December 8, 2012 7:30 PM
Vernon Cook Theater
Clinton High School
Bells of Christmas
(includes Ding Dong! Merrily On High,
The Bell Carol, Silver Bells, I
Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,
and Jingle Bells)
Wolfgang A. Mozart
German Dances, K. 605
(from L'Arlesienne Suite 2)
Marche, Chinois, Mirliton, Trepak
George F. Handel
For Unto Us A Child is Born
Glory To God
Cerulli - Sing-a-long
Composer, arranger and conductor Bob Krogstad has established himself as a well-known figure in the music business. A recipient of the Dove award and numerous Standard awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Mr. Krogstad is known for his colorful orchestral and choral compositions, featured in the Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympics in Atlanta, the Radio City Music Hall "Christmas Spectacular," EPCOT Center's "Illuminations," Robert Schuller's "Glory of Christmas," Sam's Town's "Sunset Stampede" (Las Vegas), Precious Moments' "Fountain of Angels," and productions for the Disney-MGM Studios, Universal Studio Tour (Hollywood) and the Chrysler Corporation. His arrangements for the London Symphony were featured on the Hallmark Cards annual Christmas albums (1996-2000). His music can also be heard on the albums of singers Mel Torme, Maureen McGovern, Michael Crawford, Natalie Cole, James Darren, Sandi Patty and Kathy Troccoli, among others.
Mr. Krogstad also tours as symphony conductor/arranger for inspirational vocalist, Sandi Patty. In recent years he has served as musical director for both Natalie Cole and Mel Torme, for whom he has conducted over thirty symphony orchestras across North America and Europe, including those of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Winnipeg, Detroit and Houston, as well as the National Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Orchestre Suisse Romande (Geneva). When he's not touring, he enjoys writing his latest compositions in the warm, sunny climate of Scottsdale, Arizona. (http://www.fredbock.com/Promo.asp?page=256)
When Emperor Joseph II of Austria took on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) as court composer in 1787, he did so to keep Mozart in Austria. It would not reflect well on the court if so distinguished a composer as Mozart should 'have to seek his bread and butter in foreign countries...' Mozart accepted his employ with the court graciously, but he felt a keen disappointment in that his talents were not fully exploited.
Mozart's position within the court was such that he was to provide dance music for the numerous court balls that occurred thoughout the year, particularly during Carnival time. In 1791, the year of Mozart's death, he composed at least eight sets of dances, K599 - K607, consisting of minuets, German dances, and contradanses. On each set he lavished the same degree of expertise as he did on his larger, more complex works. Some musicologists consider Mozart's dances as the forerunner of a line of dance music that culminated with the dances of the Strauss family. In addition, as one might expect, dance music appealed to all classes of Viennese society, and to capitalize on that appeal, Mozart issued piano arrangements of his dance scores for sale to the general public.
Poor Mozart was disconcerted by the lack of court interest in his larger scale composing - no symphonies, no piano concertos, masses, or chamber works? Were dances and minuets all the Imperial Court expected of him? One reliable source quotes Mozart as writing on a receipt for his court salary: 'Too much for what I did, not enough for what I could do.'
The German Dances, K605 comes from this 1791 series of dance music, a set of three dances which includes the seasonal favorite, Sleigh Ride.
Mel Tormé (1925-1999), the 'Velvet Fog,' wrote over 300 songs during his career as 'the epitome of the lounge singer,' but of those 300 only one remains today as a classic. And like so much other music of the season, The Christmas Song came about by chance. Tormé stopped by the studio offices of his friend and lyricist Robert Wells on a sweltering hot summer day in 1944, and, according to the singer
I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil. They started, `Chestnuts roasting ... Jack Frost nipping ... Yuletide carols ... Folks dressed up like Eskimos.' Bob didn't think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.
The first recording of The Christmas Song was made by the Nat King Cole Trio in June 1946, but was not released until 1989 when it was accidentally issued on a CD of Christmas hits from the 1930s and '40s. The second version, made at Cole's insistence, was recorded in August 1946 with Cole's Trio and a complement of string quartet, harp and drum. This record was released in November 1946 and immediately became a best seller for Cole, who recorded newer versions of the classic with each change in recording technology. The 1961 Cole version is considered by many to be the definitive version of the song.
