CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Jan. 28, 2000
University Symphony plays music by Tchaikovsky, Bernstein
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will
perform the music of Leonard Bernstein and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky on a free
concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.
The orchestra's music director William La Rue Jones will
conduct the performance, which will feature violinist Leopold La Fosse in
Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, following Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 ("Jeremiah")
with mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle.
Bernstein and Tchaikovsky are two of the most popular
composers with classical music audiences. But the 20th-century American and
the19th-century Russian have more than that in common: Both were successful
conductors as well as composers, and both led memorable performances in New
York's Carnegie Hall -- Tchaikovsky in 1891, during the celebration of the
hall's opening, and Bernstein as director of the New York Philharmonic (1958-70),
including the orchestra's final concerts in Carnegie Hall before moving to
Lincoln Center in 1962.
The musical season of 1943-44 saw the young American musical
genius Leonard Bernstein launched upon a career as no American musician before
or since. In that one season, the 25-year-old apprentice conductor earned
instant stardom when he stepped in for an ailing leader of the New York Philharmonic;
he wrote the ballet "Fancy Free" for the choreographer Jerome Robbins; he
wrote his first Broadway musical, "On The Town," with Betty Comden and Adolph
Green; and he conducted the premiere of "Jeremiah," his First Symphony.
The symphony was written in 1942 to enter in a competition
sponsored by the New England Conservatory. He used a "Hebrew Song" he had
already written, retitled "Lamentation," as the finale. Inspired by the terrible
fate then descending upon Jews in Europe, he added two movements to precede
it, titled "Prophecy" and "Profanation." Rushing to finish the score, Bernstein
got it turned in only hours before a midnight, Dec. 31 deadline. Although
it did not win the contest, the Symphony is regarded as one of Bernstein's
strongest concert compositions.
Taken together, the three movements of the symphony correspond
to the story of the prophet Jeremiah of the Book of Lamentations, from which
the text of the third movement, sung in Hebrew, is taken. The style is typical
of Bernstein: American eclectic, combining the Hebrew cantillation of his
own heritage with classical, jazz and pop influences.
Bernstein has written that the symphony is not literally
descriptive, but aims for an "emotional quality. Thus the first movement ('Prophecy')
aims only to parallel in feeling the intensity of the prophet's pleas with
his people; and the scherzo ('Profanation') to give a general
sense of the destruction and chaos brought on by the pagan
corruption within the priesthood and the people. The third movement ('Lamentation')
is . . . the cry of Jeremiah, as he mourns his beloved Jerusalem, ruined,
pillaged and dishonored after his desperate efforts to save it."
Tchaikovsky wrote the Violin Concerto in March and April,
1878, in Clarens, Switzerland, where he had gone to recover from the emotional
trauma of his disastrous marriage eight months before. While he was there,
Yosif Kotek, a young violinist and composition student of Tchaikovsky, spent
time with the composer playing through music for violin and piano.
With Kotek's encouragement and advice, Tchaikovsky began
work on a concerto for violin and orchestra, completing the sketch in a few
weeks and the full score by the end of April. He sent the completed score
with a dedication to Leopold Auer, a Hungarian-born violinist who was one
of the leading virtuosos in Europe. Auer, however, considered the concerto
In the meantime the concerto was published, and in 1888
Tchaikovsky heard that another violinist, Adolf Brodsky, was planning a performance.
Brodsky gave the premiere on Dec. 4 with the Vienna Philharmonic. The conservative
Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick greeted the performance with a famously vituperative
review, which discouraged neither Brodsky, who continued to perform the concerto
throughout Europe, nor audiences, who have hailed the concerto from the first
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.).
La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His extensive
performing career has included solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions
with five orchestras. He made his first public appearance at the age of four,
and he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio at eight. Before
coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.
At the UI he teaches violin, directs a group of students
devoted to the performance of Baroque and Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque
Ensemble, and serves as area head for strings.
He also continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician,
with tours in the
United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has
had performances at Wigmore Hall in
London, Sala Ceclila Mireles in Rio de Janeiro, Town Hall
in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center
in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he celebrated his 25th anniversary on the UI faculty
with a series of four recitals displaying his versatility, appearing as a
virtuoso soloist, a chamber musician, a Baroque performance specialist and
a jazz violinist.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Eberle has performed internationally
in opera, concert and solo recitals. The Atlanta Constitution wrote, "Katherine
Eberle was a standout. More than any other performer, she showed what it takes
for a solo performer to command the stage."
She has performed with the opera theater of Lille, France,
the Academy of the West, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Aspen Festival Opera
Theatre, the American Institute of Music Studies in Graz, Austria, and at
the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She made her New York debut at Weill Recital Hall
at Carnegie Hall in 1993. In 1994 and '95 she toured as a musical ambassador
for the United States Information Agency, performing in South America and
Eberle's solo compact disc of songs of women composers,
"From a Woman's Perspective," has been issued by Albany Records on the Vienna
Modern Masters Label. She was also soloist on a CD of the Mozart "Requiem"
released by the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
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/.