Monday, February 27, 2012

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, 6/10/2012 @ 2:30 p.m.

CLICK HERE for a larger view

Jost Van Dyke, piano

CHOPIN: Prelude in C# minor, Op. 45
YouTube Performance / PDF of the Score (from

J.S. BACH: English Suite No. 5, in E minor, BWV 810
YouTube Performance / Download PDF of the Score (from
  • Prelude - Allemande - Courante - Sarabande -
    Passepied I (en Rondeau)/Passepied II - Gigue
ALBÉNIZ: El Puerto (Iberia, Bk. 1, no. 2)
YouTube Performance / PDF of Book 1 (from

BRAHMS: Intermezzi & Capriccios
      (from Klavierstücke, Opp. 76 & 118, and 7 Fantasien, Op. 116)
PDF Scores: Opus 118, no. 1 / Opus 76 / Opus 116, no. 4
  • Intermezzo in A minor, Op. 118, no. 1 [On YouTube]
  • Capriccio in F# minor, Op. 76, no. 1 [On YouTube]
  • Intermezzo in E Major, Op. 116, no. 4 [On YouTube]
  • Capriccio in C# minor, Op. 76, no. 5 [On YouTube]
  • Intermezzo in B-flat Major, Op. 76, no. 4 [On YouTube]

ALBÉNIZ: El Albaicín (Iberia, Bk. 3, no. 1)
YouTube Performance / PDF of Book 3 (from

ARTIST PROFILE and PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

Musician and photographer Jost Van Dyke is actively involved in local and national arts communities. At the same time he is one of the Florida Panhandle's most popular fitness gurus, as a certified Pilates instructor at multiple fitness centers in Tallahassee. A concert pianist by training, Mr. Van Dyke's path to--and back to--the recital hall has not been an easy one, but it has led him through many varied and rewarding endeavors.

Jost was born with Poland's Syndrome, manifested as an underdeveloped arm and the absence of chest muscles on his right side. Piano lessons were suggested as therapy, and not only did the lessons help with the continuing development of his arm, they unlocked an abiding talent that otherwise might have gone undiscovered. Brought to the attention of legendary pianist Edward Kilenyi (1910-2000), the prodigious youth was invited to join Kilenyi's studio at Florida State University while Jost was still in high school.

While completing his Piano Performance degree under Kilenyi, Mr. Van Dyke (then billed as Joseph Dykes) served as music director for a number of high-profile productions in the FSU School of Theatre. In 1984, this led him to New York City as Artist in Residence and Musical Director in the Musical Theatre Department at Marymount Manhattan College. He continued his own studies as well, working with concert pianists Thaddeus Sadlowski, Regina Shamvilli and Daniell Revenaugh, and Mr. Van Dyke garnered a following as a solo recitalist, beginning with his 1985 Manhattan debut at Marymount. Upon completing his residency in 1990, he accepted a position with the National Dance Institute. During his time in New York he concurrently became active in the music publishing industry, with consecutive positions at Carl Fischer Music, International Music Co. & Bourne Music, and MCA/Universal Music.

In the early 1990s, he faced a new challenge with the onset of focal dystonia of the right hand. The condition causes uncontrollable muscle spasms, and it has hindered or ended the careers of many distinguished musicians, including Leon Fleisher and Keith Emerson, and it may have contributed to Glenn Gould's retreat from the concert stage into the recording studio. Undefeated, Mr. Van Dyke accepted the challenge as an opportunity to explore fine art photography, leading to solo and group exhibitions in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Savannah. His photographic work is represented in the permanent collection of the Bergen Gallery at Savannah College of Art and Design, and in private collections around the nation.

Mr. Van Dyke's path led back to Tallahassee and into the culinary arts, and in the late 1990s he wrote a monthly newspaper column on gourmet food and wine. He began practicing yoga and Pilates, which unexpectedly opened a new career avenue when he was approached to become a fitness instructor. Applying the same dedication as to his earlier pursuits, he trained for certification with Master Pilates Teacher June Kahn. He now also writes ENDORphiNATION, a column featured in the online publication The Alchemical Heart, and he is a member of COCA (Council on Culture & Arts), in Tallahassee.

