1700 Kalorama Road, NW Suite 101
Washington, D.C., District of Columbia 20009

American Composers Forum Presents:

"American Phantasies"

Hasse Borup, violin

Mary Kathleen Ernst, piano

Friday November 10, 2006, 8:00 PM, $10

At The Patricia M. Sitar Center for the Arts,
1700 Kalorama Road, NW Suite 101
Washington DC

Buy Tickets at Virtuous.com


Arnold Schoenberg: Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, Op.47 (1949)

John Cage: Six Melodies for Violin and Keyboard (1950)

Donald Harris: Fantasy for Violin and Piano (1957)

Leon Kirchner: For Violin Solo (1985)

Leon Kirchner: Duo No. 2 for Violin and Piano (2002)

American Phantasies - Arnold Schoenberg's influence on American Music

Most people do not view Arnold Schoenberg as an "American" composer, and certainly a large part of his body of work was completed and developed when he resided in Vienna and Berlin. However, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1933 and lived in Los Angeles for almost twenty years. He continued to compose some of his greatest works: the 3rd and 4th String Quartets, the Violin Concerto and Piano Concerto to name a few. He also left a teaching legacy of more than sixty notable students. How did his idiom of the Twelve-Tone system translate into a distinctly American style of composition? Well, the answer is, that through his students the idea of serial composition took dramatically different directions. There is a vast difference between John Cage's and Leon Kirchner's music, both in concept and execution, but therein lies the beauty of Schoenberg's influence as a teacher: his encouragement of his students to follow their own ideas by using the knowledge gained from their studies with him. Since the Twelve-Tone System contains a certain element of rigidity it would be a logical conclusion that Schoenberg's teaching of the subject would be the same. But the fact was, that most of his talented students would find their own language that gave the music a distinctly American voice. Or-as in Cage's case-develop a separate system of sound gamuts or rhythmic serialism that brought form to the music. Schoenberg's Phantasy is an ideal starting point for this exploration since-as his last major composition-it marks the end of his creative output as well as the beginning for his followers.

It would be extremely difficult to calculate, let alone critically evaluate, the stimulating effect and ramifications that John Cage's work has had on 20th century music and art. Certainly many musical developments of our time cannot be understood without taking into account his music and ideas. Cage was elected to the American National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and received innumerable awards and honors both in the United States and in Europe. He was commissioned by many of the most important performing organizations throughout the world, and maintained a very active composition schedule. Cage wrote that the Six Melodies were meant to complement his earlier work, String Quartet in Four Parts, even using some of the same Gamuts (chords with a certain timbre).

Leon Kirchner's compositions are arguably the pieces that resemble his teacher's the most in emotional style and scope. But where Schoenberg's music often takes on a strict form, Kirchner's pieces have a certain virtuosic freedom that could be called "American" in spirit-rigid forms never tend to survive very long in this country. Most of his compositions are not based on serial technique, but rather on a more traditional melodic approach. Kirchner was born on January 24, 1919 of Russian parents in Brooklyn, grew up in Los Angeles, and (apart from Arnold Schoenberg) studied with Roger Sessions and Ernest Bloch. Stylistically, Kirchner has remained remarkably individual; earlier influences of Hindemith, Bartók, and Stravinsky soon yield to a wholehearted identification with the aesthetics, if not necessarily the specific procedures, of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. Even elements of jazz and improvisation can be found in his music.

Donald Harris was a student of Max Deutsch, a devoted Schoenberg disciple. Mr. Harris has put name to several publications on the topic of the Second Viennese School. His Fantasy for violin and piano was not directly inspired by Schoenberg's Phantasy, but is written in strict serial style. The piece was composed in the period from 1954 until 1968, when Harris lived and composed in Paris, where, among other things, he was music consultant to the United States Information Service, and produced the city's first postwar Festival of Contemporary American Music. Harris earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees in composition from The University of Michigan, where he was a student of Ross Lee Finney. He also studied with Lukas Foss and Boris Blacher at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood), and with Nadia Boulanger and André Jolivet in Paris.

