Meet pianist Ran Dank as soloist for RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s The Romance of Rachmaninoff, Feb. 22 & 23

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RAN DANK, pianist

Meet award-wining pianist Ran Dank

 Joins the RI Philharmonic Orchestra for Rachmaninoff’s
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Feb. 22 and 23

Ken-David Masur conducts Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Feb. 22 & 23

 RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra appears ‘side-by-side,’ Fri. Feb. 22

The TACO Classical concert, Romance of Rachmaninoff, is on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 8 p.m. For the Amica Rush Hour concert on Friday (Feb. 22) at 6:30 p.m., the RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra shares the VETS stage with their professional counterparts for Borodin’s Petite Suite, Au Couvent.

About Ran Dank, pianist

  • Highlights included recital at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival performing Frederic Rzewski’s tour-de-force 36 Variations: The People United Will Never Be Defeated followed by appearances at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, and a duo recital with pianist Soyeon Kate Lee at the Cooperstown Summer Music Festival.
  • Mr. Dank and Ms. Lee, known as the Dank Duo, were special guest performers at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s 2018 Gala.
  • 2018-19 season featured recitals with the Dank Duo at the Yale School of Music, San Francisco Performances, a return to the Pro Musica San Miguel de Allende, and Brahms, Janáček and Franck sonatas with acclaimed violinist Augustin Hadelich for the Linton Music series.
  • Orchestral engagements were Bernstein’s Symphony No.2, The Age of Anxiety with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra led by Francesco Lecce-Chong; Shostakovich’s First Piano Concerto with the Toledo Symphony, Alain Trudel, conductor; Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.2 with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stuart Chafetz; and Mozart with the Ashville Symphony Orchestra.
  • 2017-2018 season featured appearances with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Eckart Preu, the Portland Symphony and Ken-David Masur, the Spokane Symphony and Morihiko Nakamura, and the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern for its season finale.
  • Performed chamber music with the Amernet Quartet at Maverick Concerts and had duo appearances with pianist Ms. Lee at the Smithsonian Institute, Cincinnati’s Linton Music and Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.
  • Solo recitals included the Gilmore Piano Festival, New York City Town Hall recital for Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, Washington Performing Arts Society at the Kennedy Center, the Chopin Festival in Warsaw, Finland’s Mänttä Festival, Philip Lorenz Memorial Concerts in Fresno, the Israel Conservatory of Music and chamber music at the Seattle, Montreal, Israel, Great Lakes and Skaneateles Chamber Music festivals, and Maverick Concerts with the Shanghai Quartet.
  • The Dank Duo established a series of concerts, Music by the Glass, held in a New York SoHo art gallery, where young professionals listen, mix and mingle with performing artists who play solo pieces and chamber works.
  • Recipient of numerous honors, including the Naumburg Piano Competition and the Sydney International Piano Competition. He was the First Prize winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

*** At a Glance ***

Romance of Rachmaninoff
TACO Classical Series Concert
Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m.

 Ken-David Masur, conductor
Ran Dank, piano

DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Amica Rush Hour Series
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.

Ken-David Masur, conductor
Ran Dank, piano (replaces previously listed Fabio Bidini)

DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

RIPYO Side-by-Side performance
BORODIN: Petite Suite: Au Couvent in C sharp minor

 

BUY TICKETS

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org; in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence; or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

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Photos from RIPYO’s successful winter concert at Rhode Island College; annual side-by-side is Feb. 22

 Youth Orchestras concert features RI Philharmonic
Concerto & Aria Competition winner Lincoln-native Matthew Ricard

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (RIPYO) presented its second concert of the season. The top-level Symphony Orchestra performed works by Borodin and Beethoven. In addition, they were joined by RI Philharmonic Concerto & Aria Competition winner Matthew Ricard of Lincoln for the third movement of Weber’s Second Clarinet Concerto in E-flat Major.

