Sunday, July 13, 2014 by Noel Morris
Lorin Maazel (1930-2014)
Program note: Listen to WFMT on Monday, July 14 for Lorin Maazel recordings and remembrances by those who worked with him.
Orchestral musicians, opera singers, and fans around the world are mourning the loss of American conductor Lorin Maazel. He died of complications from pneumonia on Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Castleton, Virginia, where the festival he founded is in full swing.
Finding Joy in the Living of Life…
and extending the hand of friendship to all Mankind…
But we must try.
There were those who said Lorin Maazel was tough to work with; others praised his brilliance and generosity. He was honored by the World Economic Forum for using “art to improve the state of the world.” One of his most noted ventures was a tour with the New York Philharmonic to North Korea in 2008.
In recent years, Maazel was occupied by the establishment of the Castleton Festival which provides a nurturing environment for young musicians (Maazel sold his Guadagnini violin in order to endow the festival).
He became an active blogger, reporting on everything from the sayings of Buddha to experiences on the podium.
Earlier this year, Lorin Maazel caused a flurry of headlines when he announced he was becoming a vegetarian. He told reporters he was inspired by his son Orson to take a stand against animal cruelty.
Maestro Maazel worked extensively in Europe. He served as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and General Manager of the Vienna State Opera. He held posts as music director of the Radio Symphony of Berlin, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, and the Munich Philharmonic.
In the United States, he served as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic.
According to a statement by the Castleton Festival, “in the last year he maintained an active conducting schedule, leading 111 concerts in 2013 alone, from Oman to Munich.”
Lorin Maazel was born in Paris in 1930 to American parents studying abroad. He is survived by his wife Dietlinde and daughters Anjali, Daria, Fiona, and Tara; and sons Ilann, Orson, and Leslie. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Kiran, Owen, Calypso, and Sahara.
July 14 is Bastille Day, which means: ’tis the season for La Marseillaise, the patriotic song that’s been tapped by people the world over. It’s on one of the earliest recordings in history (Sousa’s Band, 1898). Arrangements and send-ups range from Stravinsky to Monty Python. Film critic Roger Ebert listed the singing of La Marseillaise in Casablanca as one of the “100 Great Movie Moments” (video below).
Incredibly, the French national anthem has become a 4th of July tradition. Municipalities across America wait until sunset to start Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (written to honor Russia’s defeat of Napoleon). About 12 minutes into the overture, Tchaikovsky writes “marcatissimo” − heavily accented − on the trumpet part. The trumpets start blaring a melody. On beat four, the first cannon fires along with the opening salvo of the fireworks show. That trumpet tune is La Marseillaise.
It is one of the first melodies a Suzuki violinist learns (Schumann’s Two Grenadiers). It pops up in The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love (video below), in Shostakovich, Debussy, Berlioz, Kodaly, Liszt − even rappers have had their way with La Marseillaise.
Can you name other references to La Marseillaise?
Background: The Storming of the Bastille
Louis XVI convened the Estates-General on May 5, 1789, an assembly composed of representatives from the three “estates”: the clergy, the nobility, and the rest of the population. In reality, the Third Estate had little power. Crippling taxes and a shortage of food fueled unrest among members of the Third Estate. In June, the Third Estate pressed for a constitution and formed a parliament, the National Assembly, to address grievances without interference from the king.
On July 13, rumor spread that the king was dispatching his army to destabilize the parliamentarians. On the morning of July 14, 1789, a group of tradesmen raided the Invalides, stealing a cache of weapons. The gunpowder, however, was stored at the castle known as the Bastille. The mob proceeded to the medieval fortress. The Bastille guards opened fire on the crowd. The king’s reinforcements arrived, but sided with the mob. The Bastille surrendered later that afternoon. The crowd proceeded to dismantle the entire building.
People across France rebelled against landowners.
Composition of La Marseillaise
By 1792, French revolutionaries had established a constitutional monarchy, though radicals wanted to abolish the crown. Fear of interference by neighboring monarchies led France to declare war on Austria and Prussia. The mayor of Strasbourg approached an army engineer and amateur musician about composing a marching tune for French troops. That engineer, Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, responded with La Marseillaise – or rather, “Chant de guerre de l’armée du Rhin” (“War Song of the Army of the Rhine”). Ironically, Rouget de Lisle was a royalist, but his tune spread through the revolutionaries like fever. Soon revolutionaries from Marseille marched into Paris singing the song. It came to be known as La Marseillaise.