Attributed in part to his disciplined physical training, the effects of Mr. Van Dyke's focal dystonia have dissipated. This Intermezzo Series performance marks not only the Jacksonville concert debut of Jost Van Dyke, but his first public recital in nearly two decades.

Hear Jost Van Dyke play Ravel's Ondine at, recorded live during a 1991 recital in New York City.

Program Notes

The Polish-born pianist Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) 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 (1811-1886) and Richard Wagner (1813-1883)—thus Chopin's importance in the development of the "Romantic" style in general can not be overestimated.

For proof of Chopin's "Wagnerian-like" modulations, one need look no further than the Prelude in C# minor, Op. 45, composed in 1841--when Wagner was just starting to discover his voice with the premiere of The Flying Dutchman, and almost two decades before Tristan und Isolde would emerge. Judging by a letter from Chopin to his music copyist, composer Julian Fontana (1810-1869), Chopin impressed even himself with his seamlessly shifting tonal centers. Composed two years after his 24 Preludes, Op. 28 (1839), Op. 45 is often called "Prelude No. 25," and it was the last piece with that title Chopin wrote.

Once dismissed by many of his contemporaries as being too old-fashioned, the works of the great German Baroque master Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) probably have been studied more than those of any other composer, making him perhaps the most influential musician of all time.

Of the 19 variously-titled suites Bach wrote for solo harpsichord, his English Suite No. 5 in E minor, BWV 810, is among the earliest half dozen, most likely written ca. 1715-1720, when Bach was working either in Weimar or Köthen. No one can say exactly why the six English Suites (BWV 806-811) have been nicknamed "English," especially since the choice and ordering of various dance movements most definitely subscribe to the contemporary French model, and the suites' contrapuntal textures are decidedly German. Bach's manuscript is lost so we don't know if he made any reference to the Brits himself, but one of the earliest surviving copies says the suites are "for the English," and it has been conjectured that Bach perhaps had a particular English performer or patron in mind when he wrote them. Then again, maybe Bach, ever the teacher, came across some works by English composers that he didn't much care for, and his suites were meant "for the English" to show them how it's done ... .

Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) is among the best-known proponents of Music Nationalism of Spain. He was a piano prodigy who gave his first public concert when he was four, and at age six he was denied admittance to the Paris Conservatory only because he was too young. But shortly thereafter he enrolled in what is now the Royal Conservatory in Madrid, and young Isaac soon became known as the greatest prodigy in Spain. In 1875, he gave a series of concerts in Puerto Rico and Cuba, but this was not the result of the 15-year-old youth stowing away on a ship to the New World, as many reputable sources have previously repeated. Rather less romantically, it now appears that Isaac accompanied his father, a customs official, to Cuba when his father was transferred to work there. In 1876, back in the Old World, a 16-year-old Isaac was granted a Spanish royal stipend to study at the Brussels Conservatory. In 1879, he took First Prize in piano performance in Brussels, and embarked on a highly successful concert tour of Europe. At twenty, he travelled to Budapest hoping to study with Liszt. But when this dream went unrealized (Liszt had already departed Hungary for Italy), Albéniz returned to Spain and toured the country both as a pianist and, for a time, the conductor and manager of a musical theater company.

Following a South American tour he settled in Barcelona in 1883, and there he met Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922), a musicologist and composer who convinced Albéniz that it was important for Spanish composers to write music based on the characteristic folk songs and dances of their homeland. This turned out to be very good advice--although Albéniz also continued to compose music in a more-or-less cosmopolitan style, it is for his Spanish-flavored music that he is most remembered. He lived in London in the early 1890s, and moved to Paris in 1894, where he befriended many of the city's leading composers and began to absorb the influences of the recently-departed César Franck (1822-1890) and the still-going-strong Claude Debussy (1862-1918). As a virtuoso performer Albéniz was compared to Liszt and Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894), but soon after the turn of the century bad health impeded his performance career. When Albéniz died in 1909, he was virtually incapacitated from Bright's Disease, a chronic kidney disorder.

