University of Iowa News Release
Oct. 25, 2004
Musicians From Marlboro Perform Hurtigs' Commissioned Work Nov. 10
Musicians from Marlboro, young chamber musicians who tour under the aegis of the famed Marlboro Music Festival, will perform works by W.A. Mozart, Caesar Frank and Leon Kirchner at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.
The concert, presented by Hancher Auditorium, will feature two works recognized as masterpieces for string quartet plus piano -- Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493; Frank's Piano Quintet in F minor -- and Kirchner's Duo for Violin and Piano, which was commissioned by Hancher Artistic Director Judith Hurtig and her husband, Richard.
The Kirchner piece was premiered at the Marlboro Festival by violinist Ida Levin and pianist Jeremy Denk, who will perform the work on the Nov. 10 concert.
The Hurtigs and two of their relatives commissioned the Duo as a memorial to prominent violinist Felix Galimir, who died in 1999. Galimir, a participant in Marlboro performances for nearly 50 years, was Richard Hurtig's uncle.
Judy Hurtig has written an extensive tribute to Galimir, which can be read in the Hancher staff blog at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu/blog/judy9.html#.
"The stories about his teaching and coaching -- and his colorful language delivered in a thick Viennese accent -- could fill an evening for delighted listeners," she wrote. "Galimir dedicated his life to playing music with love, warmth, insight and enthusiasm. His powerful and loving spirit has nurtured thousands of musicians at Marlboro and in the conservatories with which has been affiliated. There is no better way to celebrate Felix's life than in music."
In the 1930s Galimir led the Galimir Quartet, whose championing of the music of Viennese "Second School" composers led Alban Berg to dedicate his groundbreaking "Lyric Suite" to Galimir. He won a seat in the Vienna Philharmonic but was forced by the rise of the Nazis to flee from Austria -- instead playing in the Palestine Orchestra under Toscanini, who later brought Galimir to the United States to play in his NBC Symphony Orchestra.
At Marlboro Galimir collaborated with other prominent artists including Rudolf and Peter Serkin, Pablo Casals, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Richard Goode, Benita Valente and members of the Guarneri, Cleveland, Emerson, Orion and many other quartets.
"Shortly after his death, Richard and I were in Hancher listening to Yo-Yo Ma play the 'New Goldberg Variations' which were commissioned by a wife in memory of her husband," Hurtig wrote. "As he was finishing, Richard and I turned to each other. I whispered, 'You know, we could commission . . .' and before I could complete the sentence, Richard replied 'a piece in memory of Felix.'"
The selection of a composer was a sensitive issue. "Felix was very opinionated when it came to contemporary music. So we knew we would have to choose very carefully," Hurtig wrote.
"We asked several musicians who were close to Felix and we were guided particularly by the counsel of violinist Pamela Frank. With Pam's help, we finally settled on Leon Kirchner, a widely respected composer who had a relationship with the Marlboro Music Festival.
"What we did not know was that Felix had once asked Leon Kirchner to write a sonata for him. We learned this through a mysterious piece of paper. On the day of Felix's funeral, the family's lawyer was planning to take his instruments to a violinmaker for safekeeping. Richard went through each of the cases and pulled out the personal items that many musicians keep in their cases. Among them, was a small piece of paper with a few bars of music. There was no identifying information, but it clearly was important to Felix who appeared to have kept it in the case for many years.
"Again, we asked Felix's musician friends if they had any idea what these few bars were. No one had a clue. Finally, once we had settled on Kirchner, he told us the story of the slip of paper with musical notations. Many years ago, Felix had asked him to write a sonata for him. The work was never really begun and all that remained of it were those few bars. But that story confirmed for us that we had stumbled on the perfect choice for our commission."
The Hurtigs are also the local sponsors of the concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.
The Marlboro Music Festival, founded by pianist Rudolf Serkin, has become a chamber music Mecca in the United States. Many of the country's most esteemed chamber ensembles were founded through associations formed at the festival. A Time magazine article described the festival as ""The most exciting chamber music in the United States."
2004-2005 is the 40th year that Musicians from Marlboro have toured. Joining Levin and Denk in the Nov. 10 concert will be violinist Colin Jacobsen, violist Maurycy Banaszek and cellist Yumi Kendall.
Tickets are $28; UI student $15; senior citizen $25.20; youth $19.60.
Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
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