On Friday (Feb. 22), the RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual side-by-side concert with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra during the Amica Rush Hour concert. It will be at 6:30 p.m. at The VETS. The two orchestras will perform Borodin’s Petite Suite: Au Couvent, conducted by Ken-David Masur. Each year, during one of RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s regularly scheduled concerts, students from the Youth Orchestra join their professional counterparts on stage for one piece.

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000. On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

 

*** At a Glance ***

Amica Rush Hour
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.
Ken-David Masur, conductor
Soloist Fabio Bidini, piano
DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra side-by-side performance
BORODIN: Petite Suite: Au Couvent in C sharp minor

BUY TICKETS

Lincoln-native named RI Philharmonic Music School’s 2018-2019 Concerto & Aria Competition winner

Performs with RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra, Feb. 10 

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School named clarinetist Matthew Ricard of Lincoln, winner of the Rhode Island Philharmonic 2018-19 Concerto & Aria Competition. He will perform the third movement of Weber’s Second Clarinet Concerto in E-flat Major with the R.I. Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 10) at Rhode Island College, Roberts Hall, Providence.

  “For six years, I have wanted to compete in the Music School’s Concerto & Aria Competition, and a year ago I started preparing full force. When I got the call that I had won the competition, my mouth dropped. All that I have worked for is coming together and happening. Winning was one of the best feelings I ever had.”

Matthew Ricard
2019 Winner Concerto & Aria Competition

About Matthew Ricard, clarinet

Currently in his senior year at Lincoln High School,  Ricard was born and raised in Lincoln. At age 9, he started taking lessons on the clarinet from his grandfather, an Air Force veteran and member of U.S. Air Force Band in the late 1950s. Two years later he enrolled in the R.I. Philharmonic Music School. After his first lesson with the Music School’s Repertory Orchestra leader Vincent Mattera, he was invited to audition for one of the ensembles. He is a member of the top-level Youth Symphony Orchestra as well as his high school’s concert and jazz bands. Currently, Ricard studies with Ian Greitzer, principal clarinet for the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra. Other instruments he plays include the bass clarinet and alto saxophone. In his free time, he repairs instruments. He is a certified scuba driver and enjoys longboarding.

At-a-Glance

Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras Concert
1 p.m., Sun., Feb. 10, 2019
Roberts Hall, Rhode Island College

 Buy Tickets

Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for students, 18 and under, and senior citizens. Tickets are available through the RIC box office http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=21971&schedule=list or 401-456-8144.  

For more information on the Music School’s Youth Ensembles, groups and Concerto & Aria Competition, call 401.248.7038 or email Youth Ensembles Manager Chelsea Anderson canderson@riphil.org.Visit musicschool.riphil.org for information on more Philharmonic Music School activities and performances.

 

RI Philharmonic Music School’s Youth Symphony Orchestra  Performs Side-by-Side with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra, Feb. 22 

 Top-level Youth Orchestra plays Borodin Petite Suite: Au Couvent
 conducted by Ken-David Masur

The RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra performs its annual Side-by-Side concert with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra during the Amica Rush Hour concert on Friday (Feb. 22) at 6:30 p.m. at The VETS. The two orchestras will perform Borodin’s Petite Suite: Au Couventconducted by Ken-David Masur.

The evening’s concert also includes the Orchestra performing Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and soloist Fabio Bidini for Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Each year, during one of RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s regularly scheduled concerts, students from the Youth Orchestra join their professional counterparts on stage for one piece. In addition to sharing a music stand, the students receive the rare opportunity to work side-by-side and interact with the professional musicians. This year, on Friday (Feb. 22) at 6:30 p.m. at the VETS during the Amica Rush Hour concert the two orchestras together will perform Borodin’s Petite Suite: Au Couvent, conducted by Ken-David Masur.