Composed between 1905 and 1909, Iberia is a collection of 12 pieces for solo piano, organized into four books of three pieces each. It is ranked universally among the finest works by any Spanish composer, and French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) extended his praise beyond geographic boundaries, calling Iberia "the wonder for the piano; it is perhaps on the highest place among the more brilliant pieces for the king of the instruments." Subtitled "Twelve New Impressions," Iberia was designed as a kind of musical travelogue, with each piece representing a particular locale, primarily in southern Spain, and drawing upon rhythmic and melodic gestures suggestive of each place. The harmonic soundscape also pays tribute to the Impressionism of Debussy, and, in something of a reversal, Debussy became a big fan of Iberia, such that the Spaniard's vibrant music provided inspiration for the Frenchman. But the virtuosic (sometimes bordering on sadistic) piano writing of Iberia is all Albéniz--and it is sometimes so difficult that it's said Albéniz considered destroying the pieces because, in his disease-weakened state, he was unable to play through them himself. In discussing the dozen pieces that comprise Iberia, the Portuguese virtuoso Artur Pizzaro observed: "The technical writing is totally original and at least as mind-numbingly difficult as Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit. ... The only reason I can think of as to why they are not more present in recital halls throughout the world is the sheer difficulty of their performance."

El Puerto (The Port) is the second piece in Book 1, and the "puerto" in question is the fishing town of El Puerto de Santa Maria, near Cádiz on the southern Atlantic coast of Spain. The music itself is a zapateado, a kind of flamenco tap-dance that the conquistadores borrowed from the native Mexican Indians (along with their gold and corn). So it is perhaps especially fitting that a zapateado represents El Puerto de Santa Maria, since it is the very port where Columbus set sail on his second trip to the Americas.

Book 3 of Iberia opens with El Albaicín, which depicts the Albayzín district of Granada overlooking the Alhambra. Along with the Alhambra, Albayzín has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage site, with its architectural reminders of the area's Medieval Moorish past. In his musical portrait of the district, Albéniz draws on the percussive rhythms introduced by the North Africans, and he conjures a fully-realized gypsy flamenco dance, by turns fiery, ethereal and gracefully sensual, and replete with aural images of stamping feet, clapping castinets and a flashing guitar.

At a time when it was fashionable to write programmatic music that illustrated specific scenes, poems, or stories, the great German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was recognized by his admirers as “Beethoven’s true heir” (Grove Concise Dictionary of Music) by demonstrating that established abstract formal procedures could be used to organize musical discourse without sacrificing the passion and deeply individualistic expression that defines 19th-Century Romantic music. Thus, Brahms joined Bach and Beethoven as one of the great “Three Bs” of classical music.

As a youth, Brahms earned a living as a pianist, but after he became established as a composer he limited his public performances to playing only his own works. His last large-scale composition for solo piano was Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 35, composed in 1863. Following his 1865 arrangements for solo piano of his 16 Waltzes, Op. 36 (originally for Piano, 4-hands), there was a gap of thirteen years before Brahms resumed writing solo music for his own instrument.

In 1878, his 8 Klavierstücke (Piano Pieces), Op. 76, appeared, followed by 2 Rhapsodien, Op. 79, the following year. Then there was another 13-year gap before he produced his 7 Fantasien, Op. 116, and 3 Intermezzi, Op. 117, in 1892; followed by 6 Klavierstücke, Op. 118, and 4 Klavierstücke, Op. 119, in 1893. Among the thirty individual piano pieces from his Op. 76 forward, Brahms named eighteen of them “Intermezzo,” and seven “Capriccio.” Neither term has a precise, predictable meaning, but in comparing Brahms’s use of the titles various commentators have observed that his Intermezzi tend to be more “introspective,” while still running the emotional gamut from light-hearted to darkly impassioned; and the Capriccios tend to be “stormy” and more improvisatory in their formal structure. Although all of Brahms's later piano pieces are on a relatively intimate scale, in both his chamber music and solo works his piano writing is usually quite challenging, to say the least--so it is evident that in addition to being one of our most enduring composers, Brahms never lost his touch as a virtuoso performer.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Fantastic!! I really hope to come!!