MON, JUL 2, 2018 | 7:30PM
Minnesota Beethoven Festival, Winona, MN
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

MENDELSSOHN         A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21/61 (arr. Andreas Tarkmann)

OTHMAR SCHOECK   Summer Night,
Pastoral Intermezzo for Strings, Op. 58 (NY Premiere)

BEETHOVEN                String Quartet in F Minor,
Op. 95 “Serioso” (arr. Gustav Mahler)

This event is FREE. No tickets are required. Open seating starting at 6:30PM.

Notes on the Program
By Aaron Grad

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Opp. 21 and 61 [1826-43]

Born February 3, 1809 in Hamburg, Germany
Died November 4, 1847 in Leipzig, Germany

In the prosperous Mendelssohn household, support for young Felix went beyond just nurturing his musical ambitions. The family socialized with the likes of Goethe and Hegel, and the bookshelves were stacked with the world’s finest literature, including a new German translation of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1825. At age 17, Mendelssohn used A Midsummer Night’s Dream as inspiration for a concert overture, making reference in the music to the comedy’s magical elements and bawdy humor.

Mendelssohn returned to the same inspiration seventeen years later when he contributed incidental music for a new production of that Shakespeare comedy in Potsdam. The selections included the earlier Overture (published as Opus 21) as well as thirteen new sections using chorus, vocal soloists and orchestra (published separately as Opus 61). The movements for orchestra alone—the Scherzo, Intermezzo, Nocturne and Wedding March—originally served as entr’actes interspersed among the plays five acts. They have all joined the Overture as concert hall staples, while the Wedding March has earned a special recognition as the recessional of choice in many wedding ceremonies.

This suite for chamber orchestra, created in 2014 by the German composer Andreas Tarkmann, features those beloved orchestral interludes, as well as instrumental versions of some of the lesser-known excerpts. The Elfenmarsch (March of the Fairies) and Elfenlied (Song of the Fairies) come from Act II, when Titania, the fairy queen, enters with her retinue and bids them to sing a fanciful incantation.

The Funeral March accompanies the play within a play in Act V, when the bumbling acting troupe presents the tragedy Pyramus and Thisbe. The Dance of the Clowns returns to the braying, donkey-like theme first introduced in the Overture as a nod to one of those hapless actors, Nick Bottom, whom the mischievous Puck transforms into an ass. The Finale revives more music from the Overture, including the mystical opening chords and the scampering violin motives.

Sommernacht, Op. 58 [1945]

Born September 1, 1886 in Brunnen, Switzerland
Died March 8, 1957 in Zürich, Switzerland

The Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck formed his worldview in a picturesque village on Lake Lucerne, where his father was a landscape painter. After his own brief stint in art school, Schoeck studied music in Zürich, and he matured into a respected composer of songs and operas. He flirted with some of the avant-garde developments of the twenties and thirties, and his music made some inroads into Germany, but ultimately he retreated to a modest career in Switzerland and a musical language rooted in the melodious tonality of his early years, especially after a heart attack in 1944.

When composing this “pastoral intermezzo” for strings in 1945, Schoeck took his title and inspiration from the famous poem Sommernacht (Summer Night) by the Swiss poet Gottfried Keller (1819-1890). The poem describes a custom in which young men spend their night working by starlight, graciously harvesting the grain for widows and orphans, until the new day dawns and they head off to their own labors. Schoeck’s tone poem evokes the languid calm of the summer night, the gallant efforts of the men, and the merriment of their singing and dancing.

Performance Note from Orpheus: Schoeck doesn’t specify precisely that this action needs to be shared with the audience. However, at the very least it is thought appropriate to make the listener aware of it, so below is the German text followed by the English translation.

Learn more about A Midsummer Night With Orpheus »

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