Tragic End for Composer
Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, composer of La Marseillaise, was imprisoned for refusing to denounce the king. He survived Robespierre’s Reign of Terror (1793-1794) when an estimated 40,000 were executed. The composer was freed from prison in its aftermath. He died in poverty in 1836.
Pierre-Jean David d’Angers made a drawing, a medallion, and a wax bust of Rouget de Lisle. The artist left this journal entry about their meeting:
“I moved closer to the poor sick man and, despite all my enthusiasm, I could not suppress my emotion on seeing my idol buried beneath a woolen bonnet. In that pile of rags it was impossible to recognize the author of that anthem that will forever stir Liberty in people’s hearts…They wrapped him in a blanket, and the poor rheumatic, more or less erect, sat in his chair.”
You may have caught Alain Lefèvre on WFMT’s Impromptu. He’s not only a whiz at the keyboard, but on the broadcast board as well. The French-Canadian pianist and composer is passionate about music: playing music, talking about music, and working as an advocate for music with educators, broadcasters, and listeners.
Lefèvre hosts a two-hour show on Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique. He admits it’s a challenge to juggle the radio commitment and an international piano career, but also admits feeling an urgency to nurture audiences for the art form that’s meant so much to his own life. The program is broadcast every Sunday in Canada, coast to coast.
Lefèvre came to Chicago for a recital in Ravinia’s Martin Theatre on June 20, 2014. That recital airs on WFMT, Monday at 8:15 pm.
Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A minor
Haydn: Piano Sonata in F major
Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonata in B-flat minor
Ravel: La Valse
WFMT brings you a live in-studio performance with guitarist Miloš Karadaglić on Monday, July 14 at 6:00 pm.
“Miloš” performs Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on Friday, July 11. On Tuesday, July 15, he performs a solo recital in Ravinia’s Martin Theatre. Don’t miss this radio special with acclaimed classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić on Monday at 6:00 pm.
WFMT and Seth Boustead of Relevant Tones present the 2014 Thirsty Ear Festival, Saturday, July 12 at the City Winery. Special guests include the Fonema Consort, Graham Reynolds, and Gaudete Brass. The Festival celebrates ‘what’s new’ in music with a wide range of styles and composers.
Composer, radio host, and Thirsty Ear curator Seth Boustead spoke with WFMT about the Festival:
How did the festival come about? Where did the name come from? What would be your wildest dream-come-true for the festival?
I’ve been hosting a radio show for about the last ten years, on WFMT and before that on WLUW, but I also have an extensive background in concert production and promotion so it was probably only a matter of time before I wanted to do some kind of live event with Relevant Tones.
The name comes from a friend of mine who was talking about an event he went to years ago and he said of the audience, “they were incredible, they had such thirsty ears.” I thought it was a funny and imaginative way to describe people open to new sounds and decided it would be the perfect name of the event.
Wildest dream come true would be that the festival would sell out completely within minutes of announcing the lineup, that we could book anyone we thought of and that more and more people would become interested in thought provoking new music.
What does the typical Relevant Tones or Thirsty Ear fan have on his or her iPod? Do you think they’re more inclined to listen to Schubert or to Radiohead?
I think Radiohead. The vast majority of people coming to new music concerts and perhaps listening to Relevant Tones are younger and more steeped in pop music, although it does tend to be of the art rock variety. That’s actually why we moved the festival from the Empty Bottle to City Winery. The first year at the Empty Bottle the place was packed with young hipsters which was great, but if they’re already interested then I think we need to turn our attention to other people.
We’re hoping that over time City Winery will attract the kind of WFMT listener who thinks they only like common practice period classical, and we’re hoping they’ll come give it a try and possibly find something new they like. It’s simply not possible to hate all contemporary, it’s far too varied a genre.
Do you find a lot of musicians and composers on the new music scene crossing over from different genres?
Not as much as you would think. The ones who cross over from rock or pop tend to be the most successful and the most savvy with social media and so the most likely to get press. But there are tons and tons of composers with a traditional music school background, but they just don’t make the same splash that a Glenn Kotche does. And Relevant Tones is one of the few places where their music can be heard.
Headliner Graham Reynolds lives in Austin, Texas, which is a music town. Is he active in Austin, and how has that music scene rubbed off on him?
