Saturday, 26 February 2022
7:30 p.m. MST
Helena Civic Center
Fall in love with the iconic, beautifully tragic story of Romeo & Juliet, and then journey from the ecstatic highs of romantic obsession and unrequited love to the deepest lows of betrayal in Berlioz’s bombastic Symphonie Fantastique.
Watch live on YouTube.
Saturday, 26 February 2022
Mr. Fain, Violin
I. Allegro molto appossianato -
II. Andante - Allegretto non troppo -
III. Alegro molto vivace
I. Allegro vivo
III. Allegro vivace
IV. Allegro vivace
+ Premiere performance by the Helena Symphony
Currently in his eighteenth season as Music Director of the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, Maestro Allan R. Scott is recognized as one of the most dynamic figures in symphonic music and opera today. He is widely noted for his outstanding musicianship, versatility, and ability to elicit top-notch performances from musicians. SYMPHONY Magazine praised Maestro Scott for his “large orchestra view,” noting that “under Scott’s leadership the quality of the orchestra’s playing has skyrocketed.”
RETURNING TO HELENA, AWARD WINNING VIOLINIST TIM FAIN has been seen on screen and heard in the Grammy-nominated soundtrack to the film Black Swan. Mr. Fain also performs on the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and he gave “voice” to the violin of the lead actor in the hit film 12 Years a Slave, as he did with Richard Gere’s violin in the film Bee Season. He has appeared internationally as a soloist with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Baltimore Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York, Pittsburgh Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and National Orchestra of Spain. Mr. Fain’s recitals have taken him to the world’s major music capitals. He has toured with Musicians from Marlboro, as a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and around the globe in a duo-recital program with Philip Glass.
About the Program – By Allan R. Scott ©
Born: Paris, France, 25 October 1838
Died: Bougival, France, 3 June 1875
Symphony No. 1 in C major
Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, timpani, and divided strings
Duration: 32 Minutes
Bizet composed is Symphony No. 1 right after turning 17 years old but did not published the work nor did he ever hear the work performed in his lifetime. It was discovered 80 years later in 1933.
Alexander II becomes tsar of Russia
Walt Whitman publishes first edition of Leaves of Grass
Longfellow writes poem “Hiawatha”
Delacroix paints The Riding Lesson
Liszt composes Prometheus
American financier and philanthropist Andrew Mellon, and cereal maker Charles Post are born
Author Charlotte Bronte dies
Ice hockey is first played by military teams in Canada
While Georges Bizet is best remembered for his operas, specifically Carmen, it is often forgotten that he was a prodigy and had a similarly short life like Mozart and Mendelssohn. Mozart died at age 35, Mendelssohn at 38, and Bizet died at the age of 36 from a heart attack (due to his chronic smoking habit) shortly after the premiere of Carmen. Born to a very musical family, Bizet entered the Paris Conservatory at the young age of nine and later won the coveted compositional award of the Grand Prix de Rome.
During his student years Bizet was influenced and mentored by the well-respected and popular composer Charles Gounod. Bizet wrote to his former teacher years later, “You were the beginning of my life as an artist. I spring from you. You are the cause; I am the consequence.” This admiration is important to perhaps understanding why Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 was never mentioned by him, nor publisher or performed during his lifetime. It remains somewhat of a mystery as to why no one knew of the work until 1933 (some eighty years after Bizet wrote it). Symphonies at the time were somewhat considered my academic efforts by the Parisian arts community in the late 19th century and most composers would write them only to advance their technique and focus their reputation and success on their works for stage – namely operas.
The more likely reason why Bizet did not publish or ever mention his First Symphony is because it was so similar to Gounod’s Symphony No. 1 composed less than a year earlier. Bizet was so influenced by Gounod that the younger composer used several elements from his mentor’s work in his Symphony, including quotes, rhythms, and overall melodic shape. While it is fairly common for composers to quote each other, Bizet perhaps did not want to publish a work as a 17-year-old student that resembled his teacher’s (one of the most popular composers at the time), and within such a close time period.
Despite the similarities to Gounod’s work, Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 immediately speaks as a composer full of life and artistic maturity. Structured in the conventional four movements and Classical form, the Symphony shows what would be Bizet’s hallmark operatic drama and lyricism coupled with the vitality and perfume of a Mozart work. Bizet’s Symphony has no real introduction other than a Beethoven-like chord that launches the entire work. The first movement sparkles with colorful outbursts of excitement until it becomes more intimate with a solo oboe, yet always maintaining Bizet’s irresistible energy.
If the two faster outer movements seem to have the arousing enthusiasm like Bizet’s operatic overtures, then the two inner movements show the younger composer’s promise of creating incredibly alluring, almost hypnotic moments where the orchestra truly sings. The second movement sets a solo oboe to a beautiful air complete with grace, nostaglia, and melancholy as the strings lightly pluck underneath. In the third movement, Bizet immediately engages and transports us in a spirited dance that soars with strings singing as winds and brass punctuate the merry-making. The finale begins with a bursting chord in our face like the opening of the work, and the strings and winds create the most operatic of all the movements.
Even though the fourth movement is the final movement to his First Symphony, it really seems like the overture to his career that in many ways began with this unknown gem – and all at the age of 17!