Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, 6/12/2011 @ 2:30 p.m.

Max Huls, violin solo

Spiritual Flights / Spanish Flair

Jean-Delphin Alard (1815-1888)
Étude-caprice, op. 41, no.24 ("Boléro")

Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)
6 Morceaux, Op. 61
--No. 1. Andante
--No. 2. Moderato
--No. 3. Prélude (Andante)
--No. 4. Tempo di Minuetto
--No. 5. Andante
--No. 6. Introduction et fugue

Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931)
Sonata No. 6 ("Manuel Quiroga")

Violinist Max Huls joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in 1993 and was introduced to the First Coast as soloist in Bartók’s Second Rhapsody, for violin and orchestra. Mr. Huls is on the faculty of the Prelude Chamber Music Camp, is a violin coach for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and, in addition to his core membership in the JSO, he is Concertmaster of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia. He appeared variously as concertmaster, soloist and conductor with the Savannah Symphony, and was concertmaster of the Memphis Symphony and Opera Memphis. Max was on the faculty of the University of Memphis and Rhodes College, and while living in Tennessee was much sought after as a studio musician, working with the rock group The Replacements, and soul legends Patti LaBelle and Al Green, among many others

Since 1983, Max has played principal second violin for Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin. He also has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Missouri Symphony Society, Eastern Music Festival, and Memphis Chamber Music Society.

Since age 16, Max has shared the solo violin's celebrated masterpieces and forgotten treasures in recital. Repertoire includes Bach's Six Sonatas and Partitas, the Six Sonatas by Eugène Ysaÿe, and the works of Bartók, Nielsen, Franck and Paganini. He appears frequently in local concerts and recitals, and has regularly contributed his time and talent to Jacksonville Public Library's Intermezzo and Music@Main concert series.  As a member of Duo Proto, Max plays alongside his son Victor Minke Huls, who in turn plays a number of instruments including flute, cello, mandolin and piano. As a member of The Huls Clark Duo, Max performs in recital with pianist Christine Clark.

Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music and Philosophy from Stephens College; Master of Music from University of Memphis

PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian
Both as a performer and as a teacher, Jean-Delphin Alard (1815-1888) achieved fame as the foremost representative of the modern French school of violin playing of his generation. Born in the French Basque town of Bayonne, very near the Spanish border, a 10-year-old Delphin so impressed his neighbors with a prodigious public performance of a violin concerto by Viotti that the whole town chipped in to send the poor lad to Paris, where, at age 12, he entered the Paris Conservatory. By 1831, Alard had begun accumulating prizes for his playing, earning the reputation as a great performer; in 1840 he was appointed solo violinist in King Louis Philippe's Royal Band; and from 1843 until his retirement in 1875, he returned to the Conservatory as a leading professor whose students included the brilliant Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908). Alard was made a Chevalier of France's Légion d'honneur in 1850, and was 1st violinist in the Imperial Chapel from 1853 until the fall of Napoleon III, in 1873.

Alard's compositions are now mostly forgotten, but they were very popular in France during his lifetime. Not surprisingly, they mostly showcase the violin, and include bravura concertos and concert pieces, duos for two violins, and exercises and studies for violin students. His pedagogical treatise, Ecole du violon (School of the Violin) was adopted by the Paris Conservatory, and was translated into several languages, becoming a standard guide for aspiring virtuosi throughout Europe.

For the most part, the two books comprising Alard's 24 Études-caprices, op. 41, are perhaps better suited to the practice room than to the concert hall. But the concluding Boléro, the only study in the second book given a title, is an exception that recalls the composer's Basque heritage, with his home-region's ties to Spanish culture.