*** At a Glance *** 

Amica Rush Hour
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.
Ken-David Masur, conductor
Soloist Fabio Bidini, piano

DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZSymphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFFRhapsody on a Theme of Paganini 

RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra Side-by-Side performance 
BORODIN: Petite Suite: Au Couvent in C sharp minor

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000. On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, for nearly 60 years, provides quality orchestral, rehearsal and performance experiences for talented young musicians from Rhode Island, nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. RI Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Alexey Shabalin serves as Music Directorand conducts the top-level Youth Symphony Orchestra. For more information, visit musicschool.riphil.org or contact Chelsea Anderson at 401.248.7038.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School encourages lifelong engagement with music through comprehensive music education and community partnership programs taught by Orchestra members and outstanding faculty. Quality, access, diversity and collaboration are the Music School’s core values. If you have any questions, call 401.248.7001 or email cartercenter@riphil.org.

 

Meet Conductor Ken-David Masur: Conducts RI Philharmonic Orchestra, Feb. 22-23

Ken-David Masur conducts Dukas The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Feb. 22 & 23

Masur conducts RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra ‘side-by-side’
with Orchestra during Amica Rush Hour, Fri. Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.

The TACO Classical concert is on Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m.

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KEN-DAVID MASUR, Guest Conductor

About Ken-David Masur, conductor

  • Named Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony.
  • Kicked off 2018-19 season making his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia in two all-Tchaikovsky programs.
  • Returned to Tanglewood to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a program of Glinka, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2 with Kirill Gerstein, and Stravinsky’s Firebird.
  • Conducted workshops and a concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Mendelssohn Foundation in Tokyo.
  • Took charge of the fall subscription week with the BSO, where he continues as associate conductor.
  • Included guest engagements with the Louisville Orchestra, the Detroit and Milwaukee symphonies, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra, plus concerts abroad with the National Philharmonic of Russia, Collegium Musicum Basel, the Stavanger Symphony and the Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra in France.
  • Co-founders and artistic directors, with his wife and pianist Melinda Lee Masur, of the Chelsea Music Festival in New York. R
  • Recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra and violinist Fanny Clamagirand, and with the Stavanger Symphony.
  • As founding music director of the Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus at Columbia University, toured Germany and released a critically acclaimed album of symphonies and cantatas by W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach.
  • Recordings of Gisle Kverndokk: Symphonic Dances with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra was named by WQXR as one of the “Best New Classical Releases of July 2018.”
  • Received a Grammy nomination from the Latin Recording Academy in the category Best Classical Album of the Year for his work as a producer of the album Salon Buenos Aires.

*** At a Glance ***

The Romance of Rachmaninoff
TACO Classical Series Concert
Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m.

Ken-David Masur, conductor

DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Amica Rush Hour Series
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.

Ken-David Masur, conductor

DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

RIPYO Side-by-Side performance
BORODIN: Petite Suite: Au Couvent in C sharp minor

BUY TICKETS

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

Rhode Island Philharmonic guest conductor Tania Miller & soloist Sara Davis Buechner discussed gender, equity and leadership at the Lincoln School

About 200 middle and upper school students at the all-girl Lincoln School in Providence  hosted conductor Tania Miller and pianist Sara Davis Buechner. They offered insight into issues of gender and equity in the arts and the entertainment field.

Miller successfully navigated the male-dominated field of conducting to become the first female music director of a significant Canadian orchestra. Buechner is the most high-profile musical performing and recording artist to undergo gender reassignment surgery mid-career. The conversation continued later that day during a RI Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsal.

Lincoln School, the only all-girls Quaker independent school in the United States, is committed to putting girls first in all areas of life and learning. Lincoln’s dynamic academic program educates its students to fearlessly embrace the opportunities and responsibilities of full citizenship in a complex world, valuing all-girls education, a life of the mind, a global perspective in service of social justice and responsibility, and a community of trust and mutual respect which affirms the inherent value of every person. As the nation’s only independent school for girls rooted in Quaker values, Lincoln provides a unique educational community for grades 1 through 12, and a dynamic early childhood coed program from six weeks through Pre-Kindergarten. Our students come from the greater Providence area and beyond, and represent diverse backgrounds, religious traditions, and perspectives. Learn more at www.lincolnschool.org

