestellar flutist Carol Wincenc. The composer explainsthat the work was inspired largely by the rich musicaltradition of the British Isles. Although both of myparents families immigrated to America well beforethe Revolutionary War, the composer observes in apreface to his concerto, I nonetheless still feel a deepancestral tug of recognition whenever I am exposed toarts and traditions of the British Isles, particularlythose of Celtic origin.

    The concertos five movements form an arch design. Ateach end are very similar movements titled mhrn,the Gaelic word for song. True to that meaning,these opening and closing portions of the compositionbring a serene lyricism, the solo flute singing almost inthe manner of an Irish folk song over eloquent, slow-moving harmonies provided by the orchestra.

    The heart of the concerto, in every sense, is the thirdmovement. Rouse conceived it as a requiem for JamesBulger, a child whose abduction and murder by a pairof 10-year-old English boys shocked all of Britain andour composer, who responded with this great elegiacoutpouring.

    On each side of that centerpiece comes lively music, amarch as the second portion of the work, and, as thefourth, a scherzo with rhythms suggesting a jig.Although clearly referring to traditional kinds ofmusic, Rouse refracts the characteristic sound of hismodels through the prism of his highly developed com-positional technique, retaining something of their colorand energy while creating out of them quite new andexhilarating musical invention.

    Richard Strauss

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    and might even give offense. Let me therefore leave itto my hearers to crack the nut the rogue has presentedthem. He went on to admit only that the final sceneof the tone poem represents Tills capture, trial, andhanging.

    A MUSICAL ROMP Till Eulenspiegel opens with five measures of prologuewhose gentle musing seems to say: Once upon a time.... Immediately the horn intrudes with the first oftwo thematic ideas associated with the title character.The second, a sly motif announced by a solo clarinet,follows shortly. These two subjects appear repeatedlyand in a variety of guises in the episodes that follow, asthe orchestra romps with Till through his riotousadventures.

    But just as the proceedings reach a height of exuber-ance, they are halted by a chilling drum roll. Loudchords now thunder accusations at Till, which heanswers with the insolent clarinet motif. This figurepersists even as the rope is tightened around his neck,at last ending in a squeal as the gallows claim theprankster. Now the mild music of the prologuereturns, as if to assure us that all this has been only astory. But Till may yet have the last laugh: the finalmoments suggest his spirit still alive and at large in theworld.


    Born: November 16, 1895, in Hanau, near FrankfurtDied: December 28, 1963, in Frankfurt

    First Performance: March 12, 1934, in Berlin;Wilhelm Furtwngler conducted the BerlinPhilharmonic

    Scoring: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba,timpani, percussion, strings

    Performance Time: approximately 25 minutes

    A COMPOSER UNDER FIREPaul Hindemiths opera Mathis der Maler (Matthiasthe Painter) was born of a collision between artisticideals and political reality, which describes both theworks subject and the conditions surrounding its cre-ation. Hindemith first considered composing a workon the life of Matthias Grnewald, the 16th-centurypainter, in 1932. At first, he found insufficient dramain the subject and turned to other projects. But historice

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