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APRIL 2019

Welcome to the ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to the last concert of the season.


Saturday 18 May

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm


HAYDN
Symphony No.80 in D minor
RACHMANINV arr. Butterworth
Prayer & Hungarian Dance
MOZART
Piano Concerto No.18 in B flat K456

MELANIE JONES - piano
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor

PIANO SOLOIST

We welcome Melanie Jones as our soloist at the coming concert and she will be making her second appearance with the Erato having played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.14 for us in 2017. Melanie graduated from York University and completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music where she studied with Malcolm Martineau and Daniel-Ben Pienaar.  She has performed in various venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Purcell Room, St John’s Smith Square and Cheltenham Town Hall.  Melanie has also appeared at the Norwich and Norfolk Festival, the York Late Music Festival, and she was a Park Lane Group Young Artist for 2014/15.  Recent performances have taken place at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and at London’s Wigmore Hall.

1784

The two major works in the coming Erato concert were composed in 1784 – a successful year for both composers.  Although  the  51 year-old  Haydn  had  been under the patronage of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy for many years and had spent much of his time in the isolated Palace at Esterháza, his fame had spread.  In 1779 Haydn had signed a new contract with his employer which allowed him to accept outside commitments, and by 1784 his works were being performed in all the major cities of Europe although any financial gain was limited because performers often used pirated copies of the music. The Viennese publishing company, Artaria, produced Haydn’s Symphony No.80 a year after its composition and it was soon being performed in Vienna and London.

At this time Vienna was an important centre of culture: the Court,  nobility and the aristocracy of Eastern Europe who visited the city frequently ensured that concerts and operas were supported.  1784 saw the beginning of a close friendship between Haydn and the 28 year-old Mozart.  The two differed considerably in temperament as well as age: Mozart was the keyboard virtuoso who wrote music with astounding ease and speed who was dismal at managing his own financial affairs while Haydn was a slow worker and, on his own admission, no soloist as a performer but a meticulous and efficient administrator.  On several occasions the two got together with two other composers, Dittersdorf and Vanhal, to make up a string quartet, Haydn playing 2nd violin and Mozart the viola.

For Mozart 1784 was one of most successful in his short life.  He was in great demand as a pianist at both public and private performances and he was producing masterpieces with astonishing speed including the Piano Concertos Nos.15-19.  Private patrons vied with each other to attract the young composer to perform in their salons and the piano concertos were the foundation of his success.  One of Mozart’s patrons during this year was Count Johann Baptist Esterházy, a relation of Haydn’s patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.  The Piano Concerto No.18 was completed on 30th September (ten days after the composer’s second son was born) and it is thought to be the one dedicated to the blind pianist, Maria Theresia von Paradies.  Paradies lost her sight in early childhood but, in spite of her disability, she travelled widely as a keyboard player composer and singer.  She commissioned works from her contemporaries including an organ concerto from Salieri, a concerto from Mozart (probably K456) and another from Haydn. Reputed to have an excellent memory and acute hearing, she was said to be able to play 60 concertos by heart.  In 1784 she set off from Vienna on a concert tour of European cities which included London where she played Handel fugues for George III and accompanied the Prince of Wales who played the cello.  1784 also saw performances of the play The Marriage of Figaro by Beaumarchais: two years later Mozart was to compose his operatic masterpiece using a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte based on the play.

RACHMANINOV ARRANGED

The first of the two Rachmaninov arrangements in the coming concert is the fifth movement from the composer’s All-night Vigil written in 1915 for the Russian Orthodox Church ceremony. This movement, which quotes a Ukrainian Orthodox chant, must have held a special place for Rachmaninov since he requested that it be performed at his own funeral.

The Hungarian Dance was originally written for violin and piano in 1893, the year when the 20 year-old composer had gained a great success with his one-act opera, Aleko at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. 

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FEBRUARY 2019

At this time Vienna was an important centre of culture: the Court,  nobility and the aristocracy of Eastern Europe who visited the city frequently ensured

that concerts and operas were supported.  1784 saw the beginning of a close friendship between Haydn and the 28 year-old Mozart.  The two differed considerably in temperament as well as age: Mozart was the keyboard virtuoso who wrote music with astounding ease and speed who was dismal at managing his own financial affairs while Haydn was a slow worker and, on his own admission, no soloist as a performer but a meticulous and efficient administrator.  On several occasions the two got together with two other composers, Dittersdorf and Vanhal, to make up a string quartet, Haydn playing 2nd violin and Mozart the viola.

Welcome to the first ERATO NEWS of 2019.  We hope you will be able to come to our March concert.


Saturday 23 March

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm


BOCCHERINI
Symphony No.23 in D minor
BRUCH Kol Nidrei
DVORAK
Rondo in G minor for cello
HAYDN
Symphony No. 83 (The Hen)

EMMA BUTTERWORTH - cello
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor


TWO CELLISTS

The coming concert features two works for cello and orchestra by near contemporaries Max Bruch and Antonin Dvořak and both were inspired by 19th Century cellists.  Bruch composed three violin concertos and several shorter pieces for violin and orchestra.  His friend, the cellist Robert Hausmann, suggested Bruch composed similar shorter pieces for the cello and the result was Kol Nidrei.  The piece was written during the time the composer was conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society and the first performance took place in 1881.    Bruch was not Jewish but, as a basis of the work, he used a melody which appears in the Jewish evening service, Kol Nidrei.  Hausmann was the leading German cellist of the day and the composer consulted him with regard to bowing  and   technical  aspects  of 

the score. Bruch’s tenure at Liverpool did not last long: disagreements with the orchestra and management caused his departure after only three years.  

In 1892 the Czech composer, Dvořak, a near contemporary of Bruch, was invited to teach at the New Conservatory of Music in New York.  The salary offered was huge and the composer, now having to provide for a growing family, made his first of two visits to the USA later in 1892.  Before leaving Europe Dvořak embarked on a farewell concert tour of Bohemia and Moravia with his friends the violinist, Ferdinand Lachner and the cellist, Hanuš Wihan. Their repertoire included the newly composed Rondo in G minor for cello and piano.    Wihan, the most famous cellist in Europe, was a friend of Wagner, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss. In 1894 Dvořak made an orchestral version of the Rondo and in the following year he composed the Cello Concerto, dedicating it to his friend, Wihan.  Bruch had asked Hausmann for advice when writing Kol Nidrei and Dvořak similarly consulted Wihan with the writing for the soloist.  Wihan made several suggestions, (some of which the composer rejected out of hand) but the cellist’s name appeared as the dedicatee at the head of the score.  