Canadian conductor Tania Miller has distinguished herself as a dynamic interpreter, musician and innovator on the podium and off. This season, she will return to lead the Chicago Symphony as well as the Toronto Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and Orchestra Métropolitain de Montreal. Miller has appeared as a guest conductor in Canada, United States and Europe with the Bern Symphony and National Arts Centre (Ottawa) orchestras, Hartford, Oregon, Seattle and Vancouver symphonies, and the NFM Wrocław, Louisiana and Naples philharmonics. During her 14 years as music director of the Victoria Symphony in Canada, Ms. Miller gained national acclaim for her passion and commitment to the orchestra and community. She was the driving force behind new growth and innovation for the Victoria Symphony, and gained a national reputation as a highly effective advocate and communicator for the arts. As curator, she distinguished herself as a visionary leader and innovator.

Sara Davis Buechner is one of the leading concert pianists of our time, praised worldwide as a musician of “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” by the New York Times. With an active repertoire of more than 100 concertos, she has appeared as a soloist with many of the world’s most prominent orchestras. Audiences throughout North and South America have applauded Ms. Buechner’s recitals in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl. She enjoys wide success throughout Asia where she tours annually. Ms. Buechner’s numerous recordings have received prominent critical acclaim. Her extensive discography includes music by Bach, Brahms, Busoni, Dvořák, Mozart, Stravinsky and Turina; Hollywood piano concertos by Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman; rare American music of George Gershwin, Dana Suesse, Pauline Alpert and Joseph Lamb; and the complete piano music of Miklós Rózsa. Her piano artistry may also be heard on the recent DVD of Carl Dreiser’s 1925 silent film Master of the House, available through the Criterion Collection.

RI Philharmonic Orchestra presents Amica Rush Hour and TACO Classical concerts “The Romance of Rachmaninoff” with Conductor Ken-David Masur, Feb. 22 & 23

RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra appears ‘side-by-side,’ Fri. Feb. 22

Conductor Ken-David Masur returns to The VETS stage for a program featuring Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The TACO Classical concert, Romance of Rachmaninoff, is on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 8 p.m.

For the Amica Rush Hour concert on Friday (Feb. 22) at 6:30 p.m., the RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra shares the VETS stage with their professional counterparts for Borodin’s Petite Suite, Au Couvent.

 *** At a Glance ***

Romance of Rachmaninoff
TACO Classical Series Concert
Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m.

Ken-David Masur, conductor
DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

 Amica Rush Hour Series
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.

Ken-David Masur, conductor

DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

RIPYO Side-by-Side performance
BORODIN: Petite Suite: Au Couvent in C sharp minor

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., closed President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 18). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

About Ken-David Masur, conductor

Hailed as “a brilliant and commanding conductor with unmistakable charisma” by Leipzig Volkszeitung, Ken-David Masur was recently appointed Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, beginning in the 2019-20 season. He began the 2018-19 season making his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia in two all-Tchaikovsky programs. He returned to Tanglewood to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a program of Glinka, Rachmaninoff Piano Concert No.2 with Kirill Gerstein and Stravinsky’s Firebird. At summer’s end, he conducted workshops and a concert celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Mendelssohn Foundation in Tokyo.

This fall he led a subscription week with the BSO, where he continues as Associate Conductor. His guest engagements this season will include weeks with the Louisville Orchestra, the Detroit and Milwaukee Symphonies, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra, plus concerts abroad with the National Philharmonic of Russia, Collegium Musicum Basel, the Stavanger Symphony, and the Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra in France.

Other recent guest engagements include weeks with the Milwaukee, Colorado and Portland (ME) symphonies, and returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Munich Symphony, where he is principal guest conductor, and to the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Japan. He led l’ Orchestre National de France in Paris in a program with Anne-Sophie Mutter, and regularly conducts in Germany, Korea and Moscow. As a sought-after leader and educator of younger players, Mr. Masur frequently conducts the Chicago Civic Orchestra, BUTI, and the New England Conservatory and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras.