Arnold Schoenberg wrote in 1934, just after his arrival in America: "In the few months I have been here I have totally altered my opinion of American music. Certainly I find that skill and knowledge, the average level of general music education, is at times rather superficial and external; I often find people aiming in a wild and mannered way at a target imposed from outside and by its nature neither worth aiming at nor original; I cannot praise such willfulness; but on the other hand I have recognized an extraordinarily large amount of talent, inventive ability and originality, which in my opinion justify the highest hopes."

The purpose of this performance/recording project is to show how his prediction came true: the celebration of the extraordinary talent in America.

About the Performers:

Hasse Borup, violin, was recently appointed to the faculty of University of Utah School of Music and keeps a busy performance schedule at music series' and festivals. He previously served on the faculty of University of Virginia and has earned degrees in violin performance from the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music, the Hartt School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Maryland. He has performed extensively in both Europe and the U.S. In addition to a number of other prestigious prizes and fellowships, Mr. Borup - in 1992 - was the first Dane to win the International Yamaha Music Prize. As concertmaster of the Copenhagen String Orchestra, Mr. Borup performed in most of Europe including solo appearances in Venice, Cremona, Paris and Copenhagen. Mr. Borup was a founding member of the award-winning Coolidge Quartet, which studied with the Emerson Quartet, Guarneri Quartet, Isaac Stern, William Preucil and Hatto Beyerle. Audiences around the globe have heard Dr. Borup and the Quartet in both live and broadcast concerts. In 2000 the Quartet was the subject of a documentary film entitled 'Four Fours' produced by Four Oaks. The Quartet recorded a CD with premiere recordings of several quartets, among them American Greg Steinke's "Bitter Roots of Peace."

Dr. Borup has commissioned works from Frederik Glans, Anders Koppel and Benjamin Koppel and has premiered works by Peter Sculthorpe, Jason Haney, N.C. Rasmussen, Steven Burke and Walter Ross among others. With the Coolidge Quartet, he has performed new music at Musikhøst Festival for New Music (works by Gunther Schuller and John Adams), National Danish Radio, National Slovenian Radio, National Australian Radio (premiere of Peter Sculthorpe's 16th String Quartet) and was featured on NPR's Performance Today. After hearing the Coolidge Quartet perform his 3rd String Quartet, composer Gunther Schuller invited the Quartet to perform at his 75th Birthday concert at NEC's Jordan Hall. In 2002, Dr. Borup performed Bright Scheng's Piano Trio with the composer at the piano, at a Silk-Road Project sponsored event, at University of Maryland. To learn more, visit www.hasseborup.com

Mary Kathleen Ernst, piano. University of Virginia Performance Faculty, earned a B.M. and a M.M. from The Julliard School. Since her recital debut at age 10, she has won critical acclaim for performances at major concert halls and music festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. A performer of diverse repertoire from Baroque to the present, Ernst has been featured at music festivals including Tanglewood, Music Alaska Women in Fairbanks, the Bar Harbor Festival in Maine, The New Orleans Festival of New Music, the Carnegie Hall Composer-Pianist Concerts, the Contemporary American Theater Festival Concerts, and the 1995 Ladyfingers concert marathon in New York. Ernst has commissioned and premiered a number of new works, including the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Larry Alan Smith and Sunburst , by Stefania de Kenessey. Among her awards are top prizes in Spain's Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition and the National Federation of Music Clubs Competition, National Endowment for the Arts grants, and a United States Information Agency award for Outstanding Artistic and Human Qualities. Ernst served as Artist-in-Residence at Shepherd College in West Virginia from 1988-1994; while there she founded and served as artistic director of the Primarily Piano Festival and the Mid-Atlantic Young Artists Piano Competition. She directs special projects for the International Alliance for Women in Music, which promotes the music of women and she is active in bringing music to all levels of education.

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Official Website: http://www.composersforum.org/dc

Added by j_matis on October 19, 2006

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