May 11th, 7:00pm | Sundin Music Hall
Haydn, while employed by the royal Esterházy family in Eisenstadt, Austria, wrote nearly one composition every day for the royal family on top of performing chamber music and running the court orchestra. Although this task would seem impossible to most, Haydn flourished, establishing contemporary forms for sonatas, symphonies, and a variety of chamber settings. He also broke from his own forms, like in this Divertimento. Oboe, Viola, and Double Bass are an uncommon pairing of instruments even today, and we’re left wondering whether Haydn wrote this to showcase particular musicians in the court orchestra, perhaps composing to the strengths or even availability of his musicians. Whatever the case, this unconventional chamber instrumentation is incredibly symphonic, and its great depth and sonority makes its songlike qualities all the more resonant.
Gregory Reeve (1939-2012) was a voice for music in New York City for many years as founder and director of The Center for New Music, and public radio show host. He also was a jazz and contemporary music performer, lobbyist for public arts funding, and a bold expressionist painter. Brother of The Musical Offering’s former artistic co-director and oboist Basil Reeve, we are honoring his musical legacy with the world premier of his “Quartet for flute and stings” (1987), featuring flutist Jane Garvin.
Madeleine Dring (1923-1977) led a remarkable life as a composer and performer in London, England. Accepted to the Royal College of Music at age 10, she studied with 20th century composers Gordon Jacob and Ralph Vaughan Williams while also studying drama and mime. Her love of theater and music often married well in her works for the stage, occasionally performing herself on voice and piano. In fact, she would deliberately write songs with difficult melodies to showcase her perfect pitch. This fit well with her jazzy, unpretentious, contemporary style. Dring was often compared to Gershwin in that regard. She married oboist Roger Lord in 1950, and composed many works like “Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano” with him in mind.
Our final piece on this program is “Nonet in E flat” by one of the most important women composers in history, Louise Farrenc (1804-1875). Louise Farrenc was the first Professor of Music at the Paris Conservatory, and was the only women to hold such a position during the 19th century. She fought against sexist regimes and more than earned her place in classical music’s history, a feat that to this day remains more difficult for women than for men. For the first years of her professorship she was paid less than her male counterparts, but it was in fact this “Nonet in E flat” and its subsequent success and acclaim that gave her the ammunition to win the battle for her equal pay. Her style is often compared to the open lyricism of Schubert and structure of Mendelssohn, but is distinct in its vibrancy and range of color, which comes to the fore in this Nonet. The variety of great music and musicians, a hallmark of The Musical Offering, will be on full display at the conclusion of our 43rd season.