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7 Roland and the Countess (1924–1926)

Christopher A. Brooks Indiana University Press ePub


Roland and the Countess


Off and on for the rest of the summer of 1924, Roland and Countess Bertha worked on the three programs Roland needed for his 1924–25 season. Bertha made Roland’s life easier in small ways – for example, by receiving his mail when he was on the road performing. But it was his repertory that mattered most to them both. Roland devoured her library. He took extensive notes on her suggestions and studied the composers’ styles, including those of Brahms, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Hugo Wolf. They also studied the styles of great Italian masters such as Claudio Monteverdi and Baldassare Galuppi. Roland had a particular fondness for reading with the countess about George Frideric Handel and Joseph Haydn. He absorbed the stories about the composers’ lives and the contexts in which they produced their bodies of work, and in later years he required of his voice students the same type of study of composers’ backgrounds.

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3. The Masterpiece

Sofia Moshevich Indiana University Press ePub

The period from 1946 to 1953 (the year of Stalin’s death) saw a new terror, in which repression of the arts reached an apogee. Shostakovich was among the composers condemned in the Communist Party’s 1948 “antiformalism” decree. Following the publication of this decree, he was removed from his teaching positions, and a number of his works were banned. Through these years, Shostakovich had to write mostly “for the drawer” and published only his weaker but politically correct pieces. With one notable exception—the Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues—his best compositions of the period, including the Violin Concerto No. 1, op. 77 (1947–48), the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry, op. 79 (1948), and the String Quartet No. 4, op. 83 (1949), were premiered only after Stalin’s death.

In July 1950, Shostakovich served as a juror for the piano competition at the Bach Bicentennial Festival in Leipzig. It was this festival, which included a performance of the complete Well-Tempered Clavier by Tatiana Nikolayeva (the eventual winner of the competition), that inspired Shostakovich to compose his own cycle of twenty-four preludes and fugues. Yet, in addition to this external inspiration and a desire to sharpen his compositional technique, Shostakovich may have had another deeply personal reason for embarking on the cycle. Lawrence Cosentino writes that against the “backdrop of an unremitting siege, the twenty-four preludes and fugues emerged as a highly improbable, extraordinarily bold, and shockingly profound act of self-healing.”1

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XV The Cosmopolitan Impostor: Op. 2 No. 3, Op. 14 No. 1

Kenneth O. Drake Indiana University Press ePub

Throughout its existence, the keyboard has been the central meeting place for every genre of composition. It is the instrument of accompaniment, a chamber music partner, a concerto soloist, and the instrument for orchestral reductions. In a letter to Breitkopf & Härtel, dated July 13, 1802, Beethoven referred to the popularity of transcriptions as an “unnatural mania,” saying that the piano and string instruments were so different from one another that the practice should be checked.1 One wonders what he might have said about Liszt’s transcriptions of his symphonies, in which form the piano became a cultural missionary, making the music accessible in places where there were no orchestras.

Thinking in choirs of instrumental sound and independent voice parts is central to Beethoven’s keyboard style, just as an operatic vocal style emerges from the Mozart sonatas and the Chopin concertos. Op. 2 No. 3 has been chosen to group with Op. 14 No. 1, the only sonata Beethoven transcribed for strings, because its orchestral manner—in addition to a concerto-like cadenza in the first movement—is its most prominent characteristic.

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19 The Second Half of 1916: Norway and Denmark

Galina Kopytova Indiana University Press ePub

THE HEIFETZ FAMILY’S DECISION to spend the summer in Norway with Auer’s violin colony was finalized in April when Ruvin received the necessary departure documents.1 In Auer’s book My Long Life in Music, he described his time in the suburbs of Christiania (now Oslo), the Norwegian capital:

Beginning with the summer of 1915 I spent my vacations, until 1917, entirely in Norway, amid the gorgeous scenic surroundings of Christiania. One of my pupils, Maia Bang, a Norwegian who had gone to Russia to study with me despite the incertitude of the war times, persuaded me to go to her native land for my summer holidays, and I could only congratulate myself upon having followed her advice. Some of my English and American pupils who had remained in St. Petersburg, together with some Russians, a few Scandinavians from Stockholm and Copenhagen, and some Norwegians, gathered around me there in order to continue their studies. I was very comfortably established in the hotel-sanatorium “Voxenkollen,” situated some 1,500 feet above sea-level, with a view over the mountains which seemed too beautiful for anything but a fairy tale. The mountain peaks were covered with snow and, together with the innumerable small lakes which glittered in the distance and the blue fjords round about Christiania, formed a picture, especially in the moonlight, which once seen could never be forgotten. There probably were a hundred guests in all at the “Voxenkollen,” Russians, Englishmen, Germans, and Scandinavians. In spite of the war raging over the entire world, we lived peacefully and contentedly, in good comradeship though without mad gayety, in this delightful retreat planted on the summit of a mountain verdant with pine and evergreens.2

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Chapter 3. Lullaby of Birdland: April 1960-May 1962

Ron Forbes-Roberts University of North Texas Press PDF


Lullaby of Birdland

April 1960–May 1962

“Some of my greatest fun was playing at the Stage Door back in the old days. I learned so much playing there; it was like going to school.”

—Lenny Breau1

“The activity at the Stage Door was fabulous, like Birdland in New

York City or the closest thing to Birdland that Winnipeg will ever have: a big, fabulous learning scene for all of us.”

—Ron Halldorson

Known to his friends as “Shap,” the high-rolling, loquacious Jack

Shapira was a pianist who had led a number of dance bands in Winnipeg during the 1940s and ’50s, and later had a career in television and radio production at the CBC. Shapira was not a jazz musician, but loved the music and wanted to start a club that would feature it exclusively. “There were all these local musicians and entertainers from out of town who had nowhere to go once all the clubs closed down at 1:00 a.m.—not even any all-night restaurants,” he says. “So

I said, ‘why don’t we have a jazz club?’ And that was it. I started it just as a place for us to go.” After buying out and shutting down the

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