Program Notes

Opening Night 2022

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Oboe Concerto
Composed in 1777

While Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may be one of the most well-known composers in the world, his Oboe Concerto was forgotten for many years and was surrounded by mystery.

Based on letters to his father, Mozart composed the Oboe Concerto in the spring or summer of 1777. The piece was commissioned for oboist Giuseppe Ferlendis, who was hired for the Salzburg Hofkappelle Orchestra by Mozart’s employer, Archbishop Hieronymous Colloredo. It is assumed that Mozart wrote the concerto before he left on a journey to Mannheim and Paris.

The following year, Mozart received a commission for a flute concerto. He quickly re-purposed the oboe concerto, transposing from the oboe key of C to the flute key of D. Throughout the next 150 years, the flute version was played while the original oboe piece was virtually forgotten.

Many assumed the two pieces were related, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that archival evidence was found to prove the origin of the Oboe Concerto. The first publication of the original Oboe Concerto was discovered and confirmed to be the first written piece. The concerto’s three movements are greatly inspired by the opera’s dramatic pacing, which is not surprising considering the many operas written by Mozart. The first movement, Allegro Aperto, has the orchestra lay out the theme before the soloist’s impressive entrance with a rapid ascending scale. The second movement, Adagio ma non-troppo, is an impressive aria for the oboe, followed by the Rondo: Allegretto of the third movement, which encompasses the recurring theme. Mozart liked the third movement so much, that five years later he used some of the material for his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio.


Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 4 ‘Romantic’
Composed in 1880

Making its debut at the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 will entrance listeners with its reflection of the bucolic Austrian countryside. The only symphony that Bruckner gave a descriptive title, ‘Romantic’ grew over several years and many revisions. The first version was completed in 1874. The Vienna Philharmonic began rehearsals but refused to premiere the symphony because it was declared “unplayable.” Bruckner returned to the composition in 1878, introducing a new scherzo, often called the hunting scene, and a new finale, which is the Volksfest or Folk Festival. Over the winter of 1879 to 1880, Bruckner completely rewrote the finale again.

Bruckner returned to the composition in 1878, introducing a new scherzo, often called the hunting scene, and a new finale, which is the Volksfest or Folk Festival. Over the winter of 1879 to 1880, Bruckner completely rewrote the finale again. Finally, on February 20, 1881, Symphony No. 4 premiered at the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of conductor Hans Richter. Critics and audiences declared the piece a rousing success. Along with Symphony No. 7, it went on to become Bruckner’s most successful composition.

The three movements evoke images of medieval knights galloping through the forest. Bruckner described the opening movement, “Medieval city— Daybreak—Morning calls sound from the city towers—the gates open—On proud horses, the knights burst out into the open, the magic of nature envelops them—forest murmurs— bird song—and so the Romantic picture develops further…” For many commentators, the slower second movement provides the atmosphere of a solemn religious procession. However, Bruckner said that “…the second movement an infatuated youth wants to climb through his sweetheart’s window, but isn’t allowed in.”

The third movement is reminiscent of a hunting scene or a folk festival. The piece was reworked so many times that even Bruckner said he had forgotten the inspiration for the movement. The finale provides a dramatic conclusion as the final explosive theme erupts and then the opening motif returns, bringing a new dawn.

 


 

2022-2023 Season

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