Background on upcoming recitals

2014 Alkan 200th Anniversary (1813-2013)

Charles Valentin Alkan (1813-1888)

One of the most unjustly neglected composers for the piano, the Frenchman, Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888), works have fortunately been revived- alas through recordings.  His list of admirers included Chopin, Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Hans von Bülow, Franck, and Busoni. Alkan’s compositions are more varied in mood than most composed for the piano during the Romantic period. Unlike the works of Chopin and Liszt, Alkan’s compositions are considered to be in a conservative romantic style similar to those of Mendelssohn although there are many aspects of Alkan’s works that would seem modern to our ears. Alkan’s style is unique and singular. He wrote in an orchestral style and even explored orchestral forms. There are few composers who would fare well in a recital dedicated solely to their works. His pieces look backward and forward in the musical epochs-the musical Janus.  At times his melodies sound of Schubert, and at other times his rhythms and harmonies conjure up Satie and Mahler- even Prokofiev.

This will be a recital with two intermissions. The first third of the program will feature Alkan’s small scale piano works (“the many facets of Alkan”). Next, the second third, a large scale work, and finally the last section entitled “the Funereal and the Grotesque” will feature his funereal and his unusually macabre works.

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2015 Piano Music of Henry Papale

Henry Papale (1937-  )

Henry Papale was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1937.  He received a Master’s in Composition from the College-Conservatory of Cincinnati and went on to do post-graduate work at New York University  He has composed 8 Operas, some 40 works for Chorus, 140 Songs, 43 Chamber works (including 10 String Quartets), and 250 works for Piano. Many of these works have seen performances in New York NY, Toronto, Canada, Phoenix AZ, Pittsburgh PA, Cincinnati OH, Los Angeles CA, and various venues in New Jersey. His operatic monodrama JULIA was awarded a Met-Life grant and was performed at the Leonard Nimoy Theatre at 95th St. and Broadway in NYC in 2007. Some recent performances of this works include: 47th Psalm, SATB, Trumpet & String Orchestra, 2012 Cappella Didaci Singers: Phoenix Arizona, Three Songs Shakespeare & Jonson, Underworld Opera Company, New York City, 2012, Full Fadom Five: Soprano & Clarinet New York University: Shakespeare & Italy: 2011, NYC. Mr. Papale has worked as choral arranger for four different publishers over a fourteen year period, taught Music Theory, Choral Music, Strings and General Music for 20 years in the New Jersey Public Schools as was as 9 years teaching Music Theory, Piano, Solfeggio at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been married to his wife Roberta since 1965 and has two children and three grandchildren.

Variations on a Theme of Paganini – 

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2015 Scriabin (Skryabin) 100th Memorial (1915-2015)

Alexander Scriabin (1871/2 – 1915)

The Russian composer Alexander Scriabin’s (1871/2- 1915) early piano pieces are noted for their lyricism and for being compared to Chopin’s works; but Scriabin’s could be considered even more romantic. Scriabin’s piano pieces marked a progressive change in harmony after the turn of the 20th century until his death in 1915.  This recital will feature a selection of the romantic Preludes, Etudes, and Sonatas from Scriabin’s early and middle period.

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2015 Duphly 300th Anniversary (1715-2015)

Jacques Duphly (1715-1789)

The French organist, and later turned harpsichordist, Jacques Duphly (1715-1789) was one of the cross-over composers of the Baroque period.  His works contains elements of both the Baroque and Classical periods.  This recital will feature beautiful and elegant selections from his four books for harpsichord (performed on the piano) published between 1744 and 1768.

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2024 Busoni 100th Memorial (1924-2024)

Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924)

Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) was one of the most interesting musicians of the 20th century.  This pianist extraordinaire, composer, conductor, writer, philosopher of music, editor, and arranger was admitted, at the age of 16 to the select Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna; a distinction he shared with Mozart.  Brahms was reported to have said “I will do for Busoni what Schumann did for me.” His earliest compositions were published at the age of 11 by Cranz and then at the age of 20 and thereafter he was represented by the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel.

Busoni held master classes in composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin from 1921-1923. His most now most recognized pupil is Kurt Weill (The Three-Penny Opera, Street Scene).   In July 1923, Busoni recommended Weill to Emil Hertzka of Vienna’s Universal Edition- then the most renowned publisher of contemporary music.  They accepted Weill.

Busoni had a friendship with Arnold Schoenberg with letters exchanged between 1903 and 1919. Schoenberg succeeded Busoni in teaching composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts after the latter’s death in 1924.

In his book, Music in Transition, Jim Samson states that Busoni’s music “forms a link between . . . . . the later works of Liszt and the new tonal languages of Debussy, Bartók, and Stravinsky.”

This recital will feature piano works from Busoni’s early (influenced), middle (experimental), and late (synthesis) periods.  A separate recital featuring Busoni’s chamber music is also offered.

“Busoni has a decided gift for composition and also serious tendencies”

– Peter Tchaikovsky

“Your Outline for a New Aesthetic of Music pleased me uncommonly, above all because of its boldness”

– Arnold Schoenberg

“I owe a most tremendous debt of gratitude to this extraordinary man– almost a figure out of the Renaissance– not only one of the greatest pianists of all time, but a man of wide culture, a scholar, thinker, writer, composer, conductor, teacher and animateur – a man who stimulated others to think and do things.  Personally, I know that he crystallized my half-formed ideas, stimulated my imagination, and determined, I believe, the future development of my music.”

– Edgar Varèse

“…..the invisible leader of European musical life” – Kurt Weill

“I would say that what Liszt did for Wagner, Busoni did for me.” – Kurt Weill

“And if Busoni had not left us his compositions and writings, his Bach edition, and the memory of his unforgettable piano-playing, then his personal influence alone would be a bequest to future generations.” – Kurt Weill

“If one only knows Busoni as a musician, one does not know him. (And who knows him as a musician?)”

– Alfred Einstein (music critic)

“Busoni has been called the prophet of the new music. A better description would be it’s conscience.”

– Wily Shuh

2016 Kalinnikov 150th Anniversary (1866-2016)

Vasily Kalinnikov (1866-1900/01)

So you thought Tchaikovsky sounded Russian! Come listen to a recital of the works of Vasily Kalinnikov (1866-1900/01) one of the most Russian-sounding composers! Although he might have been influenced by Borodin, Kalinnikov sought to evoke the atmosphere of the Russian life and its countryside.  In his short but productive life of 34 years, he managed to compose two symphonies (where his fame rests), orchestral pieces, piano works, and pieces for voice and for piano.  He was notably encouraged and supported by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. This recital will contain Kalinnikov’s complete works for piano and voice and piano.

 

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Kallinikov Recital

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2017 GRANADOS 150th Memorial (1867-2017)

Enrique Granados (1867-1916)Granados

This recital will feature the Spanish Nationalist and non-Nationalist music by Enrique Granados. Selections from the Spanish Dances for piano, Tonadillas, Love Songs (Canciones Amatorias), Spanish Songs (Canciones Espanoles), and his Aria from the opera Goyescas, all for voice and piano, will be featured.