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

30 of Haydn’s 104 symphonies have names attached to them.  As far as we know, none was given by the composer, and nearly all were either attached to them by astute publishers as sales gimmicks (names are much more memorable than numbers) and works were also associated with particular people or occasions.  Sometimes the reason for a name may be obvious (the “Oxford” and “London” Symphonies), and a symphony has often attracted a name because of a certain unusual and characteristic melody or rhythm appearing in one of the movements (“The Lamentation”, “The Clock” and the “Horn Signal” Symphonies).  As with most nicknames for Haydn symphonies, “The Hen” attached itself at a later date, the name being suggested by the “clucking” second theme of the first movement.  It was probably a publisher surmising that the public would remember a catchy name more easily than a number – he has been proved right. 

This symphony is one of the so-called “Paris Symphonies” which Haydn was commissioned to write by the Parisian concert society, Concert de la Loge Olympique.  The orchestra itself was made up of amateurs and professionals: the musicians wore sky-blue dress coats with elaborate lace ruffles and swords for their performances and the concerts were patronised by the nobility and even by Queen Marie Antoinette. Haydn was paid 25 louis d’or for each symphony – five times as much as Mozart had received for his “Paris” Symphony (No.30) a few years earlier.  It was an astronomical sum, equivalent to around £40,000 per work in today’s money.  Haydn never visited Paris but he would have known that the orchestral players (especially those in the wind section) were considered to be some of the finest in Europe.

CELLO SOLOIST

Emma Butterworth, who has been a regular player in the Erato since 1998, grew up in the Suzuki Method, learning the cello from the age of four and studying with Christine Livingstone.  She studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University and later trained as a Suzuki teacher.  Emma has been teaching for the last nine years and also performs as a singer and cellist in a number of bands.  As a conductor Emma has worked with many student and adult orchestras, ranging from early years to post Grade 8 groups.  Last November she was selected to take part in a workshop with the internationally renowned conductor Jessica Cottis run by the Royal Philharmonic Society.  She has also coached a wide variety of chamber music ensembles and enjoys leading improvisation sessions.  In addition to playing and teaching, Emma is a prolific composer and arranger of music for a wide variety of ensembles and genres.  She has recently gained a Master’s degree in Composition for Film and TV at the University of Bristol.

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APRIL 2018

Welcome to the  ERATO NEWS.   We hope you will be able to come to our final concert of the season

Saturday 19 May

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm


HAYDN
Symphony No.61 in D major
DEBUSSY arr Butterworth
Réverie, Sarabande & Arabesque
MOZART
Piano Concerto No.17 in G major K453

ROBERT RANDALL - piano
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor

MOZART’S PIANO

Many musicians make the pilgrimage to visit Mozart's birthplace in the   Getreidegasse in Salzburg.  Amongst the numerous fascinating exhibits is the fortepiano which Mozart played up to the age of about 25 when he was based in Salzburg.  The word "fortepiano" is generally used for the pianos made in the 18th Century – for some unknown reason this was changed to "pianoforte" at the beginning of the 19th Century.  It is generally accepted that the Italian, Bartolomeo Cristofori made  the  earliest fortepianos in about 1700.  His ideas were taken up by the German, Gottfried Silbermann, and in 1726 he submitted two instruments to J.S.Bach who was not very impressed. However, the mechanics and sound of the fortepiano were improved and it gradually gained in popularity over the harpsichord,  although  Mozart's  early keyboard works were usually published as being suitable for harpsichord or piano.  To 21st Century eyes and ears Mozart’s Salzburg instrument appears to be small  and much quieter than a modern piano, but what it lacks in power it gains in clarity. 

Although Robert Randall, the soloist in the coming concert, is a familiar face as one of the Erato’s regular viola players, he will be making his eleventh appearance as a piano soloist with the orchestra.

ST MARK’S CHURCH

For many years the Erato Orchestra gave concerts in St Michael’s, Wallington before moving to St Mark’s, Woodcote in May 1994. The coming concert will be the 71st presented in this church.  The first church, known as the “Iron Church” was dedicated in 1905, but a new design was soon commissioned from the architect, George Fellowes Pryne.  Much of the land in the area was owned by William Webb and a larger church was needed for the many houses which were being built on the Webb Estate.  There was some delay for the necessary funds to be raised, but the first turf was cut on 7th July 1909 and the Foundation Stone was laid by the Bishop of Kingston on 23rd October in the same year. The church, consecrated by the Bishop of Southwark on 19th November 1910, was originally planned to have a spire but this idea was dropped, probably because of the cost.  The first vicar was Lucius Smith who was soon succeeded by Alfred Hooper.  Forward planning was noticeable in the use of electric lighting with only a few gas lights for emergency.  The success of the lighting was such that in 1910 the police requested the vicar to modify the church lighting at night for fear of enemy aircraft – Croydon Airport was, of course, very close.


WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

One of the aims of the Erato has always been to encourage young musicians, as orchestral players, soloists or conductors, and over the years we can be proud that many musicians have gone on the “greater” things.  Unsurprisingly, several of these have been violinists: Stephen Bryant (long-time leader of the BBCSO) played in the Erato, firstly as a schoolboy and later as a music student at the RCM; his contemporary, Nick Whiting, also went on to the RCM and has been associate leader of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for several years; Martin Loveday also played in the orchestra when he was at school and at the RCM, and he went on to be leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra for many years, and Roger Coull, who has returned on a number occasions as a soloist, has led the Coull Quartet, the resident quartet at Warwick University, for over 40 years.  The viola player, David Curtis, played in the orchestra when he also was a schoolboy and later as a student, and appeared as a soloist in 1993 in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante when he was a member of the Coull Quartet.  He later founded and was the first conductor of the Orchestra of the Swan based in Stratford-upon-Avon. The cellist, Emma-Jane Murphy who performed Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C with the Erato is now a leading cellist in New Zealand.  The well-known conductor, Barry Wordsworth, directed many concerts when he was a student and in his early professional days.  Russell Keable, a violinist in the orchestra in the 1980s, is Director of Conducting at Surrey University and conducts the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, one of the leading amateur orchestras in the country.  The flautist, Katherine Baker, was principal flautist in the National Orchestra of Wales before moving to the Hallé Orchestra     

DEBUSSY ANNIVERSARY

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Claude Debussy.  As a student at the Paris Conservatoire in the 1870s, Debussy rebelled against the conservative atmosphere of the institution where tradition was thought to be of prime importance: teaching methods had scarcely changed for 100 years.  The sounds Debussy produced in his compositions were completely new and his music was to have a profound effect, not only on his contemporaries, but also on numerous composers of the 20th Century.  The three pieces in the coming Erato concert are orchestral transcriptions of piano pieces in the early years of his career.

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FEBRUARY 2018

Welcome to the first  ERATO NEWS of 2018  We hope you will be able to come to our March concert.

