Jan 19, 2020 Notes about the concert

About…  

“Plastic Time (Tiempo Plástico)” (2009) – Jorge Sosa

The title of the piece refers to the notion that time travels at a constant and continuous speed. The speed of light marks the top speed that matter can travel before disintegrating and converting into energy. But what if time was a fluid event that could expand and contract at will?  In music, time is traditionally subdivided in groups of pulsations that remain constant throughout a piece of music. In “Plastic Time,” time behaves capriciously. The piece alternates sections with continuous pulsations with sections of fluid time. At times each performer has to maintain an independent tempo and accelerate or decelerate independently from the other performer. 

            Jorge Sosa is a Mexican-born composer, and sound artist currently residing

            in New York. Jorge’s first fully staged opera “I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer

            Dreams” was commissioned and premiered in Boston in 2019 by White Snake

            Projects. “I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams” will have a second

            production in Pittsburgh in 2020 by Resonance Works. Jorge has been

            commissioned by Little Orchestra Society to write “The Monarch of Uxmal” a

            new work for orchestra and narrator with premiere scheduled for 2021. Jorge 

            is currently developing a new puppet-opera “Monkey” commissioned by White

            Snake Projects. “Monkey” will receive a workshop performance in 2020, and

            is scheduled to be premiered in 2021 in Boston.  Jorge was recently 

            commissioned by Alabany Symphony to write his work “I Dissent”, based on 

            three iconic dissenting opinions by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. 

            “I Dissent” was premiered in the Albany Symphony’s “Voices of America

            Festival” in 2019.  His piece “Punto y Línea” for solo flute was featured in the 

            2019 London Festival of American Music, and his work “Cells” for ensemble

            and electronics was recently performed at the Diffrazioni Multimedia Festival 

            in Italy, and in the International Computer Music Conference in New York City.

            Jorge’s first full-length opera, “La Reina,” commissioned by American Lyric

           Theater, was performed in the 2016 “PROTOTYPE” festival in NY. In 2020 the

           NYU New Music Ensemble will release a new album dedicated to Jorge’s

           improvisation works with electronics. Jorge is an Associate Professor, and 

           Chairperson of the Music Department at Molloy College. Jorge’s music is

           available on all the major music download sites and through the website 

           www.jorgesosa.com


"Conversations Beyond the Stars” (2019) – John Henry Kreitler

“Conversations Beyond the Stars” was inspired by various published accounts of astronomical discoveries of different forms of radio transmissions reaching earth. One such phenomenon is known as FRB, or Fast Radio Burst. An FRB is a radio pulse caused by some kind of astrophysical process not yet understood. The first FRB was discovered in 2007, and since then over 70 more have been discovered. 


The first movement of Conversations is entitled FRB 121102, the name given to the first FRB discovered to repeat itself at intermittent intervals, raising speculation about its origin. Scientists have identified the source of FRB 121102 as coming from a galaxy more than 3 billion light years from earth. 


Movement 2 is titled “LGM-1 (CP1919)”. In 1967 two astronomers in Australia discovered the first ‘pulsar’, an incredibly dense ball of material formed when a star runs out of fuel and collapses in on itself. Pulsars spin rapidly and radiate beams of radio waves out into space. When the first pulsar was discovered, the repeating nature of the beams of radio waves caused the astronomers to consider they might be artificial in origin – that is a form of communication from another species. They initially labeled their discovery LGM, for “Little Green Men”. 


Movement 3 is titled “Pulsars”, and incorporates into the accompaniment actual recorded sounds of pulsars (slowed down to a range human beings can perceive). 

Movement 4 reflects on this incredible body of scientific research that has identified and even recorded sounds emanating from billions of light years away, and wonders with the astronomers, ‘are you there’?

             John Henry Kreitler (see bio above under “About the Musicians”)


About…

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, (born March 8, 1714, Weimar, Saxe-Weimar [Germany]—died Dec. 14, 1788, Hamburg), second surviving son of J.S. and Maria Barbara Bach, and the leading composer of the early Classical period.
A precocious musician who remained successful, C.P.E. Bach was his father’s true successor and an important figure in his own right. In his autobiography he writes: “For composition and keyboard-playing, I have never had any teacher other than my father.” He studied law, taking his degree at Frankfurt in 1735, although he probably never had any intention of a career other than music.
 

In 1740 he was appointed harpsichordist to Frederick II of Prussia. Frederick was a good flutist and so fond of music that he had his court orchestra accompany him in concerti every night except Mondays and Fridays, which were opera nights. The subservience that he required from his distinguished harpsichordist grew irksome, but it was not until 1767 that Bach was able to resign his Berlin post to take up an appointment as music director at Hamburg. Meanwhile, he had married (1744), published his Versuch über die wahre Art das Klavier zu spielen (1753, rev. ed. 1787; Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments), and acquired an enviable reputation, as a composer, performer, and teacher.