Leroy Anderson (1908-1975), grouped with George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Charles Ives as an American music original, got the idea for the theme of Sleigh Ride as he dug in his Woodbury, Connecticut, yard for water pipes during a heat wave in 1946. As he dug and the perspiration soaked his clothes, he thought of a tall glass of ice water to quench his thrist, a thought that turned to winter and snow and then to racing over the countryside in a horse-drawn sleigh with a sharp, wintry breeze whipping across his cheeks. That was all the composer needed to conjure up a melody. For more than a year he worked to refine this theme, adding two additional parts to enclose the tune before he felt it worthy to premiere.
As with several works on tonight's program, Anderson's new 'holiday' minature took place not during the holiday season or even during winter, but at a May, 1948, concert of the Boston Pops, a group for whom Anderson had served as a sort of composer in residence for many years. It was such an immediate hit with the public that several recorded versions appeared within a year, including one with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops and one with the composer conducting.
A concert overture, Christmas Festival was arranged in 1950 by Anderson as a showpiece for his own orchestra. The compilation of melodies, whether by intent or by accident, illustrates both the secular and religious aspects of the season. It includes Joy to the World; Deck the Halls; God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen; Good King Wenceslas; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; The First Noel; Silent Night; Jingle Bells; O Come All Ye Faithful.
The Farandole comes from themes Georges Bizet (1838-1875) used in his incidental music to Alphonse Daudet's play L'Arlésienne (The Girl from Arles), first performed in 1872. Bizet originally wrote twenty-seven numbers of varying lengths to augment the drama, but both the play and the music were considered failures at the time. Bizet, to salvage something from his efforts, extracted four pieces from score which he reochestrated and published as his L'Arlésienne Suite. The four pieces in this first suite are Prelude, Minuett, Adagietto and Carillon. It was not until four years after Bizet's death that the second suite was created.
L'Arlésienne Suite No 2 was crafted by Ernest Guiraud (1837-1892), a composer and a life-long friend of Bizet. For his suite, he took three selections from the original source material, although he did take liberties with the arranging and scoring of the pieces he chose to include in the finished product. Guiraud was not hesitant in fashioning the music as he saw fit. Guiraud's suite is comprised of Pastorale, Intermezzo, Menuet, and Farandole. The Menuet comes not from the incidental music, but from Bizet's 1866 opera The Fair Maid of Perth. The Farandole, a provincial dance from southern France, in Bizet's original takes approximately a minute and a half to perform; in Guiraud's embellished version, he augments the dance with a traditional French Christmas carol, March of the Kings, to extend the piece to approximately three minutes. Thus, it is through Guiraud's manipulation of Bizet's original material that the Farandole is often scheduled on Christmas programs.
Several apocryphal stories surround the origin of the Christmas carol Stille Nacht (Silent Night). Was it the creation of an itinerant musician forced to seek refuge in an isolated church from a blinding snowstorm in the Tyrolean alps? Did the melody come from the pen of Mozart? Beethoven? Schubert, maybe? The Romantic heart knows no bounds when it comes to the fanciful re-imaginings of the mundane, but, in truth, the carol was the work of an assistant pastor Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) and his choir-master/organist friend Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863). The two men met on a Christmas Eve afternoon in 1818 in Gruber's apartment over the school at which Gruber taught. Mohr brought with him a poem he had written two years before while pastor in another village. He hoped Gruber would be able to set the words to music for the Midnight Mass that evening. In a few hours, Gruber had composed the music for Mohr's poem, and, that evening, they stood before the congregation at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria, to perform the song that would in twenty years become world famous.
Grove's Dictionary of Music offers the following information on the spread of the song from Oberndorf/Amsdorf to the wider world:
Karl Mauracher, an organ builder in the Zillertal, visited Arnsdorf in 1821, and must have been shown the song; Gruber referred to a ‘well-known Zillertaler’ who took the song to the Tyrol. It was probably taken to the Leipzig trade fair of 1831 by the Strasser family from the Zillertal, and first appeared in print in 1838 (‘slightly changed’, according to Gruber). Its fame spread rapidly: it came to be regarded as a Tyrolean folksong, and was eventually translated into many different languages.
In the late nineteenth century the song was attributed to various composers including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Only in recent years has the dispute been finally settled with the discovery of an arrangement of Stille Nacht in Joseph Mohr's hand with a note in the upper corner "Melody by Fr. Xav. Gruber."
Click Here for an audio example of verse one of the Gruber/Mohr original.
