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Composers: July 2008 Archives

Reconstructing Music in Norway

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Geirr Tveitt

Rediscovering a Norwegian Master

By Jeff Dunn
San Francisco Classical Voice

Last month I witnessed an unusual spectacle: the Bergen Music Festival in Norway. After three or four curtain calls, clapping in unison began and, as if by prearranged signal, everyone stood at once in enthusiastic acknowledgement. The orchestra that did the playing was the visiting Stavanger Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ole Kristian Ruud. The music that did the arousing was a new "reconstruction" of the Julekvelden (Yule Eve) Symphony No. 1 by Geirr Tveitt.

Who?

Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981, rhymes with "fire fight") is virtually unknown in this country, but the hundredth anniversary of his birth was being celebrated by the concert I attended, and other concerts elsewhere, for good reason. His music, in its stark power, speaks to the overwhelming influence of nature on those living among the deep fjords. His technique, superbly developed at the Leipzig Conservatory and subsequent studies in Paris and Vienna, was second to none of his generation of Norwegian composers. The range of expression found in his Hundred Hardanger Folk Tunes suites, and the instantly recognizable originality of his sound, makes him an artist of international significance.

Read more about this at the San Francisco Classical Voice website:

   http://www.sfcv.org/2008/07/22/rediscovering-a-norweigan-master/

Obituary for Composer Norman Dello Joio

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Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio, Prolific and Popular Composer, Is Dead at 95

Norman Dello Joio, a composer who achieved wide popularity in the mid-20th century with a proliferation of essentially tonal, lyrical works, died on Thursday at his home in East Hampton, N.Y. He was 95.

By Daniel J. Wakin
New York Times

Mr. Dello Joio wrote dozens of pieces each for chorus, orchestra, solo voice, chamber groups and piano, as well as scores for television and three operas. Church music, the popular tunes of the jazz age and 19th-century Italian opera were all influences on his style, which could be both austere and colorful.

In defining his musical approach, Mr. Dello Joio cited the advice of a teacher, the composer Paul Hindemith, that he should never forget that his music was "lyrical by nature."

That meant, "Don't sacrifice necessarily to a system," Mr. Dello Joio said on his Web site. "If it's valid, and it's good, put it down in your mind. Don't say, 'I have to do this because the system tells me to.' No, that's a mistake." He said he took the advice to heart, and jokingly called himself an "arch-conservative."

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/nyregion/27dellojoio.html

Puccini's Secret

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Giacomo Puccini

Scandalissimo! Puccini's sex life exposed

The private life of Giacomo Puccini was famously as colourful as his operas, but only now has the truth emerged about the scandal that almost undid him. It's an extraordinary tale of infidelity, jealousy and vengeance that continues to haunt the lives of his descendants to this day

By Adrian Mourby
The Independent

This year, the many celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Puccini's birth are set to include the unveiling of a new al fresco opera house on the shores of the lake where many of his masterpieces were composed. Giacomo Puccini was the most commercially successful opera composer there has ever been. At his death in 1924 he was worth well over £130m by today's standards.

Much of this wealth came from the wonder years (1895-1904) when the Tuscan maestro turned out in rapid succession three of the most widely performed operas in the world, La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, while living in idyllic surroundings in Torre del Lago on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli. Then he seemed to run out of steam, not finishing his next work, La Fanciulla del West, until 1910. While accomplished, La Fanciulla isn't in the same league as Bohème, Tosca and Butterfly. So what went wrong?

Read more about this at The Independent website:

   http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/scandalissimo-puccinis-sex-life-laid-bare-859666.html

A Certain Apollonian Quality

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Christopher Rouse by Christian Steiner

Christopher Rouse: Going to Eleven

By Frank J. Oteri
New Music Box

When most people think of the music of Christopher Rouse, the first thing they probably think of is how loud it is. Some years back there was even a notorious story about an orchestra musician who threatened to sue Rouse for subjecting him to such high decibel levels on stage. Ear-splitting volume is more commonly associated with hard rock than classical music. Rock was a formative influence on this Baltimore native, who as a child was immediately drawn to early rock and roll before his mother turned him on to symphonies, but he quickly grew most fond of raucous 20th-century fare, from Prokofiev and Stravinsky. Once he found his own voice as a composer, the visceral power of rock influenced an over-the-top compositional sensibility which has manifested itself in his two powerful symphonies, numerous concertos, and a massive Requiem which finally received its world premiere last year. His brand new Concerto for Orchestra, which Marin Alsop will premiere at Cabrillo this summer, also promises to pack a wallop.

But not everything Chris writes is completely in-your-face. At the 2007 Chamber Music America conference, the Calder Quartet played haunting strains of music sometimes at the threshold of audibility. In that crowded hotel conference suite you could hear a pin drop. Everyone stood still, including me. I came in late but had to stay until the end to find out what they were playing. When I learned that it was from the Second String Quartet by Chris Rouse, I was mildly stunned. That a composer I had known for years and had come to admire for his raucous percussion pieces such as Odoun Badagris and Bonham and the intense Second Symphony could also write music as subtle and fragile as this completely made me rethink his music. I pored over scores and was startled by how meticulously detailed they were – even the most cataclysmic passages.

Read the complete interview at the New Music Box website:

   http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=5619

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