Friday, October 2, 2009

10/20/2009 @ 6:15pm: Abbas Abboud, piano

Abbas Abboud
Upon completing studies at the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet and the National Conservatory of Music in Amman, Jordan, Iraqi virtuoso Abbas Abboud attended France's Conservatoire National on scholarship, and was awarded their Gold Medal by unanimous vote of the Jury des Concours. Other awards include first prizes in both the Concours International de Piano and the Foundation Natexis Banque Populaire music competition. In addition to concertizing throughout France, Germany, Switzerland and Jordan, Mr. Abboud performed under contract with the Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network from June 2007 - May 2008.

  • Mozart : Piano Sonata No. 14 in C–minor, K. 457 -- Watch Abbas Abboud on YouTube!
  • Beethoven : Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"). 3. Allegro ma non troppo - Presto
  • Liszt : Funérailles -- Watch Abbas Abboud on YouTube!
  • Chopin : Scherzo No.1 in B minor, Op. 20 -- Watch Abbas Abboud on YouTube!
  • Chopin : Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 31

    Times Union Article about Mr. Abboud

    PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    Austria's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), unquestionably one of the greatest composers in history, began his career touring Europe as a 6-year-old piano prodigy, and he absorbed and mastered all the contemporary musical trends he was exposed to along the way. He wrote more than 600 works, including 22 operas and over three dozen symphonies, plus numerous concertos, chamber works, piano pieces, and choral works. The Piano Sonata in C minor, K. 457 (1784) is generally regarded as Mozart's finest work in the genre, and it likely served as the inspiration for Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, "Pathétique". Mozart dedicated his three-movement Sonata to Thérèse von Trattner, a friend and piano student who later became godmother to four of the composer's six children.

    The music of the transcendent German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) formed the culmination of the Classical style and the foundation of the Romantic. By 1819 Beethoven was completely deaf, but he continued to produce revolutionary masterworks that still provide benchmarks other composers strive to attain. Beethoven began composing his Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 in 1803 and continued to work on it for several years, finally publishing it in 1807, but the tempestuous work did not receive its nickname until 1838, well after the composer's death. The final movement, in sonata-rondo form, has the feel of perpetual motion, and noted British musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey (1875-1940) observed that this is one of only a few sonatas by Beethoven that ends in tragedy rather than triumphing over it.

    Hungarian virtuoso Franz Liszt (1811-1886) is widely regarded as the greatest pianist of all time, and his performances excited an hysteria that today is reserved for only the most popular of rock stars. Despite great fame following a sometimes impoverished youth, Liszt remained unspoiled and donated great sums of his concert earnings to a wide variety of charitable causes, and in later life he even took orders in the church. His generosity extended to helping increase the fortunes of struggling musicians, among them Hector Berlioz and Liszt’s future son-in-law, Richard Wagner. An innovative composer, Liszt is credited with creating the symphonic tone poem as a form, developing the technique of thematic transformation, and he even anticipated some of the harmonic devices of Impressionist composers. The elegiac Funérailles ("Funeral", 1849) is the 7th in a cycle of ten piano pieces known collectively as Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses (Poetic and Religious Harmonies). It was written to commemorate the passing of three friends who recently had died trying to liberate Hungary from Habsburg rule.

    The Polish-born pianist Frédéric Chopin was the first composer to make full use of the expressive qualities and coloristic potential of the piano when it was a still-developing keyboard instrument, and he rightly has been called the "Poet of the Piano." Much of all piano music by subsequent composers shows his influence, and his revolutionary use of chromatic harmonies and unusual key relationships profoundly influenced composers of symphonic music and operas as well, such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner--thus Chopin's importance in the development of the "Romantic" style in general can not be overestimated. Among other achievements, Chopin was the first to "liberate" the scherzo form from its previously subsidiary role as an interior movement in symphonies and and other multi-movement works. With Chopin the scherzo becomes an independent piece that retains the lively tempo and 3/4 time of its precedents, but which often dispenses with the jocularity implied by the title ("scherzo" is the Italian word for "joke"), and which rather expansively elaborates on the traditional "ABA" formal design. Following the stormy turbulence of the opening "A" section of Scherzo No. 1, Op. 20, first published in 1835, the "B" middle section provides a tranquil respite with a setting of the Polish Christmas carol, Lulajze Jezuniu (Sleep Little Jesus). In Chopin's Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31, published two years later, the beginning and concluding "A" sections share characteristics of sonata-allegro design, but with an interruption by the episodic central "B" section thrown in.

    A capacity crowd applauds Mr. Abboud following his stupendous performance on October 20, 2009, the Library's best-attended concert ever! The concert marked Mr. Abboud's U.S. recital debut.

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