He’s hugely active there. I was just there in April and he’s pretty well-known. He is a died in the wool Austiner for sure. He’s basically an indie rock guy who also happens to love jazz and classical and is wildly talented as a pianist and drummer.
But the indie hipster scene in Austin has definitely rubbed off on him, or perhaps he has been part of crafting that image. Richard Linklater’s film “Slacker” is a huge part of that image and it wasn’t too long after that that Graham started writing scores for him so that image is part and parcel of who he is. I can’t imagine him anywhere else but Austin.
Reynolds is associated with making music with everything from Duke Ellington’s work to garbage trucks. Which Reynolds do you think we’ll get?
I’m not sure! We don’t micro manage at Thirsty Ear, we hire the folks we think are going to do interesting things and let them do their thing. I know that he wanted to play with a string quartet so I put together an incredible group for him, including Nick Photinos of eighth blackbird. Other than that I’ll find out with everyone else on Saturday!
The Fonema Consort will be performing as well. We often associate “consorts” with early music. Is there a connection? Do they make music that draws on Renaissance music or are they polar opposites?
I think they were thinking of consort in terms of vocal music but you’re right that it normally applies to early music in general. There is no connection with early music. Fonema is the Spanish version of phoneme which is itself the Greek word for the smallest unit of speech. They are interested in experimental text settings and vocal techniques so perhaps they are polar opposites of Renaissance performance techniques and certainly in terms of sound.
Gaudete Brass is arguably the most conventional or standard group on the program. What about them appeals to you?
Gaudete are one of the most exciting performance groups in town. They commission and premiere new works all the time, they gravitate toward composers who don’t normally write for brass, they have described themselves as the anti-Canadian Brass, they have really good beer at their concerts and they’re just passionate, fun, talented performers. I really love them and knew they would do a great job. It’s also a nice balance to the program. Our thirsty eared audience wants to hear as eclectic a mix as possible and on Saturday that’s just what we’ll give them!
Tuesday at 5:45 pm
Haymarket Opera presents Handel’s La Lucrezia, a cantata on a notorious crime.
He was a prince. She was the governor’s wife. He went to stay at her house. What happened next toppled a monarchy and inspired over two thousand years of stories, art, and music.
The king’s son Sextus Tarquinius waited until all were asleep before creeping into the bedchamber of the virtuous Lucretia. She refused him. The prince pledged to kill her and a male slave – leaving their bodies entangled – unless she yielded.
Lucretia submitted to the prince. The next day, she told her father and her husband about her dishonor, begging to be avenged. Then she stabbed herself.
Lucretia’s martyrdom outraged the citizens of Rome. Her kinsmen paraded her body throughout the forum, inciting rebellion and the ouster of the Etruscan king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. According to legend, Lucretia’s death led to the founding of the Roman Republic.
The assault of Lucretia is the subject of dozens of works, including a poem by Shakespeare, paintings, and a cantata by George Frideric Handel (conceived as a cantata in order to skirt a papal decree forbidding opera). Opera or cantata, La Lucrezia is all drama. WFMT presents a live performance of Handel’s La Lucrezia on Tuesday at 5:45 pm.
About the Haymarket Opera Company
The Haymarket Opera Company specializes in operas from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment – two hundred years, from 1600 to the late 18th century masterworks of Mozart. Each production is staged intimately and guided by close attention to details of the libretti and scores. HOC performers are trained in historically informed practices of sound production, diction, and ornamentation. They are also experienced actors who are schooled in baroque gesture and dance.
The Haymarket Opera Company uses a chamber orchestra of period instruments played by top experts in the field. Our instrumentalists are not only specialists on their individual instruments, they are historians who recreate the sounds 17th and 18th century composers would have heard as they wrote. Gut strings, valveless trumpets, and woodwinds with fewer keys lend a special timbre to the sound of the instruments and allow the music to breathe in a unique way.
The story of Lucretia and Sextus Tarquinis is 2,500 years old. The earliest surviving accounts date from 500 years after the crime took place. So viral was the tale, however, so enmeshed was it in Roman zeitgeist, historians struggle to separate the legend from the facts. Historians confirm the fall of the Etruscan monarchy and generally agree on the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 BC. Historical record also shows one of the two, first-elected consuls to be Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, the husband of Lucretia.
On Tuesday at 5:45 pm, WFMT brings you a live broadcast from St. James Cathedral. This week, Rush Hour concerts presents Handel’s cantata La Lucretia.
