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Release: Feb. 25, 2000

Concert features trumpet concerto, Shostakovich symphony

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- At its next concert -- 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium -- the University Symphony will feature the music of an 18th-century, piano-playing child prodigy from Austria who rose to fame touring Europe under the close guidance of his father.

It's not Mozart but his one-time pupil, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, whose early career closely parallels that of his famous teacher. With soloist David Greenhoe, the University Symphony and conductor William LaRue Jones will perform Hummel's Trumpet Concerto in E major.

Other works on the program will be "Rhapsody for Orchestra" by contemporary Japanese composer Yuzo Toyama and the Symphony No. 9 of Dmitri Shostakovich. The concert will be free and open to the public.

Born in 1778 in Pressburg, Austria, Hummel moved to Vienna at the age of eight when his father became music director of the Theater auf der Wieden -- where Mozart's "Magic Flute" would later be performed. Mozart, whose father had taken him around Europe showing off his remarkable musical abilities from the age of six, took an interest in the gifted child and gave him music lessons for two years. Hummel made his debut in Vienna in 1787, then toured under his father's guidance for several years, travelling through Germany, Denmark, Scotland, the Netherlands and England.

Hummel returned to Vienna at the age of 12 to continue his studies. He acquired a significant reputation as a performer and composer, and in 1803 he succeeded Haydn as music director to Prince Esterhazy. The Trumpet Concerto was written the same year for Anton Weidinger, the principal trumpet player of the Esterhazy orchestra. The same player for whom Haydn had written his Trumpet Concerto, Weidinger was one of the first players to master the keyed trumpet, a precursor to the modern valved instrument.

Shostakovich is one of the most enigmatic musical personalities of the 20th century. His music, written under the tight artistic controls of Stalin's Soviet Union, has bafflingly complex and often contradictory layers of meaning. Sometimes reviled and sometimes celebrated by Soviet authorities, Shostakovich was forced to do a constant balancing act between the official doctrine of "Soviet Realism" and the dictates of personal expression.

His most successful works seem to mock as well as celebrate the Soviet regime, while other works are just enigmatic: alternately deeply expressive and apparently banal, and sometimes sarcastic or trivial. For Western listeners especially, the meaning of his music often seems to evade understanding. The composer has been variously described as a loyal communist and a secret dissident, although today he is generally regarded as one of the century's greatest composers.

No work embodies the Shostakovich enigma better than the Ninth Symphony. It was written at the end of Word War II, at a time when Shostakovich was hailed as a Soviet hero. His Seventh Symphony, commemorating the siege of Leningrad, had been smuggled out of Russia on microfilm for triumphant premieres around the world. The Eighth Symphony had been a brooding response to the war, and it was expected that the Ninth would be a monumental and joyful "Victory Symphony," following the model of Beethoven's Ninth. Instead, Shostakovich surprised Russian audiences with a short, lightweight and apparently comic work that was startlingly out of step with the occasion.

Audiences and critics were confused by the work's irreverence. Today the Ninth Symphony is widely regarded as a calculated protest against the crushing expectation that had been placed on Shostakovich to contribute to the grandiloquent Soviet victory celebration, but the composer's real intentions are unknown and the symphony remains an entertaining, if baffling, enigma.

Yuzo Toyama was born in Tokyo in 1931 and graduated from the Tokyo Musical Academy. In 1952 he joined with other composers of his generation to form "Yagi No Kai," a group that promoted Japanese art music in modern forms. He composed a series of works with western titles -- Little Symphony, Chamber Concerto -- before going to Vienna for more study. After his return to Japan he taught composition at Tokyo University and was conductor of the Osaka Philharmonic.

The "Rhapsody for Orchestra" was one of the first works Toyama completed after his return from Vienna in 1960. It is based on Japanese folk songs and uses a mixture of Western and Asian percussion instruments.

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.).

Greenhoe has been on the faculty of the UI School of Music and the principal trumpeter of the Quad City Symphony since 1979. He is also chair of the brass area at the UI and plays first trumpet in the UI Iowa Brass Quintet. He is active as a soloist and recitalist, and during summer seasons he performs as solo trumpeter with the Lake Placid (N.Y.) Sinfonietta, a post he has held since 1975.

Prior to coming to Iowa, Greenhoe was a member and soloist of "The President's Own" -- the United States Marine Band in Washington D.C. -- and a member of the music performance faculty at Ball State University in Indiana. He has also performed with the Milwaukee Symphony, the Rochester (N.Y.) Philharmonic and the Ft. Wayne (Ind.) Philharmonic.

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