 Unlike his elder brother Wilhelm Friedemann, C.P.E. Bach was successful in assimilating the powerful influence of their father and in making the transition into the new style then evolving. This represented a break with the past such as has occurred in very few other periods of musical development. The monumental character of Baroque music gave way to a mercurial Romanticism, for which the favourite contemporary description was “sensitivity” (Empfindsamkeit). Bach became a leader of that movement but retained the advantage of a solid craftsmanship and assurance for which he always gave full credit to his father’s teaching and example.

 C.P.E. Bach’s many compositions include religious music (e.g., a Magnificat, 22 Passions), symphonies, concerti (for flute, harpsichord,  piano, harpsichord and piano, organ, oboe), organ sonatas, chamber music and songs. The music of his Berlin period is comparatively old-fashioned, because of the preferences of his royal employer. In Hamburg he developed a more adventurous vein and did as much as anyone to open up future musical styles. Particularly influential were his symphonies, concerti, and keyboard sonatas in the evolution of classical sonata-allegro form. His influence on Joseph Haydn, W.A. Mozart, and even Ludwig van Beethoven was freely acknowledged, and it is interesting that, having influenced Haydn, Bach later allowed himself to be influenced by the younger composer, just as Haydn later influenced and was influenced by Mozart.

 As a performer, Bach was famous for the precision of his playing, for the beauty of his touch, and for the intensity of his emotion. “He grew so animated and possessed,” wrote Charles Burney (Present State of Music in Germany…, 1773), “that he looked like one inspired. His eyes were fixed, his underlip fell, and drops of effervescence distilled from his countenance.”

 The influence of C.P.E. Bach’s Essay on Keyboard Instruments was unsurpassed for two generations. Haydn called it “the school of schools.” Mozart said, “He is the father, we are the children.” Beethoven, when teaching the young Karl Czerny, wrote, “be sure of procuring Emanuel Bach’s treatise.” It is, indeed, one of the essential sourcebooks for understanding the style and interpretation of 18th-century music. It is comprehensive on thorough bass, on ornaments and fingering, and is an authentic guide to many other refinements of 18th-century performance.


Jenő Takács (25 September 1902 – 14 November 2005) was a Hungarian composer. Born in Cinfalva on 25 September 1902, he studied at the Academy of Music and Arts in Vienna with Joseph Marx in composition and Paul Weingarten in piano until 1926, at the University of Vienna with Hans Gal, counterpoint and Guido Adler music science. Since 1920, he had already undertaken tours through Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia.

 

 In 1926 he made acquaintance with Béla Bartók, from which a lively contact arose until Bartók's emigration to the United States in 1940. He was a professor of piano at the conservatory of Cairo, Egypt from 1927 to 1932, where he made Arab and Egyptian music the subject of his research. He knew Egon Wellesz, Curt Sachs, Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Paul Hindemith.

 In the years 1932 to 1934 he was a professor of piano and composition at the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music. He gave concerts in Japan, China and Hong Kong. Due to a new professorship in piano at the conservatory in Cairo in 1938, he made his first trip to the United States. In 1939, he moved to Sopron in Hungary, however the German authorities made his life difficult. In the years 1942 to 1948, he was director of the Conservatory in Pecs, Hungary. In 1943, he married Eva Pasteiner.

 At that time, he learned from Zoltan Kodaly, Erno Dohnanyi, Sandor Weores, Sandor Szokolay, Darius Milhaud and Yehudi Menuhin. From 1948-49, he left then the communist-ruled Hungary and settled down in Grundlsee after stays in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. In the years 1949 to 1952, he conducted concert tours in Europe and America and was visiting professor at the conservatories of Geneva and Lausanne. In addition, he was professor of piano and composition at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  In 1970, after his retirement in Cincinnati, he moved back to Siegendorf, where he remained until his death. On the occasion of his 100th birthday his works were performed in about 200 concerts. He died in Eisenstadt in 2005 at the age of 103.


Arthur Lourié

*14. Mai 1892 St. Petersburg – †12. Oktober 1966 Princeton (N.J.)

 Lourié was a significant Russian composer. Lourié played an important role in the earliest stages of the organization of Soviet music after the 1917 Revolution but later went into exile. His music reflects his close connections with the contemporary poets and artists of the Russian Silver Age, and also his close relationship with Igor Stravinsky.


Russian career

Born in Propoisk / district Mogilev (today Belorussia) into a prosperous Jewish family, he converted to Catholicism while still in Russia. Lourié was partly self-taught, but he also studied piano in St. Petersburg from 1909 with the Busoni pupil Maria Barinova and composition with Glazunov, leaving the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1913 before graduating. He became friendly with the Futurist artists and particularly Anna Akhmatova, whose poetry he was among the first to set in 1914. He was also acquainted with Vladimir Mayakovsky, Nikolai Kulbin, Fyodor Sologub and Alexander Blok; and he was deeply influenced by the contemporary art of Russian Silver Age with its rich stylistic and aesthetic variety.

