CONDUCTOR’S NOTES – October 2, 2016 “Music for the Birds”

festiv17 FCS Blog, Monte's Memos

We call this concert “Music For The Birds”, but a more apt title might be “Music Inspired By Our Feathered Friends”.

Italian composer and musicologist Ottorino Respighi (1879 – 1936) wrote several scholarly treatises on Baroque music and composers.  His editions of the works of Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) are looked to yet today.  These studies led him to compose several works based on music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Today we will play you his 1928 suite The Birds.  Each of the five movements is a resetting of  a Baroque master: Introduction (Pasquini) ; The Dove (Gallot); The Hen (Rameau); The Nightingale (anonymous English); and The Cuckoo (Pasquini).  The suite transcribes bird song to instruments as well as the fluttering of wings  and scratching of feet and beaks. It is a concert hall favorite and has been choreographed many times for ballet.

Perhaps the best known ballet of all time is Swan Lake by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893), the first of his three great ballets, the others being Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. Swan Lake was premiered in 1877 in a remarkably shabby and under-rehearsed production by the Bolshoi Ballet.  Several sections of Tchaikovsky’s score were rejected as “undanceable” and pieces of other composers’ works substituted.  It was soon dropped from the repertoire and not re-produced until 1894 by St. Petersberg’s Maryinski Theatre in its now well-known form with choreography by the revered Marius Petipa.  Our suite today comprises two scenes, Valse, Dance of the Little Swans, Hungarian Dance, Spanish Dance, Neapolitan Dance, and Mazurka.

We also include two sprightly overtures for you: The Thievish Magpie of Gioacchino Rossini (1792 – 1868) and Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss (1825 – 1899)

I know a bat is not a technically a bird, but the overture has been a perennial favorite.