Score (pdf)--Alard: Etudes-caprices Nos. 13-24

Much like his contemporary Alard, the Belgian composer and violinist Henri Vieuxtemps (1820–1881) was a child prodigy who famously performed a concerto at age six, and who likewise went on to gain an international reputation as both performer and teacher. Vieuxtemps was a student and eventually professor at the Brussels Conservatory, and he represented the Franco-Belgian school of violin playing. He lived in Russia for five years (1846-51), where he founded the violin school at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, while also serving as principal violinist in the court of Czar Nicholas I. Vieuxtemps' solo performances throughout Europe brought him into friendly and admiring contact with the likes of Schumann, Berlioz, Wagner and Paganini, and he also toured the United States. He was widely admired as a performer of chamber music, particularly of string quartets by Beethoven.

In 1871, Vieuxtemps accepted an appointment at the Brussels Conservatory, but he suffered a stroke that affected his bowing arm, effectively ending his concert career and interrupting his teaching. A second stroke in 1879 made even teaching impossible, and he retired to Algeria to be near his daughter and son-in-law, but he still continued to compose. Most of Vieuxtemps' compositions feature the solo violin, and he is most remembered for his seven violin concertos, with which he helped redefine Romantic concertos as works of symphonic scope rather than merely vehicles for virtuosic display. Other works of note include two cello concertos, three string quartets, and several works featuring the viola, another instrument of which Vieuxtemps had been a master.

Among these is Capriccio in C minor "Hommage à Paganini" for Viola Solo, Op. 55, which was published posthumously with the Six Morceaux (Six Pieces) for solo violin featured on today's recital, as 6 Morceaux suivis d'un capriccio (Six Pieces followed by a Capriccio). Although publishers have used “Op. 55” for the entire collection, The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and other sources identify the combined set as “Op. 61,” his highest opus number, suggesting that it is the composer's valedictory composition.

Score (pdf)--Vieuxtemps: 6 Morceaux

Considered one of the greatest violinists of all time, the Belgian Eugène Ysaÿe (1858–1931) began lessons with his father at age five, and entered the Royal Conservatory in his hometown of Liège two years later. But, unlike Alard and Vieuxtemps, Ysaÿe was not a prodigious success, and he was soon asked to leave when his lessons did not progress satisfactorily--it seems that in order to help support his impoverished family, young Eugène had to play full-time in two local orchestras, unfortunately leaving little time to practice. But he continued studying on his own, and, as the story goes, by chance Henri Vieuxtemps passed by where Ysaÿe was practicing and, so impressed by what he heard, he got the 12-year-old youth readmitted to the Conservatory. Ysaÿe’s teachers included the Polish virtuoso and composer Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) as well as Vieuxtemps himself, but Ysaÿe credited his father as the teacher who had the greatest impact on the way he performed.

Ysaÿe began his post-student career as concertmaster of Benjamin Bilse's orchestra (which would later become the Berlin Philharmonic). His playing impressed many of the day's leading musicians, including Anton Rubinstein (1828-1894), and the famous pianist invited the young violinist to accompany him on tour. But Ysaÿe's solo career really took off in 1885, when he was invited to perform works by Lalo and Saint-Saëns in Paris, and Ysaÿe soon became a favorite of many leading composers, including Debussy and Franck. From 1886-1898 Ysaÿe was a professor at the Brussels Conservatory, and he continued to expand his fame as a performer. Even after leaving the Conservatory he continued to teach into his final years, and he also gained fame as a conductor. Ysaÿe was invited to lead the New York Philharmonic in 1898, but he declined due to the demands of his solo career. But as health issues began to affect his playing more and more, he accepted the conductorship of the Cincinnati Symphony from 1918-1922, and he devoted more time to composing.

Among the best-known of Ysaÿe’s compositions are the technically demanding Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27, composed in 1923. In addition to incorporating contemporary compositional techniques such as the use of microtones and whole tone scales in some of them, each sonata is dedicated to a different virtuoso whose playing inspired the style of the sonata. Sonata No. 6 takes the form of a one-movement habanera, and is dedicated to the Spanish virtuoso Manuel Quiroga Losada (1892-1961), who, however, apparently never performed the sonata that is identified with him.

Eugène Ysaÿe: Sonata No. 6 on YouTube (Hilary Hahn performing)

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