Monthly Archives: March 2017

Samuel Barber – Composer Extraordinaire

[My regular readers may recall that six months ago I dwelt on the music of two composers, Borodin and Barber. It so happens that the latter’s birthday anniversary falls today: March 9. So without further ado, I’m beholden to celebrate the event in this post by delving deeper into Barber’s place in the history of modern music and share with you some of his remarkable output of orchestral and other works.]

Let’s cut to the chase! Overall, Samuel Barber permitted himself to be disciplined by traditional forms and idioms, but without smothering his natural bent for romanticism. Most of his music is lyrical, emotional, poetic; in his later works modern techniques were used with telling effect.

In Barber’s obituary, the late New York Times critic, Donal Henahan wrote: “One reason for the acceptance won by Mr. Barber’s music – apart from its undeniable craft and thorough professionalism – was its deep-seated conservatism, which audiences could find congenial even at first hearing. Although he often dealt in pungent dissonances and complex rhythms, like most of his 20th-century contemporaries, there was a lyrical quality even to his strictly instrumental pieces that from the first established him as a neo-Romantic. ”

Altogether, Barber wrote two symphonies; a violin concerto (the hotlink is to the lyrical second movement – Andante – on YouTube performed by Kelly Hall-Thompkins, with Charles Reese, at the Brevard Music Center); a cello concerto; and Capricorn Concerto for flute, oboe, trumpet and strings; various shorter works for orchestra (notably Overture to The School for Scandal, Adagio for Strings, and ballet suite for Medea); also a string quartet and a sonata and Excursions for the piano.

Fortune’s Favorite Child
In 1928, at the age of 18, he won a prize for a violin sonata. Thereafter, he was fortune’s favorite child. Honors and prizes were pressed on him: the American Prix de Rome in 1935, a Pulitzer traveling scholarship in 1935-36;  his Cello Concerto, Op. 22 (1945) was introduced by Raya Garbousova and the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevizky and received the New York Music Critics Award; followed a Guggenheim fellowship in 1946, Pulitzer Prizes in 1958 and 1963 and many commissions from orchestras and ballet companies. He received an honorary degree from Harvard University and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

References:
Wikipedia; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen.

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 in just over 2 years ago back in February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

 

San Diego? Sin Duda!

[It was The New York Times informative and picturesque article on San Diego (February 16, 2017) that evoked in my memory a not-so-distant occasion in my past that changed my life – and that of my immediate family – forever: From a two-decade lucrative ‘mercantile’ career in India to a three-decade mainly non-profit ‘musical’ one in America before my ‘official’ retirement in 2013.]

Calcutta Skyline

In my capacity as Honorary Concert Manager of the Calcutta School of Music, founded in 1936, I received an invitation in early 1975 to attend the annual November conference of ASOL, the American Symphony Orchestra League, in San Diego. I had close relatives in New York, but none in California. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of traveling for the very first time to that Western United States city, albeit on my own. After an over long but uneventful flight from Calcutta, I was excited on my arrival to check in at the Sheraton ocean-side hotel, most rooms of which had more or less been taken over by the League for accommodating its large contingent of conference attendees from around the country and beyond.

San Diego Skyline

It didn’t take long for me to make contact with various members of the organizing committee. One, in particular, was a Board Member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, NY, and it was just on the second day of hectic activities that I so happened to be relaxing at the bar before the welcoming luncheon began when that gentleman parked himself on a stool alongside me – and we began to chat about this and that. During the give and take, and over a second drink, he mentioned that the RPO was on the look out for an assistant manager and would I be interested in that particular job. If so, he would arrange for me to meet the full Board back in Rochester later in the month, if I could make the trip.

I was due to visit New York en route to Calcutta on my return journey, so I phoned my cousin on the East Coast and asked him to book a round-trip flight to Rochester from NYC, even though it meant cutting my stay with him and his family by two or three days. On arrival in the Big Apple, i learned that RPO’s Board were looking forward to interviewing me as soon as I arrived in Rochester.

To cut a long story short, I found myself in the RPO’s board room facing not only the Chairman but two of the biggest names in the corporate world of Rochester – the heads of Kodak and Xerox respectively who were responsible each year for donating generous amounts annually to the Orchestra. After the interview, which I thought had gone reasonably well, I flew back to New York for an overnight stop before heading back home to Calcutta.

Barely two weeks later, I received an appointment letter from RPO in which apart from setting out general terms of service I was asked to report to its office at least two weeks before the beginning of its winter concert season in October. Suffice it to say, that letter with the support of the local US Consul’s Office, enabled me to receive the necessary papers and travel documents for myself and my family.  And the rest is history………………

Six years after the events described above, and at another annual ASOL conference, this time in Chicago, I received two offers of managing orchestras: one was from Miami, the other from San Diego(!) However, as things worked out, it wasn’t a case of San Diego, sin duda? but Miami, without doubt!


Miami Skyline

Dear Readers,
You number over 69,000 in just over 2 years ago back in February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!