Saturday 17 March

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm


JOHANN STAMITZ
Symphony in E flat Op.11 No.3
MOZART
Violin Concerto No.4 in D major K218
CHABRIER arr Butterworth
Danse Villageoise
HAYDN
Symphony No.52 in C minor
LARA CAISTER - violin
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor
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MANNHEIM MASTER

 

Carl Theodor, Duke of Mannheim for much of the 18th Century, was an outstanding patron of the arts, turning Mannheim into a centre of German culture.  Very large sums of money were spent on artistic and scientific institutions, museums and libraries, and the Duke employed some of the finest musicians of the day in his court.  The Bohemian composer and violinist, Jan Václav Antonín Stamic, was one of the Duke’s prize musicians whom he had encouraged to enter the court circle.  Germanising his name to Johann Wenzel Stamitz, he was one of the founders of the symphonic form, establishing the four movement pattern which was to be continued later by Haydn and Mozart.  The Mannheim orchestra became the outstanding group of its kind in Europe under the direction of Johann Stamitz: musicians came from far and wide to hear the   orchestra which was famous for its precision and fiery brilliance.  On his death at the age of 39 the court circular announced that “he was so expert in his art that his equal will hardly be found”, however, Johann’s two sons, Karl and Anton, were to follow in his footsteps to continue the tradition of excellence.   When Mozart visited Mannheim in 1777, twenty years after Johann’s death, he reported that the orchestra was excellent, one of the best he had ever heard.  When we listen to the Symphony in E flat, composed in the 1750s, we have to remind ourselves how new this music must have seemed to listeners who were used to the music of composers such as Handel and Telemann who were still writing music at this time.

LOCAL VIOLINIST

 

The Erato has often provided a platform for young soloists at the start of their careers: Lara Caister, who will perform Mozart’s 4th Violin Concerto in the coming concert, was born in Surrey into a musical family and is now studying in Paris at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur.  Lara started lessons at the age of seven and later studied at Junior Guildhall and at the Purcell School. When she was still at school she played in the East-West Orchestra in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel at the Barbican.  

After leaving school, Lara studied under Alexander Sitkovetsky at the Royal Northern College of Music.  Her playing has won her numerous awards such as first prize in the London International Music Competition and in competitions in Farnham, Kingston, Richmond and Brighton, and she has performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 with the Richmond Orchestra and the Sutton Symphony Orchestra.  Lara has also had successful solo appearances abroad, playing in Vienna’s St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Schőnbrunn Palace as well as in Barcelona, Mantua, Padua and Verona.  Lara plays on a 19th Century Italian violin made by Lorenzo Ventepane.  Since the Erato Orchestra was founded in 1961 it has included Mozart’s 4th Violin Concerto in seven programmes when the soloists have included Geoffrey Silver, Charlotte Ansbergs and Stephen Bryant (a student at the time but now long-time leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra).


CIVIL SERVANT and COMPOSER

 

The young Chabrier had been encouraged by his father to treat music as a hobby and for almost 20 years he earned his living as a civil servant in the Ministry of the Interior in Paris.  However, on a visit to Bayreuth in 1879, he encountered Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde which convinced him that he should resign his post and devote his life to composing.  Two years later he wrote a set of ten pieces for piano, Pièces pittoresques four of which he later transcribed for full orchestra.  The Danse Villageoise comes from this set of pieces.  Chabrier counted amongst his friends numerous poets, musicians and painters and he collected art works by such figures as Manet, Monet and Renoir.  A number of paintings from his art collection are now in museums throughout the world.  Although a great admirer of Wagner’s music, his own music could hardly be more different: his Souvenirs de Munich for piano duet is a set of quadrilles based on Tristan.  Although Chabrier composed several operas, he is best remembered for his colourful and imaginative orchestral pieces, the Rhapsody España, and Marche joyeuse.


HAYDN and SHAKESPEARE

 

Haydn’s Symphony No.52 was composed in 1773 and is almost contemporary with the more well-known ‘Farewell’, ‘Trauer’ and ‘La Passione’ Symphonies but, unlike them, it has suffered neglect – probably because it lacks a nickname.  However, the Haydn scholar Robbins Landon has referred to it as the grandfather of another C minor symphony, Beethoven’s 5th.  In the same year as the Haydn symphony was composed the new German translation of ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’ were performed at Esterháza, and Haydn often had to provide incidental music for such productions.  Is it possible that these two Shakespeare tragedies influenced this C minor Symphony?

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SEPTEMBER 2017

Welcome to the ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to the first concert of the new season.


Saturday 30 September

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm


JOHANN BAPTIST VANHAL
Symphony in C major
BOCCHERINI
Cello Concerto in B flat major
KALINNIKOV
Serenade for Strings
HAYDN
Symphony No.65 in A major

DANIEL BENN - cello
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor


THE FIRST FREELANCE COMPOSER?

76 symphonies, 60+ Masses, six sets of string quartets, various concertos for violin, viola and double bass, and two operas – this was the prolific output of the Bohemian/Austrian composer, Johann Baptist Vanhal.  He was one of many composers living in Vienna in the second half of the 18th Century and he counted Haydn, Mozart and Dittersdorf amongst his close friends.  There is an account of a gathering when the four met to play quartets, Haydn and Dittersdorf playing violins, Mozart the viola and Vanhal on the cello.  Mozart must have had a good opinion of Vanhal’s works because he had performed the Bohemian’s Violin Concerto in Augsburg a few years earlier. Vanhall had been born into a poor family in Nechanice, northeast of Prague, but he showed a strong aptitude for music and was sent away to learn German   (necessary if  he  was to progress in the music world).  He later went to Vienna for tuition on the keyboard and violin.  Vanhal became moderately successful both as an orchestral violinist and as a composer and he persuaded patrons to support him financially so he could study in Italy.  Here he met Gluck and took lessons from him.

Vanhal returned to Vienna in about 1770 where he became one of the first composers to “go it alone” without being attached to a nobleman’s court.  (Mozart was to become a freelance composer ten years later.)  The large number of compositions is probably due to the fact that, without a patron, it was the only way in which Vanhal could attempt to secure a living.  Although he, like Dittersdorf, has been assigned a position in the second rank of composers many of his compositions are well worth an airing, including the Sinfonia in C major to be played at the coming Erato concert.

CELLO SOLOIST

We welcome back Daniel Benn as our soloist in the coming concert when he will be performing Boccherini’s Concerto in B flat.  In July Daniel performed Elgar’s Concerto with the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra during a tour of Slovenia and Austria. Although still in his early 20s, he has also performed the concertos by Dvorak and Schumann. After winning a music scholarship to Trinity School, Croydon, and later studying Music at Oxford University, he completed the postgraduate course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. During his time at the Guildhall Daniel had the opportunity of playing under Simon Rattle and Bernard Haitink in the scheme where students play with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The Boccherini concerto is something of a hybrid: it will be performed in the well-known version made by the 19th Century cellist, Friedrich Grützmacher, who substituted a central movement from a different Boccherini concerto and made cuts and alterations in the other movements.  This version of the concerto has been one of the composer’s most frequently performed works during the last century and it is only in recent years that the original edition has been resurrected and seen the light of day.