 His early piano pieces, from 1908 onward, take on from Chopin and Debussy and the late works of Scriabin but evolve new kinds of discourse, arriving  at an early form of dodecaphony (the Masques,1913 and the Synthèses,1914) and in 1915 at a rather Cubist conception using an innovative graphic form of notation (in the  Formes en l'Air).

 In his early chamber music Lourié reveals an interest in both the sound of ancient worlds as of the Future, reaching often timeless quality.  As a man of  wide culture, who cultivated the image of a dandy and aesthete, in his vocal works  he set poems of Sappho, Dante, Pushkin, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Blok, Mayakovsky, T. S.  Eliot, James Joyce, classical Latin and medieval French poets. He was also a talented painter and writer.


Into exile

 After the Revolution of 1917 Lourié served under Lunacharsky as head of the music division of the Commissariat of Popular Enlightenment (Narkompros). Though his sympathies were initially Leftist he became increasingly disenchanted with the new order in Russia and he had to leave  Russia on a ship in August 1922. After a year in Berlin and Wiesbaden the composer finally arrived  in Paris in 1924, where he became friends with the philosopher Jacques Maritain and was introduced to Stravinsky. For more than a decade he was one of Stravinsky’s most important champions, often becoming part of the Stravinsky household as he wrote articles about his fellow composer and preparing piano reductions of his works.

 First contacts with the Stravinsky family are dating back to 1918 when Stravinsky contacted Lourié to support his mother in leaving Russia. Lourié and the Stravinskys eventually parted company in the late Thirties over a feud with Igor’s second wife Vera, and Stravinsky seldom afterwards mentioned Lourié’s bare existence.

Lourié’s  early radicalism turns in Paris to an astringent form of Neoclassicism and Russophile nostalgia; the religious and mystic aspects in his works and writings are evident. A dialogue with Stravinsky’s works of the same period is evident, even to the extent that Stravinsky may have taken ideas from the younger composer: Lourié’s A Little Chamber Music (1924) seems to prophesy Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète (1927), his Concerto spirituale for chorus, piano and orchestra (1929) the latter's Symphony of Psalms (1930).

Lourié also composed an opera, The Feast during the Plague and two symphonies (No.1 subtitled Sinfonia dialectica) that were conducted by Koussevitsky, Ansermet, Münch and Furtwängler.


American years

 When the Germans occupied Paris in 1941, Lourié fled to the USA, assisted by Serge Koussevitzky. He settled in New York. In his American years Lourié successfully melts the various influences into a most personal style reaching a remarkable mastery in composer’s skills. He spent over ten years writing a huge opera The Blackamoor of Peter the Great (1949-61) after Pushkin's Peter the Great's Negro, so far unperformed, though a lapidary orchestral suite of this Opus Magnum has been recorded by Stokowski. 


Friedrich Kuhlau was a German-Danish composer in the Golden Age.  He is best remembered for his piano music, Elverhøj written in 1828.  A work of Danish National Romantic history viewed as a tribute to the Monarchy, this song was used for royal wedding celebrations.  He was nickname Beethoven of the Flute, although he never played that instrument.  He was good friends and greatly influenced by Beethoven and was responsible for introducing Beethoven music to the people of Denmark.

He was born in the town of Uelzen, Germany.  At age 7 he lost his right eye falling on ice caused complete blindness in that eye.  His grandfather and father were military musically trained oboists.  He finished school at 14, at the Katharineum gymnasium in Brunswick.  He moved to Hamburg in 1802 and studied the piano with scholar C.F.G. Schwencke.  At age 18 he début as a pianist in 1804.  In 1810 he gave piano recitals and had his first compositions for the piano and flute published.  Throughout his career he composed songs for the flute to earn money but he could not play the flute.

He lived in Germany until Napoleons army invaded and took over control of Hamburg.  He fled to Copenhagen, Denmark never to return in 1810.  In 1811 he started performing as a concert pianist and earned his living by being a piano teacher and composer.  In 1812 he was appointed to a no salaried position as a musician in the Danish Court because he was not a citizen.  In 1813 he became a Danish citizen.  His first major success came when he wrote the score for the singspiel The Robber's Castle.  His success won him a position as singing teacher at the Royal Theater.  Although he had moderate success more often than not came more than his share of failed stage works.  During his travels to Vienna he became friends with Beethoven.  In 1828 he was awarded an honorary professorship. 

His last years were troubled filled with financial problems, illness and loss, the deaths of both parents.  Tragedy occurred in 1831 during a house fire which destroyed most of his life’s work.  And as a result of the fire he suffered a chest disease for which he never recovered from causing him to die the following year in 1832.