Showcase Sommerfest 2014 - page 18

Sommerfest
Salute to America
july 5
18
MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA SHOWCASE
e begin our all-American program with our
national anthem, which has been scored by
literally scores of arrangers and orchestrators.
Among them is our much revered former
Minnesota Orchestra music director, Stanislaw
Skrowaczewski, who led the Orchestra from 1960 to
1979. Most schoolchildren can tell you who wrote the
words to the anthem—Francis Scott Key in 1814—but
how many know the name of its composer? It was John
Stafford Smith, and he wasn’t even American. He was
English, and he had used this music earlier for another
piece,
The Anacreontic Song
.
The Star-Spangled Banner
became our official national anthem in 1931, nearly 117
years after the words were written and about 170 years
after the music is believed to have been composed.
he patriotic pace continues with the
National
Emblem
March, composed by Edwin Eugene Bagley
in 1902; it is a standard of the American march
repertoire, ranked by John Philip Sousa himself
among the three most effective street marches ever
written (of course, the others were two of his own).
Listen for the ingenious way the
National Emblem
incorporates the opening phrases of
The Star-Spangled
Banner
in the low brass, in duple rather than triple time.
Bagley began his career as a nine-year-old vocalist and
comedian with a company of traveling entertainers.
He later took up cornet, then trombone, and though
he played with ensembles as revered as the Boston
Symphony, he was known only as a composer of
marches. The
National Emblem
is still heard regularly as
ceremonial music for the color guard, when presenting
and retiring the colors.
John Stafford Smith
Born:
March 30, 1750, Gloucester, England
Died:
September 21, 1836, London
The Star-Spangled Banner
,
arr. Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Leonard Bernstein
Born:
August 25, 1918, Lawrence,
Massachusetts
Died:
October 14, 1990, New York City
Mambo
, from
West Side Story
Symphonic Dances
Harry James
Born:
March 15, 1916, Albany, New York
Died:
July 5, 1983, Las Vegas
Concerto for Trumpet,
from
Private Buckaroo
arr. Dean Sorenson
w
hroughout his life, Leonard Bernstein was displeased
that the world accorded higher praise to his
“popular” works than to his “serious” compositions.
His Broadway musicals, film score, and ballets have
captured the public fancy to a far greater degree than
have his symphonies, chamber music and liturgical
works, stirring though these may be.
Right from its opening night on September 26, 1957,
West Side Story
became one of the biggest success
stories in the history of American music. The stunning
fusion of Arthur Laurents’ book, Stephen Sondheim’s
lyrics, Jerome Robbins’ choreography and Bernstein’s
music brought new meaning to the universal Romeo
and Juliet story, set in a modern city, with rival street
gangs replacing the feuding families in ancient Verona.
At the heart of the work is ballet.
West Side Story
made
headlines for its daringly advanced, sophisticated and
pervasive use of dance within a musical play, and much
of Bernstein’s music accompanies a dance of some
kind. In the
Mambo
, rival gangs compete furiously in a
dance of wild abandon.
rumpet player and band leader Harry James was one
of the icons of the big band and swing eras, active
from the early 1930s until just a few days before his
death at the age of 67. The Harry James Orchestra
was the first to employ Frank Sinatra as a vocalist and,
fittingly, it was Sinatra who read the eulogy at James’
funeral. As a trumpet player, James was noted especially
for his technical skill, which can be heard on YouTube in
the original spot, “Concerto for Trumpet,” taken from a
film in which James had a feature role,
Private Buckaroo
(1942). It’s a short “concerto,” barely three minutes, but
James’ playing is nothing less than spectacular.
Edwin Eugene Bagley
Born:
May 29, 1857, Craftsbury, Vermont
Died:
January 29, 1922, Keene,
New Hampshire
National Emblem
March
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