View more works on the story of Lucretia:
Monday at 8:00 pm
Each summer, the Monday night series Live from WFMT takes a vacation so that WFMT can bring you concerts from the Ravinia Festival. Monday’s broadcast features pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Joseph Swensen, and cellist Carter Brey.
Mozart: Piano Trio in G, K. 496
Schumann: Piano Trio in d, Op. 63
Ravel: Piano Trio
Schoenfield: “Café Music”
In addition to an active solo career, Carter Brey is principal cello of the New York Philharmonic.
Pianist Jeffrey Kahane appears worldwide as a soloist and chamber player. He also conducts. Most recently he conducted a series with the New York Philharmonic.
Violinist Joseph Swensen also conducts. He is the Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Swensen studied at Indiana University, and continues to keep a residence there and teach at his alma mater.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 by Noel Morris
Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein returns to Chicago this week for two performances. At lunchtime on Wednesday, he is the featured artist at the annual Al Booth celebration at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. On Wednesday evening, he joins artists from Ravinia’s Steans Institute to perform Mozart and Brahms.
Goldstein appeared at the Ravinia Festival last summer alongside Leon Fleischer in the Mozart Double and Triple Concertos. James Conlon conducted those performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Goldstein has taught several master classes at Ravinia’s Steans Institute.
WFMT broadcasts the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts live from Chicago’s Cultural Center each Wednesday at 12:15 pm.
Franz Schubert: Impromptu in E-flat Major, Op. 90 No. 2
Maurice Ravel: Une Barque sur L’Ocean (A Boat on the Ocean) from Miroirs
Avner Dorman: Three Etudes
I. Snakes and Ladders
II. Funeral March
III. Sundrops Over Windy Water
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, “Les Adieux”
I. Das Lebewohl (The Farewell): Adagio – Allegro
II. Abwesenheit (Absence): Andante espressivo
III. Das Wiedersehen (The Return): Vivacissimamente
- Samuel Adams was not a successful brewer.
He was one of 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence. He struggled with his father’s business as a brewer and merchant, but eventually became governor of Massachusetts. He was the cousin of President John Adams.
- The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans purchase 9 billion hot dogs per year. That’s 70 hot dogs per person.
The Declaration of Independence is dated July 4, 1776. Things that didn’t happen on July 4, 1776:
• The Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776.
• The start of the American Revolution – the first shot was fired on April 19, 1775.
• Paul Revere’s ride – April 18, 1775.
• Thomas Jefferson composed the first draft of the Declaration in June 1776.
• The signing of the Declaration of Independence began on August 2, 1776.
• The Declaration was delivered to Great Britain in November of 1776.
• The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787.
- John Hancock is suspected of having participated in the Boston Tea Party, after his sloop was impounded by British customs agents in Boston Harbor. He went on to become President of the Continental Congress and was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.
- According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, consumers outspend professional presenters on the purchase of fireworks, two to one.
- In the TV series The Simpsons the Springfield Town Hall bears a striking resemblance to the home Thomas Jefferson designed for himself, Monticello.
- George Washington did not attend college.
Like his half-brothers, the family planned to send George to England for schooling, but his father died when he was only 11. Washington was self-conscious about the omission and became a voracious reader.
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, the Fourth of July, 1826.
John Adams was the first Vice President and the second President. He worked closely with Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence. Adams lost to Jefferson in his re-election bid. Jefferson became the 3rd President of the United States. Jefferson and Adams kept a lively correspondence with one another to the end of their days—the 50th anniversary of American independence (called the quinquagenary).
- Stephen Foster was born on the 4th of July, 1826. That was also the day that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died.
- John Philip Sousa, the “March King,” had a Portuguese father (born in Spain) and a Bavarian mother. After leaving the marine band, Sousa formed his famous “Sousa Band.” The Sousa Band toured Europe and had its own baseball team.
- James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, had financial woes and went to debtors’ prison while serving as an associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s become one of Chicago’s most hallowed 4th of July traditions: the Grant Park Orchestra’s Independence Day Salute. WFMT’s live broadcast of that concert draws one of the largest audiences of the year. In recent years, the honor of presenting that concert has fallen on the baton of Grant Park Chorus Director Christopher Bell, who has much to say about this tradition. Here he is in a Q and A with WFMT:
You will be performing for one of the largest crowds of the year. In the days leading up to this concert, what keeps you up at night?
