Rich orchestral works by Tchaikovsky and Bizet fill March 7 concert
Monday, March 2, 2009
Tchaikovsky’s finest symphony, haunting melodies from Bizet’s Carmen and Khachaturian’s “Masquerade Suite” come together in an evening of classical masterpieces when the Purdue Philharmonic and the Purdue Symphony Orchestra, perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 7, in Elliott Hall of Music.
Admission is free.
The Purdue Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Andrew King opens the evening with Suite from “Carmen,” by Georges Bizet. One of the 20 most-performed operas in North America today, “Carmen” was roundly denounced by critics when it opened in March 1875. Bizet died three months later never knowing how popular his opera, built around a beautiful gypsy with a fiery temper, would become.
The orchestra also performs “Sentimental Sarabande” from Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony,” the earliest of the composer’s works for string ensemble. He was 21 when the piece was first performed but most of the material in it was written by Britten between the ages of nine and twelve. The group also performs two movements from Aram Khachaturian’s “Masquerade Suite” influenced by Armenian folk music.
The Purdue Philharmonic, also under King’s baton, presents the evening’s featured work – Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Opus 36.”
Long regarded as the first of his truly mature symphonies, and perhaps his finest achievement in the symphony genre, it may reflect some trace of the winter of 1876-77 when Tchaikovsky passed through a crisis that included an attempt at suicide.
He began composing it in February 1877, the same period that he entered into significant relationships with two women. The first was Nadezhda von Meck, a wealthy patron of music who supported him financially and to whom he anonymously dedicated the finished piece. The second was an emotionally unstable former student of Tchaikovsky’s who wrote him love letters and convinced the composer, who desperately wanted to conceal his homosexuality, to marry her. Their union lasted just a few months. Tchaikovsky became so distraught that he had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide.
In the Fourth Symphony, Tchaikovsky launched a musical exploration of the concept of Fate as an inescapable force in his life. Its opening movement begins with a massive statement by the brass and woodwinds. In his narration, Tchaikovsky described this theme as “...Fate, the inevitable force which halts our aspirations towards happiness.”
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