Mr. Masur and his wife, pianist Melinda Lee Masur, are founders and artistic directors of the Chelsea Music Festival, an annual two-week long multi-media production of music, art and cuisine, which last June presented its ninth season in New York. Its productions are varied and internationally themed, always including premieres of new works by young and established composers—a celebration of the arts and senses called a “gem of a series” by the New York Times.

Mr. Masur recently made recordings with the English Chamber Orchestra and violinist Fanny Clamagirand and with the Stavanger Symphony. As founding Music Director of the Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus at Columbia University, he toured Germany and released a critically acclaimed album of symphonies and cantatas by W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach. WQXR recently named Masur’s recording with the Stavanger Symphony of Gisle Kverndokk’s Symphonic Dances one of the Best New Classical Releases of July 2018. Mr. Masur received a Grammy nomination from the Latin Recording Academy in the category Best Classical Album of the Year for his work as a producer of the album Salon Buenos Aires.

About the concert: stories behind the music

Paul Dukas (1865-1935)
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Symphonic Scherzo after Goethe)

 A Disney story: Anyone who has seen Walt Disney’s 1940 animated film Fantasia has heard The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and has seen Mickey Mouse playing the title role. The music is apt for visual adaptation since it follows the story so closely. What we have is the Apprentice left alone, the Sorcerer having gone off on some errand. The Apprentice’s chore is to bring in water to fill a tub, but he thinks that by giving one of his master’s incantations he can get a broom to do his work. Sure enough, the broom obeys the spell, but the Apprentice cannot get the broom to stop bringing in water. In a panic, he takes an axe and chops the broom in two, only to have two brooms now carrying water to the tub. The house is flooded, and the Apprentice is awash in it. Suddenly, the Sorcerer appears and quickly dispatches the broom to its corner. The guilty boy is sorry but does not escape his master’s hand at the very end.

Listen for this: Yet there are aspects entirely unique to Dukas’s work, both in its brilliant orchestration and its humorous ideas. It has an unmistakable character of its own that is at once recognizable. It is interesting, too, that for Dukas, who released so few of his works to the public, this was his first music to become popular outside France and ultimately his best-known piece.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43

Liszt inspired: In early 1934, having already composed four piano concertos, Sergei Rachmaninoff set to work on yet another composition for piano and orchestra. Rather than a fifth concerto, however, this was a massive set of variations on Paganini’s famed “24th Caprice”—a theme that both Liszt and Brahms had used for famous variation sets. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody also bore a loose relationship to Liszt’s Totentanz, not only as variations for piano and orchestra (rare in the literature), but also for its reference to the medieval Requiem chant, Dies irae, on which Liszt based his variations. (The Dies irae melody, with a text dealing with the Last Judgment, was a favorite among Romantic composers as a symbol of evil fate and restitution for sin.)

Listen for this: Although Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody is a continuous set of 24 variations, structurally it divides clearly into three large sections analogous to the three movements of a conventional piano concerto. The introduction, theme and first ten variations constitute the first “movement.” The slow section (or second “movement”) begins with Variation 11 and concludes with the famous 18th variation, in which the composer turns the theme upside down to create one of his most ravishing melodies. Variations 19-23 are the final “movement” of the work, and the climactic Variation 24 provides the finishing touch.

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Symphonie fantastique

Autobiographical: Musical writers love to make connections between the life and works of composers. Sometimes there is a delicious biographical incident that has influenced a work, and with Berlioz and his Symphonie fantastique, we have a unique work that was intentionally autobiographical. In 1827, Berlioz attended an English company’s performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Paris. The part of Ophelia was played by one Harriet Smithson, and Berlioz at once fell in love with her. He later wrote in his memoirs, “The impression made on my heart and mind by her extraordinary talent, nay her dramatic genius, was equaled only by the havoc wrought in me by the poet she so nobly interpreted.”

Listen for this: In the second movement, A Ball, “he encounters the loved one at a dance in the midst of the tumult of a brilliant party.” The middle section of this waltz derives from the idée fixe theme, and it reappears hauntingly near the end of the movement.