THOSE WHOM THE GODS LOVE, DIE YOUNG          

Vasily Kalinnikov was born in 1866, the son of a policeman, and, although he showed great musical promise, he did not take up a place at the Moscow Conservatoire because he was unable to afford the fees.  However, he later  won a scholarship to the Moscow Philharmonic Society School where he took bassoon and composition lessons. At the same time he supplemented his income by playing the bassoon, timpani and violin in theatre orchestras, and it was at this time he composed his one-movement Serenade for Strings which is being played in the coming Erato concert.  The young composer’s fortune improved when Tchaikovsky recommended him to be the musical director at a theatre but ill-health forced him to resign and move to the warmer climate of the Crimea.  Rachmaninov visited him there and, appalled at the conditions in which he found him living, gave the young composer some financial help, making it possible for him to compose two symphonies and various instrumental and vocal works.  Kalinnikov died in 1901 from tuberculosis, shortly before his 35th birthday.

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APRIL 2017

Welcome to the ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to our May concert.

Saturday 13 May

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

MYSLIVEČEK
Symphony No.44 in E flat major
GRIEG
Two Elegiac Melodies for strings
HAYDN
Symphony No.64 in A major
(Tempora Mutantur)
MOZART
Piano Concerto No.14 in E flat K.449

MELANIE JONES - piano
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor
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PIANO SOLOIST

We welcome Melanie Jones as our soloist at the coming concert and she will be making her first appearance with the Erato.  Melanie graduated from York University and completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music where she studied with Malcolm Martineau and Daniel-Ben Pienaar.  She has performed in various venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Purcell Room, St John’s Smith Square and Cheltenham Town Hall.  Melanie has also appeared at the Norwich and Norfolk Festival, the York Late Music Festival, and she was a Park Lane Group Young Artist for 2014/15.  Recent performances have taken place at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and the Wigmore Hall.

MYSLIVEČEK

The opening works in the first two concerts of the Erato season were  symphonies by two lesser-known composers of the latter part of the 18th Century, Rigel and Pleyel and our May concert starts with a symphony (or sinfonia) composed in 1778 by a friend of Mozart who was born in Prague but spent most of his life in Italy.  The 14 year-old Mozart’s first meeting with Mysliviček was in Bologna when he was on one of his tours of Italy with his father, Leopold. Mysliviček had left Bohemia as a young man and had achieved great success in several Italian cities as an opera composer (he has over 20 operas to his name) and returned to his native country on only a few occasions.  In addition to operas, he wrote 55 symphonies, several concertos, oratorios and numerous smaller instrumental works.   Today little of his music is performed expect for the octets for wind which are the staple diet of wind players.

The Sinfonia No.44, composed in 1778, follows the pattern of an Italian operatic overture having three movements (fast-slow-fast) and no minuet.  In the same year Mozart’s friendship with Mysliviček soured when the Czech composer broke his promise to arrange a commission for Naples Opera House for the younger composer.  Unusual for the time, Mysliviček did not attach himself to a rich patron or the church but made his living from teaching, performing and composing. Although successful for much of the time, he was profligate with his money and he died destitute in Rome in 1781, one decade before his admirer and friend, Mozart.

 

NORWAY’S FAMOUS SON

Edvard Grieg was not the first nationalist composer in Scandinavia, but he was the first to gain a wide European audience.  As a young man he had studied at the Leipzig Conservatoire and he later received great encouragement from Liszt.  His music was extremely popular in this country where he was ranked with Wagner and Brahms as being one of the foremost composers of the day and he was given honorary degrees at Cambridge and Oxford in 1896 and 1906. 

With the exception of a few pieces such as the Piano Concerto, Grieg was a miniaturist, composing numerous short piano pieces and songs, and many of the songs were written for his wife, Nina, a professional singer. Grieg’s music became extremely popular with amateur musicians and sheet music of his compositions sold in great quantities in Europe and in America making him one of that rare breed, a wealthy composer. 

In 1885 at the age of 42 Grieg organised the building of a villa at Troldhaugen (Trolls’ Hill), a short distance outside Bergen, and, apart from the frequent European tours as a pianist or conductor, he spent the remainder of life at the idyllic place above the fjord.  The Two Elegiac Melodies for strings, composed in 1888, are the composer’s own arrangements of two songs he had written eight years earlier.


HAYDN AND MOZART

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.14, which forms the second half of the coming Erato concert, was composed in 1784 around the time when the 52 year-old Haydn first met the 28 year-old Mozart in Vienna.  At this time Haydn was the most celebrated composer in Europe and the younger composer was well acquainted with Haydn’s compositions.  It is well-known that Mozart often composed at great speed but in 1785 he spent several months perfecting a set of six string quartets which he dedicated to his idol, Haydn. When Haydn was visiting Vienna he would join with Mozart and two friends, the composers Dittersdorf and Vanhal, for enjoyable evenings of quartet playing.  There is also reported an occasion when the two great composers played violas in three of Mozart’s string quintets.

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FEBRUARY 2017


Welcome to the first ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to the first concert of 2017.
Saturday 25 March

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

IGNAZ PLEYEL
Symphony in F major
ALBINONI
Oboe Concerto in D minor
SATIE
Two Symnpédies
MOZART
Symphony No.34 in C major K.338

ELIZABETH REGAN - oboe
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor

OBOE SOLOIST

We welcome again Elizabeth Regan as our soloist in the coming concert.   In 2000   Elizabeth won   the woodwind  section of  the prestigious  BBC Young Musician of the Year  which gave her   the opportunity of performing Strauss’s  Oboe Concerto   with  the  BBC  Philharmonic  in  Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. Following this success she performed all the major oboe concertos in an intense schedule around the country.     As an ensemble player Elizabeth was principal oboe in the British Youth Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Wind Orchestra   of Great Britain  and she was  also a founder member of the Camarilla Ensemble.       Elizabeth  studied at  the Royal Academy  with Tess Miller,  Melanie  Ragge  and  Douglas  Boyd  and   in  Leipzig  with Christian Wetzel, and she is now Head of Wind at Trinity School, Croydon. 

“MUSICO DI VIOLINO DILETTANTE”

For many centuries Venice was one of the prime European commercial centres, standing at the entrance to the East.  During the 17th and 18th Centuries it was also an important musical centre with its life based on the Opera House near St Mark’s Church.  Giovanni Gabrieli, Monteverdi and Vivaldi were the tip of a large Venetian musical iceberg which was made up of numerous less illustrious names.  Albinoni, the son of a wealthy paper merchant, entitled himself “Musico di Violino Dilettante” since he was wealthy enough to regard composing as an important hobby rather than a means of earning a living.  It was never necessary for him to find a position in a church or at an aristocrat’s court. He claimed to have composed 80 operas and, although many were performed in several Italian cities, few have survived since they were never published. He also wrote numerous instrumental works and his concertos for oboe were amongst the first written for solo oboe. His reputation reached great heights during his lifetime and his slightly younger contemporary, J.S.Bach, wrote two fugues based on Albinoni themes and encouraged his pupils to study the Italian’s works. The range and power of the music of J.S.Bach and Handel has tended to obscure some other contemporaries but Albinoni can proudly count himself a minor master of the Italian Baroque.  It is unfortunate that the well-known Adagio in G minor which has Albinoni’s name attached to it is mostly the work of a 20th Century musicologist. Remo Giazotto took a few fragments composed by the 18th Century Italian and created a luxurious piece which has few stylistic connections with Albinoni.   

