Students from the
University of North Florida Department of Music
performing under the direction of Dr. Simon Shiao
- SHOSTAKOVICH Four Preludes
Arranged by Lazar Gosman from 24 Piano Preludes, Op. 34
[No. 10, C# minor] Moderato non troppo - [No. 15, D-flat Major] Allegretto - [No. 16, B-flat minor] Andantino - [No. 24, D minor] Allegretto
- SAINT-SAËNS Carnival of the Animals
Selections from among: Introduction - The Royal March of the Lion - The Cocks and Hens - The Wild Animals - The Turtle - The Elephant - The Kangaroo - The Aquarium - The Mule - The Cuckoo in the Wind - The Birds - The Pianists - The Fossils - The Swan - The Grand Finale
- DVOŘÁK Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22
I. Moderato - II. Tempo di Valse - III. Scherzo: Vivace - IV. Larghetto - V. Finale
Director Dr. 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.
Joining Prokofiev and Khachaturian, Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) is one of few composers of the former Soviet Union to sustain a large following in the West, but his career was far from “smooth sailing.” During his lifetime his music was periodically banned by Stalinist authorities, and he suffered two official denouncements, in 1936 and 1948. However, because of his worldwide popularity the Soviets liked to use Shostakovich as propaganda, so their censures always proved temporary—but he still withheld his more personal works until after Stalin’s death in 1953. Shostakovich likewise has had detractors among many of the West’s avant-garde, centering around composer-turned-conductor Pierre Boulez. Although the influence of the self-styled “cutting edge” has since dulled, from the 1950s into the 1980s the group and its followers wielded their own brand of artistic totalitarianism, insisting that composers abandon familiar musical forms in favor of mathematical or electronic compositional procedures, and dismissing works by those who used tonal idioms to communicate directly with listeners. Ignoring the ideological tyranny on both fronts, performers and listeners have always embraced Shostakovich’s music, and he remains among the most frequently performed and recorded of 20th-Century composers.
Originally for piano solo, four of Shostakovich's 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (1932-33), were arranged for strings by violinist and conductor Lazar Gosman (b.1926) for performance and recording by the Tchaikovsky Chamber Orchestra, a group originally called the Soviet Emigre Orchestra that Gosman founded. Previously a major figure in the musical life of Soviet Russia, Gosman immigrated to the United States in 1977, and the 1984 film, Musical Passage, documents the founding of his orchestra, and also his problems in exiting the USSR. Once here he became associate concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, served on the faculties of the St. Louis Conservatory and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and established and continues to conduct annual concerts by the Kammergild Chamber Orchestra of St. Louis.
By the age of three, the French composer and keyboard virtuoso Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) could read and write and had penned his first piano piece; by seven he had mastered Latin; and by ten he could perform from memory all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas upon request. An expert mathematician and a successful playwright, he published poetry, scholarly works in acoustics and philosophy, and popular travelogues. He was a confidant of Berlioz, Liszt, and Fauré (his most famous student), and a notorious enemy of Franck, Massenet, and especially of Debussy.
Although first performed in 1886, Saint-Saëns withheld from publication all but Le cygne (“The Swan”) from Le carnaval des animaux ("The Carnival of the Animals") until after his death because he felt that the overall comic tone of the suite would diminish his standing as a "serious" composer. Ironically, the imagination and wit on display in its 14 movements have kept The Carnival at the top of the dozen or so of his works (out of over 300!) that are still performed with any regularity.
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) is an immensely popular Czech composer who fused melodic and rhythmic elements of Bohemian folk music with classical symphonic forms. Fostered by his friend Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Dvořák gained international acclaim and was invited to New York City to become the director of the National Conservatory of Music from 1892 to 1895, during which time he wrote the famous New World Symphony.
The five movements of Dvořák's Serenade, Op. 22, were written in just a couple of weeks during May of 1875, and for its sunny disposition Brahms, as yet little more than a stranger to Dvořák, may perhaps be due a little credit: in January of the same year Dvořák had been awarded a stipend for composing from the Austrian government, and Brahms was one of the three jurors who unanimously recommended the Czech for the award. But if one were to discover any actual autobiographical impetus in the Serenade, Anna, Dvořák's bride of less than two years, would likely prove the happy inspiration. The couple had known each other for years (in fact, in 1865 Antonín had tried unsuccessfully to court Anna's sister, Josefina), only Anna's father, Jan Čermák, would not relinquish his daughter's hand to a nearly starving musician. But in March 1873, a month after the would-be father-in-law died, Dvořák enjoyed his first big successes as a composer, so Anna's mother, Klotilda, finally consented to the union and the adorable couple, penniless but hopeful, were married on November 17, 1873. Of course, Klotilda's in vivo grandson, Otakar Dvořák (who was born five months later) might also have helped convince his granny.