Top 10 works from Bravo!Vail 2013

Welcome to Bravo! Vail’s 26th Season and my first as your new executive director.

We’ve had a great time fashioning a series full of fun, entertaining and rewarding concerts for you. Our setting varies from the grandeur of the Gore Range embracing the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater to intimate spaces throughout the Vail Valley.

The best thing of all is sharing this incredible experience with friends, old and new.

Here is my own personal Top Ten list of concerts I’d like to share with you. Please join along with other Bravo! Vail music lovers from June 28 - Aug. 3 in a celebration of life and the love of music in the Rocky Mountains. We hope to see you often.

1. Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, Op. 95

The New York Philharmonic premiered the symphony on Dec. 16, 1893, at Carnegie Hall. Its famous slow melody was later turned into the spiritual “Goin’ Home.”

2. Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

The symphony’s first four notes are the most famous in all of music: Ta ta ta taaaaaa. The Allies used the motive during World War II, since the notes unintentionally were Morse Code for the letter “V” (for “victory”). A German’s music galvanized the Allied effort to defeat the Nazi war machine.

3. Debussy: Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun

Based on Stephane Mallarmé’s poem, this gorgeous work is a celebration of sound. Luxurious and sensual, it has an exotic, dream-like quality.

4. Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite

Epitomizing the sound of America, we’ll hear the 1954 version composed for Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra — with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Copland didn’t have rural Appalachia in mind when he wrote the work. He later said, “I gave voice to that region without knowing I was giving voice to it.”

Listen for the famous Shaker tune “Simple Gifts.”

5. Verdi: Messa da Requiem

It is a musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass. A huge hit at La Scala early on, it is often called “an opera in disguise.”

It has great melodies, blaring brass and heart-on-your-sleeve emotional content — and the Dies Irae alone will blow you out of your seat.

6. Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique: An Episode in the Life of an Artist, in Five Parts, Op. 14

The premiere caused a scandal at the Paris Conservatory because it was so revolutionary for the time. We adore it now.

Harriet Smithson, Berlioz’s love interest, inspired the work. The two met, then married, but the union was bitter and unsuccessful.

In spite of this, they remained linked for the rest of their lives. Berlioz and Smithson are buried next to each other at the Montmartre cemetery in Paris.

7. Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 The work nearly didn’t get off the ground. After a few disastrous premieres and many fits and starts, the revised concerto was embraced by the great Jascha Heifetz, who showed the world what it had been missing.

The rest is history.

We’ll hear it with Gil Shaham and the New York Philharmonic.

8. Bartok: String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 102

Fascinated with folk music, Bartók concentrated on collecting and arranging Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian, and Bulgarian folk tunes. These influences are found throughout the composition.

9. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

Lore has it that the Variations were written for an insomniac count who requested a work from Bach that his trusted performer companion could be given to play as a way of entertaining him during sleepless nights.

Artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott performs it by candlelight at the Donovan Pavilion.

10. Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time

In 1940, Olivier Messiaen was interned in a German prisoner of war camp, where he met a clarinetist, a violinist and cellist.

He wrote a trio for them then added seven more movements to create the “Quartet for the End of Time.”

The quartet was premiered in the rain before hundreds of fellow prisoners and guards. Messiaen later recalled: “Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension.”

Jim Palermo is Bravo!Vail’s executive director. For more information, visit www.bravovail.org or call 970-827-5700.


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 7, 2013 02:38PM Published Jun 10, 2013 10:46AM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.