The Merry Wives of Windsor
Program Notes: Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai (1810 - 1849) was mostly known for his Italian opera works and at one point was more popular in Italy than Verdi. The Merry Wives of Windsor, however, has become his most enduring work and was the first work he composed in German. Much like Der Freischütz, the work is a singspiel, meaning it features spoken dialogue between each musical number. Windsor proved to be wildly popular and gained Nicolai much recognition, propelling his career in his native Germany. Two months after its premiere, Nicolai died from a stroke, having just accepted the position of Hofkapellmeister at the Berlin Staatsoper. The opera is based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name, with the libretto adapted by Salomon Mosenthal.
Serenade to Music
DIAMONDS FROM THE DUST, vocal ensemble
Program Notes: Drawing from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Act V, Scene I), Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958) wrote the work to Sir Henry Wood to mark his fiftieth concert. Wood helped transform the British musical landscape, helping bring orchestral music to a larger audience through accessible concerts and programming. Wood also championed many young English composers, musicians and conductors. Originally written for 16 voices, Vaughan Williams made two arrangements, one for full orchestra and another for violin and piano.
Symphony No. 1 in Bb minor
I. Allegro assai – Poco meno mosso – A tempo, agitato – Poco meno mosso – Agitato poco a poco – Animato
II. Scherzo: Presto con malizia
III. Andante con malinconia
IV. Maestoso – Allegro, brioso ed ardentemente – Vivacissimo – Agitato – Maestoso
Program Notes: Sir William Turner Walton (1902-1983) Taking nearly four years to complete (the symphony first premiered in 1934 with only three movements finished), Walton’s first symphony came on the heels of his Viola Concerto and cantata Belshazzar’s Feast. Walton began the work out of his own interest, and while it was not commissioned, it was expected to be premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra with Hamilton Harty conducting. Despite a bout of writer’s block and the emotional recourse from the break-up of his love affair with Baroness Doernberg, Walton finished the work and a complete premiere was given in 1935 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Harty conducting. Critics were enthusiastic about the work, and it was quickly followed European and American premieres. A standard four-movement orchestral work, it is a blend of Romantic yearning with influences of Sibelius, Brahms and that unique sense of Englishness.