Showcase Sommerfest 2014 - page 20

words were first conjoined. The resulting song has taken on
the role of a second national anthem.
orgy and Bess
had a shaky first run in New York
beginning on October 10, 1935, at the Alvin Theater.
It closed after just 124 performances, but the New
York revival in 1942 (five years after Gershwin’s death)
marked the beginning of its spectacular success. Gershwin
wrote most of the opera on location, living on an island near
Charleston, South Carolina, and absorbing the local flavor
of the African-American community, whose members
served as models for the characters in the opera. Its most
famous number is undoubtedly
, the languid
lullaby Clara sings to her baby as she rocks it back and forth
in the opening scene.
chaikovsky wrote his
Overture in 1882 as a
to honor a page in Russian history: the victory
of Russia over Napoleon’s invading forces during the
winter of 1812. The work has been described as a motion
picture of historical events, with Napoleon’s invasion of
Russia, the siege and the rout at the Battle of Borodino
portrayed in musically graphic terms. As one of the most
outrageously sensational sound spectaculars ever created,
it serves as the perfect ending to a patriotic evening.
Program notes by
Robert Markow
Salute to America
july 5
Metropolitan Opera House on October 16, 1942. The
popular suite was first performed by the Boston Pops
under Arthur Fiedler on May 28, 1943.
“Throughout the American Southwest,” wrote de
Mille, “the Saturday afternoon rodeo is a tradition.…
The ‘hands’ get together to show off their skill in
roping, riding, branding and throwing. The afternoon’s
exhibition is usually followed by a Saturday night
dance at the Ranch House.” The
, by far the
best-known episode in all of
, is often performed
separately. Constituting its melodic material are
two square-dance tunes, “Bonyparte” and a bit of
“McLeod’s Reel.” Pizzicato strings, piano, xylophone
and much use of syncopation are prominent features
that add to the zest of the music.
Saturday Night Waltz
opens with fiddlers tuning up, then continues with a
gentle, almost languid waltz tune derived from the folk
song “I Ride an Old Paint.”
o well-known is the patriotic song
American the
that it may come as a surprise to learn
that neither the original music by Samuel Ward
(1847-1903) nor the original words by Katherine
Lee Bates (1859-1929) bore that title. They were written
independently for different purposes; composer and
poetess never met. The music came first, written in
1882 for a hymn, “O Mother dear, Jerusalem.” The tune
came to Ward while he was traveling, on a ferryboat
from Coney Island back to his home in New York City.
As for the lyrics, the first draft was penned in 1893
while Bates was traveling also, hiking in the Colorado
Rockies. “One day,” she recalled, “some of the other
teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot
Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we
had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on
mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt
great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed
there, with the sea-like expanse.”
The words went through several revisions and did not
reach final form until 1913, three years after music and
Samuel A. Ward
December 28, 1847, Newark, New Jersey
September 28, 1903, Newark
America the Beautiful
arr. Tommy Barbarella
George Gershwin
Summertime, from
Porgy and Bess,
arr. John Wasson
Peter Ilyich
May 7 1840, Votkinsk
November 6, 1893, St. Petersburg
, Solemn Overture
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