Peter Ily'ich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) considered his music for The Nutcracker ballet to be 'infinitely poorer' than that of The Sleeping Beauty. Following the success of his opera Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), Tchaikovsky had accepted two commissions from the director of the Imperial Theatres - one for a ballet and another for a one-act opera. The director gave Tchaikovsky no options on the subject for the ballet; it was to be based on Alexandre Dumas père's adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Tchaikovsky liked neither Dumas' adaptation nor Hoffman's original story but felt compelled, for financial reasons, to fulfill his obligation.
He began work on the score in early 1892 prior to leaving for a successful tour of the United States. He finished the piece by late summer of the same year. To generate public enthusiasm for the ballet, the composer made a suite of eight of the numbers he had already completed and presented The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 72a to the St. Petersburg branch of the Musical Society on March 19, 1892. The complete ballet debuted in December 1892 to generally poor reviews. While the suite was an immediate success, the complete ballet did not achieve great popularity until the 1950s. It has since become standard Christmas fare.
Of special interest is Tchaikovsky's use of the then newly-invented instrument, the celesta. The composer was particularly intrigued by the heavenly sound the celesta produced and used it in several places throughout the score, but in no place more effective than in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy where it is a featured solo instrument.
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) composed his most recognized orchestral composition The Planets in the years 1914-1916. Despite his labor on the score, he did not consider the work to be one of his best, reserving that favorable judgement for later works such as the Choral Symphony and Egdon Heath. Holst was a man of somewhat fragile constitution, suffering from extended periods of depression brought on by stress and ill health. In a search for guidance, he involved himself in various mystical studies, striving to find a solid rock on which to build his life. Even the immediate success of The Planets with its astrological symbolism writ large brought nothing but anxiety and dismay to the composer. However, only five and six years before he completed his masterwork, Holst had indulged himself in the Christian traditions, and consequently he produced a choral work, Christmas Day. The work is a fantasy on old Christmas carols, among which are God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, The First Nowell, Come Ye Lofty, Come Ye Lonely, and begins with the old Latin carol In Dulci Jubilo, or in its translation, Good Christian Men Rejoice.
The first performance was given at Morley College on January 28, 1911. Apparently it was well-received and had an additional presentation on February 18 at a music students’ ‘Tea and Social’ event. The college magazine described the work as ‘delightful.’ However, Holst himself considered 'Xmas Day can be done [piano] and [strings] or any other combination but it is poor stuff and not worth doing.' His daughter Imogen, on the other hand, reports that her father was ‘happy enough with his peppery sprinkling of quaver fifths...’ The work has proved to be popular and is represented on at least five commerical recordings.
Messiah premiered the evening of April 13, 1742 as one of a series of charity concerts in Dublin, Ireland. George Frederic Handel (1685-1759), the German-born, Italian-educated, English citizen, composed this masterpiece over a three-week period during the summer of 1741 set to a libretto by Charles Jennens. Handel, depressed and in debt, followed his usual manner in composing, incorporating material from his earlier works and the works of other composers along with his original ideas. At the premiere, Handel led the singers from the harpsichord while Matthew Dubourg, an Irish violinist, composer, and conductor, led the orchestra. The original composition took approximately three and a half hours to perform, and little is known of the reception the work received at its premiere, but it was a success when Handel led a performance in London the following year. Not until 1818 did an American premiere take place in Boston.
Handel altered and revised Messiah depending on the occasion and the musical forces he had at his command, and it was only in 1754 that an 'authentic' version was presented at a benefit performance for London's Foundling Hospital. Yet, other notables have sought to improve on Handel's original modest orchestration. Mozart expanded Handel's scoring by adding woodwinds and organ. Later, in the twentieth century, Eugene Goossens augmented Mozart's arrangement with the addition of more woodwinds and brass. Goossens' version was popular for a period of time, but it is seldom heard now in a live performance. The trend in performance today is to opt for the more modest requirements of the original.
The choruses from Messiah offer some of the most inspiring and stirring music that Handel ever wrote. Of particular note is the most famous of them, the Hallelujah chorus. The text is taken from three verses in the New Testament book of Revelation in the King James version of the Bible. The chorus comes at the end of part two and tradition dictates that the audience stands at this point, as King George II did in Handel's time, to show deference to the King of Kings.
Program Notes © 2012 William H. Driver and Clinton Symphony Orchestra Association