A Romantic Primer

Our next concert, NIGHT SONGS AND LOVE WALTZES, celebrates the coming spring with a string of gems that can only be described as lovely: part-songs, lieder, chamber pieces, and piano works by Romantic-era composers and a few of their modern-day equivalents.

With this program we harken back to a time when the only way to enjoy music at home was to make it yourself. Singing with your friends, either a cappella or gathered around the piano, was a primary way of enjoying music in the 19th Century. We are seeking to recreate this sense of bonhomie, while making it rich and sophisticated for our engage 21st century audiences.

Building out from that marvelous collection of short songs, Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, Artistic Director Ted Sperling has arranged – and arranged for – unusual array of musical textures throughout the evening. We’ll have love songs, hunting songs, gypsy songs, and even a tango. We’ll have four French horns, two cellos, a tambourine, finger cymbals, and two pianos (and two pianists, the fabulous Anderson & Roe!). We’ll have soprano Nicole Cabell, mezzo Kate Aldrich, tenor Nicholas Phan, and baritone Nmon Ford. And of course we’ll have the gorgeous MasterVoices chorus, singing in multiple configurations.

From the Department of Definitions…

A part song is a form of choral music that consists of a secular song written or arranged for several vocal parts. Commonly sung by an SATB choir, they sometimes call for an all-male or all-female ensemble.

Lieder is just the plural of the German word Lied, which is a setting of poetry to classical, polyphonic music. Lieder blossomed during the late 18th and 19th centuries, along with the blossoming of Romantic poetry (See below!).

A waltz is dance music in triple meter, often written in 3-quarter time. Originally composed as music for dancing, it soon became adopted as a serious composition genre (thanks, Chopin!).

From the Department of Literary Inspiration…

Many of the songs on the program are based on texts and poems.
Here’s where our composers drew their inspiration:

Clara Schumann’s Gondoliera –
Thomas Moore
Felix Mendelssohn’s Verleih’ uns Frieden –
Martin Luther
Franz Schubert’s Ständchen (Serenade) –
Ludwig Resllstab
Robert Schumann’s Zigeunerleben (Gypsy Life) –
Emmanuel Geibel
Robert Schumann’s Jagdlieder –
Heinrich Laube
Johannes Brahms Liebeslider Walzer –
G.F. Daumer 
Ricky Ian Gordon –
Langston Hughes

Stay tuned for a dedicated email about Ricky’s cycle of songs, Life is Love, which includes a brand new commission (“God”) for MasterVoices!

From the Department of Small Worlds (19th Century Division)…

Beethoven (1770-1827) passed the lyrics of Ludwig Rellstab on to Franz Schubert (1797-1828), and also remarked of 12 year-old Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) that he “promises much.” Mendelssohn was great friends with Robert Schumann (1810-1856), who predicted a brilliant future for Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), who in all likelihood wrote the Liebeslieder Walzer for Schumann’s widow Clara Schumann (1819-1896) , with whom he was in love.

From the Department of Small Worlds (20th Century Division)…

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) studied with the famous Nadia Boulanger in Paris, as did Milton Babbitt, whose pupil Stephen Sondheim (b.1930) wrote lyrics for Do I Hear a Waltz by Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) before moving on to compose masterpieces like Sunday in the Park with George, whose Broadway premiere featured a little-known genius in the pit named Ted Sperling, who was fresh out of Yale University, where mutual friends introduced him to Ricky Ian Gordon (b 1956), who in 2019 dedicated a piece to Sperling in honor of their lifelong friendship… a piece that MasterVoices (b. 1941) will premiere at this concert!

Join us March 1st and help usher in the
long-awaited spring!

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