SATIE – AN INDIVIDUALIST

“The laziest  student  in  the  Conservatoire”   commented   one   of  Satie’s teachers at the Paris Conservatoire.    It is unsurprising that Satie’s eccentric attitude to music and to life in general did not endear him to the strict regime of the Conservatoire.  He entered first as an early teenager staying for only a short spell.    He re-entered  at  the age of  19 but  again left  after  only a few months to  concentrate on composing.    Much of his music displays extreme simplicity and influenced his much more famous contemporary Debussy and later Ravel and Poulenc.       However, he was more at home with artists and writers than musicians and counted such figures as Picasso and Cocteau as his friends.  

For many years his compositions met with very limited success but in 1917 he finally achieved notoriety with Parade written for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The score was compelling, and the inclusion of guns, car horns, sirens, and typewriters was so innovative and raucous that it caused a riot on the   opening night that brought Satie to the public's attention. Satie’s most well-known work, Gymnopédies, was written for the piano in 1888 and has attracted numerous arrangements, notably Debussy’s for orchestra made in 1897.

PLEYEL

In the years immediately following Haydn’s retirement his former pupil Ignaz Pleyel was probably the most popular composer in Europe in addition to being an important music publisher and piano maker.  His birthplace was only a few miles from the town where Haydn was born in 1732, and in 1772 the younger composer became a favourite pupil of Haydn in Eisenstadt.  Pleyel had a chequered career: at Strasbourg he was in charge of the full orchestra and choir which performed in the services at the cathedral and in 1791, (the year of Mozart’s death) during the French Revolution when musical performances in church were abolished he moved to London where he led successful concerts at the same time as his old master, Haydn, was making his first visit to the capital.  Pleyel’s return to France coincided with the Reign of Terror and, seeing which way the wind was blowing, he understandably decided he could improve his situation by composing works in praise of the new regime.    He later set up as a businessman and publisher in Paris and his company was the first to produce miniature scores. In 1807 he founded the famous Pleyel piano manufacturing company.     The Symphony in F was written in Strasbourg during the 1780s and, although written in the shadow of Haydn, it is often highly inventive.

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OCTOBER 2016

Welcome to the first ERATO NEWS of the season.  We hope you will be able to come to November's concert.


Saturday 12 November

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

HENRY-JOSEPH RIGEL
Symphony in C minor Op.12 No.4
MOZART
Violin Concerto No.3 in G major K.216
PHILIP LANE
Three Nautical Miniatures for strings
HAYDN
Symphony No.21 in A major

GEOFFREY SILVER - violin
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor


A LITTLE-KNOWN SYMPHONIST

It is only during the last few decades that symphonies by numerous lesser-known 18th Century composers have been rediscovered.  Although these works might not often appear in concert programmes, recordings are now readily available of works by such composers as Dittersdorf, Wanhal, Michael Haydn and many others.   One of the least known of these composers is Henri-Joseph Rigel, born in Germany but moved to France as a young man and soon made a name for himself in the Paris.  He became famous as a composer and virtuoso keyboard player, and numbered members of the aristocracy amongst his pupils. A symphony by Rigel appeared for the first time in 1774 on a Concert Spirituel programme.  By the end of the 18th Century Rigel had become one of the most interesting musicians in France, composing  in  all  modern  genres - the symphony, concerto, chamber music, opera and oratorio.  Many of his orchestral works inhabit the “Sturm und Drang” (storm and stress) world of Haydn and Mozart and the fast movements of the dramatic C minor symphony are good examples. Rigel would have heard Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony (Nos. 31) and Haydn’s set of “Paris symphonies” were performed during this period. Like many of his contemporaries, during the Revolution Rigel saw which way the wind was blowing a responded by composing works such as Hymne à la Liberté and Hymne sur l’enfance, ou Le Devoir des mères (hymn to childhood, or the duty of mothers).  Rigel held numerous respected posts in the musical establishments of the time: in 1795 he was among the first group of teachers at the newly established Paris Conservatoire.  He died in 1795.   In the Erato’s March concert the orchestra will be performing a symphony by another composer who weathered the storm of the French Revolution, Ingaz Pleyel.


VIOLIN SOLOIST

We welcome violinist Geoffrey Silver at our coming concert who will be returning for a sixth time as an Erato soloist.  In 1997 he played Mozart’s Concerto No.3, a work he will be repeating in the November concert.  Geoffrey started playing the violin at the age of four and performed Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in his first solo performance at the age of six.  In his teens he had lessons for many years with Kenneth Piper (also the violin teacher of Ian Butterworth) and he became leader of the National Youth Orchestra playing under a raft of international conductors such as Pierre Boulez.  As a recitalist Geoffrey has collaborated with a number of internationally recognised pianists over recent seasons including Alberto Portugheis and Eduardo Hubert. Recent tours in various capacities have taken him all over the globe performing in many of the most prestigious venues.

Recent projects have included recital and concerto appearances, chamber music recordings with the Schubert Ensemble and a series of concerts with the eminent pianist, Leslie Howard, which included all Beethoven’s violin sonatas.  In addition to his musical expertise, Geoffrey gained an Honours Mathematics Degree from Imperial College, London and a postgraduate scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Emanuel Hurwitz and Howard Davis.  Geoffrey plays on a violin made by the American, Joseph Curtin, one of the leading makers of the present day.


PHILIP LANE

Wikipedia defines “Light Music” as a less “serious” form of Western “classical” music and its heyday was the mid-20th Century; Eric Coates, Haydn Wood, Robert Farnon and many others demonstrated a great gift for writing memorable pieces skilfully orchestrated. Philip Lane, although one of Light Music’s current renowned composers, has had compositions performed at Bath, Cheltenham and the Three Choirs Festivals, but his main contribution has been to the lighter repertoire and composing music for BBC plays.  Nearly all his works are available in recordings. 

Each of the Three Nautical Miniatures is based on a well-known nautical tune: When the Boat comes in, Spanish Ladies and Portsmouth.  The two outer movements were originally conceived for brass band but were transcribed for string orchestra in 2000 when the central movement was newly composed. In addition to composing, Philip Lane has a parallel career in reconstructing film scores by other composers. Many original film scores have been lost or destroyed and Lane, having perfect pitch, reconstructs the original orchestrations by watching the films repeatedly, and listening to the original soundtrack recorded, often under character dialogue and sound effects. 

