CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 29, 1999
Disselhorst plays works for organ, orchestra with University
Symphony Nov. 10
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two works featuring the unusual
combination of organ and orchestra will fill the program of the University
of Iowa Symphony when organist Delbert Disselhorst appears with the orchestra
and director William LaRue Jones in a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov.
10 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The two works, comprising the entire program, will
be the Symphonie concertante for organ and orchestra by Joseph Jongen and
the Symphony No. 3, known as the "Organ Symphony" of Camille Saint-Saens.
Jongen is one of the best-known Belgian composers
of the 20th century. A remarkable prodigy, he was admitted to the Conservatory
in Liege at the age of seven. He started to compose at the age of 13, and
by the time he was graduated from the conservatory he had earned brilliant
distinctions in competitions in fugue, piano and organ. His String Quartet
won the Belgian Royal Academy Competition in 1894, and three years later he
won the Belgian Prix de Rome, enabling him to study composition in several
other European countries.
A lengthy and distinguished career included teaching
positions at the Leige and Brussels conservatories. He was conductor of the
Concerts Spirituels, a society that performed sacred music in Brussels, and
he served as director of the Brussels Conservatory for 14 years. A relatively
conservative composer, Jongen did not embrace the avant-garde musical developments
after World War II. He had completed more than 240 works, but at the end of
his life he re-evaluated his works and withdrew all but 137 of them.
Disselhorst said that the Symphonie concertante, completed
by Jongen in 1926, is "a definite audience pleaser. It used to be a showstopper
for Virgil Fox -- he arranged it for solo organ and played it frequently.
It has lots of bravura for the organ and a good bit of color."
Saint-Saens had a long and extremely productive life.
Born in Paris in 1835, he lived until 1921. In his 86 years he wrote 13 operas,
three symphonies, numerous orchestral tone poems, five piano concertos, three
violin concertos, two cello concertos, chamber music, songs and choral works.
In addition to all this compositional activity, he continued to perform as
both a pianist and organist, areas in which he made his first public appearances.
He was particularly famous as a pianist, giving the first performances of
all of his own piano concertos.
Relatively little of his prolific output is still
performed today. The "Carnival of the Animals" is his most popular
work, the opera "Samson and Delilah" holds a place in the standard
repertoire, and his concertos are still performed with some regularity by
touring virtuosos. Perhaps because it requires a large pipe organ with the
orchestra, the Third Symphony is performed only occasionally.
The symphony was commissioned by the London Philharmonic,
which gave the first performance in London on May 19, 1886. It was conducted
by the composer, who also played Beethovens Fourth Piano Concerto on
the same program. At the first Paris performance early in 1887 Charles Gounod,
one of the most eminent composers in France, is supposed to have pointed to
Saint-Saens and said, "There is the French Beethoven."
In contrast to Jongen, Saint-Saens does not treat
the organ part as a virtuoso solo. Instead, it is fully integrated into the
orchestral fabric, along with a piano part for two players, adding both brilliance
and weight to the climactic moments of the symphony.
Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of
Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelors and masters
degrees in music from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a
Bronze Tablet Scholar. As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also
studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He
earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.
As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in
the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for
several regional conventions and for the 1989 National Convention of the American
Guild of Organists in Houston.
A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the
School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director
of orchestral studies. He replaced James Dixon, the director of the orchestra
for more than 40 years, who retired at the end of the 1996-97 academic year.
Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator
of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of
Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.
Jones is a highly honored musician, having received
the Twin Cities Mayors Public Art Award, the American String Teachers
Association Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award and the David W. Preuss
Leadership Award. He has also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma
Alpha Iota, a music honorary society.
Jones is conductor of the Bloomington (Minn.) Symphony
and has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St.
Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and
other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival
orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence
at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).
Jones holds a Master of Fine Arts in music from the
UI and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.