The Westerville Symphony at Otterbein University is excited to announce the opening concert of its 37th season, The Masters and their Works. The season consists of works by five titans of composition and their amazing masterworks. Masterworks 1 is Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand and Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird. The concert takes place on October 20, 2019 at 5 pm at the Fritsche Theatre in Cowan Hall at Otterbein University.
Based on a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé, Debussy’s Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun captures the elusive line between dreaming and awakening. The musical narrator is a faun, a mythological creature who is half man and half goat and is played by a solo flute. The faun lives in the woods, near a river surrounded by reedy marshes; he is daydreaming about nymphs who may be real or mere figments of his imagination. The faun's desire is filtered through the vagueness of its object as he recalls past dreams, which emerge from the shadows only to recede into the darkness again.
The Concerto for the Left Hand displays Maurice Ravel’s unsurpassed gift for orchestration, favoring dark-hued sonorities thanks to the left-hand’s proximity to the lower range of the keyboard, and creates astonishing effects with unusual combinations of instruments. The piece is among several high-profile commissions by the wealthy Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein. Mr. Wittgenstein lost his right arm in World War 1 and vowed to continue his career as a pianist on the long train ride to Siberia as a POW. Both Ravel and Wittgenstein had strong artistic temperaments as exhibited in this exchange when Ravel first heard Wittgenstein perform the work. Dismayed by Wittgenstein’s additions to the score, Ravel spoke up to which Wittgenstein exclaimed “Performers are not slaves!” prompting the response from Ravel: “Performers are slaves!” Despite their contentious disagreements the work had a rapturous reception at its premier in 1933 and is considered one of Ravel’s greatest works.
Nick Ross, Professor of Music at Otterbein University, is the piano soloist. His latest recording, Leopold Godowsky: Apostle of the Left Hand, is due to be released this fall on the Centaur label.
At 27, the unknown Igor Stravinsky’s life changed when Serge Diaghilev, who had a gift for spotting genius in others, asked him to compose The Firebird for his company Ballet Russe. A student of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky had not written anything of substantive value up to this point and, with trepidation, poured himself in the task presented to him. At the premiere on June 25, 1910 at the Paris Opéra Diaghilev told his prima ballerina “Mark him well. He is a man on the eve of celebrity.” Almost overnight, Stravinsky was catapulted to international fame.
The first of three ballet collaborations with Diaghilev, The Firebird tells the story of Prince Ivan and his trials in the magical realm of Koschei the Immortal. At one point he meets the Firebird who, in exchange for her life, grants him a feather to summon her when he needs help. He eventually meets Koschei and calls the Firebird who, by bewitching Koschei and his minions, forces them to perform “The Infernal Dance” which puts them in a deep sleep. Through the help of the Firebird Prince Ivan is then able to break the spell over the magical kingdom and free all the creatures.
The original ballet is 45 minutes in length and Stravinsky scored three suites from the ballet music. We will be performing the second one from 1919.
For more information about event details please contact Executive Director Hild Peersen at firstname.lastname@example.org