FUTURE CONCERTS

Saturday 25 March 2017

8pm.

Pleyel, Albinoni, Satie & Mozart


Saturday 13 May 2017

8pm.

Mylivecek, Grieg, Haydn & Mozart

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APRIL 2016

Welcome to the ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to May's concert.

Saturday 21 May

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

MICHAEL HAYDN
Symphony in G major P.16
JOSEPH HAYDN
Cello Concerto No.1 in C major
MOZART
Symphony No.40 in G minor K.550

DANIEL BENN - cello
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor

THE YOUNGER BROTHER

To any musician living in Salzburg in the second half of the 18th Century, the name “Haydn” would have automatically implied Michael Haydn, concertmaster and court composer to the Archbishop.   Johann Michael Haydn was five years younger than his brother Joseph and, like him, had been a boy chorister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.  On one of Maria Theresa’s visits to Vienna she had been so impressed by his singing that she presented him with a gift of 24 ducats.  He was appointed to his position in Salzburg in 1763, being preferred above other more experienced musicians, and he was to remain as the most important of the Archbishop’s musicians until his death 43 years later. 

In 1768 Michael Haydn married Maria Magdalena Lipp, who was a singer at the Salzburg Court, and she took part in several of Mozart’s early operas.  Although Michael and Mozart were on good terms the younger composer left his home town for Vienna in 1781 leaving Michael, with his considerable output   of    symphonies,   sacred   and

instrumental works, to become the most famous composer of the time in his native town.  His fame even eclipsed that of Joseph who was spending muof his time in relative isolation in Eisenstadt and Esterháza.    In 1777 Michael Haydn was appointed organist at St. Peter’s in Salzburg and Mozart made a return visit to the town in October 1783, for the first performance of his Great Mass in C minor which took place in the church.  During the same visit Michael Haydn was unable to fulfil a commission for the Court of duets for violin and viola and Mozart helped out his friend by composing three pieces to complete the commission. 

 As a court musician and organist Haydn’s duties were wide ranging: the court orchestra performed in liturgical services in the town’s cathedral and churches in addition to festival occasions and theatrical performances throughout the year. Although Haydn composed over 40 symphonies he wrote none after 1789 because much of his time was taken up with writing sacred music.  His death in 1806 brought additional links with Mozart: he left an unfinished Requiem Mass, and Mozart’s own incomplete Requiem was performed at Michael’s Haydn’s funeral.

 For almost 120 years Michael Haydn’s Symphony in G, which opens the coming concert, was known as Mozart’s Symphony No.37 K.444. At the beginning of the 20th Century it was discovered that only the first movement of the manuscript was in Mozart’s handwriting, the remaining movements being by Haydn. For some reason Mozart had composed a short slow introduction to a symphony by his friend.  The Erato performance will include the slow introduction by Mozart.

A LOST CONCERTO

 Periodically the musical world is thrown into a buzz of excitement when a work by a famous composer is discovered on the dusty shelves of a museum.  Unfortunately, the expectation of hearing a forgotten masterpiece from the past is frequently disappointing: so often the discovery turns out to be of questionable authenticity, or perhaps a work from the composer’s juvenilia or from his bottom drawer. 

In 1961 the orchestral parts of a true masterpiece by a great 18th Century master was discovered, namely Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1 which were found by a Czech musicologist in Prague’s National Museum.  They are believed to have once belonged to Josef Weigl, a cellist in Haydn’s orchestra at Esterházy, and it is probably that the work was written for him in about 1765 when the composer was 33.  Judging by Haydn’s brilliant writing for the cello in some of his early symphonies and in this concerto, Weigl must have possessed outstanding talent.  Haydn’s 2nd Cello Concerto was performed at the opening concert of the Erato’s 2014/5 season.


                                                CELLO SOLOIST

Although still in his early 20s, Daniel Benn has already performed the concertos of Elgar, Dvorak and Schumann in recent concerts.  After winning a music scholarship to Trinity School, Croydon, and afterwards studying Music at Oxford University he completed the postgraduate course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. During his time at the Guildhall Daniel had the opportunity of playing under Simon Rattle and Bernard Haitink in the scheme where students play with the London Symphony Orchestra.  


 G MINOR

The key of G minor seems to have had special significance for Mozart, reserving it for just a few of his major works.  Symphony No.40, like its predecessor No.25 in the same key, insists on remaining in G minor for three out of the four movements; the Piano Quartet K478 and the String Quintet K516, both in the same key are two of his most profound chamber works, and Pamina’s heartfelt Ach, ich fühl’s in The Magic Flute is one of the composer’s most poignant arias of any of his operas.  It is amazing that Mozart’s last three symphonies, Nos.39 - 41, were composed in the space of 2½ months in the summer of 1788 and it is unlikely they were ever performed during his lifetime.   Since Mozart always composed works either for particular occasions or people, it is possible he had planned to put them on at a concert in Vienna during that year but, because his music was becoming unfashionable in the city, he felt the time was not right.

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FEBRUARY 2016

Welcome to the ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to our March concert.
Saturday 5 March

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

GOSSEC
Symphony in C major Op.12 No.3
FRANCK arr. Butterworth
Prélude Op.18
MOZART
Horn Concerto No.4 in E flat K495
ALBÉNIZ arr. Butterworth
Two Spanish Dances
HAYDN
Symphony No.57 in D major

KEITH MARIES - horn
IANBUTTERWORTH - conductor


A FRENCH REVOLUTION SURVIVOR

Gossec’s Gavotte is one of those pieces which most music lovers recognise immediately on hearing it but would be hard-put to name the composer. However, François-Joseph Gossec was far from being a one-piece composer: his list of compositions includes 30 symphonies, 20 operas, church and choral music and numerous instrumental works. He was born in a village in present-day Belgium, sang in the cathedral choir at Antwerp before moving to Paris in 1751 where he was encouraged by the composer Rameau. He eventually held several influential positions as a violinist, double bass player and director of various organisations including the famous Concert Spirituel.  In addition to his own compositions, Gossec included works by other composers’ in his concerts and  he conducted the first performance of a Haydn symphony in France.  He also composed several operas for the Opéra.  However, all this changed in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille. 

The revolutionary government regarded the Opéra as a royalist institution and, unsurprisingly given his republican sympathies, Gossec decided to serve the new regime, composing popular pieces and organising musical events to celebrate the Revolution. In 1790 he made his mark by composing a Te Deum celebrating the fall of the Bastille: it was written for a huge choir and orchestra, anticipating Berlioz’s similar piece of many decades later.  He was also appointed as one of the leaders of the new Conservatoire.  With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the tide turned again when the Bourbon monarchy was reinstalled. The Conservatoire was replaced by the Royal School of Voice and Drama and Gossec was forced from his post into retirement.  His Symphony in C, the opening work in the coming concert, was probably composed in the 1770s.

