Program Notes for November 3rd, 2017
Rosamunde Overture D. 644
by Franz Schubert (1797 — 1828)
Helmina von Chézy (1783-1856), the “writer” who was responsible for the disastrous libretto to Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Euryanthe, convinced Schubert to write
incidental music for her play Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus. Even though the première was only a few weeks away, Schubert accepted the challenge. He began the
composition for incidental music on November 30, 1823, and finished on December 18, just two days before the December 20 première in Vienna. However, Schubert did not have time to write an overture. For the première he substituted the D Major overture he
had written in 1822 for the as-yet unperformed opera Alfonso and Estrella, which was not staged until 1854. Another failed stage production was The Magic Harp. An 1855 publication of the score parts indicated that overture as belonging to the drama Rosamunde. There is no proof it was ever Schubert's intention to associate that overture with the rest of the Rosamunde music, but it is the one that is most often linked to it and the one that you will hear tonight.
Von Chézy’s horrid libretto doomed the play to only two performances. The work disappeared until 1867, when George Grove and Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and
Sullivan) found the music in Vienna. It is ironic that the inept writing of von Chézy was responsible for two of the finest examples of the classic overture still commonly performed today.
Suite from The Sleeping Beauty, Opus 66a
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Tchaikovsky’s gift for writing beautiful melody and for achieving drama through orchestral dynamics reaches an apex in the music for The Sleeping Beauty. The second of his three ballets (the first and third are Swan Lake and The Nutcracker), it is considered his masterpiece in this art form. The libretto for Sleeping Beauty, based on La Belle au bois dormant in Charles Perrault’s 1697 collection of folk tales, with some
elements borrowed from Grimms’ Fairy Tales, was written by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, at that time Director of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theaters. Tchaikovsky worked on the score for almost a year, from October 1898 to September 1889, and the ballet received its
première in January of 1890. The orchestral suite was arranged by Tchaikovsky’s pupil Alexander Siloti after the composer’s death and first performed in 1899. The
movements we will hear tonight––Introduction, Pas de caractère, Adagio, Panorama, and Waltz––will be enhanced by a performance by members of the Palos Verdes Ballet.
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73: “Emperor”
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Between 1795 and 1809, Beethoven wrote five piano concertos. The last is known in English-speaking countries as the “Emperor,” an allusion to the Emperor Napoleon, although the composer himself did not give it that title. Beethoven began work on this concerto in Vienna in May of 1809, while Napoleon’s army was besieging the city, and dedicated it to his exiled friend and benefactor Archduke Rudolph. The first performance was in Leipzig the following year with Friedrich Schneider as soloist; the Vienna premiere in 1812 featured the renowned virtuoso Carl Czerny. Although Beethoven wrote his other piano concertos for himself as soloist, he was by this time too deaf to
perform with an orchestra.
A central figure of the Romantic Age, Beethoven became the exemplar of music written not just as entertainment but as an elevating force, a way of reconciling us to one another and to a spirit greater and higher than ourselves. His fifth and last concerto
shows him at the height of his powers. Musicologiost Herbert Glass has said that the “Emperor” is “a truly symphonic concerto.” The first movement, which is longer than the second and third movements combined, begins with three riveting orchestral chords
interrupted by a series of solo arpeggios. Written in the key of E-flat Major, this music has been described as “heroic” and “military” because of its energetic, triumphal rhythms. The second movement, in the key of B Major, provides an interlude of tranquil dialogue between woodwinds, strings, and piano before launching into the pulsating Rondo Allegro that concludes the work.
Music Director and Conductor
Maestro Brisk has been the Music Director of the Beach Cities Symphony since the fall of 1994.
Up to this point, he has conducted 86 concerts with the orchestra. That has included music from
the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, embracing compositions by many living composers.
The living composers and various soloists who have appeared with the orchestra are Southern
California residents. There are so many talented musicians here, he feels there is no need to
look further afield. He is also active as a composer, recently writing pieces for small ensembles.
Last April his Tinkerbell Escapes was premièred by the percussion ensemble at Moorpark College, Thousand Oaks. Also in April, “Buddhistic Serenity,” the second movement of Three Moods for Piano, was premièred in a performance by Carlos Gardels at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.
Maestro Brisk’s son, daughter-in-law, and grandson are now back in Riverside after a year in Switzerland. His wife, Cathy, an expert in ancient Greek coins, has just received the Ya'Kov Meshorer Numismatic Prize from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Mark Richman holds a summa cum laude Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA, a Master of Music degree in piano from the Juilliard School, and has pursued doctoral work at Boston University. His principal teachers include Leonard Shure, who was famed pianist Artur Schnabel’s assistant in Berlin, as well as Aube Tzerko, Rosina Lhevinne, and Leah Effenbach.
For five years, Mr. Richman was a Visiting Lecturer in Music at UCLA, where he taught piano, chamber music, and music history. He also has been a member of the Artist-Faculty of the International Institute for Young Musicians, working with young students from all over the world.
Mr. Richman has received high acclaim for his recitals in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, Mexico, Jamaica, and the former USSR. He has been a frequent guest soloist with leading orchestras in Southern California, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Glendale Symphony, the San Fernando Valley Symphony, and the American
Youth Symphony. As a chamber musician, Mr. Richman has performed on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, at the Sierra Summer Festival in Mammoth Lakes, and at the Leo S. Bing Theater. As an accompanist, he was personally selected by Jascha Heifetz to assist him in his master classes at USC and has collaborated with many of the world’s finest concert artists, including the late violinist Michael Rabin, flutist James Galway, and Principal Concertmaster of the L.A. Philharmonic Martin Chalifour.
In addition, Mr. Richman maintains a very active teaching studio, and several of his alumni have
earned music degrees at the nation’s most prestigious universities and conservatories. They
have also gone on to win major prizes and awards at the state, national, and international
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