February 26, 2019

THE MORE THE MERRIER – A Song Blog

PART 1

 

If there is something inherently joyful about singing, I can tell you, that joy is multiplied exponentially when you sing duets and trios with friends. And this, friends, is the charm of our upcoming program, THE MORE THE MERRIER.

 

We start with Mozart, of course, the merriest of them all, who, in the same year he composed two piano concertos, a piano trio, his 38th Symphony “Praque”, AND The Marriage of Figaro, somehow carved out a little moment on June 1, 1786 to pen the words and music of a 26 second cannon extolling the virtues of merriment. 

 

“Merriment and light blood make for a happy heart and good cheer.

Flee, worries, far from me, Do not cloud my heart’s happiness!”

 

      

Then we step back in time to the days of King Arthur – well, as Purcell would have King Arthur, replete with shepherds and shepherdesses. Jessica Beebe and I are looking forward to this one!

 

 

Then it’s a story of friends:

First, a pairing of Fauré and his beloved teacher Saint-Saens will be heard, (topped off with the lovely Barcarole from The Tales of Hoffman.) Listen here to the beautiful Pastorale of Camille Saint-Saëns followed by his protégé’s Pleurs d’or.

 

 

Next up, Brahms and his Buddies (Schumann and Dvořák). It’s a sweet story to tell. Schumann (before descending into madness) secured the future of the young Brahms. Brahms reports to his friend, the famous violinist, Joachim, with whom he has just toured:

 

“Beloved Joachim, You have received a letter from the Schumanns where they write about my presence here… What shall I say? Shall I break out in hosannas over Schumann’s genius and character? …He thinks I should send the first of my works for publishing within 6 days! He is promoting my interests with such seriousness and urgency that I am beginning to feel dizzy.”

 

In no time, Robert Schumann surprised everyone. He published an article, zealously praising Brahms in an important journal. Only 6 months earlier Brahms had left Hamburg as an unknown.  And now, still at age of 19, all of Europe’s musical elite, from Liszt to Wagner, had heard him anointed as a musical “Messiah” – Schumann’s own word for him. 

 

Brahms then writes to Schumann:

 

“Revered Master: You have made me so immensely happy that I cannot even begin to thank you in words. The praise you have bestowed upon me will arouse such extraordinary expectations of my achievements, that I don’t know how I can begin to fulfill them even somewhat. Above all else, it induces me to use the greatest caution in the choice of what to publish. I strive with all my might to disgrace you as little as possible…”

 

Here’s gem from Brahms, the lovely Opus 28, no.3, Es rauschet das Wasser that Daniel Scwartz and I will delight in offering.

 

 

And, as one good turn deserves another, Brahms, the older, now well-established composer writes to his publisher, Fritz Simrock of a young up-and-comer, Antonín Dvořák:

 

“Dear S., for a few years now I have enjoyed the works by Antonín Dvořák (pronounced Dworschak) from Prague. This volume of duets for two sopranos and piano seem to me both attractive and practical. It appears that this volume was printed at his own cost. I recommended that he send you the songs! If you play through them, you will be, as I was, entirely delighted with them and you will particularly appreciate their piquant charm. Dvořák writes all sorts of things, operas, symphonies, quartets, piano pieces.

He is certainly a very talented individual! He is also poor! I ask you to consider this.”

 

Here is one of the pieces of which he speaks:

 

 

 

And on that lovely note, friends, I’ll leave you until the next installment of THE MORE THE MERRIER. Join us for an hour of joy and beauty this Saturday:

 

THE MORE THE MERRIER

March 2, 2019 at 3pm

The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

on 38th Street between Chestnut and Market

*FREE PARKING provided at the lot across the street. Entrance on 39th Street.

 

Yours with a song, Suzanne

 

Get your Tickets HERE.

 

 

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