 

MOZART and the HORN

An 18th Century orchestral horn was somewhat different from its 21st Century counterpart: since valves were not invented until the second decade of the 19th Century, the sophisticated mechanics of the modern instrument were completely absent from the horn of Mozart’s day.  Players could play only the natural harmonics - those notes which could be achieved by varying the lip pressure on the mouthpiece.

Around 1770 it was discovered that the notes between the natural harmonics (the chromatic notes) could be produced by varying the size of the opening of the bell with the hand.  However, in Mozart’s compositions these chromatic notes were limited to virtuoso, not orchestral works.  With the invention of valves the horn took on a new lease of life and four horns became the norm for the 19th Century orchestral compositions.  By the end of the century some composers were not satisfied with four, and, wanting to emphasise the heroic nature of the instrument, in 1896 Mahler asked for 8 players in his 3rd Symphony as did Richard Strauss two years later in his  tone poem, Ein Heldenleben.   At the coming Erato concert the soloist, Keith Maries, will precede the performance of the concerto with a short demonstration of the differences between the old horn without valves, and the modern instrument.


SPANISH INFANT PRODIGY

The early life of the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz reads like a work of fiction: he was born in 1860, he first performed in public as a pianist when he was aged four in Barcelona, at seven he performed in Paris and was considered too young to take up his place at the Conservatoire, and at nine he ran away from home and performed in several Spanish towns.  It is said that he then stowed away on a ship to Costa Rica, played throughout the USA and returned to Europe via England to become a student at the Leipzig Conservatory.  Even allowing for some embroidery of the story he told, he had certainly seen much of the world before the age of 15.  He eventually took some lessons from Liszt in Budapest.  Albéniz is principally known for his piano works, most of which are based on Spanish dance rhythms, and his compositions had a dramatic impact on Spanish music in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Several of Albéniz’s works are often heard in arrangements: the pieces for strings in the Erato concert are arrangements of two well-known piano pieces.

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SEPTEMBER 2015

Welcome to the Autumn ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to the first concert of the new season.
 
Saturday 31 October

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

WANHAL
Symphony No.22 in D minor
MOZART
Violin Concerto No.5 in A major K.219
HAYDN
Symphony No.55 "The Schoolmaster"

CHARLOTTE ANSBERGS - violin
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor

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THE FIRST FREELANCE COMPOSER?

76 symphonies, 60+ Masses, six sets of string quartets, various concertos for violin, viola and double bass and two operas - this was the prolific output of the Bohemian/Austrian composer, Johann Baptist Wanhal.  He was one of many composers living in Vienna in the second half of the 18th Century and he counted Haydn, Mozart and Dittersdorf amongst his close friends.  There is an account of a gathering when the four met to play quartets, Haydn and Dittersdorf playing violins, Mozart the viola and Wanhal the cello.  Mozart must have had a good opinion of Wanhal's works because he had performed a violin concerto by the Bohemian composer a few years earlier.  Wanhal had been born  in Nechanice, northeast of Prague, but he showed a strong aptitude for music and was sent away to learn German (necessary if you were to progress in the music world) and he later went to Vienna for tuition on the keyboard and violin.  He became moderately successful both as an orchestral violinist and as a composer, and he persauded patrons to support him financially so he could study in Italy.  There he met Gluck and took lessons from him.

He returned to Vienna in about 1770 where he became one of the first composers to "go it alone" without being attached to a nobleman's court.  (Mozart was to become a freelance composer ten years later.)  The large number of compositions is probably due to the fact that, without a patron, it was the only way in which Wanhal could attempt to secure a living.  Although he, like Dittersdorf, has been assigned a position in the second rank of composers, many of his compositions, including the Symphony in D minor to be played at the coming Erato concert, are well worth an airing.


                                                A RETURN VISIT

Charlotte Ansbergs is making her third appearance with the Erato having performed concertos by J.S.Bach and Mozart a few years ago.  She will be playing Mozart's 5th Violin Concerto composed  one year after the final work in the concert, Haydn's Symphony No.55.  As a schoolgirl Charlotte was a Leverhulme scholar at the Royal College of Music Department studying under Miriam Morley, and at the age of 17 she was chosen to lead the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britian, performing in concert halls throughout the country.  She went on to graduate with 1st class distinction from the Royal Academy of Music, winning the Marjorie Bunty Lempfert Award for an outstanding final recital.  Charlotte is now a fulltime member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, often playing co-principal 2nd violin.  In addition, she leads the Bacchus String Quartet, and teaches the violin at St Paul's Girls' School, the RCM Junior Department and Imperial College, London.  She will be playing the Mozart concerto on a violin made by the Italian, Joseph Gagliano.  There were at least 18 violin makers of the 18th and 19th Centuries living in Naples with the name Gagliano: Joseph was one of the leading exponents and Charlotte's instrument was made in 1775, ten years after the composition of Mozart's 5th concerto.


                              COMPOSERS ON THE SYMPHONY

Joseph Haydn on his "Surprise" Symphony: "That will make the ladies scream".

Louis Spohr "The 4th movement [of Beethoven's Symphony No.9] is, in my opinion, so monstrous and tasteless and, in its grasp of Schiller's 'Ode, so trivial that I cannot understand how a genius like Beethoven could have written it".

Johannes Brahms on his Symphony No.1: "My symphony is long and not exactly amiable".

Georges Bizet: "I am not made for the symphony; I need the theatre, I can do nothing without it".

Gustav Mahler: "A symphony must be like the world, it must embrace everything".

Hugo Wolf: "More spirit and feeling is expressed in a single cymbal crash from a work of Liszt than in all Brahms's symphonies and serenades put together".

Frederick Delius: "Now Sibelius, and when they have tired of him, they'll boost up Mahler and Bruckner".

Aaron Copland: A great symphony is like a man-made Mississippi down which we flow from the instant of aour leave-taking to a long foreseen destination.

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MARCH 2015

Welcome to the Spring ERATO NEWS.  We hope you will be able to come to the final concert of the season.

Saturday 25 April

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

HAYDN
Symphony No.82 "The Bear"
BUTTERWORTH
Suite: Sing a Song
MOZART
Piano Concerto No.25 in B flat K595

ROBERT RANDALL - piano
IAN BUTTERWORTH - conductor

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MOZART’S PIANO

Many musicians make the pilgrimage to visit Mozart's birthplace in the   Getreidegasse in Salzburg.  Amongst the numerous fascinating exhibits is the fortepiano which Mozart played up to the age of about 25 when he was based in Salzburg.  The word "fortepiano" is generally used for the pianos made in the 18th Century – for some unknown reason this was changed to "pianoforte" at the beginning of the 19th Century.  It is generally accepted that the Italian, Bartolomeo  Cristofori made  the earliest fortepianos in about 1700.  His ideas were taken up by the German, Gottfried Silbermann, and in 1726 he submitted two instruments to J.S.Bach who was not very impressed. However, the mechanics and sound of the fortepiano were improved and it gradually gained in popularity over the harpsichord although  Mozart's  early keyboard works were usually published as being suitable for harpsichord or piano.  To 21st Century eyes and ears Mozart’s Salzburg instrument   appears  to  be  small   and much quieter than a modern piano, but what it lacks in power it gains gains in clarity.

