Under the direction of Dr. Simon Shiao, University of North Florida students will present music for piano trio and string orchestra. Additionally, Dr. Nick Curry's UNF Cello Choir will perform music for four cellos.
SMETANA: Piano Trio in G minor, op. 15
Allegro ma non agitato -- Presto
SCHUBERT: Marche militaire, D.733
GOLTERMANN: Romance, op. 119, no. 1
HETFIELD-ULRICH/TOPPINEN: Nothing Else Matters
MAHLER: Adagietto (from Symphony no. 5)
BLOCH: Concerto Grosso no. 1 for strings with piano obbligato
I. Prelude -- IV. Fugue
PROGRAM NOTES by Ed Lein, Music Librarian
Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884), recognized as the first composer to borrow characteristics from the folk music of his Czech homeland into original works, was a leading figure in the Czech Nationalist movement after Austria granted Bohemia political autonomy in 1860. Smetana was instrumental in founding the first theater where operas and plays were presented in the Czech language in 1862, and where his own enduringly popular comic opera, The Bartered Bride, was first produced in 1866. In 1874, over the course of just a few months the composer became completely deaf, but he continued to compose, and that same year he completed his best known work, The Moldau, one of six tone poems collectively called Má Vlast (“My Country”). Tragically, between 1854-1856 three of Smetana’s four daughters died, and his beautiful and moving Piano Trio, op. 15 (1855, rev 1857), was written in memory of his 4 1/2-year-old Bedřiška who had died in 1854 of scarlet fever. Although Smetana uses a descending chromatic motive representative of death in all three movements, the second movement provides a playful and tender portrait full of dancing rhythms. The final movement begins with the death motive and it returns near the end in a funeral march, but ultimately the composer presents a loving remembrance that transcends death.
In addition to numerous symphonies, chamber works, masses, and piano music, the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed over 600 songs in his short life, and has remained unsurpassed in his ability to marry poetry with music. Although his music was regularly performed in private concerts for Vienna’s musical elite and his genius was touted by no less than Beethoven, Schubert was never able to secure a publisher for the bulk of his masterworks so he depended on his devoted circle of friends for maintaining his finances. After his death (probably from medicinal mercury poisoning) Schubert’s wish to be buried next to Beethoven was honored. Originally for piano, 4-hands, Schubert’s three Marches militaires, Op. 51 (D.733), have been published in numerous arrangements ranging from organ solo to percussion ensemble, and the first one (in D major) ranks among the composer’s most popular works.
German composer Georg Eduard Goltermann (1824-1898) began his career touring Europe as a cello soloist before settling in Frankfurt am Main in 1853 as deputy music director at the municipal theater, ultimately becoming its Kapellmeister in 1874. Goltermann (sometimes spelled without the final “n”) composed five cello concertos, and although public performances of any of them are now rare, his fourth concerto remains a popular teaching vehicle for cello students. There is not a great deal of original music composed for cello quartet, so the Romance and Serenade that comprise Goltermann’s Op. 119 have fared better than many of his works.
James Hetfield (b. 1963) is the main song writer, vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Metallica, the American heavy metal band he co-founded in 1981 with Danish drummer Lars Ulrich (b. 1963), and the ballad Nothing Else Matters was originally released in 1991 on their self-titled album, Metallica (aka, the Black Album). When Hetfield wrote the song he at first considered it too personal to release, but Ulrich convinced him otherwise and it has become an audience favorite and is still featured regularly in the band’s live performances. Finnish cellist, arranger and award-winning composer Eicca Toppinen (b.1975) is a founding member of Apocalyptica, a heavy metal (but classically trained) cello quartet which began its career covering Metallica songs in Helsinki’s Teatro Heavy Metal club in 1993. Their first CD, released in 1996, features covers of Metallica songs, and their 1998 CD, Inquisition Symphony, includes this version of Nothing Else Matters.
Watch Apocalyptica's music video of Nothing Else Matters on youtube.
Like Smetana, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was born in Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia), and like Schubert he achieved his greatest successes in Vienna. For Mahler, though, it was more for his conducting rather than composing that he gained international fame, and during the last years of his life he accepted principal conducting appointments at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and to the New York Philharmonic. When Mahler died at age 50 from a blood infection he still had not received full acceptance from the Viennese musical establishment as a composer, but now he is regarded as the last great Viennese symphonist, joining the ranks of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner and Brahms. The elegiac Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (1901-1902) is probably the best-known of his symphonic compositions, owing largely to its inclusion in Luchino Visconti's 1971 film, Death in Venice. But even before the film it was popular as a stand-alone concert piece, and it was played at the memorial service for Robert Kennedy in 1968.
Swiss-born composer Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) was educated and began his teaching career in Europe, but he moved to America in 1916 and became a U.S. citizen in 1924. His teaching posts included directorships at the Cleveland Institute of Music (which he helped found in 1920), and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and his students included Roger Sessions, George Antheil, Douglas Moore, Quincy Porter, Randall Thompson, and Leon Kirchner. Although Bloch's diverse (but essentially Romantic) output includes some works which adapt atonality and serialism into his own style, his most widely-known works are those which draw inspiration from his Jewish heritage, such as Schelomo, for cello and orchestra (1916). While Neoclassicism was still a relatively new trend, Bloch wrote the Prelude to his four-movement Concerto Grosso No. 1 (1924-1925) to settle an argument with his students by demonstrating that it was indeed possible to create exciting new works using "olden" techniques and performance ensembles - when they performed it the students readily conceded that Bloch was right! The concluding Fugue likewise breathes new life into an antique formal procedure, and the Concerto Grosso No. 1 remains a favorite of student ensembles and is one of Bloch's most frequently performed works.
Watch Bloch's Prelude performed on youtube.
Simon Shiao, a versatile performer who has appeared at Carnegie Hall as a recitalist and with both string quartet and orchestra, has played concerts around the world and on broadcasts of CNN's Science and Technology program and Public Radio's Live on WGBH. He has performed as soloist and co-concertmaster with Miami’s New World Symphony, and currently performs with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and with the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra in Wyoming. At UNF he teaches violin and viola and is Director of Orchestral Studies, and he is the chair of the solo competition for the Florida Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Dr. Shiao holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and Masters and Doctoral degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Atlanta native Nick Curry is the recently-appointed Cello Professor at the University of North Florida. Prior to moving to Jacksonville, Dr. Curry was the Professor of Cello at the University of South Dakota and the cellist in USD’s Rawlins Piano Trio. Nick received his Bachelor of Music degree from Vanderbilt, where he received the Jean Keller Heard Award for Excellence in string playing. While earning his Masters and Doctoral degrees at Northwestern University, Dr. Curry appeared as soloist with the Northwestern Philharmonic Orchestra and won the Northwestern Chamber Music Competition. Dr. Curry has played concerts in Taiwan and all over the United States, and in 2006 he performed as a soloist on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, where he played the King Amati cello.