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Concert III, 2021-2022 season

Family Classics

Most of the music of this concert, in which beloved musician Wayne J. du Maine does a virtuoso doubling as soloist on both trumpet and piano, needs little introduction, consisting, as it does, of patriotic songs and classical favorites. My notes are brief: both Rohan and Wayne will add more information from the podium.

Francis Scott Keys’ 1814 authorship of the words of the national anthem is well known. The tune to which we sing it, was like “My Country ’Tis of Thee,’” an already popular British song, repurposed to fit Keys’ words. There is of course, some irony in this. There are innumerable sets of variations or reworkings of this music, including Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 anti-war Woodstock guitar solo. Jessie Montgomery’s “Banner” takes the tune apart in a different way from Hendrix, and with less anti-establishment intent. Although we clearly hear phrases of the hymn from time to time, it is mostly used as germinal material for a colorful piece that embeds this famous tune in a context of American styles from folk idioms to Copland-esque to something more like Broadway and film scores.

Most of the remainder of the concert consists of more traditionally classical music. Franz von Suppé was a theatre and operetta composer in Vienna for much of the nineteenth century. His “Light Cavalry Overture” was written to open his operetta “The Light Cavalry,” whose plot involves the arrival of a band of hussars into a rural village.

Trumpet concertos were not hugely common in the late eighteenth century, but Joseph Haydn wrote one in 1796 for his friend Anton Weidinger, who played the keyed trumpet, an instrument that used keys something like those on a saxophone to get the full chromatic range of notes, which Haydn, of course, took advantage of.

Mozart wrote many of his piano concertos for himself to play, often in outdoor concerts in Vienna. This one, written in 1786, features a kind of tip-toe march as its main idea, and is famous for its prominent and inventive use of the wind instruments.

Grieg’s music for Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt (first performed in 1876) was distilled into two suites, and the two pieces we will play today are among the best known.

John Philip Sousa’s classic “Stars and Stripes Forever” (1896) is an irresistible showpiece for either band or orchestra. Both versions feature the piccolos in a virtuoso solo, followed by the brass standing up for a celebratory ending.

 

 

© Copyright Mary Hunter 2021