The 27th Piano Concerto, completed in January, 1791, the last year of Mozart’s life, is the composer’s final contribution to the genre, the first having been written eighteen years earlier. The premiere of the concerto was given by Mozart in Vienna two months after its completion and it marked his final appearance in front of the public. It is often assumed that Mozart’s natural genius led him to compose all his works at great speed, but in this case it is now known that he started writing this concerto in 1788, the year of his three last symphonies.  For some reason he put it aside, only taking it up again a few years later.    Mozart was to enjoy many successes in his final year: he went on to compose some of his most important works including the Clarinet Concerto, The Magic Flute, and the Requiem Mass.

Although Robert Randall, the soloist in the coming concert, is familiar as one of the Erato’s regular viola players, he will be making his twelfth appearance as a piano soloist with the orchestra.


CHEVALIER DE SAINT-GEORGES

Bear, Surprise, Oxford, London, Hen – several of Haydn’s most well-known symphonies have had nicknames attached to them, often many years after the actual compositions dates.  Twenty years after Haydn’s death a piano arrangement of the Symphony No.82 was entitled Dance of the Bear, the cue being taken from the unusual opening of the finale where the music imitates the sound of bagpipes over a drone bass. Dancing bears were a popular form of street entertainment in the 18th Century.  This symphony was one of the set of six commissioned from Haydn in 1786 by Count d’Ogny, Grandmaster of the Masonic Loge Olympique. The music director of the orchestra Le Concert de la Loge Olympique was Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges who, as well as being a virtuoso violinist and conductor, was a champion fencer. 

The orchestra mixed amateurs with professionals: the musicians wore sky-blue dress coats with elaborate lace ruffles and swords for their performances at the large Salle de Spectacle de la Société Olympique, and the concerts were patronised by the nobility and even by the Queen, Marie Antoinette.  The orchestra was praised for “performing works with great precision”. Haydn was paid 25 louis d’or for each symphony, plus five louis d’or for publication rights. It was an astronomical sum, equivalent to maybe around £40,000 per work in today’s money.  The conductor, Saint-Georges, was born in Guadeloupe, the son of a wealthy planter and his African slave.  His colourful career reads like an adventure story: St.-Georges came to London in the late 1780s becoming a friend of George, Prince of Wales, a keen amateur cellist, and, as a “man of colour”, met William Wilberforce and John Wilks, leaders of the anti-slavery movement.  Returning to France after the Revolution he was made colonel of the “Légion St.-Georges” fighting on the side of the Republic, the first all-black regiment in Europe.

Today the Chevalier de Saint-Georges is remembered as the first classical composer of African ancestry.  He was a prolific composer: 6 operas, 14 violin concertos several symphonies and numerous chamber and vocal works were amongst his accomplishments, although he might have preferred to be remembered as one of the most outstanding fencers of his time.

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FEBRUARY 2015


Welcome to the ERATO NEWS. We hope you will be able to come and enjoy the music at the second concert of the season.

Saturday 7 March

St Mark's Church
Church Road, Purley CR8 3QQ
8.00pm

BOCCHERINI
Symphony No.26 in C minor
ALESSANDRO MARCELLO
Oboe Concerto in D minor
WAYNE BARLOW
"The Winter's Passed"
for oboe & strings
MOZART
Symphony No.33 in B flat K319
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FROM RICHES TO RAGS

Born in Lucca in 1743, Boccherini achieved great fame early in his career and his output of compositions was staggering: 30 symphonies, 11 cello concertos, 91 string quartets, 154 string quintets, 60 trios and much more.    In addition to his composing, Boccherini was an outstanding cello virtuoso, making his debut as a child of 13.  He became all the rage in Paris and Vienna and publishers vied with each other to issue his compositions.  In 1770 he decided to move to Spain as a composer and virtuoso di camera to the Infante Don Luis.  He was later appointed as “composer of his Chamber” by Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia but it is doubtful  if he  ever took

up his duties at the court in Berlin.  After 1798 he lacked a patron, his music fell out of favour, his health declined and, after eking out a precarious living writing and arranging music for wealthy amateur guitarists,   he died in Madrid in 1805 almost penniless.

It is ironic that, for a composer who wrote so much, for many years the only piece to be performed was the famous “celebrated Minuet”, a work popularised through its use in the 1950s film The Ladykillers. More recently Boccherini’s famous “Musica notturna della strade di Madrid” became popular through its frequent use in several films.  In the last few decades Boccherini’s orchestral works have become more well-known and the Erato concerts have featured several of   his symphonies.  They are unjustly neglected and, although they are outshone by those of Haydn and Mozart, they are well crafted, tuneful and elegant. The Symphony No.26, composed in 1788 when the composer was still attached to the Prussian court and before he returned to Madrid, was published as a “Sinfonia a grande orchestra”. In this year Haydn and Mozart were at the height of their powers: Haydn was composing the last of his “Paris” symphonies and Mozart was enjoying the success of Don Giovanni.


OBOE SOLOIST

In 2012 Elizabeth Couling performed Mozart's Oboe Concerto with the Erato and we are pleased to welcome her again, this time to play Marcello's Oboe Concerto.  In 2000 Elizabeth won the woodwind section of the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year which gave her the opportunity to perform Strauss's Oboe Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.  Followjng this success she performed all the major oboe concertos in an intense schedule around the country.

As an ensemble player Elizabeth was principal oboe in the British Youth Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and she was also a founder member of the Camarilla Ensemble.  Elizabeth studied at the Royal Academy with Tess Miller, Melanie Ragge and Douglas Boyd and in Leipzig with Christian Wetzel, and she is now Head of Wind at Trinity School, Croydon. 

Alessandro Marcello was a nobleman and musician living in Venice and a younger contemporary of Vivaldi.  This concerto has a curious history having been ascribed for many years to Alessandro's brother, Benedetto.  The concerto is by far the composer's most famous work and it has also become known in a transcription J.S.Bach made for the harpsichord.


WAYNE BARLOW

Elizabeth Couling will also be performing “The Winter’s Passed” for oboe and strings composed in 1940 by the American composer Wayne Barlow.

There are numerous American composers who are little known this side of the Atlantic and it is possible that this short piece, composed in 1940, will be receiving only its fourth performance in the UK, the previous three having been given by the Erato.  Barlow was a professor of music, organist and choir director and for many years he was associated with the prestigious Eastman Rochester School of Music for over forty years, both as a student and teacher.  Although he studied with Schoenberg in California his compositions are in a much more conservative style than his teacher.  The short piece “The Winter’s Passed” is a rhapsody on two Carolina folk tunes.

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