If you mean what worries me…nothing particular, except perhaps a concern about the weather. So far this summer, we’ve seen both misty evenings and storms, as well as spectacularly calm and balmy evenings. So I’m hoping for a good day on Friday, the 4th, 2014.
Growing up in the U.K., what did you learn about American independence? What was that war called over there? What did you discover about the 4th of July upon your arrival in the United States?
It’s referred to as the American War of Independence and it is featured in history lessons taught in school, though only in the most general terms. I came to Chicago for the first time in 2000 and became Choral Director of the Grant Park Music Festival in 2002. Since then, I have learned a lot more about American history, including the Civil War. The 4th of July celebrations at the Festival have been a moveable feast over the past years, originally on the 3rd when we were at Petrillo, and moving from 3rd to 4th and back again, over the years that we have been at Pritzker. I miss the huge fireworks display that went along with the concert on 3rd July.
Where do you shop for your onstage outfits? What kind of look will you be going for with this year’s 4th of July concert?
I spot things throughout the year and try and source the main items early so that its not a last minute panic. Last year it was a red kilt with a stars and stripes vest and I had those already. But I was looking for trainers (sneakers?) with a stars and stripes pattern and couldn’t find them anywhere so ended up with red, white and blue Nike ones. This year I keep seeing them in shops but I’m going a different direction in 2014. I’m forbidden to tell you much about this year’s outfit, but let’s just say flag (its the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner).
Are Copland, Sousa, Gershwin, and Bernstein played very often in the U.K.? Is there a style or musical approach to that repertoire that one learns by living here?
These composers are very well known in the UK. Appalachian Spring, multiple Sousa marches, American in Paris, the piano concertos, and the songs of Gershwin, and many pieces of Bernstein, including West Side Story which will be featured in the 2014 concert. In fact I have been preparing the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony for performance at the Edinburgh Festival later this year.
One gets the impression you hold your chorus to very high standards. It sounds like you also share some laughs together. How would you characterize that working relationship? Does it get easier, and what are some of your favorite memories?
It’s important that the chorus realizes that I do want a high standard, and we work hard to achieve that …but when you are rehearsing together four evenings a week (and in a concert week there can be up to seven services), laughing and occasional lighter moments are a crucial balance to the intensity there can be.
Over the years we have developed a way of working, so singers know what I expect in certain places but there are always new people in the room (regular choristers sometimes have other singing/family commitments), so these guests need to be brought into the Grant Park Music Festival sound world.
It’s a great thrill when a section sings a crucial line and it’s musical, technically well sung and nicely blended. I then feel I have chosen the right singers for the group and that’s very satisfying. Favourite concerts over the years would be Britten’s War Requiem, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Sea Symphony, Glagolitic Mass and many, many a cappella concerts sung in some of the city’s fine churches (particularly Our Lady of Sorrows on Jackson - amazing building).
I’m looking forward to the Chorus’ two upcoming a cappella concerts – at the South Shore Cultural Center on July 17 at 7:00 pm, and the Columbus Park Refectory on July 20 at 3:00 pm. We performed there last year and they were terrific settings for the group.
July 3rd/4th has always been fun, and its a privilege that y’all let an Irishman conduct on your Independence Day. This is the first time in recent memory that the chorus has joined us, so this one will be particularly special.
After more than ten years of tedious record-keeping and documentation, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Principal Violist Carol Cook became an American. At her swearing-in ceremony, she made a musical offering for herself and dozens of other candidates taking the Oath of Allegiance: a solo performance of the Star-Spangled Banner (video below).
For years Carol Cook stacked her schedule, taking few vacation days and cataloging the printed program of every performance. Even as a member of the Lyric Opera viola section, she had to demonstrate to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that her employment status would be unchanged for another two years – a standard requirement for an O-visa, a permit for non-immigrants who possess extraordinary ability. After several rounds of submitting her performance history and re-qualifying for the O-visa, she was eligible for a green card.
For Cook, the only bit of unfinished business was becoming an American. Chicago is home to this Scottish musician. Already active in the community, she wanted to be a full-fledged member. Thus, the minute she was eligible (after having lived for five years as a “permanent resident”), Carol Cook applied for citizenship. On Monday, July 22, 2013, she took the Oath of Allegiance and became a United States citizen.
See video of Carol Cook performing the Star-Spangled Banner at her swearing-in ceremony.