Exploring Music

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Extras for Unfinished Symphonies (Exploring Music)

As producers of Exploring Music, we’re perpetually running into the unfortunate situation of having to cut material to make it fit in the time allotted for the program (58 minutes and 30 seconds, to be exact). There’s just no way to fit it all in, as much as we’d like to. Here are a few of the bits that ended up on the cutting room floor, along with some supplemental material for this week.

Schubert

We mentioned clarinetist Robert Stallman, who has a label named after Schubert’s favorite Viennese watering hole, Bogner’s Café. It has some very nice releases, and not just of Schubert’s music.

Brian Newbould’s book Schubert and the Symphony: A New Perspective was invaluable in the research leading up to this week. Here Bill reads a few excerpts:

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Newbould’s realizations of Schubert’s music, as performed by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, were central to the first two programs.


Mr. Lucas Amory

We were only able to feature about 5 minutes of Bill’s interview with the nine-year-old Lucas Amory on Tuesday, but here’s the full interview:

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The whole shebang started off with a NY Times article by music critic Anthony Tommasini, presenting a personal list of his ten favorite composers.

That inspired young Mr. Amory to send in his list of favorite composers via handwritten letter, which Mr. Tommasini reprinted in the Times.

Bruckner

Any discussion of Bruckner symphonies can quickly be derailed by attempts to make sense of the composer’s many revisions (and subsequent alternate versions put out by well-intentioned publishers). Luckily for us, the two movements of Bruckner’s 9th that we programmed took up almost the whole show, so we were able to just revel in the music and sidestep the discussion. For a glimpse into the rabbit hole, check out this run-down by Bruckner fan José Oscar Marques of all the various iterations and discography by David Griegel.

We used Kurt Eichhorn’s marvelous recording with the Bruckner Orchester Linz, recommended by John Proffitt at KUHA (formerly KUHF) in Houston.

Mahler

Quite often in the pages of his 10th symphony, a dying Gustav Mahler wrote very personal notes to his wife and muse, Alma. Reading them, one can understand why she was so reticent to share it with the world. Here, at the end of the Scherzo, for example, he inscribed:

Du allein weisst was es bedeutet, Ach! Ach! Got! Leb’wohl mein Saitenspiel! Leb’wohl. Leb’wohl. Leb’wohl.

You alone know what it means. Ah! Ah! God! Farewell my lyre. Farewell. Farewell. Farewell.

I was thrilled to find this newly released album of Mahler’s music on Testment Records, which features Deryck Cooke’s original BBC lectures on the 10th and recordings of the symphony’s two premiere performances. Gramophone posted a summary here that gives an overview of the set.

Elgar

This page from the Elgar Society contains a wealth of information on the composer’s Symphony No. 3, including Anthony Payne’s own account of working on the symphony, links to buy the CD and the score, and much more.

It’s interesting to note that Elgar himself wanted the unfinished score of the 3rd destroyed, creating a conundrum for the musicologists and Elgarphiles that followed. Should they honor the wishes of the composer and deprive the world of his fantastic music? Or reconstruct the music to the best of their ability, knowing that it inherently wouldn’t be the same as if Elgar had finished it himself?

Colin Matthews posts a response here.

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