Boston, MA— Boston University College of Fine Arts presents the Boston University Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Ken-David Masur (BUTI’96), Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and alum of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute— Monday, November 21st at Symphony Hall.
Boston University Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall
Performing Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Paul Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, and Béla Bártok’s Concerto for Orchestra, conducted by Ken-David Masur
Date and Time: Monday, November 21st, 8pm
Venue: Symphony Hall (301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston)
Box Office: bso.org | 617.266.1200
Tickets: $25 general public; $10 students; free ticket with BU ID at the door, day of performance, subject to availability.
BU’s talented orchestra will perform Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 in C minor, one of his twelve London symphonies; Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler Symphony, inspired by the Isenheim Altarpiece, a 16th-century artistic masterpiece by Matthias Grünewald; and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, which premiered in Symphony Hall in 1944, and challenges the typical notion of a concerto’s emphasis on a single instrument by exploring the virtuosity of entire sections of the orchestra.
Each piece is deeply rooted in the musical traditions that came before it. When asked how a classical music program is relevant to the 21st Century, Ken-David Masur, Assistant Conductor of the BSO, and guest conductor for Monday’s concert states:
“Music has the power to bring order, and gives us moments to make sense of the world around us. It gives us immediate joy and satisfaction, and the needed consolation and healing in the most devastating moments. Music gives us community when there is isolation, and it makes us contemplate our ideas and build our imagination like nothing else can.”
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) composed the Symphony No. 95 in C minor among five others in the year 1791–2 during the first of two musical residencies in London (hence the nickname “London Symphonies”). His day job as court composer to the Esterházy family resulted in a regularity and intimacy of his symphonies composed in the court’s service. As he began to market his symphonies abroad, first in Paris and then in London, he expanded their length, scope, and variety in melodic and harmonic content, and was further encouraged by large and enthusiastic audiences throughout their premieres. The C minor symphony rests upon a typical symphonic formal scheme, but is marked by Haydn’s characteristic compositional wit within this frame.
Brett Kostrzewski (DMA’17), who wrote the forward in the program book for Monday’s concert, points to Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 in C minor as:
“symbolic of the composer’s remarkable ability to bridge popular taste with virtuosic contrapuntal skill.”
Similarly, Kostrzewski describes Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler as:
“a masterpiece in the synthesis of pre-Romantic techniques with an unabashedly modern aesthetic,”
and an effective pivotal piece between the Haydn symphony and Bartók’s concerto.
Paul Hindemith’s (1895–1963) Mathis der Maler symphony is comprised of orchestral movements drawn from his eponymous opera. This work is strongly enmeshed with the politics of early National Socialist Germany, and despite its ostensible glorification of German heritage, only the symphony was ever permitted a performance in Germany under the Nazis. It was soon after this work that he was forced to seek artistic freedom in Switzerland and the United States.
When Béla Bartók (1881–1945) composed the Concerto for Orchestra in 1943, he ended a drought in composing that had followed such important works as Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) and the last string quartet and Mikrokosmos (1939). Soon after, he composed a sonata for solo violin. All of these channel Bartók’s great respect for the music of the past. The first movement of the Concerto is in sonata allegro form, its themes reprised in modified forms in the third movement. It employs traditional Italian movement headings. The final movement is a perpetuum mobile unmistakably inspired by Baroque and Classical implementations of the technique.
“Here and throughout, Bartók reminds us (and perhaps, especially today, we need the reminder) that there is greatness in the music of the past,” adds Kostrzewski. “The integration of time-tested compositional techniques into new music does not inherently impinge upon creativity; it can just as often encourage it.”